UK Using Anti-Terror Laws To Harass And Intimidate Human Rights And Democracy Activists
from the shameful dept
You may recall that, last month, Glenn Greenwald’s partner David Miranda was detained at Heathrow for nearly 9 hours for helping Greenwald do journalism. There were many problems with this detention, not the least of which that officials used an anti-terrorism law, called Schedule 7, for the detention. The author of Schedule 7, Charles Falconer, specifically has said that the law wasn’t intended for such purposes. And yet, it appears that the UK authorities aren’t backing down from abusing Schedule 7 to intimidate people having nothing to do with terrorism.
The latest is using Schedule 7 to detain and intimidate a human rights and democracy activist from Yemen. Let me repeat it: this is someone advocating for democracy, and they’re being detained and harassed under an anti-terrorism law. Something is seriously screwed up here.
Baraa Shiban, a respected human rights activist who works in Yemen as a project co-ordinator for the London-based legal charity Reprieve and was travelling to London to speak at an event, said he was held for an hour on Monday night and questioned about his work and political views.
He was detained under schedule 7 to the Terrorism Act, the same legislation used last month at Heathrow to detain David Miranda, the partner of Glenn Greenwald, the Guardian journalist who has written about mass internet surveillance by the US National Security Agency and Britain’s GCHQ.
Shiban is a member of Yemen’s National Dialogue – the body tasked with mapping out the country’s democratic future
Shiban was going to the UK to give a speech on, of all things, “security, diplomacy and aid.” He may want to edit the planned remarks slightly. Shiban further pointed out that the detention was focused on his human rights activities. Remember this is under a law that is supposed to only be used to stop terrorists.
Shiban said: “I was stunned when the border agent said I was being held simply because I came from Yemen. It was even more shocking when he spent the entire time asking me about my human rights work and about Reprieve, the charity I work for.
“Is the UK the kind of place that human rights activists are fair game for detention, intimidation and interrogation?”
The excuse given by Sussex police is especially pathetic:
A spokesman said: “He was referred to Sussex police by Border Force officials. He spoke with officers for around half an hour and was then free to continue his journey. We are satisfied that our actions were legitimate, justified and proportionate and were carried out in accordance with the act.”
Remember, the act is supposed to only be used in investigating possible terrorist activity. These are the kinds of activities that we used to associate with authoritarian non-democratic countries. And now we’re regularly seeing such abuse in the US and the UK.