New legislation could grant the state the power to trawl through a person's communications without the need for a warrant
IHRC has formally discontinued its long-standing policy of engaging in government anti-terrorism consultations and is calling on the government to repeal the draconian/disproportionate legislation it has imposed to date.
IHRC believes that the state's uncompromising drive to legislate away fundamental freedoms in order to tackle terrorism over the last 18 years has wilfully ignored objections raised by organisations like itself. To continue to be part of a process that invariably ends in more draconian legislation and restrictions on freedom only bestows legitimacy on the final decision.
Although on occasion our submissions have helped to mitigate the severity of the curbs (our briefings on Section 7 of the Terrorism Act are a case in point) on balance the effect of groups like ourselves on the eventual outcome is minimal. Such input perversely allows the government to claim that it has carefully considered the views of civil society organisations when in fact the final policies were always a foregone conclusion.
IHRC's decision comes as prime minister David Cameron considers introducing yet more intrusive legislation in the wake of last week's Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris that includes granting the state the power to trawl through a person's communications, including emails, social media activity, and telephone calls without the need for a warrant.
This is in addition to the Counter Terrorism and Security Bill which was placed before parliament in November 2014 and is currently undergoing its second reading. The Bill will introduce a raft of new measures to deal with terrorism and extremism in the UK. It is IHRC's view that the current proposals are far and away the most Orwellian to date; they will erode civil liberties and turn the UK into a police state.
Cameron's intentions fall into an established pattern of state behaviour: every time there is a terrorist act committed by a Muslim the moment is cynically exploited by politicians to widen the powers of the security services, erode fundamental freedoms and further target and marginalise the Muslim community. Statistics show indisputably that the application of existing anti-terrorism laws is discriminatory and disproportionately used against the Muslim community.
Alongside the raft of new laws, we have also seen the government introduce and broaden its PREVENT programme, which is aimed at both gathering intelligence on the Muslim community using public sector workers such as teachers and doctors and trying to socially engineer a more compliant Muslim community by legally defining the range of beliefs/views its members are allowed to hold.
Spokesperson for IHRC, Arzu Merali, said: "The anti-terrorism laws have served only to create a sub-par legal regime without due process that targets Muslims. It also demonises Muslims further, causing backlash and discrimination. Off the back of these processes, we find the UK turning into a police state with little protest. We must stop this slide into authoritarianism."
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IHRC's latest briefing: Proposed Counter Terrorism and Security Bill: An Orwellian Possibility