Effects Of Uk Anti Terrorism Laws On Human Rights

2836 words - 11 pages

What are the effects of UK anti-terrorism laws on human rights and are these justified in ensuring national security?

Within the last decade, research has contributed to understanding the effects of anti-terrorism laws. It is at the forefront of current legislation and is a topic of debate as in recent years the laws put in place to protect national security in the UK have changed drastically when compared to pre-9/11. This literature review will contribute to current research by looking at the effects UK Anti-terrorism laws have had on human rights and whether these laws can be justified through protecting the public from acts of terrorism. To come to a conclusion I will be outlining what forms of terrorism are covered by the laws implemented by the UK legal system and how these may over-lap human rights.

The definition of terrorism has proved to be controversial as there are over a hundred possible definitions of terrorism (Hewitt, 2008). However the present definition used in UK legal systems can be found in the Terrorism Act, 2000 which states terrorism is “The use or threat of action designed to influence the government or to intimidate the public” through several means such as violence, threat and interference (Loughnane, 2012). What acts fall under the definition has been lengthened over the years.

The events of 9/11 led to a “war on terror” as former US President George Bush described it at the time, but questions have been raised as to whether the global war on terror is a productive response to terrorism (Mockaitis, 2008). Chomsky, (1991) suggests that there are two ways to approach the study of terrorism and that the propagandistic approach is usually used by governments because when societies feel at threat, governmental powers are often quickly extended and public rights can suffer (Crossman et al, 2007). Every individual who lives in the UK has a right to the human rights mentioned in the European Convention of Human Rights; however there has been a change in the way countries view human rights and how they cultivate a balance between protecting an individual’s rights and protecting the country (DCA, 2006). At present Al-Qaeda inspired terrorism is the most concerning security issue in the UK and this has created strain between the public’s right to privacy and law enforcements need to gather intelligence with the UK being the world leader in CCTV (Bartlett & Birdwell, 2010).

Prior to 9/11, for over two decades anti-terrorism laws in the UK were aimed at Irish organizations in response to the IRA bombings in the 1970's (Peirce, 2000). It was clear by the mid-1990's that the UK's Prevention of Terrorism Act was outdated so in 2000 the Terrorism Act was created which widened the definition of terrorism to include domestic terrorism and it gave police enhanced powers (Wilkinson, 2006). However the Anti-terrorism Crime and Security Act, 2001 was quickly bought into practise two months after 9/11 because for many western nations,...

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