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Why abscond from a terrorism measure?

Written by Asim Qureshi Wednesday, 02 January 2013
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“To be honest, I couldn’t see any future here with the control orders and with the life I was being forced to live under the control orders. In the case in the Old Bailey, one of the liaison officers said that he felt that it would have been good for me to get out and go and get a job doing something else, as the control order completely dominated my life. The irony is that I could not get a job without Home Office permission and I would have to find an employer who would not mind the Home Office calling him and asking if he knew I was a terrorist. With the security vetting, it made it altogether impossible to get work. Even the police officers recognised that this was my life and that it controlled and dominated everything and it was those pressures and that stress that led me to leave; in that contextual moment when a door opened up and there seemed to be an opportunity to escape, I took it. It was not the best decision of my life, but it was a decision taken in the moment and it has to be considered within the context that it was taken.” [Cerie Bullivant – former control order detainee]

 

 

When Cerie Bullivant absconded from his control order in 2007, his anonymity order was removed and his face was placed all over the country. I remember walking into a petrol station and having seen a wanted poster, requesting the public to remain vigilant and to report him if spotted. Eventually, Cerie decided to fight his control order and subsequently won his battle against the false allegations levelled against him.

Control orders are no longer in effect, however replacing them is a measure that is equally draconian. The Terrorism Prevention Investigative Measures or TPIMs have been brought in to perform the function that control orders once did. While the restrictions placed on individuals may not retain the same severity as the previous orders, the controversial use of secret evidence remains the most damaging aspect of the government’s policy.

While many human rights groups and lawyers welcomed the change in restrictions that TPIMs brought, they missed the fundamental abuse that causes distress to those subjected to their regime. The use of secret evidence has been documented extensively in our report, Detention Immorality, where a number of detainees speak of how not knowing the evidence against them, destroyed them and their families.

On the last day of 2012, the police released to the media the details of Ibrahim Maggag, who they claim absconded from his control order. While his absconsion has not been verified, he has not been heard from in some time. Despite the need to place Maggag on a terrorism prevention measure, they have specifically stated that he poses no threat to the public.

During the recent Abu Qatada debate, Maggag rang the radio station, LBC 97.3, and spoke the presenter Nick Ferarri. During the show, he explained that while Abu Qatada had chosen to fight deportation out of the UK, he had requested that instead of being persecuted, that he be allowed to leave and go to a Muslim country where he would not be subjected to allegations that had little factual basis.

It is important to place Maggag’s disappearance within the context of the measures he has faced. A great deal of strain is placed on the individual and their families, as restrictions are placed on their lives that go beyond all measure. Based on what the police have publicly revealed in terms of the lack of danger he poses, it should be questioned as to the extent to which Maggag should have been subjected to a system of preventative terrorism measures.

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