Calls for increased transparency in Prevent scheme
Date: 7th March 2017
The UK's Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation, David Anderson QC, has called for the government to increase transparency in its flagship counter-extremism programme, Prevent.
In an opinion piece written for the Evening Standard newspaper, Anderson said that despite the successes achieved in diverting some young people away from violent extremism that "significant reform" was necessary. Anderson specifically called for independent oversight of the system, publication and debate of intervention criteria and moves towards greater openness to dispel claims that the scheme was an attack on civil liberties or the Muslim faith.
Prevent has been criticised by human rights experts, including the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and of Association and the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination for its collection and retention of data on individuals, including children, without their consent.
As written in Together's State of Children's Rights 2016 report, a number of Together's members have raised concerns about the appropriateness of using a network of education professionals in the frontline of counter-terrorism efforts. Roshni notes that according to its own research and experience hosting live events and national conferences, there is significant concern that these strategies have the potential to alienate children from different cultural backgrounds. There is specific concern that rights to privacy, freedom of belief and freedom of movement are being infringed directly by counter-extremism policies.
The UNCRC Concluding Observation recommends strengthening the oversight mechanism, including regular independent reviews, to assess and ensure that the implementation of the counter-terrorism and counter-extremism measures, including the Prevent Strategy (2011), will not have a discriminatory or stigmatizing impact on any group of children.
Together recommends that Scottish Government should assess measures taken to counter terrorism in terms of their impact on children's rights. Measures should be developed in collaboration with those children most likely to be affected and be monitored, evaluated and reviewed on an ongoing basis.
- Read page 30 of Together's 2016 State of Children's Rights report here.
- Read criticism from the UN Special Rapporteur and the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.
- Read the opinion piece from David Anderson QC.