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Review of the definition of terrorism

Defining Terrorism

The Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation, Lord Carlile ofBerriew QC, held a public consultation in Glasgow on Tuesday 4 July as part of his review into the definition of terrorism, on behalf of the Government. People attending the meeting made it clear that didn't like the present definition of terrorism and they didn't want another one - they just wanted ther freedom back.

Terror watchdog hears complaints about repressive laws - SACC Press Release, 4 July 2006


According to the Terrorism Act 2000, "terrorism" covers a wide range of activities - including activities not involving violence to the person - carried out anywhere in the world to influence any government in the world.

The Terrorism Act 2006 makes it a criminal offence to "encourage" the public anywhere in the world to do things that meet this new definition of terrorism.

Parliament was so worried by the creation of a new offence based on this dangerous definition of terrorism that the government had to promise that Lord Carlile - the "independent" reviewer of terrorism legislation - would review the current definition of terrorism.

A number of organisations, including SACC, have made written submissions to the review that are highly critical of current legislation.
Read the SACC submission
Read the CAMPACC submission

Now Lord Carlile is planning to gather oral evidence at a series of seminars to be held around the UK:Belfast Monday 3 July, Glasgow Tuesday 4 July, London Wednesday 5 July, Cardiff Thursday 6 July, Nottingham Friday 7 July

The current definition of terrorism

According to the Terrorism Act 2000:

(1) In this Act "terrorism" means the use or threat of action where-

(a) the action falls within subsection (2),

(b) the use or threat is designed to influence the government or to intimidate the public or a section of the public, and

(c) the use or threat is made for the purpose of advancing a political, religious or ideological cause.

(2) Action falls within this subsection if it-

(a) involves serious violence against a person,

(b) involves serious damage to property,

(c) endangers a person's life, other than that of the person committing the action,

(d) creates a serious risk to the health or safety of the public or a section of the public, or

(e) is designed seriously to interfere with or seriously to disrupt an electronic system.

(3) The use or threat of action falling within subsection (2) which involves the use of firearms or explosives is terrorism whether or not subsection (1)(b) is satisfied.

(4) In this section-

(a) "action" includes action outside the United Kingdom,

(b) a reference to any person or to property is a reference to any person, or to property, wherever situated,

(c) a reference to the public includes a reference to the public of a country other than the United Kingdom, and

(d) "the government" means the government of the United Kingdom, of a Part of the United Kingdom or of a country other than the United Kingdom.

(5) In this Act a reference to action taken for the purposes of terrorism includes a reference to action taken for the benefit of a proscribed organisation.

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