Forcible relocation of terror suspects

Forcible relocation of terror suspects

Emergency powers to forcibly relocate terror suspects without consent are being planned by the Government in new emergency legislation, just months after it pledged to scrap the existing measure.

In January, home secretary Theresa May went to the House of Commons to announce the results of the counter terrorism review which was one of the main commitments of the coalition government. The headline announcement was the proposal to scrap the controversial control order regime. Control orders were to be replaced by “a new package of measures that is better focused and has more targeted restrictions,” to be known officially as terrorism prevention and investigation measures (TPIMs for short). There would be removal of those aspects of control orders that most resemble house arrest, with curfews replaced by an overnight residence requirement. In particular, forcible relocation was to be ended and replaced with the power to order more tightly defined exclusions from particular areas.

When the Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measures Bill was published in May it was widely regarded as a rebranding of the control order regime. The only substantive concession was the removal of provision for internal exile. Now, in a major U-turn, the government has published the Enhanced Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measures Bill. In the draft bill the Government says that it intends to use powers of relocation or other restrictions “in exceptional circumstances”. The ability to move a suspect to a new home for security reasons, originally abandoned by thegovernment, could now be taken in matters relating to national security. Theresa May said: “We will publish, but not introduce, legislation allowing more stringent measures, including curfews and further restrictions on communications, association and movement.” The powers will be held in reserve and put before parliament should exceptional circumstances arise.

Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper has branded the draft legislation as “irresponsible, incompetent and potentially dangerous.” “The Government has finally admitted there is a problem with their plans to weaken counter terror legislation and remove the ability to relocate very dangerous terror suspects”, she said. She went on to say: “Instead of amending her own bill to sort this out, the Home Secretary has created a shambolic process of draft emergency legislation that won’t work for those cases and is impractical and chaotic, especially when Parliament is not sitting. It does not give the police or security services what they need to keep communities safe, especially during Olympic year when the capital may need extra protection. The Home Secretary is putting political deals and fudges ahead of national security.”

Other critics include Lord Carlile, former independent advisor on terrorism strategy, who said the legislation is the “worst of all possible worlds”. Tory MP David Davies is reported as saying that the new draft emergency powers are as ill-thought out as control orders. Shami Chakrabarti, the director of Liberty, said: “You can call them control orders, TPIMs, or whatever you like, but they still allow dangerous terrorists to live amongst us whilst innocent people are punished forever with no opportunity to stand trial and clear their name. Ten years into the ‘war on terror’, have we really learned so little?”

This post was written by:

- who has written 460 posts on Upper Case – The Anya Legal Journal.

Mike Gribbin is a retired Civil Servant with wide experience, including the drafting and implementation of Parliamentary legislation and regulations. He is the editor of “Criminal Offences Handbook”, a uniquely comprehensive guide to more than one thousand ways to fall foul of UK criminal law. He is Editor of the Upper Case Legal Journal and has been writing blog posts for the past eight years.

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