Human rights groups back Prevent review
Rights Watch (UK) is one of a number of human rights groups to welcome the news that the much-criticised Prevent strategy will be subject to an independent review.
The government’s decision, announced by the Security Minister Ben Wallace, is considered by many to be long overdue, with concerns raised across several sectors of the way in which the ‘Prevent duty’ currently identifies students deemed at risk of ‘being drawn into terrorism’ . The programme then refers them to de-radicalisation programmes.
Looking at the role of Prevent in schools, serious concerns have been voiced concerning how the referral powers appear to be both overused, interfering with children’s rights to education and free expression, and unlawfully targeted towards children from particular communities.
Rights Watch (UK), who have recently stressed how the Home Affairs Select Committee, Joint Committee on Human Rights, and the Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation have been calling for an independent review for almost four years, says that the review must go beyond a mere statistical audit to examine the assumptions on which the government’s theory of radicalisation is based and the systemic human rights impact of Prevent.
Adriana Edmeades Jones, legal and policy director of Rights Watch (UK), says that: “The need for a full and transparent independent review of Prevent has been clear from the outset. Any review must investigate the harm the roll-out of this strategy in schools has caused to human rights protection in the UK, including for children’s rights to education, freedom of expression, freedom of religion, privacy, and freedom from discrimination.
“This independent review is an important opportunity to regain the trust of the communities affected by Prevent. It is crucial that this review is searching and fully engages with the human rights issues raised by civil society. The costs of Prevent – in terms of the interference with children’s rights, and the pressure placed on teachers to implement this flawed ideology – are too high to allow a flawed programme to continue without the proper scrutiny that an effective independent review would provide. We commend the government for finally agreeing to take this action and await further details on the specific terms of reference and procedure.”
Other groups to oppose the use of Prevent in the past inlcude Amnesty International, the Committee on the Administration of Justice (CAJ), Human Rights Watch, Index on Censorship, Liberty and Medact.