LONDON (AFP) – Britain was set to urge the European Union to do more to fight terrorism after the London bombings, including a rethink of its human rights laws that prevent the deportation of security suspects.
In a speech to Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) in Strasbourg, Home Secretary Charles Clarke will also call on the bloc”s 25 member states to increase intelligence-sharing on terrorist activity.
He will pursue the topic further at a two-day meeting of EU justice and interior ministers which starts Thursday in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, northern England.
Prime Minister Tony Blair”s government — which currently holds the six-month rotating presidency of the European Union — has launched a crackdown on Islamic fundamentalism in the wake of the July 7 attacks on London transport that left 56 people dead, including four apparent suicide bombers.
But some of the proposed measures, such as deporting so-called preachers of hate even to countries with a reputation for torture, have raised serious concerns from the human rights lobby and civil liberties campaigners.
Clarke aims to promote a debate on the content of the European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR), which prevents the deportation of a foreign terrorist suspect if it is thought the person will be put at risk of torture.
He is expected to say the convention was established half a century ago in response to different circumstances, The Daily Telegraph reported.
It is now necessary "to balance these very important rights for individuals against the collective right for security against those who attack us through terrorist violence," Clarke will tell MEPs.
He will add: "An important human right is the right to be protected from torture and ill-treatment. So too is the right to be protected from the death and destruction caused by indiscriminate terrorism, sometimes caused, sometimes instigated, or fomented by nationals from countries outside the EU.
"I have concluded that the balance now is not right and that it needs to be closely examined in the heightened threat that we now face."
The minister will emphasise in particular the need to review how Article 3 of the convention deals with the deportation of security suspects as seen in the 1996 Chahal case involving Britain and a Sikh nationalist wanted by India.
In addition, Clarke will push for the need for EU nations to share intelligence on terrorism and organised crime, noting that countries should agree common standards on using technology such as biometric data.
The home secretary will also cover the importance of agreeing new rules on how long telecommunications companies should be required to store details of telephone calls and emails to help fight terrorists and organised criminals.
"Without that knowledge we are fighting them with both hands tied behind our backs," he will say.
Clarke will tell MEPs the European Union has lost support because of its tardy response to issues such as terrorism, organised crime and immigration.
He is also expected to warn British courts against blocking efforts by the government to deport foreign security suspects.