Essay Sample on Terrorism in UK and Europe

Paper Type:  Dissertation
Pages:  7
Wordcount:  1792 Words
Date:  2022-11-01


Crime, criminal law and the criminal justice systems are prevalent in the political agenda of the European institutions including the European Union and the council of Europe. Terrorism refers to the application of threat of action, both in and out of the UK in a manner that is designed to influence any international government organization or to intimidate the public in one way or another with the purpose of advancing political, racial, religious or ideological causes (Ballegooij & Bakowski, 2018). Terrorism threatens human rights and democracy and undermines the rule of law that focuses on destabilizing the legitimacy constituted by the government. The vice enhances social and political divisions and weakens the civil society via intimidation and an increase in polarization.

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Examples of terrorism activities include serious violence against a person or destruction of property, endangering of a person's life, establishing a serious risk to the health and safety of the public or a segment of the public among others. However, to be convicted of a terrorism offence, one doesn't have to physically commit what can be considered as a terrorist attack. In this case, planning, assisting or even collecting information on how to commit terrorist actions are all considered as crimes under the British terrorism legislation (Ballegooij & Bakowski, 2018).

Literature Review

The British parliament has over the years (from 2000-2015) passed a series of terrorism acts aimed at addressing terrorism in general. Their timings were prejudiced by the September 11, 2001 attacks that led to the death of 2,996 people, over 6,000 injured and loss in infrastructure and property damages of over $ 10 billion among other deaths that resulted from cancer and respiratory diseases months and years after the attacks (Walker, 2006). The 7th July London bombings that were a series of coordinated suicide attacks in London, targeting commuters traveling in the city's public transport systems during rush hours also contributed significantly to the establishment of the various terrorism acts as well as politics on the global war on terrorism.

According to the "Charity Commission for England and Wales" (2018), some of the legislation put forth by the British government include the terrorism act 2000, the anti-terrorism, crime and security act 2001, the criminal justice act 2003, the prevention of terrorism act 2005, the terrorism act 2006, the terrorism (United Nations Measures) order 2006, the Counter-terrorism act 2008, the coroners and justice act 2009, the terrorism (United Nations Measures) order 2009, the terrorist asset-freezing (Temporary Provisions) act 2010, the justice and security act 2013 and the counter terrorism and security act 2015 among others. The acts give various powers to the police to assist in investigating and handling terrorism in the region.

The Offence of Murder as Criminal Law Offence

Murder is an offence, according to the common law of England and Wales. It is viewed as the most serious form of homicide where one person kills another with the objective of causing either death or some form of serious injury in an unlawful manner. Reports on violence, stabbings and murders have been hitting the headlines in recent times with daily occurrences in London. Approximately, 39 children and teenagers were killed by knives in the UK in 2017 (Flatley, 2018). The focus should, therefore, be on how widespread the violent crime is, why it's increasing and the victims of the vice. The previous incidences of homicide in Europe include the 15 victims of Michael Ryan for the year ending December 1987; March 2001 where 58 Chinese nationals suffocated in a lorry in their way into the UK; March 2003 which includes 172 victims of Dr Harold Shipman, March 2004 that includes the 20 cockie pickers that drowned in Morecambe Bay; 7 July London bombings for the year ending March 2006 that included 52 victims and 12 victims of Derrick Bird for the year ending March 2011 (Flatley, 2018). Comparatively, the levels of homicides have been decreasing over year-on-year.

Murder Categories

Various categories of murder are discussed under Europe's legislation. They include:

First-Degree Murder

With reference to the new "ladder" system, this level of murder covers intentional killings and those where there was an intention to do some serious injury or where there the attacker knew of the existence of a risk of death (Iggulden, 2006). It comes along with a mandatory life sentence and applies to killers such as Delano Brown, 18, and Donnel Carty, 19 who murdered City Lawyer Tom ap Rhys Pryce on 12th Jan. The culprits, expected to serve a minimum of 17 and 21 years respectively pleaded guilty of the vice. They were convicted of murder, and this becomes a first degree murder as stipulated by the proposals.

Second-Degree Murder

This level covers killing with the intent to cause serious injury and applies to cases where the attacker intends to cause injury while knowing that there is a serious risk of death. It arises in cases that could have been classified as first degree murder but the defendant successfully argues in a manner that diminishes his responsibility of provides a suicidal pact. In such cases, the suspects would be accused of manslaughter while some can also be upgraded to murder (Iggulden, 2006). The offense covers reckless killers who act in a manner to scare their victim or hurt them in one way or another with a likelihood of the risk of death attached to it.


This is another level of offense of murder that covers cases where an offender commits a criminal act with the intentions of causing some injury or in a situation where the offender is cognizant of a serious risk of injury. It also covers killing via gross negligence and can be extended to cover gang violence that results in death. In this case, the gang members need not have killed to be guilty of either manslaughter or second-degree murder. It applies to the gang that kicked a bar manager to his death during a "happy slapping" attack in London on the south bank of Thames on 30th Oct 2004.

The Council of Europe Practises and Counter Measures for Terrorism

Terrorism provides a real threat to democracy, the enjoyment of human rights and the rule of law. It, therefore, has to be countered with prevention and suppression processes by the member states of the council of Europe. The counter-terrorism measures should however not go past the necessary requirement to maintain peace and security.

The council of Europe has for over forty years helped to establish and reinforce key legal standards to prevent and suppress terrorism acts. It ensures that the member states fight terrorism more efficiently by strengthening as well as improving their national legislation and facilitating international co-operation ("Council of Europe", 2006). The Council of Europe Committee on Counter-Terrorism (CDCT) is the main coordinating body for the council of Europe activities to battle terrorism. It oversees and ensures proper and successful implementation of relevant Council of Europe legal instruments while providing a platform for international experts to analyse and respond to the advancements in the area. The council of Europe, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the European Union are the major organizations tasked with handling counter terrorism issues. It mainly aims at promoting and upholding human rights, the rule of law and parliamentary democracy.

Basing on the principles of preventing, prosecuting and protecting human rights, the CDCT has the task of developing the appropriate and practical soft law instruments that include recommendations and guidelines for the member states to consider and apply in the fight against terrorism (Walker, 2006).

The council's vital and internationally legal instrument in the fight against terrorism is the Warsaw Convention on the Prevention of Terrorism. The treaty was open for signatures by the member states, non-member states that were part of its elaboration, the European Union and was available for access by other non-member states. The convention was adopted to increase the effectiveness of the existing international texts in the fight against terrorism. This aimed at strengthening the efforts made by the member states preventing terrorism in two main ways:

  • It would help to establish criminal offences acts that may enhance commissioning of terrorist offences that include recruitment and training of terrorists and public provocation.
  • It would reinforce co-operation on terrorism prevention both internally through national prevention policies, internationally through modification of the existing extradition and arrangements that would facilitate mutual assistance among others.

According to a report by the "Council of Europe", (2018) on combating terrorism, the convention led to the establishment of national prevention policies that would help combat terrorism and murder offences. In these policies:

  1. Each party will be left with the responsibility of establishing appropriate measures by the law enforcement authorities and other bodies in the various fields of culture, education, information media and raising public awareness with the aim of preventing terrorist offences that would result in murder offences and their associated negative effects. Moreover, this implementation has to be done with respect to the obligations of human rights as set by the convention, applicability to that specific party, the international covenant on civil and political rights, the convention for the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms and other vital obligations stipulated by the international laws.
  2. Each party takes measures that are vital in enhancing and developing co-operation among the national authorities with the aim of preventing terrorist offences and their associated negative effects which incorporates murder offences. This would be done by facilitating the easy exchange of information, enhancing the physical protection of people and their facilities, encouraging training and proper coordination of plans for civil emergencies.
  3. Each member party should enhance tolerance by encouraging cross-cultural and inter-religious dialogues that would incorporate non-governmental organizations where applicable as well as other elements of the civil society. This was to be performed with the view of preventing tensions that might subsidize to the commission of terrorist and murder offences.
  4. Each member party was to aim at enhancing public awareness with regards to the existence and causes of terrorist offenses as set forth by the convention. This policy would encourage the public to provide factual information concerning terrorist attacks to the relevant authorities to enable them to contribute towards mitigating terrorist offences and its aftermath as set by the convention. According to "The Policy department-European Parliament" (2017), the convention made a provision that protects and compensates the victims of terrorism in the event of injuries and failure of death or murder. It has an established consultation process that is planned to ensure effective follow up and implementation processes are followed.

The EU legislation (2018) explains how the council or Europe established an additional protocol to the convention on preventing the acts of terrorism. The protocol aimed at addressing the criminal law aspects of foreign terrorist fighters as well as the returnees. It entered into force on 1st July 2017 and required parties involved to take it as a criminal offense the process of taking part in any association or group with the purpose of engaging in terrorism activities, receiving terrorist training and travelling abroad with the intenti...

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