New terrorism powers aimed at reducing the threat to UK security “could curb free movement, family life, free expression, and risks alienating specific communities”, according to a new report by Human Rights Watch.
If approved by Parliament the new UK Counterterrorism and Security Bill would allow police and officials to confiscate the passports of British citizens and others suspected of planning to leave the UK to engage in terrorism-related activities abroad, for an extended period.
It would also permit the Government to ban British citizens and residents from returning to the UK for two years and reintroduce compulsory relocation within the UK, for people suspected of involvement with terrorism.
The Government has said that the bill has been created to meet the growing threat from people traveling to Syria and Iraq to join groups such as Islamic State, where it is feared they will become radicalised and return to commit acts of terrorism on home soil.
Izza Leghtas, Western Europe researcher at Human Rights Watch, said: “The UK government is rushing to adopt some of the most problematic changes to counterterrorism policy in years.”
“Parliament should learn the lessons of the past, when it adopted bad counterterrorism laws in haste.”
Human Rights Watch have said the new bill will breach Article 12 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which the UK is a party, which states that everyone has the right to leave any country, including their own.
They have said that the introduction of exclusion order for those already fighting abroad would effectively make them stateless and would again breach Article 12 of ICCPR.
They also raised concerns about the re-introduction of internal movement restrictions under the Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measures.
Under this power people can be ordered to relocate more than 200 miles from their home, which Human Rights Watch say will potentially interfere with their family life and is covered by articles in the ICCPR and European Convention on Human Rights.
“Governments around the world often cite UK laws and policies as examples,” said Ms Leghtas. “This bill sends the dangerous message that stripping people of their rights based on mere suspicion is acceptable in the name of security.”