UK-based advocacy group CAGE has lodged a formal complaint with the UN Special Rapporteur, calling for a full investigation of the British Government.
CAGE said it has lodged the complain “due to continuous and sustained attacks from the British Government and the Charity Commission, both of which have falsely labelled CAGE as an ‘extremist’ organisation which supports the acts of Mohammed Emwazi and ISIS. ”
The UN complaint is lodged with the UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression under Article 18 and 19 of the UN Convention on Human Rights. These Articles protect the right of freedom of thought, conscience, religion, opinion and expression.
The news that CAGE has lodged a formal complaint with the UN came only a few days after the High Court granted permission to proceed with the Judicial Review of the Charity Commission on the grounds that it may have acted outside of its remit in pressuring charities to stop funding and associating with CAGE.
It will be argued at a hearing in October that the Charity Commission overstepped its powers and acted outside of the law in seeking assurances that charities should cease funding CAGE and never to do so in the future.
CAGE launched the Judicial Review in relation to letters sent out in March by the Charity Commission to the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust and the Roddick Foundation, pressuring them to commit to never fund CAGE again. The Charity Commission also contacted several other charities to pressure them into not associating with CAGE, creating a dangerous precedent for civil society by threatening the freedom of association.
Charity Commission in its statement said, “We look forward to explaining to the Court why the commission’s engagement with these charities was firmly within our powers.
“Our aim in doing so was to protect the public trust and confidence in charity and ensure the trustees of the charities concerned were complying with their legal duties towards their charity. We remain of the view that this was the responsible course of action for the charity regulator to take.”
CAGE also says it was openly attacked in the media by senior politicians during the Emwazi affair who based their comments on biased reports in certain sections of the media.
CAGE has said it is seeking legal advice on whether Prime Minister, David Cameron, could be guilty of defamation for labelling it an “extremist” organisation during a speech on counter-terrorism.
Cameron made the comments in Birmingham on July 20, when he set out the Government’s strategy for tackling extremism over the next five years. Cameron said extremist ideology was the “struggle of our generation” and also pointed to the National Union of Students’ alleged links to CAGE.
He said: “I want to say something to the National Union of Students. When you choose to ally yourselves with an organisation like Cage, which called Jihadi John a ‘beautiful young man’ and told people to ‘support the jihad’ in Iraq and Afghanistan, it really does, in my opinion, shame your organisation and your noble history of campaigning for justice.”
In addition to the UN complaint, CAGE is seeking legal advice as to whether the Prime Minister is guilty of defamation.
In a statement to The Muslim News Director of CAGE, Dr Adnan Siddiqui, said:
“CAGE is an active participant in civil society. It cannot function without being able to exercise its right of expression and opinion, especially those opinions that challenge the prevailing War on Terror narratives. These rights are central to the enterprise of open democracy and are a universal norm. Without them, the tenants of civil society fall away.”
“The question that needs to be asked is why the Prime Minister of one of the world’s great powers should choose to castigate a minor NGO if it was not to ensure that it could not exercise its freedom to operate. How can he lecture others on the protection of human rights when he denies them so blatantly at home. Not only does this illustrate the low level to which Government policy has sunk, but should be a wakeup call to even the detractors of CAGE, that there is something seriously wrong with the debate on extremism when we merit such attention from the highest offices of the UK state.”