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Terror bill 'threatens access to justice'

The Law Society | Law Society

2 min read Partner content

Counter-terrorism legislation currently before parliament is a threat to the independence of the courts, according to The Law Society.

The professional body for solicitors has said the Counter-Terrorism and Security Bill could have "a significant effect” on both human rights and judicial safeguards.

The Bill has its second reading the Lords tomorrow, having cleared its Commons stages.

Ministers plans to introduce ‘temporary exclusion orders’ (TEO) to control the return of British citizens suspected of involvement in terrorism-related activity abroad.

The Law Society said arbitrary bans on returning to your own country are expressly prohibited by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948, Articles 2 and 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) and Article 12 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).

President of the Law Society Andrew Caplen said:

"From a human rights perspective, there are a number of measures proposed under the Government's new Bill that give cause for concern.

"While it is appreciated that there is a balance to be struck between the threats to national security posed by terrorism and avoiding diminishing civil and human rights, our fundamental liberties must not be forgotten."

The Law Society is calling for the Bill to be amended to provide proper oversight and judicial safeguards to make sure these powers are not abused and to ensure that measures are effective and proportionate.

It is also calling for clauses on the retention of relevant internet data to be removed, pending the outcome of the review of investigatory powers and the development of a clearer vision of an overall legislative framework for communications data retention and access.

Parliament's Joint Committee on Human Rights has already raised concerns about limitations on access to courts, allowing challenges to the new powers that the Bill will give are absent and the apparent lack of independence from government.

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