NI: Rights groups urge caution over new counter-terror bill

NI: Rights groups urge caution over new counter-terror bill

Human rights groups in Northern Ireland have warned against the introduction of new counter-terror legislation which will create a “stop and search zone” around the border and criminalise certain republican images.

The Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Bill is currently making its way through Westminster and is due for report stage and third reading.

The bill provides for members of the public to be stopped and searched if they are within a mile of the border to establish if they are entering or leaving Northern Ireland.

The Committee on the Administration of Justice (CAJ), based in Belfast, told The Irish News the bill would provide a statutory basis for “a kind of militarised zone along the border”.

Paul O’Connor from the Pat Finucane Centre called the bill “a recipe for disaster and confrontation”.

The bill’s provisions include stricter rules around people publishing images which “arouse reasonable suspicion that the person is a member or supporter of a proscribed organisation”.

CAJ deputy director Daniel Holder said: “The reality is, as it stands, if these laws were in fact applied to Northern Ireland, there would be huge community alienation, street violence would probably erupt and the cause of peace would be put back immeasurably.

“So if these counter-terrorism measures are not only useless but counter-productive for Northern Ireland, how are they appropriate for the rest of the UK?”

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