Human Rights Under Renewed Threat From Asylum and Nationality Bill

Extracts from a debate in the House of Lords on the Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Bill (6th December). The full transcript can be found in Hansards

Baroness Stern: The new Clause 51 proposed by the Government will include within that definition acts of committing, preparing or instigating terrorism, and acts of encouraging or inducing others to commit, prepare or instigate terrorism, whether or not the acts themselves amount to an actual or “inchoate” offence. That may sound eminently reasonable until we remember, first, the definition of terrorism being used here, and, secondly, that it covers acts wherever they are committed, whether in Uzbekistan, North Korea or perhaps Burma.

I cannot do better than draw to the attention of the House the view of the Joint Committee of Human Rights on this issue:

“To redefine the scope of Article 1F(c) exclusion so as to catch anyone who has threatened damage to property as a means to political change anywhere in the world, and anyone who in the Secretary of State’s view has engaged in one of the unacceptable behaviours such as ‘justifying’ terrorism, is in our view to broaden the scope of the exclusion in Article 1F(c) in a way which is not itself compatible with the Refugee Convention”.

It seems to me, although of course I am not a lawyer, that advocating the overthrow of a repressive regime’for example, that in Uzbekistan’and supporting a move to another form of government such as democracy is enough to ensure that you will not get the protection of the United Kingdom, should you be able to flee before the secret police get you. In my view, that is a deeply shaming position for us to find ourselves in, and a long way from the haven for the Huguenots mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Brooke of Sutton Mandeville.

The position is not improved by the provision in Clause 7 that requires appeals against deportation on national security grounds to be brought out-of-country. The Joint Committee considers that the failure of the new clause to preserve an in-country appeal on asylum grounds gives rise to a risk of incompatibility with the refugee convention…

Clause 53 will introduce a new test for the deprivation of a person’s British citizenship….the basis for the Secretary of State to deprive a person of British citizenship will be that he is,

“satisfied that deprivation is conducive to the public good”….

I have one more question for the Minister: how do the Government propose to reconcile the work of the noble Lord, Lord Carlile, in reviewing the definition of terrorism in the 2000 Act with the plans to use that definition straight away across such a wide range of new legislation?