UK lists deportation rules for radicals

By UNITED PRESS INTERNATIONAL, Published August 24, 2005

LONDON -- Justifying, glorifying or fomenting terrorism will become grounds for deportation from Britain under new rules announced Wednesday by Home Secretary Charles Clarke.

Detailing a list of "unacceptable behaviors" described by the Home Office as "indicative rather than exhaustive," Clarke said the government was sending the strong message that those who sought to foster hatred or promote terrorism were not welcome in Britain.

"The terrorist threat facing the U.K. remains real and significant and it is right that the government and law enforcement agencies do everything possible to counter it," he said.

"Individuals who seek to create fear, distrust and division in order to stir up terrorist activity will not be tolerated by the government or by our communities."

Grounds for deportation will be extended to include the expression of views which "foment, justify or glorify terrorist violence in furtherance of particular beliefs," or "seek to provoke others to terrorist acts."

Individuals who "foment other serious criminal activity or seek to provoke others to serious criminal acts" or "foster hatred which might lead to inter-community violence in the U.K." will also be vulnerable to exclusion.

The new rules, which do not require additional legislation, will apply to all non-British citizens expressing such views through "any means or medium" including public speaking or preaching, written material, websites or the use of a position of responsibility such as a teacher or youth worker.

A database of those around the world deemed to be engaging in such behaviors will be compiled and will be made available to entry and clearance officers.

Questioned by United Press International as to whether the expression of such views in a private conversation which was then reported to authorities would constitute grounds for deportation, a Home Office spokeswoman said that it would be "stretching a point" to argue that views expressed privately were deliberately encouraging or fomenting terrorism.

The home secretary would need to provide a burden of proof in making the decision, she said, which had to be reasonable and was open to challenge by judicial review.

Asked whether the definition of "terrorism" would include attacks on British or American troops in Iraq," she confirmed that it would.

Clarke said the government recognized the sensitivities around the use of such powers and intended to use them "in a measured and targeted way.

"These powers are not intended to stifle free speech or legitimate debate about religions or other issues. Britain is rightly proud of its openness and diversity and we must not allow those driven by extremism of any sort to destroy that tradition."

However Muslim groups criticized the new rules, which they said could infringe freedom of speech.

The Muslim Council of Britain said it considered the set of unacceptable behaviors to be overly broad and unclear.

While endorsing the need to protect national security, it cautioned this had to be done in a way that was in accordance with international law.

"Above all, these should be practical and capable of being successfully implemented, and not merely sweep under the carpet contrary and uncomfortable opinions," it said in a statement.

The MCB said it supported the deportation of those who incited hatred or advocate violence, supported acts of violence in Britain, or violated British law. However "such actions against those expressing support for any of the liberation movements anywhere in the world would be viewed as oppressive," it added.

It would be more prudent to try offending individuals under British law, the group said. "Sending them out may turn them into unwanted heroes who may then be free to export their vile thoughts, if such be the case, from exile."

Meanwhile the Islamic Human Rights Commission issued a statement saying: "The IHRC views the new grounds for deportation as the criminalization of thought, conscience and belief."

The Home Office is obtaining guarantees from recipient nations, including Jordan, Tunisia and Morocco, that individuals returned under the new rules will not face persecution. Under the European Convention on Human Rights it is prohibited to return people to countries where they may face torture.

However human rights groups and the United Nations have criticized the agreements, saying they are little more than a piece of paper.

Gareth Crossman, of the human rights group Liberty, said: "What separates us from the terrorists is that we do not torture people or send them to be tortured.

"We believe it is far better for terrorist suspects be tried than shuffled around the world.

"If it is necessary to deport people, we need more than self-serving assurances to demonstrate that countries with appalling human rights records are safe."

Manfred Nowak, the U.N. special rapporteur on torture, said Tuesday that agreements with countries which might have committed human rights abuses in the past was "not an appropriate tool to eradicate this risk."

However the measures were welcomed by the two main opposition parties.

Liberal Democrats Home Affairs Spokesman Mark Oaten said the party broadly welcomed the deportation powers, as long as the individuals involved had a right to appeal and the case for deportation was reasonable.

He commended the home secretary for "see(ing) sense on the deportation rules.

"It would have been unacceptable to deport people on the basis of a lack of general commitment to U.K. values or to remove the right of appeal, both ideas that were suggested by the prime minister."

Conservative Shadow Education Secretary David Cameron, a strong contender for the party leadership, said it was right that the home secretary was able to weigh up the danger to national security posed by an individual against the danger to the individual's well-being if deported.

While he classified himself as a "big supporter of human rights," Cameron said he believed it was wrong that under the Human Rights Act the danger posed by the individual was not taken into material consideration if there was any risk to his person should he be deported.

Speaking at the Foreign Policy Center, Cameron said if the government succeeded in agreeing "memorandums of understanding" with recipient nations, "so much the better."

However if not, the government must amend the Human Rights Act or, if necessary, leave the European Convention on Human Rights, he said.

 
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