Tag Archives: Shami Chakrabarti

MPs unite behind counter-terror legislation amendment opposing Temporary Exclusion Orders

Following the introduction of the Counter-Terrorism and Security Bill by Home Secretary Theresa May, a cross-party amendment has now been tabled opposing the Government’s proposed Temporary Exclusion Orders.

According to fundamental rights and freedoms concern Liberty, Temporary Exclusion Orders (TEOs) would effectively exile British citizens by revoking their passports when outside of the UK and risk exposing them to torture or possibly delivering them into the hands of terror factions.

The proposed amendment to the Bill, drafted by Liberty, would replace TEOs with a Notification and Managed Return Order (NMRO). These would allow the Home Secretary to require airlines and other carriers to notify her of the return plans of those whom she suspected of terrorism abroad. The authorities could then use their existing powers against a suspect when they return to the UK.

Crucially, the Home Secretary would not have the power to revoke passports while individuals are outside of the country.

Shami Chakrabarti: director of Liberty

Shami Chakrabarti: director of Liberty

Shami Chakrabarti, director of Liberty, commented: “Instead of abandoning British citizens abroad to the possibility of torture or further radicalisation, shouldn’t we deal with them within the rule of law? This amendment would put some much-needed common sense into this counter-productive and illiberal Bill. We urge Parliamentarians to support it.”

The amendment is supported by the Labour Party’s front bench and the Green Party.

TEOs – and Liberty’s suggested amendment – were debated on the Second Day of Committee Stage of the Counter-Terrorism and Security Bill on Monday 15 December.

Speaking out against the Government’s proposals

A number of MPs have already spoken out against the Home Secretary’s proposals.

At Second Reading, Sir Menzies Campbell MP said: “I confess that I’m by no means convinced of the legality of what is being suggested under TEOs. What’s the position of someone who declines to accept conditions of return and who is not subject to deportation by the country in which they temporarily find themselves? Are they not de facto stateless in such circumstances?”

Also during Second Reading, former Attorney General Dominic Grieve QC MP pointed out: “It’s a fundamental principle of the common law in this country that an individual, unconvicted – the presumption of innocence applies – should be free to reside in his or her own land. The principle of exile, as a judicial or even administrative tool, has not been tolerated in this country since the late 17th Century. Even if exclusion is on a temporary basis, what’s being proposed is a draconian and unusual power being taken by the State. The point has been made that the proposal could be in breach of our international legal obligations by rendering a person stateless.”

Chris Bryant MP said: “TEOs would, in effect, result in the exile – albeit short-term and temporary – of British citizens, in many cases to other countries. All history suggests that such action further radicalises people and makes them more dangerous enemies to this country.”

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British Security Services held to account in open court over “blanket surveillance”

This week, Liberty is appearing at the Investigatory Powers Tribunal in its legal claim against the British Intelligence Services over what the civil liberties concern dubs “the ongoing surveillance scandal”.

The group is bringing the claim on its own behalf and on behalf of a number of its partner organisations in other countries, including the ACLU.

The Investigatory Powers Tribunal is also hearing claims brought by Privacy International and Amnesty International.

The organisations are concerned that their private communications may have been monitored under GCHQ’s electronic surveillance programme Tempora, whose existence was revealed by Edward Snowden.

Shami Chakrabarti: director of Liberty

Shami Chakrabarti: director of Liberty

They also complain that information obtained through the NSA’s Prism and Upstream programmes may have been shared with the British Intelligence Services in a way that gets round the protections provided by our legal system.

Article 8 and Article 10

James Welch, Liberty’s legal director, explained: “As legislation is introduced to paper over one crack in the crumbling surveillance state, another faces challenge. Not content with forcing service providers to keep details of our calls and browsing histories, the Government is fighting to retain the right to trawl through our communications with anyone outside and many inside the country. When will it learn that it’s neither ethical nor efficient to turn everyone into suspects?”

Liberty argues that the interference with its – and its clients’ – communications is a breach of Article 8 (the right to respect for their private life) and Article 10 (freedom of expression) of the European Convention on Human Rights.

There is no clear legal framework – within the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA) 2000 or otherwise – that permits Tempora’s collection and storage of such vast amounts of communications.

Liberty states that the scale of data being obtained cannot be described as either necessary or proportionate.

The preliminary hearing started on Monday 14 July and is scheduled to continue all week at Court 19 of the Rolls Building, Fetter Lane, commencing daily at 10.30 am.

The Parties in the case are Liberty, the American Civil Liberties Union, Privacy International, Amnesty International, the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union, the Irish Council for Civil Liberties and the Legal Resources Centre (South Africa).

Liberty is represented by Matthew Ryder QC (Matrix Chambers), Eric Metcalfe (Monckton Chambers) and Edward Craven (Matrix Chambers).

Read Liberty’s Grounds of Claim

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