News from July was that

The Home Office revealed in May that it planned to designate northern Syria a “no-go area” and that British citizens would have 28 days to leave or face a 10-year prison sentence if they attempt to return to the UK.

It said the law was aimed at tackling terrorism, but the volunteers accuse the Government of failing to distinguish between Britons in the jihadist enclave of Idlib, in Syria’s northwest, and those working in the northeast alongside Kurdish groups that helped defeat Islamic State (Isil).

Has the UK government gone forward this plan, i.e. was the law criminalizing presence in northern Syria adopted by Parliament?

  • @dan-klasson: if Wikipedia is correct on this, it looks like the Kurds themselves banned the White Helmets from their territory. Actually that might have something to do with this UK desire to ban people from northern Syria. They look rather pro-Turkish though "The White Helmets have had a difficult relationship with the majority-Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces. The group operated in Afrin until the local Kurdish administration banned it in December 2015. It returned following the capture of the city by the Turkish Army and Syrian rebels in the Turkish-led Operation Olive Branch in 2018." Commented Oct 23, 2019 at 20:54
  • Yeah no wonder. The White Helmets are terrorists. And the U.K openly funds them. The same groups that the Obama admin trained, armed and funded are now killing the Kurds together with the NATO member Turkey. It's like a tragic comedy. Commented Oct 23, 2019 at 21:05

1 Answer 1


The law in question is the Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Act 2019, which amongst a number of other things made changes to the Terrorism Act 2000 bringing into force a criminal offence for travelling to or failing to leave particular areas of the world.

The pertinent parts of the Terrorism Act 2000 are:

Entering or remaining in designated areas overseas
58B Entering or remaining in a designated area

  1. Subject to subsections (3) and (4), a person commits an offence if—
    a. the person enters, or remains in, a designated area, and
    b. the person is a United Kingdom national, or a United Kingdom resident, at the time of entering the area or at any time during which the person remains there.

A "designated area" means:

  1. In this section—
    “designated area” means an area outside the United Kingdom that is for the time being designated for the purposes of this section in regulations under section 58C;

And the referred to 58C says:

Section 58C: designated areas

  1. The Secretary of State may by regulations designate an area outside the United Kingdom as a designated area for the purposes of section 58B if the following condition is met.

The phrase "by regulations" here means through a statutory instrument. In other words, the government can through an SI declare an area to be a "designated area" for the purposes of the Terrorism Act 2000, and thus criminalise travel to that area under that Act. There are however no statutory instruments listed on legislation.gov.uk that are made under the power granted in the Terrorism Act 2000, so I conclude that Syria has not been made a designated area for the purposes of that Act. That website is sometimes out of date, but if it had happened more recently one would expect it to have been in the news.

  • 2
    Couple of minor suggestions: (1) The CTBSA inserted those sections into the Terrorism Act 2000, so they are listed as part of the latter, not the former. I did a search based on this, and still came up with nothing, so it doesn't change the answer. :-) (2) These regulations are not Orders in Council; they're just regular statutory instruments, which in this case must be approved by Parliament either (for 58B) before they are made, or (for 58C) within 40 days of being of being made (amended section 123 of the Terrorism Act). Commented Oct 22, 2019 at 13:10
  • @SteveMelnikoff thanks! I missed that it was an amendment; I'll make that edit now. Thanks for doing the additional search for me :P. Regarding the second point; I'm under the impression that all Statutory Instruments are Orders in Council - that isn't the case?
    – Dan Scally
    Commented Oct 22, 2019 at 14:16
  • 2
    No; Orders in Council can be Statutory Instruments, but most SIs are not Orders in Council. Commented Oct 22, 2019 at 14:29

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