UK Counterterrorism Bill Passes with Aid Worker Exemption

Published: February 5, 2019

The UK House of Commons has passed the Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Bill, which exempts aid workers from a new criminal offense prohibiting British nationals from visiting designated areas without reasonable cause. Prior to the amendments put forward by the House of Lords last year, the bill would have subjected humanitarian workers, journalists, and academics to a police investigation and up to 10 years in prison. Following calls from 22 leading humanitarian groups, including EISF members such as Christian Aid and ActionAid UK, Lord Rosser proposed the exemptions.

Whilst NGO chief executives, including Jan Egeland, head of the Norwegian Refugee Council, have welcomed the amendments for allowing UK aid workers to continue accessing conflict zones and other designated areas, others have criticised the bill for providing insufficient protection for journalists, peacebuilders, researchers and other groups.