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British Irish Rights Watch
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17 January 2006
In its assessment of the UK’s counter-terrorism proposals, the British Irish Rights Watch counsels that the definition of terrorism in the Bill is too broad, and that there is a real risk of ‘creating crimes without real victims’. Arguing that the usual aim of terrorist action is the overthrow of the state, they conclude that a democracy risks sliding into despotism if it makes the mistake of over-reacting to threats of terrorism. There is no attempt in the paper to differentiate between varying objectives of terrorist action.
Further criticism of the Bill includes commentary on the offences of ‘encouragement of terrorism’ and ‘glorification of terrorism’. It is argued that the former is meaningless and almost impossible to prove in practice, while the latter is similarly vague and unworkable. Both offences are deemed to be in violation of the right to freedom of expression.
The proposed three-month detention of suspects is viewed as unjustifiable due to the lack of a ‘state of emergency threatening the life of the nation’; similar measures in Northern Ireland are also seen as having contributed to an increase in IRA recruitment