UK and NL ban glorification of terrorism

By EDRi · August 10, 2005

In a similar move both the UK and Dutch governments have revealed plans against the justification and glorification of terrorist and other offences.

The UK proposal would authorise the Home secretary to deport any foreigner involved in extremist bookshops, centres, organisations and websites. The UK government plans to draw up a list of specific extremist websites, bookshops, centres, networks and particular organisations of concern. Active engagement with any of these will be a trigger for the home secretary to consider deportation. The UK proposal also makes justifying or glorifying terrorism anywhere an offence. It is unclear if the list with extremist sites and bookshops would be made public or kept secret.

In a consultation document the active involvement in a website is described as “running a website”. The document states that the UK government considers as extreme views: to foment terrorism or seek to provoke others to terrorist acts; justify or glorify terrorism; foment other serious criminal activity or seek to provoke others to serious criminal acts; foster hatred which may lead to inter-community violence in the UK and advocate violence in furtherance of particular beliefs.

The UK civil liberties organisation Liberty is concerned with the proposals. In a statement Liberty says it is “alarmed by [the] intention to return individuals to countries where they may face torture. Torturing, or sending people to face torture, can never be justified”. Liberty goes on saying “that the criminal offence of condoning, glorifying, or justifying terrorism is broad enough to catch moderate as well as ranting politicians and religious spokespeople”.

On 28 July the Dutch minister of Justice presented a draft law which makes it possible to prosecute individuals who glorify, trivialise or deny war crimes, genocide or terrorist attacks. Not all acts of glorification would be banned, according to a ministry of justice statement only “if they seriously disturb or could disturb the public order”.

The Dutch law is not directly presented as an anti-terrorism measure. According to the Dutch minister of Justice Donner it “is the task of the government to raise the social debate to acceptable standards”. “The current shape of the public debate in the Netherlands is of great concern”, the Minister wrote as clarification. “Offensive remarks can cause tension between sections of the population and promote radicalisation.” The minister also believes that glorification “can hurt the general public to the core and generate intense social concerns”. “The Minister is of the opinion that the public debate in the Netherlands should be maintained at a proper level and ought to be a matter of concern to all Dutch citizens”.

The explanatory report that accompanies the draft law does not limit prosecution to the glorification of past terrorist acts; “the glorification of a future terrorist crime is also possible and could have a similar grave impact”. The internet is not mentioned in the Dutch texts but glorification of a terrorist crime on websites could be prosecuted under the draft law.

Exclusion or deportation from the UK on non-conducive grounds: consultation document (05.08.2005)

Prime Minister threatens fundamental human rights (05.08.2005)

New Bill would make glorification of very serious offences a crime (28.07.2005)

(Contribution by Maurice Wessling, Bits of Freedom)