Vigilance urged against wrongful arrest of Muslims

The Government’s independent reviewer of anti-terrorism legislation is seeking to ensure that Muslims are not wrongfully arrested during the Olympic Games in London.

In an interview with The Muslim News, David Anderson QC also said he wanted an explanation about the controversial deployment of anti aircraft missiles in residential areas in east London, where the games are centred, and further questioned if the powers of Section 7 stop and searches at ports were necessarily justified.

“I have asked the Government for details of power under which they have placed these missiles on the top the people’s roofs. It does seem rather a strong measure to take,” Anderson said.

He said that he needed to be “constantly vigilant” during the Olympics after previously warning that there could be “more cases of wrongful arrests of innocent suspects” when carrying out a review of the wrongful detention of six Muslim cleaners under terrorism laws during the Pope’s visit in September 2010.

“I am watching like a hawk,” the independent reviewer told The Muslim News. “We have a lot of people in intelligence agencies manning their desks, again their leave cancelled and no doubt there will be a temptation for people to use that time as the Olympics become closer to arrest people. There is a possibility that people will get worried and they will resort to power of arrest,” he said.

“If we were to see a large increase in arrests of Muslims during Olympic period, even of only 50 people or a 100 people, something like that, I have no doubt there would need to be an inquiry into it, for exactly the same reason that you gave because one would need to be absolutely sure that proper; reasonable suspicion did exist,”

The interview was carried out just prior to the publication of his second report in which he called for a review of police powers to stop and question people at ports and airports on terrorism grounds, suggested restrictions on powers allowing the government to ban terrorism groups and also said police should be able to release some suspects arrested under the Terrorism Act 2000 on bail.

Withy regard to Schedule 7, he admitted that it was “indeed more likely that you would be stopped and examined at a port if are a Muslim or indeed if you are of Asian appearance for North African appearance or Middle Eastern Appearance than if you are white” and voiced reservations about the extent of the power being applied.

“I have heard a lot of complaints of insensitive questioning of Muslims. I have no doubt some them are justified.,” Anderson said. “My strong hope remains that there will be a consultation and review and my strong plea to all those who feel that the power have been unjustly or wrongly exercised or it is too broad is that they should make a submission to that consultation and if they have a specific example of being badly or unfairly treated, then they make a formal complaint to the Independent Complaints Commission which deals with every Schedule 7 complaints,” he said.

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