Published: Wed, June 07, 2017
World News | By Cecilia Wilkerson

Lawyers divided: Has Theresa May made a U-turn on human rights?

Lawyers divided: Has Theresa May made a U-turn on human rights?

May has been under pressure over her record as home secretary, including over policing cuts and questions over intelligence failures, following terror attacks on London Bridge, in Manchester and in Westminster.

Tougher laws and police powers may fail to prevent low-technology attacks, such as the two van-and-knives assaults that occurred in London, and may well end up alienating British Muslims, he said.

She said: "As we see the threat changing, evolving becoming a more complex threat, we need to make sure that our police and security and intelligence agencies have the powers they need".

"I mean doing more to restrict the freedom and movements of terrorist suspects when we have enough evidence to know they are a threat, but not enough evidence to prosecute them in full in court", May said.

"If our human rights laws get in the way of doing it, we will change the law so we can do it", she added.

'If I am elected as Prime Minister on Thursday, that work begins on Friday'.

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It has been suggested the Tory leader may need to pull out of aspects of the European Convention on Human Rights to push through the changes.

Both Labour and the Liberal Democrats insisted there was no evidence that human rights legislation had allowed the Manchester and London attacks to take place - or prevented action against terrorists.

Yesterday it emerged that one of the attackers, Zaghba Youssef, had been flagged by Italian security services a year ago. Setting out how she'd spend Britain's clawed-back contributions to the European Union budget as the country leaves the bloc, she said there'd be more money for fast internet connections, funds to commercialize research, and better road and rail services as part of a 23 billion-pound ($29.7 billion) package.

"Theresa May is simply posturing about being tough on terror as she panics that her abysmal record is coming under scrutiny", he said.

"The prime minister is proposing common-sense measures that would potentially give the police more powers to control people who there may not be enough evidence to bring to court", he told the BBC. In her remarks, she announced a review of counterterrorism policy, harsher sentences for terrorism offences, and an effort to crack down on "safe spaces" online and in self-segregated Muslim communities that can harbour extremism.

"If Theresa May does what she threatens, she will go down in history as the Prime Minister who handed terrorists their greatest victory", said the group's director Martha Spurrier.

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Earlier in the day, London attack ringleader Khuram Butt was identified as a major potential threat, which led to an investigation starting in 2015.

Another of the three attackers, Youssef Zaghba, was also on a terrorist watch list after he was stopped in Italy headed to Syria with extremist materials.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said Mrs May's plans would not deter further attacks.

'I mean longer prison sentences for people convicted of terrorist offences.

British police and security services already have some of the most powerful surveillance laws in the world.

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