UK anti-terror laws take effect amidst free speech concerns

[JURIST] The majority of the provisions in the UK Terrorism Act 2006 [PDF text; Home Office backgrounder] took effect Thursday amidst criticism from rights groups that the measure stifles freedom of speech and will lead to the prosecutions of legitimate political protestors. The law, prompted by the July 7 London bombings [JURIST news archive], was approved [JURIST report] by Parliament last month and makes it a criminal offense to "glorify" terrorism, prohibits the distribution of terrorist publications, and outlaws giving or receiving terrorism training.

Human rights group Liberty [advocacy website] said it is worried that the law will prevent "passionate speech" and silence non-violent political parties. Liberty policy director Gareth Crossman said [press release] Thursday, "These new powers make us not only less free, we are also less safe when we drive dissent underground and alienate minorities." One highly debated aspect of the law - the ability to hold terror suspects for 28 days without charge [JURIST report] - has not yet taken effect, and UK Home Secretary Charles Clarke [official website] is still considering trying to double the length of detention. From the UK, the Telegraph has local coverage.



 

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