Committee proposes amendments to Counter Terrorism bill

The Joint Committee on Human Rights has submitted significant amendments to justify the extensive powers being proposed in the Counter Terrorism and Border Security Bill.

The report raises concerns that the Bill is legislating close to the line – or indeed crosses the line-  in breaching human rights and will now be considered and debated in the House of Lords as it continues to progress through Parliament in coming weeks.

The Committee proposes a total of 27 amendments for parliament to consider, including the deletion or amendment of clauses that would make it an offence to express an opinion or belief in support of a banned organisation, view or otherwise access terrorist material online, and enter overseas terror hotspots referred to as ‘designated areas’.

Alongside the amendments, the Labour Party has sought explanation as to why the government has yet to appoint a new independent reviewer of terrorism legislation to oversee the use of the powers if and when they pass into law.

Harriet Harman, chair of the Committee said: “Despite our previous warnings, this Bill still crosses the line on human rights. We’ve put forward a range of amendments designed to bring it in line with human rights, taking into account the wide-ranging and expert evidence we took, including from Max Hill QC, the Independent Reviewer of Terrorism.

“The government has failed to give us adequate justification for provisions which risk undermining free speech and giving them wide and unaccountable powers. I trust the Lords will make sure the government will now address our arguments properly.”