UK Home Secretary announces new anti-terrorism bill
UK Home Secretary announces new anti-terrorism bill

[JURIST] UK Home Secretary Theresa May [official profile] on Monday outlined the new Counter-Terrorism and Security Bill [press release] to combat ongoing national security threats. The bill will expand the power of authorities to suspend outgoing and incoming international travel of persons that are reasonably believed to be traveling to commit terrorism. The legislation will also broaden the Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measures (TPIMs) [text] to allow authorities to force terrorist suspects to relocate within the country and will raise the burden of proof for TPIMs from a “reasonable belief” to a “balance of probabilities.” May stressed the importance of bridging the “capabilities gap” that authorities must confront when dealing with communications data and announced that the bill will require Internet providers to retain IP addresses “to identify individual users of internet services,” with some limitations. May urged the need for this legislation in response to new threats from the Islamic State (IS) [JURIST backgrounder] and other established terrorist groups abroad:

This legislation is important. The substance is right. The time is right. And the way in which it has been developed is right. It is not a knee-jerk response to a sudden perceived threat. It is a properly-considered, thought-through set of proposals that will help to keep us safe at a time of very significant danger. It builds on a successful strategy. It goes with the grain of existing policy. It has been drawn up in close consultation with the police and security services. It is deliberately focused on practical measures that we can be confident will work. And it broadly commands cross-party support. … We are engaged in a struggle that is fought on many fronts and in many forms. … And the threat we face right now is perhaps greater than it ever has been and we must have the powers we need to defend ourselves.

To address the continuing issue of the balance between personal liberties and national security powers, the legislation will also create an independent privacy and civil liberties board to support the Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation, currently David Anderson QC [official profile]. This bill will be presented to Parliament [official website] this week.

Anti-terrorism laws have become much stricter in the years following the 9/11 terrorist attacks [JURIST backgrounder], and even more so in recent months following the rise of IS. Enforcement of such laws has often led to allegations of human rights abuses. Last month Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper [official website] announced plans to strengthen Canada’s anti-terrorism laws [JURIST report]. In July Pakistan’s parliament passed an anti-terrorism measure [JURIST report] which permits police to use lethal force, search buildings without a warrant and detain suspects at secret facilities for up to 60 days without charge “on reasonable apprehension of commission of a scheduled offense.” In April Amnesty International (AI) challenged an anti-terrorism bill [JURIST report] proposed in the Brazilian National Congress, claiming the law as written threatens free speech and peaceful assembly. AI challenged a similar law in Egypt [JURIST report] the same month, arguing that amendments to the law would allow the government to levy terrorism charges on a broad range of offenses, and could be used as a tool to root out dissent.