Here we go again – Safety Elephant style

Well we now have a list of the Safety Elephant’s plans for deporting foreigners alleged to have links with or be supporting terrorism – which, as usual, makes for pretty depressing reading: long on knee jerk rhetoric and extremely short on having thought things through properly as usual.

New grounds for deporting and excluding people from the UK – including fostering hatred or, advocating and justifying violence to further beliefs. The powers will cover statements already on record.

What, all statements on record?

How far back will this go?

Should anyone the UK who was a member of the ANC back in the days of apartheid be packing their bags?

As for the business deporting people for ‘advocating and justifying violence to further beliefs’, how far does that extend – would, for example, Iraqi dissidents who openly supported the overthrow of Saddam Hussein by military means get caught up in this.

Indeed how would this affect other dissidents from countries we would general consider to be in the hands of a dictatorial regmime who might call for, say, a popular revolution, or support a particular side in a civil war?

Are we going to be deporting them as well?

Agreements with other countries, such as Jordan, to ensure people can be deported to their nations of origin without being tortured or ill-treated

Such statement, as has already been pointed out, are completely worthless without independent monitoring and verification that these countries abide by such agreements – not that I suppose that bothers the Safety Elephant much as once someone is out of the country they’re safely out of sight and out of mind.

Of course, should someone who is deported under such an agreement and who is then tortured in breach of the agreement, manage to get back into the EU and in a position to bring a case before the European Court of Human Rights at any point in future then we’re going to be in deep shit over ECHR article 3.

Amend human rights laws, if necessary, to prevent legal obstacles to new deportation rules

I’ve already pointed out before that the only ‘obstacles’ to deportations in Human Rights law are article 6 – the right to a fair hearing – and article 3 – which prohbits torture and, by extension under the ruling in Chahal v The United Kingdom, the deportation of foreigners where it is likely to put them at risk of torture.

As was the case with the internment of alleged ‘terror suspects’ in Belmarsh, which was thrown out by the High Court, the real issue here is that the anti-discrimination clause in ECHR and HRA prohibits foreigners from being treated differently to UK citizens, other than for explicit provisions within the context of ‘freedom of thought, relgion and conscience’ which do allow for reasonable restrictions on the political activities of foreign nationals.

This means that for such changes to be legal they have to apply equally to UK citizens as well as foreign nationals – so its not just their rights on the line, but ours as well.

Home secretary automatically to consider deporting any foreigner involved in listed extremist bookshops, centres, organisations and websites

What? Just for working in a fucking bookshop?

I really do dislike this idea as somewhere in the peripheral vision I can’t help seeing the faint image of bonfires of burning books.

Make justifying or glorifying terrorism anywhere an offence

Again, same problem as before.

Where does this leave dissidents from countries that we would generally agree are under despotic rule and are we now saying that such dissidents are no longer permitted to comment on anything like a civil war in their homeland?

Also ‘justifying’ and ‘glorifying’ are two totally different things.

For example an academic could quite easily write a detailed analysis of, say, the creation of the Jewish State or the Mau Mau rebellion, which would end up justifying terrorism, as in both cases it certainly played a role in subsequent political events which lead to each becoming an independent nation state.

Would an publishing such an analysis of become a criminal offence under this new law?

Automatically refuse asylum to anyone with anything to do with terrorism anywhere

Oh well, that’s Pinochet excluded then so it can’t be all bad…

Consult on setting a maximum time limit for extraditions to other countries – Tony Blair has said it was unacceptable that Rashid Ramda, wanted for the Paris Metro bombing 10 years ago, was still in the UK

This sounds reasonable until you check up and find that the reason he hasn’t been extradited is that both the British and French government’s have failed to put up sufficient evidence to warrant his extradition.

It appears the sole piece of evidence linking Ramda to the bombing is a confession, naming Ramda, from one of the two men who were convicted of the bombing and who are now serving 10 years in a French prison.

However reports seem to suggest that Ramda’s treatement and safety may be at issue if extradited, hinting that this confession may have been beaten of the guy who gave it.

Not such a straightforward matter now, is it.

Oh, should mention that Ramda’s spent the entire 10 years he’s been here in prison awaiting a final decision on his extradition and that he’s alleged to be the ‘money man’ in the bombings, not an actual bomber – which means that based on time served he’s already done his full stint.

Examine calls for police to be able to hold terror suspects for longer before pressing charges

It will be interesting to see how this one pans out but I expected serious resistance to anything which extends such detentions beyond 28 days and would like to see a limit of 14 days, tops, without requiring that a judicial warrent be issued to extend dentention beyond that point.

There should also be independemt monitoring of any such detentions to ensure that we don;t go crossing the line into torture ourselves.

Use more control orders against British terror suspects, who cannot be deported

Oh goody – house arrest for everyone.

Increase the number of special judges hearing terror cases

And the return of ‘Diplock Courts’

Already announced were plans to ban the Hizb ut Tahrir and the successor organisation of Al-Muhajiroun – and look at whether the grounds for banning such groups need to be widened

Again, I’m uneasy both with the idea of banning groups but particularly with the idea of ‘widening the grounds’ on which they can be banned.

Aren’t we, again, on the slippery slope to repression.

Review the threshold for gaining British citizenship and establish, with the Muslim community, a commission to advise how to better integrate parts of the community “presently inadequately integrated”

Don’t tell that we’re going to be bringing in the ‘Tebbit Test’ for peoiple who want to naturalise.

The whole ‘citizenship ceremonies’ business is bad enough as it is – for some reason whenever its mentioned I can’t help recalling the cast of fawning comedy stereotype ‘foreigners’ that used to appears on the abysmal ‘Mind Your Language’ and imagining it all as being something like that.

Create a list of foreign preachers who will be kept out of the UK and consult on creating new powers to close places of worship used to foment extremism

Well, now you come to mention it, can I suggest you add good old Pat “why don’t we assassinate Chavez, it’s cheaper than a war” Robertson to the list for starters

Use biometric visas for those from designated countries and compiling a database so people whose views or activities pose a threat to UK security can be kept out of the country. They could only appeal against the decision from overseas.

Oh look, ID cards again… talk about as predictable as finding flies on shit…

Frankly I;m too sick of this bullshit to comment further at the moment.

  • then leave the Labour party

  • JL

    Jeremy,

    It’s too late to leave the Labour Party – they have left us.

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  • how can dead people have human rights?

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  • “Again, I’m uneasy both with the idea of banning groups but particularly with the idea of ‘widening the grounds’ on which they can be banned.”

    Take a look at the Home Office’s record of actually banning known terrorist groups, under their existing draconian Terrorism Act 2000.

    Why does the Home Office list of “proscribed terrorist groups” not include either the Taleban in Afghanistan or any of the Chechen groups, such as the one involved in the Beslan atrocity etc. ?