Gibraltar prepares counter terrorism legislation
Gibraltar has worked ‘very closely’ with the United Kingdom security services in order to draw up new counter terrorism legislation for the Rock, including provisions for the detention of terror suspects.
Speaking following a minute’s silence outside No.6 Convent Place for the victims of the Manchester Arena attacks, Chief Minister Fabian Picardo said the Gibraltar Government would soon publish new legislation to strengthen police powers to tackle the threat of terrorism.
Mr Picardo had earlier this week outlined his Government’s intention to publish Bills for Acts to provide for counter terrorism and the regulation of investigatory powers.
“A modern world unfortunately requires modern legislation granting modern powers to law enforcement and security agencies that effectively allow them the tools to do the job we expect from them,” he explained to delegates at the closing dinner of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association regional conference on Tuesday evening.
Mr Picardo yesterday told the Chronicle: “We will soon be publishing the Bills that will set out exactly what the provisions, which we believe should be law in Gibraltar, will set out to achieve.”
“People will not be surprised to see that they will be almost identical to provisions in the United Kingdom, updated in the way that UK legislation is in the process of being updated. There is little point in us going to the existing legislation where we know that is going to change.”
“We have been working very closely with the United Kingdom, with the security services and with the Home Office and the Foreign office to ensure that our legislation is modern legislation which provides the instruments that our law enforcement agencies, security services and the armed forces need to keep Gibraltar safe and to be a part of keeping the wider UK and western Europe safe.”
Asked to specify what the powers would entail Mr Picardo said: “These are very detailed powers [and] they are going to include powers to detain people who are suspected to be involved in terrorism offences.”
Under current UK counter-terrorism legislation, the maximum period that a person suspected of a terror-related offence can be detained without charge is 28 days.
He added: “We are going to be updating the existing provisions of Gibraltar law and modernising them in a way that brings them in-line with the current UK standard and this is increasingly becoming the European standard of powers that law enforcement agencies require.”
Work on the legislation has been ongoing for the best part of two years.
The aim is to provide police with powers to deal with people who may be suspected of involvement in terrorism but who have not committed an offence.
In an interview with the Chronicle earlier this year, police Commissioner Eddie Yome said the new investigatory powers would enable law enforcement officers to collect the necessary information to detain and prosecute suspects when appropriate.
The legislation had proved controversial in the UK amid concerns that some of the investigatory powers are intrusive. There are also concerns about the length of time that suspects can be held without charge.
But Mr Yome insisted the legislation would provide mechanisms for appropriate oversight.
“All the safeguards will be there,” he said.
“The authority levels will be there and people can rest assured that their privacy will not be invaded unless we suspect they are up to no good.”
“The authority levels are going to be there to safeguard that, as they are in the UK.”