Criminalizing Terrorism, 1979–1989
In 1979 Secretary of State for the Home Department Merlyn Rees (Lab) spoke in the House of Commons on the issue of renewing the Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act 1976 (PTA) given the law’s exceptional nature with respect to concerns over a suspension of liberty. Rees agreed that “the powers contained in this Act are exceptional” and “that the Act represents a temporary infringement of civil liberties”, but he also stated his belief that “it was, and remains, a necessary infringement … to ensure that the police have adequate powers to deal with a savage and dangerous minority who have no respect for the life or civil liberties of others”.1 The simultaneous acknowledgment and legitimation of exceptionality in light of a “dangerous minority” enabled a reassertion of counterterrorism’s necessity in part by reference to its temporary status, even as these measures would become a normalized benchmark for future permanent lawmaking. As remarked by Donohue, emergency measures were initially positioned as “extraordinary moves designed to meet the needs of a passing emergency” but as time went on “became standard and unexceptional, a baseline from which further extraordinary powers could be introduced”.2 Government leadership moved from Labour to Conservative in 1979, but through the 1980s we see a continued criminalization separating terrorists from political dissidents and ordinary criminals.
KeywordsCivil Liberty International Terrorism Home Department Temporary Provision Immigration Officer
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- 2.Laura K. Donohue, “Civil Liberties, Terrorism, and Liberal Democracy: Lessons from the United Kingdom,” BCSIA Discussion Paper 2000–05, ESDP Discussion Paper ESDP-2000–01, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University (August 2000), 40.Google Scholar
- 4.Lord Glenarthur (Con): Terrorism, 4 March 1986, Parliamentary Debates, Lords, 6th ser., vol. 472, col. 90. On the phrase “international terrorism” in academic research, see Robert O. Slater and Michael Stohl, Current Perspectives on International Terrorism (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1988).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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- 27.Clive Walker, “Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act 1984,” The Modern Law Review 47, no. 6 (1984): 705.Google Scholar
- 40.Paddy Hillyard, “London Letter: Britain’s Riot Response Echoes 1969 in Ulster,” Fortnight 228 (November 1985): 15.Google Scholar