David Anderson QC, the independent reviewer of terrorism legislation, has found asset-freezing laws to be “intrusive and humiliating”, in his first annual report.
The Terrorist Asset-Freezing Act 2010 gives the Treasury power to freeze the assets of individuals and groups thought to be involved in terrorism, whether in the UK or abroad, and to deprive them of access to financial resources.
Anderson says, in his report, that the Act gives “remarkable” powers to the Treasury and makes nine recommendations for reform.
Currently, 34 individuals and eight groups are designated by the Treasury under the Act, which applies to a further 22 individual and 25 groups listed by the EU. The majority of these are in prison or based overseas. Five designated persons are at liberty in the UK. The total quantity of assets frozen in the UK and EU is about £100,000.
Anderson said the Act was an improvement on previous laws because it requires that there be a ‘reasonable belief’ rather than a suspicion of involvement in terrorism.
He said: “It reduces the chances that the wrong people will be caught. But it also enables the government, without putting them on trial, to keep a few British citizens and their families in what amounts to financial house arrest – an intrusive and humiliating experience.”