Then in March 1986, the government released a White Paper on Criminal Justice, which revealed plans for extradition law reforms, including removal of the prima facie requirement with respect to non-Commonwealth states. It said that the requirement, "does not offer a necessary safeguard for the person sought by the requesting state; it does, however, present a formidable impediment to entirely proper and legitimate extradition requests." 90
These proposals ran into widespread, stiff opposition from the NCCL, the Law Society, and the Criminal Bar Association, as well as the House of Lords. A compromise solution was worked out whereby the prima facie requirement would only be removed with regard to those individual states concerning which an Order in Council had been made; this allowed the bill to pass.
The balancing act, whereby liberal democracies ensure their security through an effective response program while trying to provide as much freedom as possible, has been relatively easy in the British case. Except for Irish Republican violence, international terrorism in Great Britain was not directed against the British government and institutions. Indeed, some informed observers and officials have characterized the international terrorism threat in Great Britain as being no more than an irritant. 91
It is difficult to measure the effectiveness of the British response to international terrorism. The threat from Irish and non-Irish international terrorism remains. Yet neither fundamentally threatens the stability of the state, that is, the (nearly) normal functioning of government and of social and commercial institutions. So the characterization of these threats as irritants, however costly and tragic, seems appropriate. What is less clear is the extent to which these threats have been contained by effective countermeasures or by the political and logistical limits of the groups themselves.
The British response to international terrorism can be characterized as a policy of deterrence and containment. The PTA's powers of exclusion and arrest acted as deterrents. And when deterrence failed and international terrorism occurred, the response mechanism attempted to contain the incident and ensure that the perpetrators were apprehended. Taking into account the level of threat in Great Britain, relative to the situation in many other countries plagued by the problem of international terrorism, the British met this challenge effectively. In short, they demonstrated the fallacy of the proposition that Great Britain is or was a "soft option" target for terrorists.
But at what price? Largely because of the "Irish dimension," the response to this irritant, while restrained relative to some states, changed the face of British society--and its democratic character--to a marked, if unquantifiable, degree. At the lowest level, it imposed restrictions (such as searches and security procedures) on the ordinary business of living that affects every Briton in some small way.
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Publication information: Book title: The Deadly Sin of Terrorism:Its Effect on Democracy and Civil Liberty in Six Countries. Contributors: David A. Charters - Editor. Publisher: Greenwood Press. Place of publication: Westport, CT. Publication year: 1994. Page number: 36.
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