The following submission was made to the Isle of Man's Department of Home Affairs in response to a call for submissions on the draft Anti Terrorism and Crime Bill. 5th April 2002

 
The history of the UK's Prevention of Terrorism Act in the Isle of Man (any arguments about this legislation being "Manx" are impertinent) renders this legislation without credibility. It has been infamously invoked on the strength of a malicious and unsupported allegation against a totally innocent Irish family in Ramsey. It was used to send armed officers to the flat of then prominent homosexual rights campaigner, Alan Shea, again on the strength of a malicious and unsupported call to the police. The law permitting intimate body searches, opposed by Mec Vannin, was also first used against a visitor on the strength of a malicious allegation.

This indicates that the authorities in the Isle of Man are not sufficiently responsible to have such extensive powers and this view has been more recently reinforced by the arrests made under the name of "Operation Safe" (the details of this operation and the lack of convictions against many of those arrested can be obtained elsewhere). It also proves that existing legislation contains insufficient safeguards to prevent the abuses mentioned. The lack of safe-guards is evident in the proposed Bill.

As is admitted in the preamble, the proposed Bill is developed from the UKlegislation and is another depressing instance of copy-cat legislation. Disturbingly, however, it has previously been claimed that failure to adopt such legislation under the name of the government in the Isle of Man would result in the UK government implementing it directly. As such, it is an example of the government in the Isle of Man being a tool of the UK government to achieve its own ideological ends which are, more than ever, closely tied to the ideological objectives of the United States of America.

The USA's behaviour since the events of September 11th 2001 have caused considerably more international concern than we, in a very heavily pro-UK (and hence US) media environment, are generally made aware. Even so, the lack of international support cannot help but show through in the cracks. The USA's unilateral direct actions in other sovereign jurisdictions, often on the strength of nothing better than suspicion, are not supportable in an international context. The bombing of a Sudanese medical factory and the invasion of Grenada are but two examples which are, under the proposed legislation's own clauses,terrorism (1(2)) which brings us to the rhetorical question of application: Are "western" governments and their agencies implicitly exempted?

In this instance, the International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism, New York, 9 December 1999 is cited as the incentive for adopting this legislation. This Convention closed for signature in December 2001. Having legislation in place is not a prerequisite for signing and, as a colonial administration of the UK, the government in the Isle of Man is not capable of signing in its own right. Subject to the UK having signed, the government in the Isle of Man could
ask the Convention to be extended at any time provided that a commitment to implement the requirements was given. Given that this Convention has been around for over two years, the sudden "urgency" that has limited any proper public debate is, at best, suspicious.

In the final analysis, there is nothing in the proposed Bill that cannot be achieved under other existing legislation, albeit with modification in certain instances. If the regulations to prevent the use of the Isle of Man for financial crime even approached the levels previously claimed, compliance with the UN Convention would already be in place.

The UN convention cited as the reason for this legislation ONLY applies to funding and collection of funds for acts defined as "terrorism" and, as such, all that is required (yet again) is that the deficient regulation of the finance sector be addressed.

"The Convention requires each State Party to take appropriate measures, in accordance with its domestic legal principles, for the detection and freezing, seizure or forfeiture of any funds used or allocated for the purposes of committing the offences described."

Just how such provisions were not included in existing legislation regarding financial crime is a matter for us to speculate upon, as is the reason for urgency to rush through legislation to allegedly comply with a UN Convention that was established over two years ago.

Providing the public with a mere fortnight to make meaningful submission to a Bill of 147 pages in total is laughable. It is, at the same time, apparent that considerable private consultation with the finance industry took place before drawing up this legislation. Since this legislation provides extensive powers to arrest, detain and search individuals and their properties, assets etc. the undue prominence given to exempting those working within "regulated businesses" reveals this legislation to be
nothing more than a cosmetic sop to the UN Convention whilst providing a dangerously powerful tool towards advancing the police state.

Without prejudice to our view that this legislation is superfluous:

The reliance upon a UK register of proscribed organisations is unacceptable (2(1)). If this is to comply with an International Convention, then an international yard-stick must be used.

The Governor in Council should not be given any additional powers  under any legislation (2(2), (2(3)). This is contrary to the development of independence and the de-colonisation of the Isle of Man by the UK.

Aspects of section 4 are open to abuse and could impinge on freedom of thought and expression.

The disclosure exemptions relating to "regulated sector" (11) is a demonstration of the political grip in which the finance industry holds the government in the Isle of Man. Reliable information supplied to MecVannin indicates that internal investigation procedures within the "regulated sector" are flawed and are more to give the appearance of regulation rather than actual regulation.

Whereas performing any act that assists someone when criminal activity is suspected can be reasonably outlawed, making it an offence not to report a mere suspicion is unsustainable. Conversely, the express exemption of those employed in the primary areas that this Bill is aimed at to allow their employers to internalise the matter is a nonsense. Irrespective of their type of employment, if a person performs an act that they have reasonable grounds to suspect as assisting criminal behaviour, then an offence can be deemed to have been committed.

Under this legislation, an employee (other than those working in the industry most likely to encounter the alleged subject of the Bill) will be required to literally go running to the police on nothing more than suspicion without first consulting their employer or without obtaining any substantiation for their suspicion, or risk being accused of an offence. The police are then bound to act and the result is a gross invasion of privacy.

Complementary to this dangerous shift away from reasonable grounds and towards investigation and detention without due cause is the repeated necessity to prove innocence under a host of clauses. The proof of innocence is virtually impossible and is entirely against natural justice.This is further reflective of a police state mentality.

The police powers and Counter Terrorist Measures sections are yet further effective carte-blanche for police action that by-passes the normal prerequisites for protection of civil liberties. Much of the legislation is straight forward duplication of existing legislation, such as the Maritime Securities Act, the Criminal Justice Act and various Acts relating to financial crime.

In conclusion, Mec Vannin can offer no support for this Bill. It must be re-iterated that the proper way to implement compliance with the UN Convention is to modify existing financial crimes legislation whilst addressing the erosion of individual rights that has taken place on the excuse of "preventing terrorism" over the past two decades.
 


 
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