Yesterday, the House of Lords passed an amendment to the Counter Terrorism and Border Security Bill to exempts aid workers, and others with a legitimate reason to travel to areas where extremist groups operate, from prosecution.
Under the original proposals, if an individual, including aid workers, was unable to demonstrate they had “a reasonable excuse for entering or remaining in the designated area”, they could have received a sentence of up to 10 years in prison.
The amendment now means that aid workers and others who have a legitimate reason to travel to designated areas, such as journalists, could now be exempt if the Bill passes unchanged through the both the House of Lords and the House of Commons.
The amendment was supported by former independent reviewer of counter-terrorism legislation, Lord Anderson of Ipswich, as well as the former deputy assistant commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, Lord Paddick, and NGO worker, Lord Sandwich. The amendment was passed by 220 votes to 191.
Reacting to the news, Claire Godfrey, head of policy and campaigns at Bond, the UK network that represents UK international development NGOs said:
"We are thankful and reassured that peers have supported this crucial amendment. We are one step closer towards ensuring that aid workers who travel to insecure countries for no other reason but to deliver lifesaving aid are not caught out by the Counter Terrorism and Border Security Bill. It is crucial that they can continue to provide food, water, shelter and medical assistance to the most vulnerable unhindered. We now appeal to MPs from all parties to uphold this important amendment when the Bill returns to the Commons."
Notes to editor
- Last week, the chief executives of 23 leading humanitarian, peacebuilding and development agencies and think-tanks signed a joint statement coordinated by Bond calling on peers to introduce an exemption for aid workers and others who have a legitimate reason to travel to designated areas, such as journalists. Read the statement here: https://www.bond.org.uk/press-releases/2018/11/uks-leading-ngos-concerned-aid-workers-journalists-and-development
- Bond is the UK network for organisations working in international development. Bond unites and supports a diverse network of over 400 civil society organisations and allies to help eradicate global poverty, inequality and injustice.
- For further information or interviews please contact Maryam Mohsin on 07555 336029 or [email protected]