London – The new Counter Terrorism and Sentencing Bill is an assault on the need for evidence in non violent offences , introduces “house arrest” and erodes the rule of law.
The Bill sets up a sentencing and monitoring regime, which will lead to disproportionate sentences for non-violent behaviour, and brings back the disgraced control order regime that effectively amounts to house arrest.
Instead of exploring the root causes of violence, the government is adding to an already vast armoury of offences that are categorised as “terror-related crimes” . The failed strategy will merely extend the web of monitoring and surveillance leading to the criminalisation of more groups and behaviours.
CAGE is concerned that the Bill:
- enables disproportionate sentences for non-violent offences, i.e. double the european average for terror offences.
- reintroduces the Control Orders regime invented by New Labour with the expansion of TPIMs – opposed by former Conservative frontbencher David Davis, and renounced by the Law Lords in 2009. By abolishing the two-year cap and lowering the evidentiary threshold for TPIMs further, it will impose life-shattering conditions on individuals never charged with a crime.
- removes the standard probationary and reintegration opportunities for terrorist offences that carry a maximum penalty of life, and introduces a serious terrorist sentence when a court determines there was “a likelihood of multiple deaths”. This carries a minimum 14-year sentence and an extended licence period of 7-25 years.
- suspends the ‘independent’ review of Prevent until August 2021.
Cerie Bullivant, an exonerated survivor of the control order regime and a spokesperson for CAGE said:
“This right wing Tory Government is rolling back the clock. House arrest without evidence or due process destroys your life, you are left without any way to prove your innocence, as your life is ripped to shreds. These horrific measures have no place in this society.”
Azfar Shafi, researcher at CAGE, said:
“This Bill, combined with other recent legislation such as last year’s Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Act, is working to keep individuals who have not committed any violence perpetually trapped in the policing apparatus, while abandoning any commitment to reform. Individuals will be subject to life-altering restrictions without ever having committed a crime.”
“Of special concern to us is the way that the expansion of offences which can be deemed to have ‘terrorist connections’ will invite discriminatory prosecutions. The determining factor of whether an offence such as a stabbing is a ‘standard’ crime, a ‘gang-related’ crime or a ‘terror-related’ crime is often likely to depend on whether the perpetrator is black or Muslim, respectively.”
(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.)