66. The Special Rapporteur notices a significant potential to draw some “lessons learnt” from the response to the sectarian tensions in Northern Ireland and to address new challenges in devising counter-terrorism measures in the United Kingdom. Whilst the Special Rapporteur is conscious of the fact that States are obliged to take effective measures in combating terrorist attacks, she has received allegations of the abuse of counter-terrorism laws which are largely perceived to target the Muslim population in the United Kingdom.
67. The Special Rapporteur is concerned about reports that Muslims are regularly subjected to screening of their personal data, house searches, interrogations and arrests solely because of their religious affiliation. Profiling techniques based on physical appearance seem to cause anger among many young Muslims and may lead to a lack of trust between the police and communities. Consequently, the alienation of certain ethnic and religious groups may also have negative implications for law-enforcement efforts and for the gathering of intelligence in the counter-terrorism context. The Special Rapporteur would like to reiterate the concluding observations of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, which encouraged the Government to implement effectively its decision to ensure that all “stops and searches” are recorded and that a copy of the record form be given to the person concerned.
68. Furthermore, several provisions in counter-terrorism legislation seem to be overly broad and vaguely worded. Under the principles of criminal law, criminal liability is limited to clear and precise provisions in the law in order to ensure that it is not subject to interpretation which would broaden the scope of the proscribed conduct. Similar concerns have already been expressed by the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights while countering terrorism, Martin Scheinin, who specifically referred to terms and concepts in the Terrorism Act 2006, such as “indirectly encouraging” acts of terrorism and “glorification”, interpreted as including “any form of praise or celebration” (A/HRC/4/26/Add.1, para. 63). In addition, he reiterated the opinion that the possibility of 28 days of detention without charge is too long unless there is a regular judicial review of all aspects of the detention, including the reasons for it and any arguments the detainee may wish to present to contest them. The Special Rapporteur would also like to refer to Mr. Scheinin’s recent conclusions and recommendations with regard to terrorist-profiling practices, including profiling based on religion (A/HRC/4/26, paras. 83-89).