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United Kingdom: Domestic Far Right Political Group Banned Under Terrorism Law

(Dec. 29, 2016) National Action, a neo-Nazi group established in the United Kingdom in 2013, is the first extreme right-wing group to be proscribed as a terrorist organization under the UK’s Terrorism Act 2000. (The Terrorism Act 2000 (Proscribed Organisations) (Amendment) (No. 3) Order 2016, SI 2016/1238, LEGISLATION.GOV.UK.)  The Secretary of State found that the group was concerned in terrorism and described it as:

… a racist, antisemitic and homophobic organisation which stirs up hatred, glorifies violence and promotes a vile ideology.  It has absolutely no place in a Britain that works for everyone.  Proscribing it will prevent its membership from growing, stop the spread of poisonous propaganda and protect vulnerable young people at risk of radicalisation from its toxic views.  (Press Release, Home Office, National Action Becomes First Extreme Right-Wing Group to Be Banned in UK (Dec. 16, 2016).)

The Terrorism Act allows the Secretary of State to proscribe groups if he or believes that an organization is promoting, encouraging, preparing for, committing, participating in, or otherwise involved in terrorism.   (Terrorism Act 2000, c. 11, § 3, LEGISLATION.GOV.UK.) Once an organization falls within the statutory definition of a terrorist organization that can be proscribed under the legislation, the Secretary of State must consider whether it is proportionate to exercise his or her discretion to do so.  In exercising this discretion, the Secretary of State considers a number of factors, including:

  • the nature and scale of an organisation’s activities;
  • the specific threat that it poses to the UK;
  • the specific threat that it poses to British nationals overseas;
  • the extent of the organisation’s presence in the UK; and
  • the need to support other members of the international community in the global fight against terrorism. (HOME OFFICE, PROSCRIBED TERRORIST ORGANISATIONS, Home Office website (Dec. 16, 2016).)

Proscription serves to prohibit all activities related to membership in the affected group, such as wearing clothing of the organization, or support (including administrative, financial, and organizational) of a proscribed organization and carries penalties of up to ten years of imprisonment and/or a fine.  (Terrorism Act 2000, c. 11, §§ 11-13.)

The provisions were implemented with the aim that prohibiting terrorist organizations will prevent the UK from becoming a base for the financing and organization of international terrorists by precluding the supply of materials to proscribed organizations and enabling authorities to seize their assets and criminalize behaviors connected to these organizations. (PROSCRIBED TERRORIST ORGANISATIONS, supra.)

A procedure is in place that allows any proscribed organization, or person affected by such a proscription, to apply to the Home Secretary for de-proscription. If the application is rejected, the organization or person can appeal to the Proscribed Organizations Appeal Commission and then the Court of Appeal, which will review the decision. (Terrorism Act 2000, c. 11, §§ 4-6.)

There are currently 71 organizations that are proscribed under this legislation, including Al Qaeda, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), and 14 organizations related to Northern Ireland. (PROSCRIBED TERRORIST ORGANISATIONS, supra.)