MCB Calls for Further Scrutiny of the Government’s Powers under the Current Terrorism Legislation

25 Jul 2011

The first report on the operation in 2010 of the Terrorism Act 2000 and Part 1 of Terrorism Act 2006, was published this month by the new Independent Reviewer of the UK’s counter terrorism legislation, Mr David Anderson Q.C.

The Muslim Council of Britain warmly welcomes the recommendations made by this report but also calls for further scrutiny of the government’s powers under the current legislation.

We welcome the recommendation that proscription of organisations should be time-limited and that the Secretary of State must satisfy the Parliament if they are to be reproscribed.

We also welcome the recommendation for a full review of the Schedule 7 power, which allows for travellers to be detained at ports and airports without reasonable suspicion.

However, with regards to Section 47a of the TA 2000, we would suggest adding that Articles 5 (the right to liberty) and Article 8 (the right to respect for private life) should apply to the current statutory powers to stop and search without reasonable suspicion. The onus ought to be placed on the authorities to provide a satisfactory reason as to why they are using the power and how it is proportionate with respect to national security.

The report further recommends that the power of judges to extend the 14 day pre-charge detention limit should be triggered by an order made on strict statutory grounds, not by primary legislation as proposed by government. We welcome this. However we remain concerned about the 14 day limit and would urge Mr. Anderson to look into recommending reducing this to at most 7 days and then allowing an order on statutory grounds to extend up to 14 days. This would make Britain more in line with other western democracies as they currently stand and strike an appropriate balance between liberty and security.

In consideration of Mr. Anderson’s concluding remarks, the MCB strongly agrees that there is a risk in treating terrorism as something apart from all other criminal offences. It is capable of being dealt with under the orthodox criminal law, supplemented by procedures and additional criminal offences, just as trade of firearms, explosives and plots to kill – which are all related offences – are dealt with under criminal law.

Finally, the MCB agrees that the government should be held to its principal aim of, where possible, providing a correction in favour of liberty. We look forward to reading the second part of the report.

Note to Editors:
A Link to David Anderson QC report: