On the 30th September 2015 the Bishop of Coventry, Rt Revd Christopher Cocksworth, received a written answer to a question of Government about the effectiveness of counter terrorism legislation and its impact on NGOs based in Syria.
The Lord Bishop of Coventry: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the effectiveness of current counter terrorism legislation; and whether it prevents funding of Syrian non-governmental organisations and faith-based organisations who are best placed to respond to the humanitarian emergency in Syria.
Lord Bates: UK counter-terrorism legislation is kept under constant review to ensure the police and the security and intelligence agencies have the powers they need to tackle all new and existing threats, whether home grown or international. Our continued focus rightly seeks to dissuade individuals from travelling to places of conflict and to work with communities to prevent the radicalisation of individuals. We also seek to ensure that where individuals have undertaken illegal activities, whether at home or abroad, they are not beyond the reach of the law and can be prosecuted.
UK counter-terrorism legislation is subject to robust independent oversight. The Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation, currently David Anderson QC, reviews the legislation and reports his findings to Parliament annually. The Government gives careful consideration to these reports and any recommendations he may make. For example, following a recommendation in his last annual report released in July 2014, officials have opened a dialogue with international non-governmental organisations (INGOs) about their operations overseas and the parameters within which they work. This constructive dialogue is continuing.
Ensuring an effective response to humanitarian crises is a key objective for this Government. In line with the key humanitarian principles of neutrality and impartiality, we work with trusted humanitarian partners with experience of operating in fragile and conflict affected states, to ensure that aid is delivered to people on a needs basis. In 2015/16 the Department for International Development is working with 18 humanitarian partners in Syria and 18 partners in neighbouring countries. These include UN agencies, Red Cross/Crescent organisations, INGOs and international financial institutions, who in turn work with local NGOs and civil society organisations. The Government also work with a range of partners utilising the Conflict, Stability and Security Fund, including Syrian organisations, INGOs, the private sector, academic institutions, international organisations and other donors. We apply a rigorous process of due diligence, where partners must demonstrate accountable and transparent governance structures and financial procedures, as well as compliance with relevant legislation.