New anti-terror proposals criticized in UK

Proposed powers include giving police access to online data and ordering universities to ban 'extremist speakers' from their campuses

New anti-terror proposals criticized in UK

World Bulletin/News Desk

Proposals unveiled by U.K. Home Secretary Theresa May which would see greater "anti-terror" powers being given to authorities have been criticized by human rights organizations and charity leaders.

May outlined new measures in a speech to parliament on Monday which would make it a statutory duty for universities, schools, and prisons to prevent terrorism and radicalization in the face of what she claimed was a threat posed by the ISIL and other groups.

She said: "ISIL and its western fighters now represent one of the most serious terrorist threats we face.

"Some of these organizations may sound remote and distant, but each one of them has ambitions to strike at our citizens and our interests, and each represents a real threat to our national security."

May also proposed further changes to the Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measures which would allow U.K. authorities to force suspects to move to another part of the country, cancel the passports of suspects who are abroad and force firms to hand over details of who is using a mobile phone or computer at a specific time. 

'Snooper's Charter'

She said in her statement: "The new powers will help us to prevent radicalisation, strengthen the TPIMs regime, give us greater powers to disrupt and control the movements of people who go abroad to fight, improve our border security, make sure British companies are not inadvertently funding ransom payments, close down at least part of the communications data capability gap and establish a new independent privacy and civil liberties board."

"The substance is right. The time is right. And the way in which it has been developed is right. It is not a knee-jerk response to a sudden perceived threat," she added.

The Conservative party hope to win a majority in parliament at the general election next year, which would enable them to pass the Communications Data Bill, nicknamed the Snooper's Charter by critics, even if other parties oppose it.

Shami Chakrabarti, Director of Liberty, said: "There's no problem with the targeted investigation of terrorist suspects, including where it requires linking apparently anonymous communications to a particular person."

"But every Government proposal of the last so many years has been about blanket surveillance of the entire population."

She went on: "The Snowden revelations demonstrate that they were even prepared to act outside the law and without parliamentary consent."

"So forgive us if we look for the devil in the detail of this new bill."

'Illogical strategy'

Human rights lawyer Fahad Ansari told the Anadolu Agency: "The language of increasing anti-terror powers has been the language of this government and the previous government, yet it has not succeeded in reducing the terror threat in any way.

“I think Theresa May needs to go back and look at the rule of law and civil liberties. Those countries that respect these invaluable comforts have the lowest level of terrorism within.”

He said it was “illogical” to use the same strategy to tackle the problem again. 

May gave her speech at the start of Counter-Terrorism Awareness Week in which police in Britain will inform the public how they can help deal with terrorism and extremism.

But Ansari said the definition of extremism was very broad.

He said: "There is a conflation between extremist ideas and conservative beliefs. We’ve already seen school children referred to the Preventing Violent Extremism Program for expressing religiously conservative opinions, and students arrested for researching terrorism when it was related to their PHD."

'Ill thought-out'

The Islamic Human Rights Commission said the "awareness week" would fail.

The Chair of the commission, Massoud Shadjareh, said the initiative was "ill thought-out and will only serve to further alienate Muslims".

He said that the government's anti-terrorism policy was in "total disarray" and governed by the needs of "foreign policy rather than the aim of preventing terrorism".

He added the government was adopting the same methods that were actually responsible for driving more people into extremist violence.

Shadjareh said: "With the news that British non-Muslim men have traveled to Syria to join Kurdish fighters take on the ISIL, the fact that British non-Muslim fighters are now publicly known to be fighting in Syria without any apparent risk of being prosecuted under anti-terrorism laws on their return shows just how discriminatory their application is vis-a-vis the Muslim community."

Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley said authorities had made 271 terrorism related arrests this year and disrupted several attack plots. 

 

Last Mod: 25 Kasım 2014, 09:56
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