London – CAGE publicly releases a report examining the damage Terrorism legislation has had on the legal system over the last twenty years since the introduction of the Terrorism Act 2000. 

Terrorism legislation has represented a sustained assault on long standing legal principles: 

  • Due process, innocent-until-proven-guilty, an independent judiciary and a transparent prosecution process have been eroded or undermined. 
  • The use of secret evidence introduced for national security purposes has been expanded to employment tribunals, planning inquiries and family courts 
  • Enmeshing Counter Terrorism law into criminal justice by expanding the range of criminal offences which can be considered, prosecuted and punished as “terrorist” or “terror-related”. The new Counter-terrorism and Sentencing Bill (CTSB) will expand this further again.
  • Created a two-tier justice system targeting Muslims and foreign nationals.
  • Created a framework to enable the surveillance and disruption of political movements.

The report makes the blunt observations that:

  • Terrorism laws have validated discriminatory perceptions of Islam and Muslims.
  • Over use of ‘pre-crime’ terrorism offences that have little or nothing to do with violence.
  • 59% of all terrorism convictions stem from only three pre crime offences, which as described by former Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation David Anderson,  ‘[catch] persons whose connection with terrorist acts is at best indirect’’.
  • 88% of all terror arrests never lead to a terrorism convictions.
  • A spike in convictions from 2014-2015 under preparatory offences are linked to a change in political policy regarding Syria.

Azfar Shafi, CAGE researcher said:

“With the recent introduction of policies like the Overseas Operations Bill and the Covert Human Intelligence Sources (Criminal Conduct) Bill, the government’s assault on civil liberties and principles of justice is intensifying.” 

“It is important that we consider how laws introduced in the name of ‘countering terrorism’ and ‘national security’ have legitimised and made possible the brazen attacks on civil liberties and legal principles of justice we are seeing ramping up today. Over the last two decades they have normalised excessive state power and insulated state agencies from accountability.”

“‘Counter-terror’ policies are now being passed in Britain on a near-annual basis, and build on the framework established by the Terrorism Act twenty years ago. This report maps out what that policy has looked like in practice, and why it is untenable to continually expand upon a legislation that is, at its core, deeply repressive.”


Image courtesy of Ben Sutherland on Flikr

(NOTE: CAGE represents cases of individuals based on the remit of our work. Supporting a case does not mean we agree with the views or actions of the individual. Content published on CAGE may not reflect the official position of our organisation.)