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The Common Travel Area (CTA) and the impact of the Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Bill – A CAJ briefing note

The Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Bill continues to progress through the UK Parliament. Our latest briefing note on the bill examines one particular area of concern: an additional border control power that could jeopardise the Common Travel Area (CTA) between the UK and Ireland.

The Bill would extend the existing port and border control powers in Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act 2000 to cover ‘hostile acts’ on behalf of a foreign government. However, separate to this, the bill also contains an additional power to conduct a passport examination on the land border area in Northern Ireland for the sole purpose of checking whether persons in the area are crossing the border.

This power can be exercised by police or border force officers without any reasonable suspicion, requires a person to give on request a valid passport (or other identity document), and, as a result, risks restricting free movement within the CTA.

The power is unlikely to be used as a fixed control. Instead, it is more likely to be used selectively and thus may operate in practice on the basis of racial profiling. We believe that the power is likely to disproportionately affect ethnic minorities. Furthermore, it conflicts with the Good Friday Agreement and could essentially end the CTA as a passport-free movement zone.

Ultimately, CAJ urges amendment of the bill to remove this additional power, particularly as it runs entirely counter to the government’s prior policy assurances that there will be no passport control on the land border.

Read the full briefing note here: ctbs-bill-passport-control-provision-briefing-note

Copies of the briefing note were provided to members of the House of Lords in advance of the Second Reading of the bill in the House of Lords on 9 October 2018.

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