British Prime Minister Theresa May says human rights laws will be changed “if they get in the way” of the country’s fight against terror.
In the aftermath of the London Bridge terrorist attack that left eight dead, May said she would seek to introduce longer prison terms for those convicted of terrorist offenses and make it easier to “deport foreign terrorist suspects.”
The British PM has previously called for closer regulation of the Internet to tackle extremism, and criticized social media firms for not doing enough to police their platforms.
According to CNN, “British security services already possess wide anti-terrorism powers that have been denounced by Amnesty International as among ‘the most draconian’ in Europe.”
However, the shadow Brexit secretary Keir Starmer has said Britain’s human rights law does not prevent the successful capture and prosecution of terrorists, warning that hard-won freedoms should not be traded unnecessarily.
Starmer – a former director of public prosecutions who oversaw numerous terror cases – considered May to be misguided when focusing on human rights law rather than police cuts.
May has been facing significant pressure over her record as Home Secretary, as well as questions over intelligence failures following terror attacks earlier this month in the London and Manchester.
The Independent reported that Starmer was not in favour of Britain introducing that state of emergency – similar to that in France – which has allowed the state new powers of detention for terror suspects and potential associates.
May could also attempt to increase the period for which terror suspects can be held without trial – currently 14 days – a move that proved unpopular with civil liberties campaigners when Tony Blair attempted it after the July 7th 2005 attacks.
One of the most vocal opponents to the change at the time was David Davis, now the Brexit secretary.
In the past, May has called for the UK to withdraw from the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) and replace its human rights protections with a British “bill of rights.”
In the lead up to the snap general election, the Conservatives have promised not to withdraw from the ECHR during the next Parliament but they could begin to try to replace or amend parts of the Human Rights Act after Brexit.
Before becoming Prime Minister last summer, May spent six years as Britain’s home secretary, meaning she was responsible for law and order, immigration and security in England and Wales.