The British government has appointed Lord Carlile as its new ‘independent’ reviewer of the contentious counter-extremism strategy known as Prevent.
The appointment of Lord Carlile as the lead investigator is in fact a re-appointment, as he was the same reviewer who approved of the Government’s failed strategy in 2011. Critics have suggested that the entire process of supposedly reviewing the strategy is a step towards legitimising Prevent.
According to security minister Brandon Lewis, Lord Carlile “brings a wealth of experience and skills to this role. As the former Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation, he showed independence and rigour and I am pleased he has agreed to lead this review.” 
Many have stated that there is nothing independent nor transparent about appointing an investigator who supports Prevent. Lord Carlile has even propagated the programme’s discriminatory practices, making clear his stance on the policy multiple times and even making suggestions on increasing its powers and jurisdictions.
CAGE, an independent grassroots advocacy group that campaigns against discriminatory practices and injustices, was quick to denounce the re-appointment of Lord Carlile. CAGE accused the Government of being far removed from the realities of Muslim communities throughout the UK who are often falsely targeted by Prevent.
“The sad reality is that the decisions to ‘review’ the policy have been made by those who will never suffer the negative impacts of a false Prevent referral, and so its violence is far removed from their lived experience,” Dr Asim Qureshi, CAGE’s research director, said in a statement. 
“Without being able to effectively challenge the roots of Prevent, this ‘review’ will only serve as a whitewash of the racist ideas embedded in the system,” 2 Qureshi said, adding that “any review of Prevent would only ever have worked if it was going to address the root and branch of the entire system that produced it.”
CAGE and several human rights organisations who have rightly called out this farce have not made their accusations blindly and without proof, as Lord Carlile himself has provided enough proof of the Government’s outright bias and attempts at whitewashing its failed practices. This is evident in the numerous statements the House of Lords member has made in support of Prevent.
Earlier this year in May, Lord Carlile said that “it would be a tragedy if the Prevent programme was removed.” At a meeting of the neoconservative think tank Henry Jackson Society (HJS) in March this year, Lord Carlile voiced his support for Prevent and proposed control orders be reinstated to monitor ‘potential’ terrorists, essentially surveilling and tracking those whom the Government deems to be a threat without having any substantial proof. 
The HJS is a right-wing and Islamophobic organisation that is well known for writing reports attacking Muslim activists, in particular those campaigning against Islamophobia and for wider public participation of Muslims in the UK.  It is funded by far-right organisations and individuals from overseas, such as Nina Rosenwald, dubbed “the sugar mama of anti-Muslim hate.”  The society’s Associate Director, Douglas Murray, regularly praises far-right Islamophobes such as Robert Spencer and Geert Wilders.  
The HJS’s routine attacks on Muslim organisations are thought to be a result of the likes of Murray’s expressed desire that, “Conditions for Muslims in Europe must be made harder across the board.”  It therefore has little credibility outside of Islamophobic circles, with even Theresa May’s cabinet members “scrambling” to disassociate with them. 
A group of 10 human rights organisations and community groups, including the MCB, Liberty, and the Index on Censorship, wrote a joint letter to Lewis condemning the Government for appointing Lord Carlile without public consultation. The group accused the Government of “shrouding the process in secrecy” and making the appointment behind closed doors. 
“In combination, these omissions do not inspire confidence that the government is seeking to appoint a reviewer with the expertise and independence required to thoroughly scrutinise the logic, remit and impact of Prevent,” the joint letter said.
In response to this ever damaging and dangerous strategy, CAGE has published an 8-point plan to promote a better and realistic alternative to Prevent. In the document, CAGE calls on Prevent to be scrapped and for the discriminatory practices that have defined Prevent to be abandoned. Furthermore, the group has called for an end to austerity that has been most damaging to low-income communities and has thus robbed them from vital community investment.
Moreover, to ensure an atmosphere of transparency and due process, civil rights must be exercised properly in an environment where civil organisations can operate in a manner without fear of being wrongly targeted by the Government. The more important aspects of this is the desecuritisation of the state, as well as the dismantling of surveillance mechanisms and pre-emptive policing that have defined the Government’s view on how to govern a society.
“The core problem with Prevent is that it fundamentally skews the relationship between government and citizens. Muslims are the test community for a government whose long-term aim is to bring about a closed society,” Qureshi said, reminding the public that the discriminatory practices of Prevent mirrors the Government’s view of Muslim communities across the UK.
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