United Kingdom mulling a new law to give its spies licence to kill

New Delhi, IndiaEdited By: Gravitas deskUpdated: Sep 28, 2020, 09:25 PM IST

An umbrella featuring Britain flag (representative image). Photograph:(Reuters)

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A former boss of MI-5 once said, “assassination is not part of the policy of Her Majesty's government”

James Bond has the licence to kill, and he has never been shy to use it. In just 24 movies, 007 has killed 597 people. Real life British agents are not Bond. And they do not have the licence to kill.

A former boss of MI-5 once said, “assassination is not part of the policy of Her Majesty's government”.

But this may soon be history. The United Kingdom is mulling a new law which could arm British spies with the licence to kill, and commit necessary crimes.

What crimes?

The covert Human Intelligence Sources Bill does not explain. Reports say the idea is to take on spies, saboteurs, and hackers from countries like Russia, North Korea and Iran.

In 2019, a British court ruled that MI5 spies can kill in the line of duty, and they will not be prosecuted unless they fail to justify the killing.

Human rights groups said that the move could authorise killing on British soil.

Killings by spies are brushed under the carpet, and most countries do not have laws justifying these killings.

In 2018, Australia was mulling arming its spies with the licence to kill. The CIA was given the licence to kill after 9/11 attacks.

The poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Sripal in Salisbury in 2018 was a case of Russian spies exercising their licence to kill.

A DailyMail report says that Israel's Mossad has killed more people than the agents of any other country since the second World War - more than 800, at least.

Are these cases of assassination or self defence? Or are the spies killing people to safeguard their country?

The licence to kill is often justified with one question - Who will guard the guardians?