New anti-terror powers announced in UK

The introduction of legislation announced to allow police power to seize passports of suspected fighters at the border travelling to Syria.

New anti-terror powers announced in UK

World Bulletin / News Desk

Britain's prime minister has announced new anti-terror legislation on Monday that will give police new powers to seize passports of those suspected of traveling to Syria or Iraq to fight.

David Cameron also said that any person suspected of fighting in the two war-torn countries, could be prevented from returning to the U.K. They, however, would be able to keep their British citizenship. He said that powers were already in place to allow the home secretary to deny or confiscate an individual’s passport, but police had no such power.

"We will introduce specific and targeted legislation to fill this gap by providing temporary power to police to seize passports at the border during which time they will be able to investigate the individual concerned," he told the parliament.

Cameron told lawmakers that the so-called 'Islamic State' were a direct threat to every European nation, and he found it "abhorrent" that British citizens that declare their allegiance elsewhere were able return to the U.K. and pose a threat to national security.

The prime minister also said airline companies would have to give U.K. authorities access to flight passenger lists so that security services can identify returning fighters. Cameron said that if companies did not comply with these new measures, they would not be able to land in the U.K.

Cameron made reference to the challenges taking place in the courts against the stripping of citizenship, but added, "If there is any judgment that threatens the operation of our existing powers, we will introduce primary legislation immediately, so that parliament and not the courts can determine whether it is right that we have this power."

The news of the new announcements was met with opposition from rights group. Asim Qureshi from the U.K.-based advocacy organization Cage -- which works with the victims of the 'war on terror' -- said: "This is a wild overreaction by the U.K. government that will lead to further curtailment of civil liberties and abuse of the rule of law."

Quereshi added: "Passport removal powers have always existed and have already been used against several individuals. Today's developments can only be seen as another opportunistic grab for power by the security state after an escalation in the climate of fear."

He questioned who the new powers would be used against: "Will aid workers and journalists have their passports confiscated?" he asked.

"Will this apply to only those Britons that are of Muslim background even if they are medics, aid workers or journalists?" added Qureshi.

Fighters from the IS, who already control of parts of Syria, captured the northern Iraq city of Mosul in June and then surged across the north, taking control of a number of predominantly Sunni cities.

In August, the group claimed to have executed American journalist James Foley in a video that apparently showed his beheading by a man who appeared to be speaking in a British accent.

Last Mod: 02 Eylül 2014, 09:39
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