Contact your MP/Councillor
You can search for and find the information to contact ask local government officials on the link below. Also find a template letter created by MEND which you should send to the officials once you have located them.
I am writing to express my deepest concern at the proposals contained in the Counter-terrorism and Security Bill currently before Parliament.
The Bill was introduced on 26 November and despite the Christmas recess, is nearly on its way to the Third Reading. Important changes to the relationship between the citizen and the state and the potential for major encroachment on civil liberties is deserving of proper legislative scrutiny, not laws that are expedited for party political gain.
The Conservatives and Labour may be feeling the bite of UKIP at their heels in an election year but that is no grounds for gambling away our precious freedoms and the foundations of an open society without due diligence and proper debate about the implications of this Bill on society and British Muslims especially. I have the following key concerns over the proposed Bill:
Surrender of passport - The Bill proposes granting powers to police and border officials to strip British citizens of their passports for up to 14 days without due process and on the basis of 'suspicion' alone. This is highly arbitrary to say the least. We know from analysis by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary and the Equality and Human Rights Commission on ‘stop and search’ powers that Blacks and Asians are between five and seven times more likely than their White counterparts to be stopped by police. There is nothing to suggest that the new powers will operate any differently heaping major inconvenience and misery on already marginalised and vulnerable communities.
Temporary exclusion orders - The provisions in the Bill to introduce ‘Temporary Exclusion Orders’ are ill-disguised attempt to expand the executive powers of the Home Secretary to exclude British citizens from their own country without judicial oversight or recourse to law. The Home Secretary has already excluded a significant number of British Muslims from the UK in recent years, including individuals who have subsequently been killed in US drone attacks. This cavalier rejection of the duties of the state to a British citizen is morally circumspect and does not befit our abiding by and upholding the rule of law and complying with treaty agreements on citizenship rights and duties.
Prevent programme - The statutory duty to implement Prevent which under the Bill will extend to local councils, universities, colleges, schools, nurseries, supplementary schools (madrassahs), probation services and prisons raises the prospect of a mass violation of civil liberties. As we know with previous implementation of the Prevent programme, abuse of power has followed when statutory agencies have been duty-bound to apply counter-terrorism policy. The impact has been vastly counter-productive breeding the kind of alienation and grievances against the state that feeds the narrative used by radicalisers to prey on vulnerable victims.
In the past, Muslim nursery children have been profiled by counter-terrorism officers, Muslim students at schools and universities have been stigmatised with their lecturers and teachers called on to “identify signs of radicalisation” – whatever these might be. The growing incidence of Muslim children being referred to the Channel programme and the fears of “spying” on Muslim students of all ages raise profound fears of the statutory duty reintroducing policies that have already proved a huge failure.
Before the 2010 general election, political parties were at pains to point out that the way to defeat extremism and terrorism was to resort to law and criminal prosecution of those suspected of involvement in terrorist activity. In recent years, we have seen the law play second fiddle to politics. When our civil liberties are at stake and the threat from extremism and terrorism still looms large, we turn to our elected representatives to act with moral integrity and reject draconian measures that will keep us neither safe nor free.
I am writing to voice my concerns about this Bill as its return to the Chamber and to urge you to vote against it in its current form.