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Fedster

Counter-terror proposals risk freedom of expression, say politicians

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Fedster

Planned legislation will criminalise publishing images which arouse suspicion the person supports proscribed organisations.

Harriet Harman chairs the committee

Harriet Harman chairs the committee

 

New counter-terrorism proposals strike the "wrong balance between security and liberty" and may not comply with human rights, a group of MPs and peers have warned.

The Joint Committee on Human Rights raised a number of concerns about powers outlined in the Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Bill, saying they go "too far" and do not have sufficient safeguards.

In a report, the committee states that proposals to criminalise the publication of images online which arouse suspicion that the person is a supporter or member of a proscribed organisation risk violating the right to freedom of expression.

And it warns that plans to criminalise viewing terrorist material online three or more times could be a breach of the right to receive information.

The report was released the same day that Max Hill, the independent reviewer of terrorism legislation, and expert Professor Clive Walker released a paper arguing that this crosses "a principled boundary line as to the legitimate usage of criminal law".

The legal experts point out that for the provision to stand on its own effectively claims "that viewers will either be seduced or have their will overwhelmed by the inevitable power and persuasion of the terrorist messages", a hypothesis which the government usually rejects.

The committee's report also expresses concern that criminalising "expressions of support" for proscribed organisation could stop debate around the use of proscription powers.

It states: "This Bill strikes the wrong balance between security and liberty. We doubt whether, as currently drafted, the Bill is compliant with the Convention.

"The issues we raise need to be explored in the course of the Bill's progress through Parliament and changes made as necessary."

The committee calls for a number of amendments to the legislation, which is currently undergoing scrutiny by MPs, to protect human rights.

They include calling on the government to clarify what expressions of support would be included in the offence and safeguarding legitimate publications from plans to criminalise viewing terrorist material online.

Committee chairman Harriet Harman said: "The government have got an important job to keep us safe from terrorism.

"But it must also safeguard human rights.

"The committee believes that this Bill goes too far and will be tabling amendments in both the Commons and the Lords."

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bensonby

It’s typical of our recent governments to draft badly worded and ill-thought out knee-jerk legislation. 

Is will it now be a criminal offence to say “I’m a Republican” or “I have a problem with Israel” - both arguably legitmate points of view but ones shared by many terrorists which could, therefore, lead someone to suspect terrorist sympathies?

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Zulu 22

The counter argument that I have is "That terrorists do not respect the rights or safety of others. They are even prepared to maim their own people without any second thought"  I agree that with the availability to Governments, that they would have people capable of drafting good, well written legislation. 

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Hyphen
7 hours ago, bensonby said:

It’s typical of our recent governments to draft badly worded and ill-thought out knee-jerk legislation. 

Is will it now be a criminal offence to say “I’m a Republican” or “I have a problem with Israel” - both arguably legitmate points of view but ones shared by many terrorists which could, therefore, lead someone to suspect terrorist sympathies?

I did think exactly this, much of the criminal legislation in recent years has been very ‘sound bitey’ And knee jerk in it’s wording and nature.

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Radman

One of the key concepts of living in a free and democratic society is that by doing so you expose yourself to more risk than if you lived in a totalitarian police state as the government has less control over individuals lives.

I'm a big believer on the old Thomas Jefferson quote:

"The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants."

My interpretation of this is that by living in a western society with individual rights and free speech you HAVE to accept that from time to time alongside the bad/tyranical, innocent people will inevitably die because of those freedoms we all enjoy. People wanting to do us harm will slip through our security nets and will succeed in their atrocious acts BECAUSE we are a free and open society.

The worry for me is the more we try to legislate against this, impose stronger stances on security, kerb free speech etc we will eventually erode our way of life... If we change and legislate our way of life out of fear haven't the people who intend to do us harm won by accomplishing their goals in scaring a population into totalitarianism?

Food for thought.

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