Theresa May: I’ll tear up human rights laws so we can deport terrorists
Theresa May will start work on toughening anti-terrorism measures on Friday if she is re-elected, she said last night, and promised she will not let human rights laws stand in her way.
The Prime Minister will make it easier to deport foreign terror suspects and will extend existing laws that restrict the freedom of British suspects.
Mrs May has been stung by criticism of her record on counter-terrorism following Saturday’s attack on London, the third terrorist outrage in the space of three months.
She has faced a barrage of questions about why the three Islamist terrorists who killed seven at the weekend were free to do it despite two of them of them being on the radar of the police or MI5. She has also been taken to task over a 20,000 reduction in police numbers under her watch.
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In an effort to get back on the front foot, Mrs May used a campaign speech in Slough last night to signal a significant gear change in her response.
She said: "When I stood on the steps of Downing Street after the London attack I said enough is enough and things have got to change.
"We need to take on the ideology that unites and motivates the perpetrators of these attacks."
Above and beyond that, she said: “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.
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"And if human rights laws get in the way of doing these things, we will change those laws to make sure we can do them.
"If I am elected as Prime Minister on Thursday, I can tell you that this vital work begins on Friday."
Mrs May had already announced plans for longer prison sentences for terrorists and a clamp down on internet firms that enable access to extremist material, but she now wants to go further.
She will extend the powers of police and the courts to restrict the movements of terrorist suspects using Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measures (Tpims).
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It will mean suspects can be kept under curfews for longer periods each day, tighter controls on suspects associating with each other and more people being banned from using mobile phones and the internet.
She will not, however, bring back control orders as she argues that Tpims give the police the same powers, apart from having to be renewed every two years rather than being indefinite.
Aides insist she “gets it” when the public question why the London attackers were still at large, and is determined to stop anything similar happening again.
In the past, attempts to impose tougher restrictions on terror suspects have been scuppered by the Human Rights Act, which enshrines the European Convention on Human Rights into British law.
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he ECHR is separate from the EU, meaning it will not be affected by Brexit, but the law allows for “derogating” from it in times of war or public emergency.
Last year the Government invoked that right to prevent soldiers being pursued by lawyers with “vexatious claims” from the families of Iraqis and Afghans killed or injured by British forces.
Human Rights laws also held up the deportation of the hate preacher Abu Qatada to his native Jordan, and Mrs May says she will find ways to prevent future deportations being delayed.
One Conservative source said: “If human rights get in the way – we will do something about that. The threat is changing and we are.”
Michael Gove, the former education secretary, defends Mrs May’s record on security in an article for today’s Daily Telegraph.
He also points to Jeremy Corbyn’s opposition to anti-terror legislation, saying: “In the defining struggle of our times he cannot bring himself to support the actions necessary to safeguard the country he aspires to lead. Every vote cast for Labour is a vote for lowering our guard.”
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