UK: Legislation to Block Automatic Release of Terrorists to Become Law

LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 22: An armed police officer stands guard near Westminster Bridge and the Houses of Parliament on March 22, 2017 in London, England. A police officer has been stabbed near to the British Parliament and the alleged assailant shot by armed police. Scotland Yard report they have …
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Emergency legislation that will stop the automatic early release of convicted terrorists in the UK is set to become law after passing through the House of Lords.

The Terrorist Offenders (Restriction of Early Release) Bill, which was passed by MPs earlier this month has cleared its final legal hurdle before officially becoming law. The bill was written following the Streatham terror attack, in which Sudesh Amman, a convicted terrorist who was released automatically after serving half of his sentence, stabbed two people just days after being freed.

The government pushed the legislation through the Houses of Parliament quickly to prevent the release of Mohammed Zahir Khan, who was convicted of spreading terrorist propaganda in 2018 and was due to be automatically released on February 28th, reports the BBC.

Under the current system, convicted terrorists are automatically released halfway through there term, like most criminals. The new legislation will mandate that terrorists serve at least two-thirds of their prison sentence and be subjected to a review by a parole board before being released.

The Restriction of Early Release Bill would prevent the automatic release of around 50 convicted terrorists, however, lawyers for some of the terrorists are believed to be mounting a legal challenge against the change. Ministers have argued that the change in the law is not an extension of the prison sentences, but rather a change in how they are carried out.

The bill has drawn criticism for not going far enough, with some calling for increased funding for rehabilitation of terrorists while incarcerated.

Lord Edward Garnier, who argued that the bill was being rushed through the legislative process too quickly, told former newspaper turned news website The Independent that it is “delusional” to think the law will be enough to prevent terrorists from re-offending once released.

“No matter how long you put people in prison for, they need to be rehabilitated while they are in prison,” he said.

“It’s a fraud on the public to say that increasing the release period without doing anything more is an answer. Unless you do something effective with these people while they are in prison, you are fooling yourself and misleading the public.

“Someone who would come out after two years under the current system would be out after three under the government’s proposals. In practical terms, what’s the difference? I’m not the terrorists’ friend, I’m worried about the public being misled into thinking they are being provided with some sort of long-term protection,” Lord Garnier concluded.

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