Fighting Terrorism – the Unprincipled Approach: the UK, the War on Terror and Criminal Law



Few would deny that murder, bodily harm, and the destruction of property are properly the subject of criminal law. Offences bringing such behaviour within the ambit of criminal law are core features of every criminal code across Europe. It would appear rational then that such offences when perpetrated or planned on a large scale – usually central to any definition of what terrorist offences aim to punish for1 – should be subject to the strong arm of the law on an equally massive scale. Within the continental European context, it is impossible to imagine anyone denying the appropriateness of dealing with terrorism via the criminal law. Although there is rightfully discussion surrounding the definition of terrorism2 and (where related offences are formulated too widely) controversy whether all forms of behaviour covered by terrorist-related offences are appropriately included (being that they are thus included in this emotive area of the law which aims to punish the most heinous of crimes), prima facia it seems absurd for anyone to seriously deny that acts of terrorism must primarily concern justice systems as a subject of criminal law. Indeed, in the vast majority of cases, one might question the need for any additional “special” criminalising law for terrorism; only rarely does some form of behaviour associated with it not fall within the traditional ambit of criminal law.3


Criminal Justice Criminal Justice System Criminal Proceeding Criminal Procedure Control Order 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Max Planck Institute for Foreign and International Criminal LawFreiburgGermany

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