RIGHTS groups yesterday slammed government plans for new laws to stop British nationals, who have been suspected of travelling to Syria and Iraq to fight for Islamic State, returning to the UK.
Prime minister Cameron, who is in Australia for the G20 summit, announced the plans in a speech to the country’s parliament in Canberra.
The proposals, which were first outlined in September, form part of the Counter-Terrorism Bill, due to be published before the end of the month. Downing Street said it hoped the bill would be law by the end of January.
Under the Temporary Exclusion Orders, British citizens suspected of fighting with Islamic State (IS) militants would be stopped from re-entering the UK unless they gave themselves up at the border.
Suspects would have their passport cancelled and their name would be added to a ‘no-fly list’ that would prevent them travelling to Britain.
They would only be allowed to return if they agreed to be escorted by the police before facing either prosecution or close supervision under monitoring powers.
The exclusion orders would last for up to two years at a time and could be renewed. Breaches could lead to a prison sentence.
Civil liberties group Liberty director Shami Chakrabarti said: ‘Dumping suspect citizens like toxic waste, abdicating your responsibilities to the international community, is a very strange way of promoting the rule of law.
‘Summary powers to “stop and seize” passports at airports will prove just as divisive and counter-productive as the infamous stop and search powers that preceded them.’
The planned new counter-terrorism laws stand to disproportionately target Muslim travellers, said the Islamic Human Rights Commission (IHRC).
The group said: ‘IHRC believes that the plans to put suspects on a no-fly list and cancel their passports would amount to rendering them stateless.
‘Along with other human rights organisations we have strongly opposed the extensive and unprecedented use of denaturalisation by the current UK government to punish citizens whose presence in the UK it deems undesirable.’