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.
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 offenses and make it easier to “deport foreign terrorist suspects.”
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 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.
In the past, May has called for the UK to withdraw from the ECHR and replace its human rights protections with a British “bill of rights.”
While European Union countries are all signatories to the convention, Brexit does not mean the UK will automatically or necessarily withdraw from it.
The Conservative Party election manifesto calls for the UK to remain a signatory “for the duration of the next parliament.”
Speaking Tuesday, however, May echoed many of her previous criticisms of the ECHR — though she did not mention it by name — saying it needed to be easier to kick terror suspects out of the UK.
The European Court of Human Rights — which upholds the convention — has ruled that people cannot be deported to another country if they face the risk of torture or execution there.
In a statement, UK campaign group Liberty accused May of wanting to rip up British human rights laws.
“If Theresa May does what she threatens, she will go down in history as the Prime Minister who handed terrorists their greatest victory,” said the group’s director Martha Spurrier.
“For cheap political points and headlines, she is willing to undermine our democracy, our freedom and our rights — the very things these violent murderers seek to attack.”
Of course, May was speaking after an emotional terrorist attack and may have felt the need to make the UK feel secure.
On the other hand, terrorism has been a world-wide problem, and May may feel that the best move is to restrict the freedoms of these terrorists to combat the problem.
Our question is, should governments have the ability to restrict the freedoms of expected terrorists?