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Proposed travel ban to certain parts of the world needs regular review, Ipswich lawyer argues

The House of Lords. Picture: Oli Scarff/PA Wire

The House of Lords. Picture: Oli Scarff/PA Wire

An “unprecedented” new power to stop UK residents travelling to the most dangerous parts of the world should be regularly reviewed, a leading lawyer has argued.

Lord Anderson of Ipswich made the remarks during a parliamentary debate on the new Counter Terrorism and Border Security Bill currently being debated in the House of Lords.

According to the Home Office, the change is needed to “update, and close gaps in existing counter-terrorism legislation to ensure that it is fit for the digital age and reflect contemporary patterns of radicalisation”.

One part of the law is to “provide for a new offence of entering or remaining in an area outside the UK that has been designated in regulations by the secretary of state in order to protect the public from a risk of terrorism”.

Lord Anderson - a leading barrister from Ipswich who was the UK’s Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation between 2011 and 2017 - said countries with similar laws have only restricted travel to very limited areas, such as the most dangerous parts of Syria.

But during the debate, it was suggested the power could not only be used in Syria but also parts of Africa and the Philippines.

“If this highly restrictive offence is to be justified at all, it must surely be to protect British citizens and residents from the physical or psychological consequences of being in war zones where terrorist organisations are operating,” the life peer told defence minister Earl Howe.

Lord Anderson tabled an amendment to the bill which he said was “consistent with reviews taking place, where necessary, on a more than annual basis”.

But the cross bencher raised concerns reviews could be completed only every three years.

He said: “This is a very heavy new power, unprecedented as far as I know in our history, whereby British citizens are simply prohibited from traveling to certain parts of the world.

“I ask the minister to consider whether it can really be the case either that no timed review of this power should be required or that, if a time is to be affixed to it, it should be an interval as great as every three years.

“That seems a very long time for these important rights of travel to be withheld.”

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