A grandpa’s family home is about to be seized by the UK government under its terrorism laws. Recently, the Court of Appeals of London rejected Munir Farooqi’s appeal of four life sentences given in September 2011 by the Manchester Crown Court. Munir Farooqi, a british citizen, was sentenced in 2011 after being accused of trying to radicalize young men for the Afghan jihad. At trial it was stated that Farooqi used his family home as the center of his terrorist plots. Immediately following decision of the Court of Appeals, the police filed a bid to seize Farooqi’s £200,000 home as a terrorist asset.
UK’s power to seize property from terrorists comes from the Terrorism Act 2000. Under this act, personal property has been seized as terrorist assets but this will be the first time ever a terrorist’s entire home will be seized. The Court of Appeals’ decision sets the beginning of a landmark move by the UK police to attempt to expand their power under the Terrorism Act 2000
About 7 family members of three different generations reside in Farooqi’s home. The family members were stunned after hearing the decision of the Court of Appeals. They believe that this is a form of “collective punishment” for Farooqi’s actions. They also contend that if their home was seized it would be a violation of their right to private and family life.
I believe that the actions of Farooqi to radicalize young men were outrageous but to deprive his other family members of their home is outright wrong. Respect of one’s private and family life is a right guaranteed by Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights and if the police seize Farooqi’s home, the rights of the remaining residents of the home will be violated. If Farooqi’s home is seized the Terrorism Act 2000 will be limitless. Unless, it is found that the family members knew of Farooqi’s actions and disregarded or support them, they should not be punished for his actions.
Do you agree with the Prosecution that since Farooqi used his home as the center of his terrorist plot, it is fair for them to seize it?
Should there be additional procedures to ensure that the parties adversely affected by this seizure are given fair treatment before such action?
How should the court rule on this matter? Any opinions?
Sources: The Independent BBCNews
Picture: International Business Times
I really do not understand the reasoning why the UK government needs to seize Farooqi’s home, especially since there are other people living in it who are most likely innocent. Unless the government believes that the attempts to radicalize young men for the Afghan jihad will continue in that particular home, I believe it is wrong that these family members are deprived of their property. It is also interesting to note that the bid to seize his home came only after his appeal was dismissed, two years after his conviction.
The terrorism act says:
Where a person is convicted of an offence under section 15(1) or (2) or 16, the court may order the forfeiture of any money or other property which, at the time of the offence, the person had in their possession or under their control and which—
(a) had been used for the purposes of terrorism, or
(b) they intended should be used, or had reasonable cause to suspect might be used, for those purposes.
Where does the court draw the line? Couldn’t any money the defendant had be arguably used for terrorism purposes? If the defendant conducted phone calls of a terroristic nature from his home, would that home be considered used for those purposes? While it makes sense that money that was received as a result of terrorism activities could be seized, the reasoning doesn’t particularly follow in this case.
Although, I see the rationale for the seizing of property, I cannot see how it is justified to seize this home and displace 7 innocent individuals. This type of behavior, if allowed, could cause constitutional lines to blur in future cases. If the home is allowed to be seized in this case, then its hard to imagine what cant be seized if this happens again. Should the person’s car be taken as well, even if other family members used the car for day-to-day activities? This law does not punish that person but instead punishes the innocent family or friends who may have shared some item with that individual, but had no involvement in his terrorist activities. The line of this law must be drawn at items that the accused used or is absolutely necessary for the government to be seized for purposes of justice. I cannot see a justified reason for taking a group of people’s home and throwing them on the streets for no other reason than that one person’s illegal activities.
Although, I do not agree that the other family members should be punished if they are innocent, and ultimately left homeless for the acts of one man, asset forfeiture is perfectly legal. As long as police can show a nexus between the property and its use in furtherance of a crime, police can seize the property.
However, I do believe that seizure of the actual home itself, should be a last resort. The owner of the property should be entitled to a hearing regarding the seizure and forfeiture of the home. It is important to remember, however, that terrorism is in a category all of its own.
Many constitutional rights afforded to people under normal circumstances and ordinary arrests are not given to them if they are connected to terrorism. I do not think constitutional rights should be infringed upon altogether in a case of terrorism, but because terrorism affects a large number of people, even multiple countries, they should be limited to effectively seek justice.
I completely agree that if Farooqi’s home is seized the Terrorism Act 2000 will create a slippery slope. The way I look at it is that the Court should use a balancing test. Does seizing the home help protect against future terrorist acts? Will it help the government in any way against its fight against terrorism? If so, does that outweigh the consequences of putting seven innocent people out of their home? Are these even “innocent people?” Maybe they knew what Farooqi was doing within the home. Maybe loosing their home is justified. Either way the family does have a right to privacy, but sometimes it is not worth the well being of the community (here the UK) as a whole.
I actually think that this boils down to a property law issue. If Mr. Munir Farooqi was the sole owner of the house, and, arguendo, the UK officials legitimately designate this a terrorist asset, then the government has a right to take the property. In that case it should not matter who is still living in the house, although it does make for a more sympathetic headline. However, it seems here that Mr. Farooqi was married and his wife claims to be the owner of the property. If it is determined that the wife was a full- or part-owner, then this turns into an expropriation matter. In that case, I believe the government would still have to right to the house, but Farooqi’s wife should be compensated accordingly, thus giving her the ability to find a new place to live. I think this determination would come down to local property law as to whether by law the property belonged to both husband and wife.
Note that this debate, in this specific case, hinges on whether or not Farooqi’s entire house could truly be considered a terrorist asset, and that determination requires a lot more facts (and probably a lot of facts which the UK government is yet not releasing).
If it can be shown that the family who resides within the Farooqi home had no knowledge that the home was the center of terrorist plots, then I would agree that it would be wrong to displace those individuals. However, as Danielle wrote above, the statute states that “the court may order the forfeiture of any money or other property which, at the time of the offense, the person had in their possession or under their control and which—(a) had been sued for the purposes of terrorism, or (b) they intended should be used, or had reasonable cause to suspect might be used for those purposes.” With that being said, Farooqi used this home as a center for his terrorist plots. Thus, under the language of the statute, the court would be well within it’s right to seize the property, even though the family would be without a home. Further, I think, that if the family were allowed to keep the house, especially if it is found that Farooqi contributed to the purchase and/or maintenance of the house with other terrorist assets/money, then this can also create a slippery slope by allowing the families of terrorists to benefit from terrorists activities of their relatives.