The U.K. plans to revamp its legal system to prevent terrorism convicts from receiving automatic early release from prison following a knife attack last week in London, according to local media.
Sudesh Amman, 20, stabbed two people on Sunday before being shot by police. He had previously been convicted of terror offenses and released from prison before completing his full sentence.
The emergency legislation will require convicted terrorists to undergo a risk assessment by a parole board before being released.
Controversy came however when the government also announced that the law would not only be enacted for future terror convicts but also ones that were currently imprisoned, in what some rights groups call retrospective application of legislation.
This means that current terror offenders due for automatic release would have to spend more time in prison than was decided at their trial.
Justice Secretary Robert Buckland told parliament: “We cannot have the situation […] where an offender — a known risk to innocent members of the public — is released early by automatic process of law without any oversight by the Parole Board.”
“We will, therefore, introduce emergency legislation to ensure an end to terrorist offenders getting released automatically having served half of their sentence with no check or review,” added Buckland.
Preempting the controversy around retrospective legislation, he said: “We face an unprecedented situation of severe gravity, and as such, it demands the government responds immediately and that this legislation will apply to serving prisoners.”
In a statement, London-based rights group Liberty objected to the move, saying: “The government’s response to recent terror attacks is a cause of increasing concern for our civil liberties. From last month’s knee-jerk lie detector proposal, to today’s threat to break the law by changing people’s sentences retrospectively, continuing to introduce measures without review or evidence is dangerous and will create more problems than it solves.”
“It’s clear the U.K.’s counter-terror system is in chaos and desperately needs proper scrutiny and review,” it added.
The proposed bill is due to be introduced in parliament on Tuesday.