Friday, October 24, 2008

Icelanders are not Terrorists

I visited Iceland for the first time in my life earlier this year, watching Wales beat the home side in a friendly in Reykjavik. I didn't think that the country would be playing such a large role in my life nearly six months later.

A little over a fortnight ago, the UK government took action under the 2001 Anti-Terrorism, Security and Crime Act (part 2, section 4) to freeze Iceland's assets. It's a wonderful example of a wide ranging law being used for a very different purpose than that which was intended.

The actual section reads:

"The Treasury may make a freezing order if the following two conditions are satisfied.
(2) The first condition is that the Treasury reasonably believe that—
(a) action to the detriment of the United Kingdom’s economy (or part of it) has been or is likely to be taken by a person or persons, or
(b) action constituting a threat to the life or property of one or more nationals of the United Kingdom or residents of the United Kingdom has been or is likely to be taken by a person or persons."

and goes on to say that this can be a government or a non-UK resident.

I find it very scary just how wide-ranging this power is when taken to its fullest extent, a result perhaps of a government in London without adequate scrutiny and able to pass whatever it likes.

With Iceland set for a boost from the International Monetary Fund today, I hope that this ridiculous situation will draw to an end, that a solution can be found to the economic problems being faced and we can take another look at a law that surely needs better qualification for being used - especially as Alistair Darling is accused of acting rashly and misunderstanding the conversation with the Icelandic Finance Minister by the Financial Times.

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