Britain’s anti-terror laws need urgent review, many of us have been saying it for years, and now so is parliament’s joint committee on human rights.
One has to question the “permanent state of emergency” which the government has placed us in, to introduce a number of so called counter-terrorism measures, which as far as protecting us, have eaten huge chunks of our civil liberties and freedoms.
Since September 11th 2001 the government has continuously justified many of its counter-terrorism measures on the basis that there is a public emergency threatening the life of the nation.
- We’ve seen a dramatic growth in the use of secret evidence in the UK courts.
- The government’s is complicit in torture.
- The government maintains an ongoing enthusiasm for extending pre-charge detention to 42 days.
- Widespread use of intercept evidence – phone taps et al.
- Terrorism Act 2000’s failure to grant bail.
- Stop and search powers extended.
Is it credible to say that this country has been in such a state for more than eight years?
This permanent state of emergency inevitably has a deleterious effect on public debate about the justification for counter-terrorism measures.
Shadow home secretary Chris Grayling backed the call for an urgent review of terror laws and said the committee was right to question whether all the legislation introduced since 2001 is necessary.
“Even more important is the need to stop the use of terror laws for other purposes, like routine stop and search and local authorities’ surveillance of recycling habits”
“We have lost too much liberty in the name of security in recent years. Control orders and extended pre-charge detention are a step too far.”
This comes at a time when the genius’s heading up the anti-terror branch, decide to heighten the levels of paranoia by getting internet cafe owners to act as surveillance officers and monitor their patrons web habits.
I have been a vociferous opponent of this government’s Preventing Violent Extremism (PVE) agenda, and this effective extension into making the community police one another is just another example of it’s lunacy.
To ask internet cafes to spy on their customers and students is another step in the direction of creating a society of total surveillance.
The dangers about this initiative is that it does not just focus on preventing access to illegal material but also material that is defined as ‘extremist’ without offering an objective definition of what that is.
It potentially criminalises people for accessing material that is legal but which expresses religious and political opinions that police officers find unacceptable.
It is likely to result in not only a general violation of privacy and freedom of expression but also discrimination against Muslims, whose use of the internet will be seen as inherently more suspicious.
The Institute of Race Relations issued a report last year (downloadable here) in which it found the government’s PVE programme created division, mistrust and alienation.
For all the talk of “Muslims” hating the “West” for its democracy and freedom, it seems our government is doing everything in its path to prove it is more potent than any terrorist threat, as it continually erodes our civil liberties, under the false flag of protecting us.
Unfortunately I now feel more scared of the government than I ever did of any terrorist threat.
Being so close to an election, politicians know full well that the Muslim vote will count, being a cynic I would say they are pandering to our demands, but isn’t that the purpose of an effective lobby?