Clarion Project, by Elliot Friedland, June 7, 2017:
UK Prime Minister Theresa May has promised not to let human rights legislation stand in the way of defeating terrorism if re-elected. She made the pledge after facing heavy criticism following three terrorist attacks on British soil in just three months.
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Her comments came after the former commander of the British Army in Afghanistan and the former most senior South Asian police officer in the UK both called to lock terror suspects in internment camps. Such draconian policies would be a radical departure from existing policy. They would also see stiff opposition from human rights groups since internment camps are a form of imprisonment without trial. The right to trial is considered one of the bedrocks of a free society.
Journalists demanded to know why the Manchester bomber and two of the London Bridge attackers were at liberty to carry out their attacks despite having been previously reported to security services for radical behavior.
“When I stood on the steps of Downing Street after the London attack I said enough is enough and things have got to change,” she said at a campaign speech in Slough. “We need to take on the ideology that unites and motivates the perpetrators of these attacks.”
Moving on to human rights, she added “We should do even more to restrict the freedom and the movements of terrorist suspects when we have enough evidence to know they present a threat, but not enough evidence to prosecute them in full in court.”
This may be an allusion to policies being floated regarding establishing internment camps to detain thousands of suspected jihadis without trial.
A string of public figures have supported the proposal to detain Islamists suspects en masse.
Colonel Richard Kemp, formerly head of the British government’s emergency response committee, COBRA, and former head of the British armed forces in Afghanistan made the call for internment camps last week.
He told the Good Morning Britain news show the government needs to help security services fight terror “by removing as many of these people [suspected terrorists] out of the country as we possibly can.”
He said all non-British citizens who are suspected of radicalism should be deported immediately. Anyone who has gone to fight for ISIS should not be allowed back, he argued. Any British citizens on whom the state has intelligence but not enough evidence to take to court, he said, should be interned in a facility without trial.
Former police chief with London’s Metropolitan Police Tarique Ghaffur, who was Britain’s highest ranked Muslim police officer of South Asian origin, supported the call for internment camps in a piece in the Mail on Sunday.
“We face an unprecedented terrorist threat – about 3,000 extremists are subjects of interest to MI5 and police, and about 500 plots are being monitored. The numbers are way too many for the security services and police to monitor” he said.
Therefore, he argued, they should be interned in special prison camps.
“These would be community-based centres where the extremists would be risk-assessed,” he argued. “Then the extremists would be made to go through a deradicalisation programme, using the expertise of imams, charity workers and counter- terrorism officers. These centres would have oversight from vetted Muslim and other community leaders, who would ensure they stayed within the law.”
“Let us have a proper national debate about this, and not be afraid to speak openly for fear of offending any communities, or for the sake of political correctness” he added.
UK Independence Party (UKIP) leader Paul Nuttall said at the end of May “when you read this morning there’s a suspected 23,000 jihadis living amongst us, obviously MI5 are stretched to capacity at this present moment in time.”
“I think we’ve got to look at ways of ensuring that our people are safe, whether that is a return to control orders, whether that is tagging these people, who knows, in the future maybe a return to internment.”
He added that the lives of British citizens were more important than “the human rights of any jihadi.”
Controversial Mail on Sunday Columnist Katie Hopkins called for people on the terror watch list to be “rounded up.”
She told Fox and Friends “we do need internment camps.” Host Clay Morris apologized, saying he and his team found the idea “reprehensible.”
By contrast, Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn said terrorism was linked to British foreign policy. He previously branded drone strikes as “obscene” and during his career as an MP voted against no less than 17 proposed anti-terror laws.
He hit out at Theresa May’s record on security while in office, calling on her to resign. Government cuts made while she was Home Secretary saw police numbers drop by 20,000. He also recently backpedaled on his stated opposition to shoot-to-kill policies during terrorist attacks.
He now says he would “support the use of whatever proportionate and strictly necessary force” during an attack.
Once measures like detention camps are introduced they are difficult to dismantle and could conceivably be sued by the government for a host of other suspected offences, not just to fight terrorism. There is also no guarantee that innocent people would not end up being mistakenly imprisoned without trial or recourse to legal assistance as part of the proposed “round up.”