Leaving lockdown

This latest report from UK think tank the Henry Jackson Society looks at the impact of Covid-19 on civil liberties and national security in the US and UK.

Pandemic legislation is so enormous in scope that a new official based on the Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation is needed to monitor its efficacy and impact on civil rights according to a new report. The report argues that in language, scope and purpose, the state response to the public safety emergency triggered by Coronavirus is comparable to the measures it has adopted in response on the war on terror. Accordingly, it claims that lessons can be learned from these efforts. Identifying cross-overs between terrorism and pandemic questions, the report raises questions about: emergency legislation and the potential for unforeseen consequences in legislation that has been enacted with a minimum level of scrutiny; data mining; privacy rights; and whether virtual justice upholds the rights of parties to proceedings. The report concludes that, given the similarities in response, that if this legislation is to stay in place for more than two years, the government should appoint an independent expert to review this legislation in the same way as currently takes place for terror legislation. In addition, it recommends enhanced air transit practices, publishing pandemic and anti-terror exercise results, and funding pandemics and terrorisms from a common national security pool. The call to adopt an Independent Reviewer of Pandemic Legislation are backed by the UK’s former Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation, Lord Carlile, who argued “a new Independent Reviewer of Pandemic Legislation should review and advise on the legislation and its consequences for the public”.

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