Theresa May suggests altering human rights laws to fight terrorism

By: Sara Adams
Impunity Watch Reporter, Europe

Prime Minister Theresa May speaks on election day in Norwich, England. Image courtesy of Associated Press.

LONDON, United Kingdom – On June 5, a van ran onto the sidewalk of London Bridge and swerved back to hit a crowd of pedestrians. Amid the chaos, the attackers exited their van and proceeded to continue their attack on bystanders with knives and fake bomb belts. At least seven people were killed.

The United Kingdom is still reeling from the Manchester bombing on May 22. The bridge attack was quickly found to be terrorism related to the Islamic State.

In response, Prime Minister Theresa May suggested that the UK will change their human rights laws in order to prevent more terror attacks in the country.

These changes, she said, may include longer prison terms for convicted terrorists and simplified deportation methods for “foreign terror suspects.” It has also been speculated that the United Kingdom may seek to opt-out of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).

The ECHR began in 1953 after the European Convention in Rome in 1950. Article 15 of the treaty would allow the UK to disregard certain aspects of the Convention under certain circumstances. One of the strict circumstances that would permit the UK to forgo their obligations would be a public emergency that “threatens the life of the nation.”

Prime Minister May argues that the United Kingdom should do what it takes to fight the terrorism problem in Britain. She told the British magazine The Sun on Wednesday, “if human rights laws get in the way of doing these things, we will change those laws to make sure we can do them.”

Critics, among them the Labor Party and the Liberal Democratic party, say that P.M. May’s statements are “cynical”. Former Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg told the BBC that P.M. May’s “[attack] of the principles of human rights legislation is not the right way to keep us safe”.

Given the results of the general election on June 7, it is uncertain whether Prime Minister May will remain in power much longer. Her Conservative party lost the majority in Parliament by a handful of votes. With this, it is unclear whether the Prime Minister’s plans to rollback human rights laws will come to fruition.

For more information, please see: 

NBC News – London Bridge Attack: 18 Minutes of Chaos in Borough Market, on Streets – 5 June 2017

ABC News – Who’s who, what’s at stake in Britain’s unexpected election – 7 June 2017

BBC News – Theresa May: Human rights laws could change for terror fight – 7 June 2017

CNN – Theresa May: UK will change human rights laws if needed for terror fight – 7 June 2017

NBC News – U.K. Election: British PM Theresa Under Pressure After Shock Vote – 11 June 2017

Author: Sara Adams

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