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Quilliam Press Release

Quilliam Responds to the Counter-Terrorism and Security Bill

Quilliam cautiously welcomes the proposals made in the Counter-Terrorism and Security Bill and appreciates the need to empower the authorities to effectively counter the threat posed by terrorists.

The measures proposed, such as obliging airlines to disclose passenger information to the authorities, and banning insurance companies from providing cover for terrorist ransom payments, are welcome additions to the statute book that will allow the government to enforce existing legislation and maintain national security.

As a counter-extremism think tank, Quilliam remains committed to campaigning for the necessary preservation of human rights in all counter-terrorism legislation. We believe that the failure to do so will negatively impact on vital counter-extremism work, which has been accepted as an important component of the long-term CONTEST II strategy. We will also continue to hold the government to account when it comes to the effectiveness of counter-terrorism measures, particularly when civil liberties are negatively affected. In this regard, our responses are as follows:

• We welcome the requirement of a higher standard of proof for TPims, up from “reasonable suspicion” to “balance of probabilities”.

• We accept the Independent Reviewer of Counter-Terrorism Legislation’s judgement that relocation powers are necessary to improve the effectiveness of TPims.

• We welcome the establishment of a Privacy and Civil Liberties Board to maintain the necessary balance between counter-terrorism and human rights, and between protecting national security and preserving civil liberties. We encourage this Board to address all counter-terrorism measures that do not work through the courts, and to consider TPims, Schedule 7 and electronic surveillance legislation in their work.

However:

• We continue to question the necessity of imposing measures such as TPims and, now, Temporary Exclusion Orders, by order of the Home Secretary rather than through the criminal justice system.v

• We are concerned about the possibility of misuse in regards to the implementation of passport seizures at the airport and would urge the authorities to do everything in their power to prevent a repeat of the ethnic profiling resulting from misuse of the Stop and Search legislation, which had a negative impact on community cohesion and the relationship between Muslim communities and the police.

• We question the effectiveness of relying on foreign governments in the case of suspected British jihadists, upon whom Temporary Exclusion Orders are placed. We fear that other countries, whose human rights standards and counter-terrorism practices do not meet our high standards, will be relied on to deal with Britons who have been refused entry to the UK.

• We think it unlikely that IP address matching will be of significant use to UK counter-terrorism officials, given that the transnational nature of internet and social media companies prevents UK jurisdiction from being applicable in many cases relating to online terrorist content. Furthermore, given the tech-savvy nature of many modern terrorists, the masking of IP addresses is a significant likelihood.

We also focus on proposals in this Bill that are relevant to counter-extremism, as distinct from counter-terrorism. In this regard, our responses are as follows:

• We welcome the proposed statutory footing for the Channel deradicalisation programme and reiterate that ideological assessment of and engagement with people vulnerable to, suspected of, or convicted of terrorism-related offences is a necessary element of the government’s counter-extremism strategy. We encourage increased training and recruitment of mentors for Channel and raising awareness of the programme for frontline workers to improve the effectiveness of the referral system.

• We welcome the proposed requirements for frontline workers including in schools, colleges, universities and prisons, in regards to engaging with Prevent. We urge that the focus of these requirements is on primary prevention to raise awareness about extremism, build resilience among vulnerable people, and to protect institutions from extremists by upholding democratic values and following guidelines on not giving platforms to extremist speakers.

However:

• We urge that greater distance is placed between Prevent and the other strands of the government’s counter-terrorism strategy, and that it is recognised that different approaches, structures and personnel are necessary for counter-terrorism and counter-extremism.
• We recommend that Prevent is reformed to deal with the current nature of the threat, particularly in regards to preventing British citizens from becoming foreign terrorist fighters.

Quilliam’s Managing Director Haras Rafiq said:

“Upholding human rights norms in counter-terrorism legislation is necessary in a liberal and democratic society, and imperative for effective counter-extremism work. I welcome the counter-extremism proposals outlined in the Counter-Terrorism and Security Bill, as through constantly improving Prevent we can empower civil society to effectively tackle the root causes of extremism of all kinds and reduce the long-term terrorism threat to the UK.”

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Quilliam is the world’s first counter-extremism organisation, dedicated to promoting civic interventions in the fields of extremism, integration, citizenship, identity and disenfranchisement .

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