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Proscription of Hezbollah

Published Tuesday, January 23, 2018

A Backbench Business Committee debate on Proscription of Hezbollah is scheduled for Thursday 25 January 2018. The debate will be opened by Joan Ryan MP.

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Under the Terrorism Act 2000 (the 2000 Act), the Home Secretary may proscribe an organisation if she believes it is "concerned in terrorism". For the purposes of the Act, this means that the organisation:

  • commits or participates in acts of terrorism;
  • prepares for terrorism;
  • promotes or encourages terrorism (including the unlawful glorification of terrorism); or
  • is otherwise concerned in terrorism.

It is a criminal offence for a person to belong to or invite support for a proscribed organisation. It is also a criminal offence to arrange a meeting to support a proscribed organisation or to wear clothing or to carry articles in public which arouse reasonable suspicion that an individual is a member or supporter of the proscribed organisation.

Proscription means that the financial assets of the organisation become terrorist property and can be subject to freezing and seizure.

Hizbollah – or the Party of God – is a powerful political and military organisation of Shia Muslims in Lebanon. The group was formed, with financial backing from Iran, in response to the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982. The group calls for the destruction of the state of Israel. It regards the whole of Palestine as occupied Muslim land and argues that Israel has no right to exist. It also demands the release of prisoners from Lebanon who are being held in Israeli jails.

The UK proscribes the military wing of Hizbollah as a terrorist group, but not the political side of the organisation. The UK Government has long held the view that Hizbollah’s military wing has been involved in conducting and supporting terrorism, and in March 2001, the Hizbollah External Security Organisation (ESO), part of the broader military wing of Hizbollah, was added to the list of proscribed organisations under the Terrorism Act 2000.

On 2 July 2008, Parliament passed The Terrorism Act 2000 (Proscribed Organisations) (Amendment) (No. 2) Order 2008, extending the prohibition to the whole of the military wing of Hizbollah.

At the time, the Government emphasised that this would not affect Hizbollah’s political, social and humanitarian activities. The current Government has also confirmed that proscription is limited to Hizbollah’s military wing, and does not apply to the organisation’s political activities.

Commons Debate packs CDP-2018-0015

Authors: Joanna Dawson; Ben Smith; Sarah Pepin

Topics: Middle East, Terrorism

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