August 25, 2016Prevent Marginalised and vulnerable groups
Today the House of Commons Home Affairs Select Committee added its voice to the growing and urgent calls for an independent review of the Government’s decision to place the Prevent duty on a statutory basis. This echoes the calls that have been made by the Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation as well as numerous others including political parties, community groups and civil society organisations, including Rights Watch (UK).
The Committee has noted that there are serious concerns that the Prevent Strategy has failed to engage with and build the confidence of relevant communities and is proving counterproductive by alienating those who may be susceptible to radicalisation. The Committee also warned the Government not to introduce further legislation to deal with counter extremism that fails to fulfil its objectives, and noted the very serious implications that the proposed Counter Extremism and Safeguarding Bill could have on freedom of speech. The Committee noted that these concerns have been raised by the former and current national police leads on Prevent, as well as others.
Yasmine Ahmed, Director of Rights Watch (UK) said:
“Rights Watch (UK) strongly welcomes the call from the House of Commons Home Affairs Select Committee, which includes six members of the Conservative Government, to hold an independent review of the Government’s decision to place the Prevent duty on statutory basis. As noted in the Committees report and documented in Rights Watch (UK)’s landmark report ‘Preventing Education? Human Rights and UK Counter-Terrorism Policy in Schools’, the Prevent strategy is counter-productive. It alienated the same communities and individuals that the strategy identifies as needing to be engaged and is based on overly broad definitions of extremism that have the effect of stifling the freedoms of communities, including children in classrooms across the United Kingdom.
While we support the calls for an independent review of the statutory Prevent duty, Rights Watch (UK) is strongly of the view that there remain fundamental flaws with the strategy and the statutory duty. There was a complete lack of adequate consultation in formulating the strategy, and a failure to consider how the statutory duty would impact on the rights of children. Further, Prevent relies on an overly broad definition of extremism, and ambiguous and unsubstantiated indicators of extremism. All this, and the documented impact the strategy is having on the rights of Muslim communities, including children, means that the strategy in its current form must be abandoned, not rebranded.”
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