: No for arrests of Muslims during Olympics

10-07-2012, 07:15 AM
The Governments Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation is seeking to ensure that Muslims are not wrongfully arrested during the Olympic Games in London amid fears that the police may abuse their emergency powers.
In an exclusive interview with The Muslim News, David Anderson QC also said he wanted an explanation about the controversial citing of anti aircraft missiles in residential areas in East London, where the games are centred.
I have asked the Government for details of power under which they have placed these missiles on the top the peoples roofs. It does seem rather a strong measure to take, he said. Despite the large numbers of civilians being put at risk, he suggested that the extreme measure could be to have some sort of deterrent effect in that if they give impression to people that the Olympics will be defended and that the security is tight (and) they would be less likely to seek to attack the Olympics.
Anderson carried out a review of the detention of six Muslim cleaners under terrorism laws during the Popes visit to Britain in September 2010, when he warned that there could be more cases of wrongful arrests of innocent suspects, which will be equally acceptable, even though the only lawful basis for a Section 41 arrest (under Terrorism Act 2000) is reasonable suspicion.
The police, he told The Muslim News, felt justified in arresting the street cleaners based upon an Arab speaking witness coming forward, saying he heard the five men speaking in Arabic in a caf or canteen about the ease with which it might be possible to blow up the Popes transport.
They didnt have the luxury of time because the Pope was already in the UK and having talked to the witness, they got him out of bed and talked to him in the middle of the night, they took the view that they had reasonable suspicion that these men were involved in terrorism, Anderson said.
But he admitted that when the police interviewed the Muslims and searched their houses, it began to become apparent that these men had no involvement in terrorism at all. They were arrested for less than 48 hours before being released without any charge after being detained conveniently whilst the Pope was in London.
Although the Reviewer believed that the police were justified in the suspicions they genuinely held at the time the Pope was about to begin his walkabout, he voiced some concerns. With the benefit of hindsight, you could see that these men were not terrorists, he said. What I also said very clearly for the police, the arrest power under Terrorism Act can only be used because you suspect that someone is a terrorist and it cannot be used to clean streets, it cannot be used simply for purposes of gathering intelligence.
Britains security services are expected to be on high alert for any form of attack on the Olympics, which start on July 27, with a lot of police leave cancelled. We have a lot of people in intelligence agencies manning their desks, again their leave cancelled and no doubt there will be a temptation for people to use that time as the Olympics become closer, to arrest people. There is a possibility that people will get worried and they will resort to power of arrest, Anderson said.
What I want to make very clear to them is that it not something they are entitled to do unless they have a reasonable suspicion, he said. I am watching like a hawk and so far, in my experience, that tendency has not yet materialised.
As the watchdog of terrorism legislation, Anderson said he was not aware of police powers being abused to target Muslims in any significant scale in the run up to the Olympics. We need to be constantly vigilant, he warned. But he also argued that the men who were arrested during the Popes visit, were not arrested because they were Muslim or because they looked Asian. They were arrested because an independent witness had reported it that he had heard they were planning to bomb the Popemobile, he said.
The games are being held at the height of Ramadan, after the Olympics committee refused to change the date. Thousands of Muslims will be going to pray and returning from mosques at all times in addition to crowds attending Olympic events.
If we were to see a large increase in arrests of Muslims during Olympic period, even of only 50 people or a 100 people, something like that, I have no doubt there would need to be an inquiry into it, for exactly the same reason that you gave because one would need to be absolutely sure that proper; reasonable suspicion did exist, Anderson said.
If people are arrested unjustly or without any basis of suspicion, I very much hope that they would complain because it is only if they complain that I am able to come in and investigate and speak to the police and the Home Secretary about it, he also added.
Tens of thousands of Muslims have also been subjected to stop and search powers under controversial Section 44 powers of the Terrorism Act 2000 when they were disproportionately targeted. But these powers are no longer available after the Government was forced to amend them when they were ruled unlawful. As a result, the Reviewer of terrorism legislation said that during last years Royal wedding, for the Obama visit and the Jubilee celebrations, not even a single person was stopped and searched either on the railway or in London or anybody else under this no-suspicion power.
The replacement powers, he said, were so difficult to use that in almost two years, it has not been used a single time. This is because there has be a reasonable suspicion that an act of terrorism will take place in that area and is not a threshold reached anywhere in the country in the past two years.
There, however, have been no changes to Schedule 7 search powers at the ports and airports where whole families are searched and interrogated especially those who look like Muslims and those Muslims who are going to or returning from Muslim countries.
If you take Schedule 7 at ports, its indeed more likely that you would be stopped and examined at a port if you are a Muslim or indeed if you are of Asian appearance, North African appearance or Middle Eastern appearance than if you are white, Anderson said in justifying the targeting.
What the authorities would say is that they have to respond to the threat on the basis of risk factors. If you look at the people charged and convicted with terrorist offences in the last six years in Great Britain, about one-fourth of those arrested and one-fifth of those charged have been white but over 40% have been of Asian appearance, between 10% and 20% have been other, which people self define themselves as North African and Middle Eastern.
Challenged as to why the police ask questions to do with religion, like which mosque they frequent, Anderson said he heard there was a lot of complaints of insensitive questioning of Muslims. I have no doubt some them are justified. I believe things are improving as training improves. Anyone who are asked insulting questions or questions that are not relevant, to determining whether those are terrorists, please complain. Because if your complaint is logged into the system, it will come to my attention and to the attention of others whose job is to keep the police in check.
Unlike the old Section 44, he argued that Schedule 7 is undoubtedly useful in detecting terrorists. In his last report, he gave four examples of terrorist activity that was uncovered as a direct consequence of the tens of thousands of searches at a port or airport, and admitted that this did not mean that the power as it currently exists is necessarily justified in all respects. I called for a thorough public consultation and review of Schedule 7 to see whether such extensive powers are really necessary and whether it needs to be used quite as much as it is. I am expecting to get back from the Government in the coming months about that, he told The Muslim News.
With regard to whether the anti terror laws have struck a balance between security and civil liberty, Anderson said they have struck a balance but that doesnt mean the balance is right. He cited that there were other countries which had gone even further than Britain in passing laws sometimes in haste and sometimes rather unwisely. He supported efforts made by the Coalition Government to unroll some of them. We are seeing rightly a rebalancing of counter terrorism laws. I suspect we have further to go and in my annual report which will come out later this month, I shall be focussing in particular on Schedule 7 and on the rules governing the proscription of organisations.
I would like to see counter terrorism legislation reduced both in its volume and in its intensity. But being realistic about politics is that it is only going to happen if we continue to see in the past few years and improvement in the threat situation, he said.
One glaring injustice is the continuing detention of Babar Ahmad who has been incarcerated in prison for more than 7 years without trial unjust. It is quite unacceptable that anybody should be imprisoned for so long without a trial, he said.
He found it difficult to apportion blame about the case in trying to extradite him to the US but pointed to the large part of the delay in challenging being attributable to his appeal to the European Court of Human Rights, where there is a backlog of some 150,000 cases.
You could say why couldnt he been given bail during the period he had to wait for the ECHR and that is the decision of the English judge who has to weigh up the factors, including risk of absconding and so on in order to determine whether in the public interest he needs to remain in prison.
After more than a decade, there remains the inflammatory use of terminology that has still not been resolved due to the insistence of misleadingly associating it with a religious identity that demonises Muslims. The latest attempt used by politicians and the media is to describe it as Islamist terrorism, which Anderson suggested he was not happy with. I said in my last annual report that I would avoid the word Islamist because it might be understood by people as synonymous for Islamic, plainly it is not. Therefore the term that I have used in my reports to date has been al Qaida related terrorism. The reviewer accepted that during the interview when he used the word Islamism in the wrong context then he shouldnt have done.

05-06-2016, 01:21 PM
i hate it there so any poeple that are blinded by racism and blame some culture or religion about it