Terror hotspot travelling Brits to face jail time
News laws soon to be introduced will mean that British citizens travelling to live in foreign terrorism hotspots could face up to 10 years in prison.
The Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Act 2019, coming into force on 12 April, creates a criminal offence of entering or remaining in a ‘designated area’ overseas. Subject to Parliamentary approval, the Home Secretary can designate an area in a bid to tackle the threat from so-called foreign fighters. An individual found to have entered or remained in a designated area could face up to 10 years in prison if convicted.
With critics arguing that the law is arriving too late, there has been an allowance for exemptions in the legislation, protecting people such as journalists, or people doing aid work or attending the funeral of a relative.
The offence does not allow retrospective prosecutions of individuals who have gone overseas to take part in fighting, such as those who went to territory held by ISIS, before returning to the UK. The Home Office currently estimates that over 900 individuals from the UK ‘of national security concern’ have travelled to take part in the conflict in Syria. Of these, approximately 20 per cent have been killed overseas and about 40 per cent have returned to the UK.
Aside from the travel ban, the legislation will also make it illegal to ‘recklessly’ express support for a proscribed organisation, creates an offence of obtaining or viewing terrorist material over the internet and extends extra-territorial jurisdiction for some terror-related crimes.
Home Secretary Sajid Javid said: “These new laws give the police the powers they need to disrupt terrorist plots earlier and ensure that those who seek to do us harm face just punishment. As we saw in the deadly attacks in London and Manchester in 2017, the threat from terrorism continues to evolve and so must our response, which is why these vital new measures have been introduced.”