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Treason Act of 1351 to be used to tackle ISIS

Britain’s Treason Act of 1351 would be used to charge citizens who prefer to fight with ISIS insurgents in Iraq and Syria.

Oct 18, 2014 15:15 IST
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Treason Act of 1351: Act passed during the reign of English King Edward III
Britain’s Treason Act of 1351 passed during the reign of English King Edward III was in news in October 2014. It was in news as there are chances that Britain would use the medieval law to charge its citizens if they go to fight with Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) insurgents in Iraq and Syria.

In his statement to the media the Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said that any British citizen who had sworn personal allegiance to the so-called Islamic State could have committed an offense under the Treason Act of 1351.


The Treason Act 1351 is an Act of the Parliament of England which codified and curtailed the common law offence of treason. It is one of the earliest English statutes still in force, although it has been very significantly amended.

The Act was passed at Westminster in the Hilary term of 1351, in the 25th year of the reign of Edward III and was entitled A Declaration which Offences shall be adjudged Treason. The Act was last used to prosecute William Joyce (was hanged) in 1945 for collaborating with Germany in World War II.

This Act is still in force in the United Kingdom (as of August 2013) and carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment. Until 1998, the Act carried death sentence to.

Background
Earlier, David Cameroon, the British Prime Minister had warned that fighters of ISIS pose a grave threat to Britain. Britain’s police and intelligence reports have suggested that they have seen a rise in potentially deadly plots.

Security officials of the country have predicted that some 500 Britons, mainly with Muslim immigrant backgrounds, are fighting in Iraq and Syria for ISIS and their return could carry out an attack on Britain.

 

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