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Unjust anti-terror law

Liberty | 10.10.2005 23:35 | Repression | Terror War

This week the Government is likely to bring forward a new Terrorism Bill which will have serious and frightening implications for free speech and allow for the detention of suspects for three months prior to charge.

Government’s New Anti-Terror Legislation- What you can do

* Come to the public discussion meeting in Westminster Central Hall. Wednesday 12 October.

* Sign the statement opposing counter productive measures in the new legislation at:

* Write to your MP and urge them to oppose three month detention prior to charge and the undermining of free speech.


This week the Government is likely to bring forward a new Terrorism Bill which will have serious and frightening implications for free speech and allow for the detention of suspects for three months prior to charge.

Liberty does believe that the Government must take appropriate steps to protect us all from terrorism. Security and freedom (as manifest in the right to life and freedoms of speech and against arbitrary detention) are best reconciled and advanced within the international human rights framework left to the world by the generation which survived the Holocaust and the Blitz. This framework pays considerable respect to questions of public safety, but rightly demands detailed and rigorous thinking from Governments and legislators who find themselves interfering with competing rights and freedoms.

Legislation of this kind should never be devised as a blunt tool for expressing political revulsion at terrifying acts. Statutes must be drafted with greater care than speeches. It is not sufficient that the passing of a new law would send tough signals to Britain’s enemies, nor that it somehow makes some of us feel safer. Each proposed interference with democratic rights and freedoms must be carefully weighed against its purported benefits. Such laws are likely to be with us for a very long time and we would respectfully remind Parliamentarians of previous British experiences of the unintended and counter-productive consequences of “exceptional” anti-terror legislation.

We are concerned that a number of measures in the Bill will do little to make us safer but will undermine free speech and protections against unjustified detention. As a consequence they will be counterproductive by undermining national unity in the face of the threat, and criminalising those who are not involved in terrorism.

Of particular concern:

· Proposals to create new offences of encouragement of terrorism, including statements which ‘glorify’ terrorist acts, and dissemination of terrorist publications are extremely broadly drafted. They do not require any intention to incite others to commit criminal acts. The Terrorism Act 2000 (TA) and existing common law means there is already very broad criminal law. Any difficulty in bringing prosecutions can be largely attributed to factors such as the self imposed ban on the admissibility of intercept evidence.

· Plans to allow three month detentions without charge will have a severe impact on community relations. This would allow for the equivalent of a six month custodial sentence. It is over twenty times the pre charge detention time limit for murder. If the police have genuine difficulties in gathering evidence we should look for more proportionate ways of dealing with the problem.

·Extension of the grounds for proscription under the TA will criminalise membership or support of non-violent political parties. It is not possible to overstate the implications of criminalising non-violent organisations on the basis of their opinions. This is an incredibly dangerous road for the Government of a democratic state to consider.


Tuesday 11th October, Public Meeting

7-9pm, Grand Committee Room, House of Commons, London

Speakers include Mike Mansfield QC; Louise Christian; Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed, author of “War on Truth”, Executive director of Institute of Policy Research and Development; Lord Rea; Mark Oaten MP; Judith Vidal-Hall, editor of Index on Censorship; Bill Bowring, barrister and professor of Human Rights and International Law, Director of HRSJ, London Metropolitan University; Doug Jewell, Liberty Campaigns Co-ordinator, Lindsey German, Stop The War Coalition: Ben Hayes, Statewatch; Lynne Featherstone MP; Saghir Hussain, Stop Political Terror

Wednesday 12th October, Public Discussion Meeting
The Governments New Anti-Terror Bill
Central Hall Westminster on 12 October 2005 from 6.30pm to 9.00pm.

Speakers include: • Ken Livingstone, Mayor of London, • Mark Oaten MP, Liberal Democrat Shadow Home Secretary, • Alec Salmond, Leader Scottish national Party, • Shami Chakrabarti, Liberty, • Frank Dobson MP, • Sir Iqbal Sacranie, Muslim Council of Britain, • Rt Revd Colin Bennetts, Bishop of Coventry, • Dr Azzam Tamimi, Muslim Association of Britain, • Barry Campfield, Assistant General Secretary TGWU, • Kate Hudson, Chair CND

The speakers are all signatories to the ‘Only united communities will defeat terrorism and protect civil liberties’ statement. To add your name go to

Wednesday 12th October, Public Meeting

IRAQ: The Unheard Voices; Raising awareness of alleged abuses in Iraq

Wednesday 12th October, Committee Room 10, House of Commons, Westminster.

Speakers: Phil Shiner, Public Interest Lawyers, Carla Ferstman, Director of Redress, Sadiq Khan MP, Clare SHORT MP and Shami Chakrabarti, Director of Liberty

The Solicitors’ International Human Rights Group, with the support of Public Interest Lawyers, is holding a meeting to discuss the case of Al Skeini v Secretary of State for Defence to take place in the Court of Appeal on 10 and 11 October 2005, and all cases of alleged torture, abuse or ill treatment by UK armed forces in Iraq.

What Can You Do?

·Go to the Liberty website for the latest campaigns information at

·Sign the United Communities statement at

·Write to your MP.

·Write to your local newspaper.

·Get your friends and neighbours to join Liberty. You can join online at

If you would like to be kept informed about the campaign against unjust anti-terror laws please contact Doug Jewell, the Campaigns Coordinator, at



Display the following 9 comments

  1. Just another Shell Game — twilight
  2. What is wrong with fighting terrorism? — Concerned
  3. Liberty? — anti-imperialist
  4. ... — Hermes
  5. Ive finally figured concerned out — Not concerned about concerned anymore
  6. Nothing can ever justify terrorism and the murder of innocent people! — Concerned
  7. Concerned is right — what R u on
  8. ... — Hermes
  9. war, terrorism, yawn — anarchoteapot