UK to rethink human rights after London terror attack

07 Jun 2017


In the wake of the London Bridge attack, British domestic intelligence agency MI5 will take a hard look at its counter-terrorism operations, The Guardian reported.

This follows Prime Minister Theresa May's widely reported comments on Tuesday that human rights laws will be changed "if they get in the way" of the country's fight against terror.

Speaking in the wake of a terrorist attack in London that left seven dead, May said she would seek to introduce longer prison terms for those convicted of terrorist offences and make it easier to "deport foreign terrorist suspects".

The UK goes to the polls Thursday to decide if May's Conservative government stays in power.

Security has become a major issue since the London attack, and May has faced intense criticism in recent days from opposition Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn over her record as home secretary, during which she oversaw cuts to police officer numbers by over 20,000.

Seeking to shore up her domestic security credentials, May said on Tuesday more should be done "to restrict the freedom and movement of terrorist suspects when we have enough evidence to know they are a threat but not evidence to prosecute them in full in court, and if our human rights laws stop us from doing it, we'll change the laws so we can do it''.

May 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.

British security services already possess wide anti-terrorism powers that have been denounced by Amnesty International as among "the most draconian" in Europe.

May's call reflects concern over a sudden increase in the tempo of attacks and plots, There is also a worry over whether the police and security services missed opportunities. The Italian intelligence had apparently flagged up to its British counterparts worries about a third attacker, the Moroccan-Italian Youssef Zaghba.

May pledged that MI5 would carry out a review after being repeatedly challenged about how the Home Office, police and intelligence services dealt with the information relating to the attackers. ''We need to look at how the terror threat is evolving, the way that terrorism is breeding terrorism and the increased tempo of attacks. We have had three horrific attacks and we have foiled five others. The tempo is there in a way we haven't seen before,'' May had said.

''We will look at how the processes were followed, what they did. They will want to be looking at that because they will want to learn lessons for the future, if there are those lessons to be learned,'' she added. MI5 conducts reviews after every attack to see what lessons can be learned. At present, it is still engaged in investigations into the Manchester bombing as well as the London attacks.

Earlier in the day, it was reported that London attack ringleader Khuram Butt was identified as a major potential threat, which led to an investigation starting in 2015. ''The British police and the MI5 began investigating Butt intensively as part of a major drive to dismantle and destabilise al-Muhajiroun, a grouping of extremists in the U.K. supportive of the ISIS,'' UK counter-terrorism officials told CNN.

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