Friday, August 05, 2005

Those new anti-terror provisions

Roundups here and here.

We're in a very delicate period. The attacks on London invite rushed legislation, pushed through with minimal scrutiny in a very tense environment. Although the notion that rushed legislation in response to a specific event is generally bad legislation is a cliche, it has the very real virtue of being true.

Let's have a shufti at some of the things being proposed:

New anti-terrorism legislation in the autumn, to include an offence of condoning or glorifying terrorism anywhere, not just in the UK

All for it in principle. In fact it seems to me long overdue. How enforcable it will be remains to be seen. Let's finally get round to the notion that there are some foreign buggers we just don't want in the country.

The addition of the Hizb ut-Tahrir and al-Muhajiroun Islamist organisations to the list of prohibited groups

My gut response to this is to be annoyed that it took bombings in London to put this on the table. Quite what the impact will be I'm not sure though.

An examination of the possibility of longer pre-charge detention for terrorism suspects

I'm open to convincing on this - but unless we're talking about a process under the scrutiny of independent judicial review I'd say no.

Consultation with Muslim leaders about drawing up a list of those not suitable to preach, who will be excluded from Britain

In principle I agree - we need to start freezing people out (and we need to start producing domestically trained imams too rather than importing them from Saudi and Pakistan). In practice though "Muslim leaders" is bound to include the Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated MAB, who are part of the problem. As it is I don't know whether this will be worth the paper it's written on.

Agreements with other countries, such as Jordan, to ensure people can be deported to their nations of origin without being tortured or ill-treated

Hahaha. We may as well be frank here - these agreements are unlikely to be worth the paper they are written on. We need to decide openly whether our national security means that we are prepared to send people off into a situation where they are likely to have electrodes attached to their goolies. Maybe it does, maybe it doesn't. But this seems to me to be a particularly slimy way of going about things.

Home secretary automatically to consider deporting any foreigner involved in listed extremist bookshops, centres, organisations and websites

Great - except that we are likely to run into the electrodes/Betty Swollocks interaction scenario mentioned above.

Automatically refuse asylum to anyone with anything to do with terrorism anywhere

In principle, fine. But again... see above. And I can see real implementation problems.

Use more control orders against British terror suspects, who cannot be deported

Again, independent judicial review please...

Increase the number of special judges hearing terror cases

Maybe, though I do wonder whether we need reforms in other (largely evidence-based) areas too.

Review the threshold for gaining British citizenship and establish, with the Muslim community, a commission to advise how to better integrate parts of the community "presently inadequately integrated"

High time, in my view.

Create a list of foreign preachers who will be kept out of the UK and consult on creating new powers to close places of worship used to foment extremism


But - and it's a BIG but - here's the really big issue.

Consultation to strip citizenship from naturalised citizens engaged in terrorism

To quote loosely from a former Prime Minister - No, no, no, no, no, no, no.


No, no, no.


Nope, nup, no.

Citizenship is not something to be taken lightly. We have given it too lightly in the past. That must now change, the better to deal with the future. But I am very, very, very uncomfortable with the idea that somebody's citizenship - and presumably the protections and rights that go with it - could be stripped away. This is a bad, bad idea, a bridge too far and I hope there will be vigorous opposition to it.

This is not to say we don't have a problem - largely a self-created problem. But talking about removing citizenship is not the way to deal with it. This means that it will be harder to deal with existing problems than it will be to reduce future problems, but it is an entirely necessary restraint in my view.


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