JCHR: Counter-Extremism Strategy, 2016

I gave evidence on 9 March 2016, alongside my predecessor Lord Carlile, at the request of¬†the parliamentary Joint Committee of Human Rights¬†to its¬†new enquiry into the Government’s Counter-Extremism Strategy.¬† You can watch the video here, and read the transcript here.

The questioning lasted for 80 minutes and was broad in its scope.¬† Matters touched upon included the evolution of the Prevent strategy, the Prevent duty in schools and universities, proposals for compulsory inspection of madrasas and the Counter-Extremism Bill that was proposed in the Conservative manifesto and announced in the Queen’s Speech last year.

Harriet Harman MP, Chair of the JCHR, has already written to the Home Secretary about the Counter-Extremism Bill, repeating the 15 questions that I raised about it myself in chapter 9 of my report of September 2015.

The JCHR’s inquiry will no doubt cover some of the same ground as the Home Affairs Select Committee’s current enquiry, to which I have also given evidence.¬† The JCHR will however focus on the human rights aspect of the subject.

As I made clear in the session, my statutory duties are limited to counter-terrorism law and do not extend to the counter-extremism strategy.  I do not see classified documents relating to Prevent, or speak to Ministers about the strategy.  That is one reason why I have recommended some form of distinct independent review of the Prevent strategy, a suggestion which was supported in the evidence session by Lord Carlile.  But the subject is not one that I can realistically avoid, given the link between the two areas and the current preoccupations both of parliamentary committees and of the groups to which I talk around the country.

The evidence session was reported in The Daily Mail, The Guardian and Middle East Eye.

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