House of Commons Library

Proscribed Terrorist Organisations

Published Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Proscription has been put forward as a powerful deterrent, a way of tackling lower-level support for terrorism, and a signal of rejection by society. However, questions have been raised as to its utility in combating terrorism. This paper sets out the grounds for proscription, the related offences under the Terrorism Act 2000, and some of the issues relating to the deproscription process.

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Prior to the Terrorism Act 2000, proscription was exclusively concerned with terrorism connected with the affairs of Northern Ireland. Under the 2000 Act, proscription was extended to include organisations concerned with both domestic and international terrorism.

The Home Secretary may proscribe an organisation if he or she believes it is “concerned in terrorism”.

The 2000 Act sets out a number of proscription offences. These include belonging to or inviting support for a proscribed organisation; arranging or assisting with the arrangement of a meeting that supports a proscribed organisation; addressing such a meeting; or wearing clothing or displaying articles in public which arouse suspicion of membership or support of a proscribed organisation.

De-proscription is currently done by way of application. The former Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation made repeated recommendations to introduce time limits to proscription orders, and to reform the process to bring it in line with other executive measures and ensure adherence to the rule of law. These recommendations have not been implemented to date.

Whilst proscription has been posited as a powerful deterrent, a way of tackling lower-level support for terrorism, and a signal of rejection by society, questions have been raised as to its utility in combating terrorism.

The Annex to this paper includes a current list of proscribed organisations and a description of their activities.

Commons Briefing papers SN00815

Author: Joanna Dawson

Topics: Intelligence services, Terrorism

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