Court of Appeal Upholds Terrorism Act 2006 Convictions in R v Kashif Riaz & Anor [2023] Case

Citation: [2023] EWCA Crim 1686
Judgment on

Introduction

In the case of R v Kashif Riaz & Anor ([2023] EWCA Crim 1686), the Court of Appeal Criminal Division (CACD) addressed several key issues pertaining to convictions under the Terrorism Act 2006. This analysis will closely examine the legal principles applied and the court’s interpretation of these principles as it rendered its decision. The key topics discussed include the sufficiency of evidence, interference with rights under the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), particularly Articles 9 and 10, proportionality, and the fairness of the trial process under Article 6 of the ECHR.

Key Facts

Two individuals, Kashif Riaz and Luqmaan Ahmed, were convicted for offences related to the encouragement and dissemination of terrorist publications. Their headteacher and the school safeguarding officer reported to authorities that the applicants were planning to travel to Syria to engage in armed conflict. The applicants did not deny their actions but contested the intent, suggesting that they aimed to raise awareness of the situation in Syria, not to encourage terrorism.

During their trials, Ahmed and Riaz argued that there was no case to answer and that their prosecution interfered with their Convention rights. After being convicted, they renewed their applications for leave to appeal against their convictions.

The legal principles discussed in this appeal primarily revolve around the offences under the Terrorism Act 2006 and the compatibility of these offences with Convention rights.

The court carefully examined the sufficiency of evidence against the provisions of the Terrorism Act 2006 and how that evidence met the objective standard of encouragement and dissemination of terrorist publications. Pertinently, the court referred to R v Galbraith ([1981] 1 W.L.R. 1039), which sets out the grounds for a submission of no case to answer.

Concerning the applicants’ rights under the Convention, the court scrutinized their thoughts, conscience, religion (Article 9), and freedom of expression (Article 10). It considered whether proceeding with the prosecution would constitute a disproportionate interference with these rights.

The court also addressed the appropriate legal standard for a fair trial under Article 6 of the Convention. It engaged in an analysis of whether the evidence presented, particularly focused on the mindset of the accused, was appropriately considered by the jury, and whether the accused’s age was duly taken into account.

Outcomes

The appeals by both Riaz and Ahmed were refused. The court held that there was sufficient evidence of terrorist intention, and that the material in question did amount to terrorist publications. Furthermore, the court found the trial judge’s rejection of the no case to answer submission to be without error, and that the continuation of the prosecution was not disproportionately interfering with the applicants’ rights under Articles 9 and 10.

The court also found that the trial judge’s directions to the jury protected the applicants’ human rights in accordance with the Human Rights Act 1998 and did not prejudice the applicants. Moreover, the court affirmed that the prosecution’s use of the same evidence in successive trials for different purposes does not per se constitute an abuse of process.

Conclusion

The Court of Appeal upheld the convictions of Kashif Riaz and Luqmaan Ahmed, finding no grounds for appeal that were arguable or any questioning of the safety of their convictions. The court determined that the trial was conducted fairly and in line with legal principles, particularly with respect to evidentiary sufficiency, the proportionality of rights under the ECHR, and adherence to a fair trial process. This case reaffirms the nuanced balance that courts must maintain between the rights of individuals and the collective security concerns addressed in the Terrorism Act 2006.

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