In a move somewhat analogous to the passage of the USA Patriot Act after 9/11, in response to the 7/7 terrorist bombings in London which killed 52, British Home Secretary Charles Clarke today published a list of “certain types of behaviours that will form the basis for excluding and deporting individuals from the UK.”
Using quite familiar language, as Clarke said “the rules of the game” changed after 7/7. Those rules apply to any non-UK citizen, in the UK or abroad, who “uses any means or medium,” including:
· writing, producing, publishing or distributing material;
· public speaking including preaching;
· running a website; or
· using a position of responsibility such as teacher, community or youth leader
“to express views which”:
· foment, justify or glorify terrorist violence in furtherance of particular beliefs;
· seek to provoke others to terrorist acts;
· foment other serious criminal activity or seek to provoke others to serious criminal acts; or
· foster hatred which might lead to inter-community violence in the UK.
The list published today does not give the Home Secretary new powers, the Home Office claims, it “sets out some of the types of behaviour that are unacceptable and will normally be grounds on which he will exclude or deport extremists from the UK on the basis that they are not conducive to the public good.”
Articles already published, as well as speeches or sermons already made, are covered by the new rules.
Civil liberty groups expressed concerns. Amnesty’s Halya Gowan told the BBC, “The vagueness and breadth of the definition of ‘unacceptable behaviour’ and ‘terrorism’ can lead to further injustice and risk further undermining human rights protection in the UK.”
The Muslim Council of Britain (MCB, discussed here) says the list of “unacceptable behaviours” is “too wide and unclear,” adding, “It would be more prudent to bring persons who threaten the peace and security of the realm, whether resident or visiting, to trial under our own laws. Sending them out may turn them into unwanted heroes who may then be free to export their vile thoughts, if such be the case, from exile. We do not want this.”
Gareth Crossman, of the human rights group Liberty, said, “What separates us from the terrorists is that we do not torture people or send them to be tortured. We believe it is far better for terrorist suspects be tried than shuffled around the world.”
“If it is necessary to deport people,” he continued, “we need more than self-serving assurances to demonstrate that countries with appalling human rights records are safe.”
The Islamic Human Rights Commission issued a statement reading, “The IHRC views the new grounds for deportation as the criminalisation of thought, conscience and belief.”
We’ve heard all of this before, haven’t we?