Over the pastfew years, parliament have published many counter-terrorism measures andlegislations. Because of the emergency situation of the war on terrorism, theregulations aren’t as well thought out as those that took years to write andreview like the Misuse of Drugs Act 2007. Academics and citizens havecriticized the excessivelyharsh and severe aspects of the counter-terrorism measures, they found that thelegislations and regulations denied innocent people of their basic rights whichis all in all unconstitutional and against the foundations of the Westerndemocratic systems (Walker 2007). In contrast to this, those who observed theeffects of terrorist attacks are concerned that the legal orders for terrorismare inadequate and un-proportional to the grave crises caused by terrorism butthe drastic counter-terrorism measures seem oppressive and discriminatory asthey are used against innocent1foreigners, refugees, peaceful protesters and ethnic and religious minorities,this fact poses a threat to the security of the British citizens as theregulations completely do the opposite of their purpose, they hurt those whothey were meant to protect.Since the9/11 attack, terrorism has been the world’s biggest enemy.
The nations andtheir; politicians, law makers and businessmen have lost a lot and now theyhave officially waged the war against terrorism. The global economic costs ofterrorism in 2014 were around £53 billion, but this only covered building repairments,hospitals and transport and the army force. Terrorism is a ruthless politicalcrime that wages conflict through the destruction of people but even in a unitedfront, we have failed to properly define the threat. Civilians become soldiers andleave their families and homes behind as they are thrown from country tocountry risking their lives fighting an invisible force, but they do not evenknow if the Global War on Terrorism is a metaphor like the War on Drugs, or areal war. One cannot help but wonder if it is worth it.
To fight against anevil force like ‘Al Qaeda’ is better than to fight against a generic enemy liketerrorism which is a suicide mission, therefore it is crucial that a specific,targeted and accurate definition of terrorism. Every now and then, the British Parliament adds more actsthat count as criminal act of terrorism. In England, the general definition ofterrorism is: a threatening act to influence the government or public for thepurpose of advancing political, religious, racial ideologies.
These ‘acts’ can include anything that is: Seriousviolence, serious damage to property, endangering other’s lives, creatingsafety hazards for (a section of or) the public, designs that interfere and ordisrupt electronic systems; under S(1) of the terrorism Act, using firearms andexplosives to arm others is terrorism independently (even without intention toinfluence the government or public). The act states that this definition countsfor everyone in and out of the UK and governments of any country.As an attemptof targeting specific characteristics of terrorism, it seems the definition isso broad that normal citizens could easily become subject of its power.
Termssuch as ‘actions aimed at influencing governments’ in the legal definition ofterrorism can easily be misconstrued and misused against Protesters, political journalists 2andreporters; as the anti-terrorism legislations are meant to prevent people frompublishing or sharing politically motivated information that could be threat topublic security or the health and safety of the public, so when protesters orjournalists act trying to change the government’s decision, they are caughtstraight in the terrorism definition. Because of the broad definition ofterrorism, it is dangerous to exercise the freedom of press Article 10 HumanRights Act (Freedom of expression) which allows reporters to report on issuesof public concern and cannot be forced to reveal their source; they can discusstheir political concerns and opinions as long as they do not are not intimidating,abusive, discriminatory, grossly offensive or inciting racial hatred orterrorist activities.The case ofDavid Miranda3,highlights the consequences of the broad terminology in anti-terrorismlegislations. Mr Miranda was detained at British customs for almost nine hours(which is the maximum limit under schedule 7 Terrorism Act) only to be strippedoff his right to private and family life as they forced him to expose hispasswords for all his gadgets. He was treated like a criminal throughout theprocess, and it was later revealed that they suspected him to be linked to thewhistle blower Edwin Snowden (exposed publications that linked the US NationalSecurity Agency to Britain’s GCHQ, an intelligence communication agency). Tothe public, it seemed that the UK and USA were oppressing the whistle blowerand an innocent journalist, in the fear that they would find their attempts tobreak down internet privacy and security through surveillance.
This sent anational message to reporters and journalists that they would be criminalisedas terrorists if they threaten to publish, or even just prepare, publicationsthat pose a threat to public health and safety even without the intention tospread fear. The judgement 4clarified that schedule 7 TA 2000 is incompatible with Article 10 of theEuropean convention of human rights (freedom of expression) especially ‘if usedfor journalist information or material’; the ruling contradicts the broaddefinition given in legislation as it added that an act of terrorism requiressome intention to endangering public safety.Terrorism istaken gravely serious as it ‘endangers public health and safety’. But whensimple harmless salary-men become subject to these legislations, one mustrevaluate the meaning of the words in the acts.
The dictionary defines ‘healthand safety’ as regulations and proceduresintended to prevent accident or injury in workplaces or public environments.It is extremely bizarre that Miranda and many other journalists and protestershave ever fitted this definition as nothing they have done or prepared to dowould cause accidents or injuries because they can’t be held responsible forthe fraction of idiots that take the given information and use it to harmothers. Scrutinising the counter/anti-terrorism legislations, I find themoppressive as they force editorials to censor their stories in fear of the lawand that means that we are all oppressed as we cannot access or seek simpleinformation on our common enemy (terrorism) without ending up in prison for upto 15 years.…The first issue with the definition this is self-evidentthat the nations have failed to unite which means that there is no properdefinition for terrorism and that makes it harder to criminalize it.
It raisesconcern as one can ask, how can the public be protected when the governmentcan’t define the threat?5Onething a common person would be unaware of is that there are different types ofterrorism. International terrorism iswhen the methods and people used and targeted extend national borders, usuallythe group operators also are active in different countries; 6themost known international terrorism is Islamic terrorism, which is also aReligious Terrorism, as it requires funds from people in different countriesand recruits from anywhere. Examples of international terrorist groups areAl-Qaeda (Afganistan), Abu Nidal Organisation (Libya) and the Herakat Ul-Ansar(Pakistan).
One big issue aboutinternational terrorism is that its all people talk about and all the media andgovernment focus on, in doing so we are leaving more space for other forms pfterrorism to occur. International terrorism is only publicly associated withIslamism and it seems that the public are targeting a minority of people thatmost likely have no affiliation with terrorism when they should be watchingeveryone around them.1 https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2017/01/eu-orwellian-counter-terrorism-laws-stripping-rights-under-guise-of-defending-them/2https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2014/jul/22/uk-definition-terrorism-political-journalists-bloggers-watchdog3http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/edward-snowden-affair-us-was-given-heads-up-before-heathrow-detention-of-journalist-glenn-greenwalds-8773642.html4https://www.judiciary.gov.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/miranda-v-home-sec-judgment.pdf5 https://www.mi5.gov.uk/terrorism6https://www.mi5.gov.uk/international-terrorism