The Joint Committee on Human Rights (JCHR) today publishes its Eighth Report of the Session 2010-11 on the Renewal of Control Orders Legislation 2011.
On the day on which the House of Commons debates the draft Order renewing the current control orders regime, the Joint Committee on Human Rights (JCHR) publishes its Report on the issue, calling for an urgent review of the eight control orders currently in force. The House of Lords will debate the draft Order on Tuesday 8 March.
A control order can be made against any individual where the Secretary of State has reasonable grounds for suspecting that a person is or has been involved in terrorism-related activity and considers it necessary to impose obligations on that person for purposes connected with protecting members of the public from a risk of terrorism. The draft Order will renew this regime until legislation to implement a new, less intrusive system, comes into effect following on from the Government’s Review of Counter-Terrorism and Security Powers. The new system will be known as Terrorism Investigation and Prevention Measures.
The Report welcomes the Government’s commitment to repealing the control order regime and its renewed commitment to the priority of criminal prosecution. However, the Committee concludes that merely to renew the control order regime through the draft Order is not consistent with the Government’s own Review of Counter-Terrorism and Security Powers, which found that certain restrictions used in control orders are objectionable in principle and more intrusive then necessary.
The Committee urges the Government to review all existing control orders to ensure they are compatible with the findings of the Review. Where the Review found that certain requirements cannot be justified because they are too intrusive, those obligations in existing control orders should be removed or reduced, and no new control orders should be made containing such obligations.
The Report also concludes that:
- The Director of Public Prosecutions should be asked to consider whether a criminal investigation is justified for each of the eight individuals subject to existing control orders and whether everything possible is being done to gather evidence with a view to prosecution.
- The Government should explain how it proposes to justify maintaining control orders on individuals for more than two years in the absence of any new evidence of their involvement in terrorism.
- The Minister should meet representatives of the special advocates to discuss their continuing concerns about the fairness of the special advocates system.
Dr Hywel Francis MP, Chair of the Committee, said that
"The Committee welcomes the Government's announcement of the repeal of the existing control order regime. However, the Government’s decision merely to renew the existing scheme contradicts the findings of its recent Review, that certain restrictions in control orders are neither necessary nor justifiable. All control orders currently in place should be urgently reviewed to ensure they are compatible with the Review’s findings."