STATEMENT
House of Lords must ensure Prevent is subject to independent review

Index on Censorship joins with seven other human rights organisations to call for an independent review of the UK's Prevent strategy

16 Nov 2018
BY INDEX ON CENSORSHIP

The government’s Prevent strategy – which forms one strand of the government’s overarching counter terrorism strategy, CONTEST – seeks to pre-empt acts of terrorism by identifying those at risk of committing such attacks, including by ‘intervening to stop people moving…from extremism into terrorist-related activity’.

Developed without a firm evidence base and rooted in a vague and expansive definition of ‘extremism’, Prevent has been widely criticised for fostering discrimination against people of Muslim faith or background and chilling legitimate expression. [1]

There have been repeated calls to establish an independent review of the Prevent strategy. [2] Three UN independent experts have called on the United Kingdom to launch an independent review of Prevent that incorporates a comprehensive assessment of its impact on human rights. [3]

The Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Bill is currently passing through the House of Lords. Amendments 57 and 57A would require an independent review of Prevent.

We urge members of the House of Lords to support these amendments and take this opportunity to ensure Prevent is at last subject to independent review.

Signatories:

Amnesty International

ARTICLE 19

Committee on the Administration of Justice (CAJ)

Human Rights Watch

Index on Censorship

Liberty

Medact

Rights Watch (UK)

Adriana Edmeades Jones, Legal and Policy Director of Rights Watch (UK), said:

“In the face of mounting evidence that Prevent is undermining relationships of trust and chilling expression in classrooms and consultation rooms across the country, it is clear that Prevent is simply not fit for purpose.  It is in everyone’s interests – the communities who are targeted, the teachers, doctors and social workers tasked with implementing it, and the Government itself – that Prevent is subject to an independent review.”

Joy Hyvarinen, Head of Advocacy at Index on Censorship, said:

“An independent review of the Prevent strategy is overdue and essential if the government wants to tackle the widespread doubts about Prevent. The House of Lords should ensure that the Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Bill includes a review of Prevent”

Brian Gormally, Director of CAJ, said:

“If the categories, criteria and methods of Prevent were applied in Northern Ireland there would be an explosion of resentment in both Loyalist and Republican communities. Why then is it alright to use them in communities in Britain?”

Rachel Logan, Amnesty International UK’s Legal Expert, said:

“Prevent is a highly dubious scheme built on shaky, almost evidence-free, foundations – it’s sorely in need of a proper review. Peers need to ensure that Prevent is rigorously and independently assessed, with all the human rights impacts of the scheme fully investigated.”

Letta Tayler, HRW Senior Researcher on terrorism and counterterrorism, said:

“This amendment to the UK counterterrorism bill provides a good opportunity to ensure long overdue scrutiny of Prevent, a key part of the country’s counterextremism program. Intrusive security powers should have independent oversight.”

Footnotes:

[1] See for example Fahid Qurashi, The Prevent strategy and the UK ‘war on terror’: embedding infrastructures of surveillance in Muslim communities; Miqdaad Versi,The latest Prevent figures show why the strategy needs an independent review; Anna Lockley-Scott Preventing what? The flawed assumptions at the heart of the Prevent duty; David Goldberg, Sushrut Jadhav and Tarek Younis, Prevent: what is pre-criminal space; Charlotte Heath-Kelly and Erzsébet Strausz, Counterterrorism in the NHS: Evaluating Prevent Duty Safeguarding by Midlands Healthcare Providers; Teachers back motion calling for Prevent strategy to be scrapped; Royal College of Psychiatrists London, Counter-terrorism and Psychiatry Position Statement PS04/16; Liberty; Rights Watch (UK), Preventing Education? Human Rights and UK Counter-Terrorism Policy in Schools and Open Society Justice Initiative, Eroding Trust: The UK’s Prevent Counter-Extremism Strategy in Health and Education.

[2] See for example 7/7 Survivor and Charity CEO Calls for Urgent Independent Review of Prevent Strategy and  MPs and Lords call for review of Prevent anti-terror strategy in schools,  

[3] See Letter of the UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism concerning the draft Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Bill which is currently under consideration of the UK’s House of Commons; Report of the UN Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association on his follow-up mission to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland; and End of mission statement of the UN Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related Intolerance at the conclusion of Her mission to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

State security v freedom of the press: Protecting sources does not mean journalists are pro-terrorism

In discussing the scope of the recent Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Act 2019, international human rights lawyer Alex Bailin QC called the powers created by the new legislation “breathtakingly broad.”

Annual review of listed terrorist organisations would be a step in the right direction for counter-terror bill

While there has been little progress in the House of Lords when it comes to protecting freedom of expression in the Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Bill, a proposed new amendment by Lord Anderson deserves support.

Groups urge House of Lords to rethink Counter-Terror and Border Security Bill

The Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Bill would restrict freedom of expression and press freedom, threaten the protection of journalistic sources, and undermine academic research in Britain. It would limit the right to access information online and it would sneak in a new, harsh border regime for Northern Ireland. The Bill has been slipping through Parliament with little attention. The […]

Proposed changes to the Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Bill are welcome

Index on Censorship welcomes the amendments to the Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Bill proposed by the Joint Committee on Human Rights.

Comments are closed.

Index logo white

Join us to protect and promote freedom of speech in the UK and across the world.
Since 1972, Index on Censorship has been leading the campaign for free expression.
Our award-winning magazine originally provided the platform for the untold stories of dissidents and resistance from behind the Iron Curtain and is now a home for some of the greatest campaigning writers of our age.
Journalistic freedom, artistic expression, the right to protest, the right to speak your mind, wherever you live.  These are the founding principles of Index on Censorship.
So join us, by subscribing to our newsletter or making a donation, to use your voice to ensure that everyone else can be heard too.
Go to the Index on Censorship home page