FCO Press Release: Foreign Secretary: countering terrorism overseas: “we must be resolute, decisive and principled”
LONDON, United-Kingdom, February 14, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ – The Foreign Secretary will speak at 1100 on 14 February at the Royal United Services Institute on the topic of “Countering Terrorism Overseas”.
The Foreign Secretary will describe the threat we now face overseas, including after recent events in Algeria and the Sahel. He will say:
“Twelve years after 9/11 the greatest source of the terrorist threat to the United Kingdom remains Al Qaeda and its ideology of violent global jihad. But the nature of the threat has changed, in three principal ways:
“First, it is geographically more diverse….
“Second, the threat is more fragmented….
“Third, terrorism today is based even more closely on the exploitation of local and regional issues.”
He will explain the key principles of HMG’s strategy. He will say:
“A long term, coordinated international approach is the only way we can defeat terrorism.
“The Government’s counter-terrorism strategy, CONTEST, combines a full range of international and domestic responses, ranging from the overt to the covert; and from security to development and our communities.
“We must be resolute, decisive, and principled.”
He will set out in detail how we take forward that strategy overseas in the long-term with foreign partners. He will say:
“The bulk of our effort to counter terrorism is now overseas where terrorists train and plan for attacks in the West. We cannot do it without working with other countries.
“First of all, we must address the conditions in which terrorism thrives…..
“We must also strengthen the ability of states to counter terrorism, while protecting human rights, as called for by the UN.
“When we detect a terrorist plot originating in a third country, we want to be in a position to share information to stop that planning, and do it in a way that leads to the arrest, investigation and prosecution of the individuals concerned in accordance with our own legal obligations, and with their human rights respected at every stage.
“We need to have a coherent approach that is sustainable for the long term, that upholds our laws and has safeguards, and that works to strengthen the ability of other countries to observe human rights and meet their own obligations. In many cases, we are able to obtain credible assurances from our foreign partners… that give us the safeguards we need and the confidence that we can share information in this way. Where this is not the case, we face a stark choice. We could disengage, but this would place our citizens at greater risk of terrorist attack, in the UK or overseas. Or we can choose to share our Intelligence in a carefully controlled way while developing a more comprehensive approach to human rights adherence. This approach brings risk, but I am clear that the risks of the first option, of stepping back are greater still.
“How we go about this will have to differ country by country. But we will seek justice and human rights partnerships with countries where there is both a threat to the United Kingdom’s security, and weaknesses in the law enforcement, human rights and criminal justice architecture. These are not one-off initiatives, but rather – as the name suggests – a systematic process of working with authorities in question to identify shortcomings in capability, and to address these through the provision of UK assistance and expertise, over many months or years…. This is not new work… There are already many examples of elements of such work in action…. But, crucially, we are creating a stronger and more systematic framework with strong safeguards.
“This is a framework… to ensure that our counter-terrorism work support justice and the rule of law as well as our security, with the goal of creating the long term conditions for better observance of human rights in countries that have a poor record and where the threat from terrorism is strong.”
Note for Editors
The sorts of measures we will take in justice and human rights partnerships include building the capacity of overseas security services to improve compliance with the law and human rights and to make them more effective; working with local investigators to improve their ability to build cases based on evidence rather than confession; supporting prosecutors and judges to ensure that they are capable of processing terrorism cases through the court systems, ensuring they are handled effectively, fairly and in line with the rule of law; and working to improve and monitor conditions in detention facilities so that convicted terrorists can be held securely and their treatment meets with human rights standards.
The safeguards applied to our overseas CT work include the following: we will only engage in such efforts where there is serious and potentially long-running threat to the UK or our interests abroad, such as that flowing from terrorist networks in South Asia, Yemen, Somalia and parts of Africa. All our capacity building work will be carefully considered in line with our Overseas Security and Justice Assistance Guidance in order to assess and to mitigate human rights risks, and specifically designed to improve human rights standards and strengthen the rule of law in that country. It will not be carried out in isolation, but will be part of wider diplomatic and development efforts in that country. It will be subject to the same scrutiny and oversight that exists in other areas of Intelligence activity and always be in accordance with the law. And every aspect of this work requires Ministerial oversight and approval. If the Foreign Secretary or another responsible Minister sees any credible evidence that our support is being misused we will take immediate action. If there is any question of the work involved breaking our legal obligations we simply do not go ahead.
United Kingdom – Ministry of Foreign Affairs