The UK Parliament's Joint Select Committee on Human Rights has published its report on counter-extremism. It is fiercely critical of the Government's sketch proposals for a Counter Extremism and Safeguarding Bill, but it soft-peddles woefully on Prevent.
The report's summary says:
"The Government has indicated its intention to combat political and religious extremism that it believes leads to harmful activity or behaviour - going beyond its Prevent programme that was initially aimed at preventing violent extremism. It originally announced a Counter-Extremism Bill in May 2015. It published a separate Counter-Extremism Strategy in October 2015. While no Bill emerged in the 2015-16 Parliamentary session, a Counter-Extremism and Safeguarding Bill was again included in the Queen’s Speech in May 2016. Despite having featured in two Queen’s Speeches, and despite publication of a formal strategy, the Government is still not able to say what the timetable or contents of its counter-extremism legislation will be. Progress on this Bill therefore appears to have stalled, or even gone backwards, and the Government has retreated from providing any level of detail."
The summary concludes:
"The Government should not legislate, least of all in areas which impinge on human rights, unless there is a clear gap in the existing legal framework. The current counter-terrorism, public order and equality legislation, including the Public Order Act 1986 and the Terrorism Act 2000, form an extensive legal framework for dealing with people who promote violence. So far, the Government has not been able to demonstrate that a significant gap in this framework exists."
The report criticises Prevent for lack of transparency and says it is "too early to reach any definitive conclusions on the success of the Prevent Duty in schools". But it fails to recognise that Prevent is an attempt at mass policing of political views and fails to acknowledge the Islamophobia built into Prevent.
The report was published on 22 July and can be read here.
The members of the Joint Committee on Human Rights are:
From the House of Commons: Harriet Harman QC MP (Labour, Camberwell and Peckham) (Chair), Fiona Bruce MP (Conservative, Congleton), Karen Buck MP (Labour, Westminster North), Jeremy Lefroy MP (Conservative, Stafford), Mark Pritchard MP (Conservative, The Wrekin), Amanda Solloway MP (Conservative, Derby North)
From the Houe of Lords: Baroness Hamwee (Liberal Democrat), Lord Henley (Conservative), Baroness Lawrence of Clarendon (Labour), Baroness Prosser (Labour), Lord Trimble (Conservative), Lord Woolf (Crossbench)