MPs unite behind counter-terror amendment opposing exclusion orders

12 December 2014

Today a cross-party amendment opposing the Government’s proposed temporary exclusion orders (TEO) has been tabled. TEOs would effectively exile British citizens by revoking their passports when outside of the UK  - and risk exposing them to torture or delivering them into the hands of terror factions.

The amendment, drafted by Liberty, would replace the TEO with a Notification & Managed Return Order.  The NMRO would allow the Home Secretary to require airlines and other carriers to notify her of the return plans of those she suspected of terrorism abroad.  The authorities could then use their existing powers against a suspect when they return to the UK.  But, crucially, the Home Secretary would not have the power to revoke passports while they were outside of the country.

Shami Chakrabarti, Director of Liberty, said:

‘Instead of abandoning British citizens abroad to the possibility of torture or further radicalisation, shouldn’t we deal with them within the rule of law?  This amendment would put some much needed common sense into this counterproductive and illiberal Bill – we urge parliamentarians to support it.’

The amendment is supported by the Labour frontbench and the Green Party.

Contact: Liberty press office on 020 7378 3656 or 07973 831128

NOTES TO EDITORS:

1. The TEO - and Liberty’s suggested amendment - will be debated on the Second Day of Committee Stage of the Counter Terrorism and Security Bill on Monday 15th December.

2. A number of MPs have spoken out against the proposals:

  • Sir Menzies Campbell MP, highlighted at Second Reading “I confess that I am by no means convinced of the legality of what is being suggested under TEOs…what is the position of someone who declines to accept conditions of return and who is not subject to deportation by the country in which they temporarily find themselves? Are they not de facto stateless in such’.
  • Former Attorney General, Dominic Grieve QC MP, also pointed out during Second Reading “it is a fundamental principle of the common law in this country than an individual, unconvicted – the presumption of innocence applies – should be free to reside in his own land. The principle of exile, as a judicial or even administrative tool, has not been tolerated in this country since the late 17th century…what is proposed, even if exclusion is on a temporary basis, is a draconian and unusual power being taken by the State. The point has been made that the proposal could be in breach of our international legal obligations by rendering a person stateless’.
  • Chris Bryant MP pointed out “[TEO’s] would, in effect, result in the exile – albeit short-term and temporary – of British citizens, in many cases to other countries. All history suggests that such action further radicalises people and makes them more dangerous enemies to this country.’

3. Read Liberty’s briefing on TEOs.