Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 1 December 2020

Britain tightens curbs against Kurdish terror groups in round of new measures against extremists

Teyre Azadiye Kurdistan and Hêzên Parastina Gel have been banned

Mourners gather prior to the funeral of the female victim of last week's mass shooting in Germany. Thomas Lohnes/Getty Images
Mourners gather prior to the funeral of the female victim of last week's mass shooting in Germany. Thomas Lohnes/Getty Images

Britain has tightens curbs against Kurdish terror groups in a new round of measures against extremists.

It comes as the UK faced mounting pressure from Turkey to recognise Kurdish terror groups.

Partiya Karkeren Kurdistani (the Kurdistan Worker’s Party or PKK) has already been banned but now its aliases Teyre Azadiye Kurdistan (TAK) and Hêzên Parastina Gel (HPG) have also been proscribed.

Home Secretary Priti Patel said: "The PKK has long been considered to be involved in terrorism and these orders will prevent individuals circumventing efforts to counter its activity."

In addition the UK has banned two far right groups and has announced a tightening up of its terror laws to afford more protection to people in public places.

It comes after far right extremist Tobias Rathjen killed 10 people in Hanau, Germany, last week.

The move to ban the Kurdish groups comes after Turkey refused to back a Nato plan to protect Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia in the event of a Russian attack unless the group recognised the Kurdish YPG militia as terrorists.

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had said: "If our friends at Nato don't recognise as terrorist organisations those we consider terrorist organisations... we will stand against any step that will be taken there," he had said about the plan."

As part of the new UK measures, far right groups Sonnenkrieg Division (SKD) and recognise System Resistance Network, as an alias of the already banned group National Action, have been proscribed.

Proscription renders membership of a group illegal in the UK.

Anyone found to be a member of or offering support to the groups could now face up to 10 years in prison.

Ms Patel said: "Recent attacks here and in Germany have highlighted the threat we continue to face from violent extremism.

"We are working to keep the public safe by increasing funding for counter terror police and strengthening the law to keep terrorists locked up for longer.

"By proscribing these groups we are making it much harder for them to spread their hateful rhetoric."

The move followed a meeting of the Proscription Review Group, which brings together representatives from the police and other partners to assess the risk posed by groups who may be considered for proscription.

Security Minister James Brokenshire also announced plans on Monday to introduce a law which will require owners and operators of public spaces and venues to put in place measures to keep the public safe from a terrorist attack.

Called the Protect Duty, it has been introduced following a spate of terror attacks in the UK.

The proposals also follow discussions with victims’ groups such as the Martyn’s Law campaign, established by Figen Murray whose son was killed in the Manchester Arena attack.

The new law, to be consulted on in the spring, would require venue operators to consider the risk of a terrorist attack and take proportionate and reasonable measures to prepare for and protect the public from such an attack.

This could include increased physical security, having training in place, incident response plans and exercises for staff on what to do during an attack.

Mr Brokenshire said: "Our first priority is keeping the public safe and preventing more families from suffering the heartbreak of losing a loved one.

"The devastating attacks in 2017, and more recently at Fishmongers’ Hall and Streatham, are stark reminders of the current threat we face. "We are in complete agreement with campaigners such as Figen Murray on the importance of venues and public spaces having effective and proportionate protective security and preparedness measures to keep people safe.

"Of course, it is important that this new law is proportionate. This public consultation will ensure we put in place a law that will help protect the public while not putting undue pressure on businesses."

The public consultation will seek views from a broad range of organisations including business, public authorities, the security industry and campaign groups to ensure the proposals remain proportionate for publicly accessible spaces and venues across the country.

Graham Williams, Chairman of industry body Revo’s Safety and Security Committee said: "As owners of retail spaces, we take our responsibility for ensuring the safety of our customers and retailers very seriously and therefore welcome the opportunity to work collaboratively with the Home Office on this initiative. We look forward to contributing to this consultation on behalf of our industry."

The consultation will ask for views from business and the public sector on the proportionality, scope of the duty, and how it should be enforced.

Updated: February 24, 2020 06:09 PM

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