Home News Foreign Secretary outlines goals for tackling terrorism overseas

Foreign Secretary outlines goals for tackling terrorism overseas

by Brian Sims

Foreign Secretary William Hague has outlined goals for tackling terrorism overseas, in a recent speech at the Royal United Services Institute. Hague stated, ‘The United Kingdom has a long experience of confronting terrorism, and we have some of the finest Intelligence Agencies and police forces in the world. They stop terrorists from entering our borders, they detect and stop terrorist attack plans, and prevent potential recruits from being radicalised. Thanks to their efforts there have been no successful attacks on our mainland since 2005. But unless our foreign policy addresses the circumstances in which terrorism thrives overseas, we will always fight a rearguard action against it.’ The Foreign Secretary went on to point out that a military solution can never be total, and that support for vulnerable communities and victims also plays a significant role. He also stressed that any fight against terrorism must be true to the values being defended. He stated, ‘The indiscriminate targeting of civilians is contemptible in any shape or form and our resolve to defeat it must never weaken or falter even for a day. But in standing up for freedom, human rights and the rule of law ourselves, we must never use methods that undermine these things. As a democracy we must hold ourselves to the highest standards. This includes being absolutely clear that torture and mistreatment are repugnant, unacceptable and counter-productive.’ The speech went on to underline that in order to successfully tackle terrorism, there was a requirement to deliver credible and creative intelligence to the police and other authorities, backed by diplomacy. Hague stated, ‘This combination of intelligence, diplomacy, development and partnership with other nations is the only way to defeat terrorism over the long term.’ It was also outlined how extremists are, in a number of cases, hijacking other political events, such as the uprisings in many Middle East regions, to further their goals. Hague pointed out the radicalisation and recruitment in such areas had to be addressed, and through assisting in such regions the UK became increasingly enabled to thwart plots against it. Hague went on to add, ‘The Government’s counter-terrorism strategy, CONTEST, combines a full range of international and domestic responses, ranging from the overt to the covert, from security to development, through to working with our communities at home. We have maintained and where necessary increased police, intelligence and other counter terrorist capabilities. ‘We are ensuring that we have the powers in place to detect, investigate disrupt and prosecute terrorist activity through legislative changes, and we have made significant improvements at our borders to reduce threats to their security and to civilian aircraft.’ Hague pointed that that various changes had taken place to better enable agencies in the UK to deal with incidents, with lessons learned from attacks in Mumbai, Norway and Toulouse. He added that with 220 arrests for terror-related offences in the UK in the previous 12 months to July, the threat in the UK itself was ‘challenging’. However, he went on to stress that efforts were increasingly being focused overseas to counter new terrorist training and recruitment trends. It was stressed that where a terrorist plot is detected, the Government must share information to stop the threat and facilitate the arrest, investigation and prosecution of the individuals concerned. Mention was made of the ethical and political decisions, balancing the need to save lives and disrupt an attack, whilst also ensuring suspects were not mistreated if detained. A framework would be put in place to safeguard the rights of suspects, Hague said. This would include supporting the counter-terrorism capacity of overseas security services to improve compliance with the law and human rights, assisting investigators to build cases based on evidence, and ensuring the local legal system is capable of processing terrorism cases a fair and legal manner. Hague added, ‘Achieving security, justice and advances in human rights together will not always be straightforward and despite our best efforts we may not always succeed. But it will always be our aim. ‘We are also taking steps to strengthen Parliamentary scrutiny and oversight of the agencies through the Justice and Security Bill, currently being considered by Parliament. This also aims to ensure, where strictly necessary, that judges in civil cases relating to matters of national security will be able to consider all relevant material, including sensitive material, to ensure that justice is done while upholding national security.’

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