Silence = crime

IssueOctober - November 2017
News by Milan Rai

On 25 September, a Muslim human rights activist was found guilty by Westminster magistrates of the crime of not handing over the passwords to his phone and laptop.

Muhammad Rabbani, international director of Muslim anti-repression group CAGE, ‘wilfully obstructed’ an examination under schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act 2000 at Heathrow airport last November (see PN 2606–2607). He was given a 12-month conditional discharge and ordered to pay £620 in costs.

Rabbani refused to surrender his passwords on the grounds that his devices contained confidential testimony relating to torture.

Under schedule 7, there is no right to silence and it is a criminal offence not to answer questions, or to refuse to be strip-searched or to give a DNA sample. It is an offence to withhold the password to your phone or laptop.

Tens of thousands of people, disproportionately Asians, are detained and questioned under schedule 7 every year at British ports and airports.

Topics: Repression