Britain to fight ruling on police searches
2010 01 26
The British government said Wednesday it will appeal a European court ruling that certain police stop-and-search powers are a breach of human rights.
Britain argues stop-and-search powers allowed under the Terrorism Act 2000
are important in the 'fight against terrorism'.
Under Section 44 of Britain's Terrorism Act 2000, uniformed officers may stop any pedestrian or vehicle and search them, regardless of whether they have reasonable suspicion of wrongdoing.
Human rights groups complain the rules are subject to abuse, but the British government calls the powers an important tool in the fight against terrorism.
British Home Secretary Alan Johnson said he was disappointed in Tuesday's ruling by the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France, because the appeals had previously gone through the British courts and been rejected.
"We are considering the judgment and will seek to appeal," Johnson said in a statement. "Pending the outcome of this appeal, the police will continue to have these powers available to them."
London's Metropolitan Police said that because of sensitivity and concerns about use of the stop-and-search powers, they are only being used at "pre-identified significant locations" like landmarks, tourist sites, and crowded places, or where certain police operations are taking place.
The case began in September 2003, when police stopped and searched two British nationals who were on their way to a London demonstration.
Kevin Gillan was on his bicycle and wearing a backpack when police searched him. He was allowed to go after about 20 minutes, the court said.
Pennie Quinton is a journalist who was on her way to cover the demonstration when police stopped and searched her, the court said. Police ordered her to stop filming even though she showed her press cards; the official record of her search said she was stopped for about five minutes, though she says she thought it was closer to half an hour.
Gillan and Quinton complained that the police use of the stop-and-search powers under Section 44 breached the European Convention on Human Rights -- specifically their right to liberty and security, right to respect for private and family life, freedom of expression, and freedom of assembly and association.
The case reached the Law Lords, Britain's highest court, but the Law Lords dismissed the appeal in March 2006 because they said they weren't convinced the police search disrespected the plaintiffs' private lives.
Even if the search did not respect the plaintiffs' private lives, the Law Lords found, the procedure was in accordance with the law and was proportionate to counterterrorism efforts.
Gillan and Quinton then appealed to the European Court of Human Rights, which heard the case in May and issued its ruling Tuesday.
"It's fantastic news after a long struggle," Gillan said, in a statement issued by the human rights group Liberty, which took the case to court. "I look to the government for a strong response."
Said Quinton, in another statement issued by Liberty, "There has to be a balance between private life and security. The court has shown that Section 44 is an invasion of people's right to liberty and privacy."
The court found that the "coercive powers" of the anti-terrorism legislation amounted to a clear interference with the right to respect for private life. This interference was compounded by the public nature of the search, because it brings an element of humiliation and embarrassment, the court found.
Legal safeguards were not adequate enough to curb the wide discretion police had to use the powers, the court found. It said that wide discretion was a cause for concern.
"The officer's decision to stop and search an individual was one based exclusively on the 'hunch' or 'professional intuition,'" the court wrote in its decision. "Not only was it unnecessary for him to demonstrate the existence of any reasonable suspicion; he was not required even subjectively to suspect anything about the person stopped and searched."
Because officers have no obligation to show a reasonable suspicion, it is "almost impossible to prove that the power had been improperly exercised," the court said.
As a result, the court said, the stop-and-search powers were not in accordance with the law.
Liberty called on the British government to ensure that Section 44 is only applied when authorities believe it is necessary to prevent terrorism. It should be applied to specific areas and for not longer than 24 hours, Liberty said, which would prevent authorities from applying the measures on a rolling basis and over large parts of a city.
Liberty also called on the government to publish notice that authorization for Section 44 has been given.
Article from: CNN.com
Britian's Terrorism Act 2000 - Wikipedia
"ID cards: Should Britain stop protesting and embrace the inevitable?" (Orwellian Dystopia here we come!)
Britain raises terror threat level to "severe"
Has Osama Bin Laden been dead for seven years - and are the U.S. and Britain covering it up to continue war on terror?
Britain's 'least wanted' blacklist published
Minority Report comes to Britain: The CCTV that spots crimes BEFORE they happen
Italian student tells of arrest while filming for fun (Video)
Latest News from our Front Page
Slaves of Charleston - Beyond Wealth of Jewish South Carolina
2014 09 15
Founded in 1749 in downtown Charleston, South Carolina, the Beth Elohim Synagogue is one of the very earliest synagogues in America. While other synagogues and congregations are also now a part of Charleston city life, Beth Elohim Synagogue is the oldest one in the area and serves as the repository for certain historical artifacts of Jewish life in the city. ...
Martian meteorite yields more evidence of the possibility of life on Mars
2014 09 15
A tiny fragment of Martian meteorite 1.3 billion years old is helping to make the case for the possibility of life on Mars, say scientists.
The finding of a ‘cell-like’ structure, which investigators now know once held water, came about as a result of collaboration between scientists in the UK and Greece. Their findings are published in the latest edition ...
Swedish Surprise: Anti-Immigration Party Surges...
2014 09 15
Swedish prime minister Fredrik Reinfeldt
Sunday’s election in Sweden was supposed to be a cakewalk for the Left. The Drudge Report ran a piece yesterday from the Guardian entitled: “Free-market era in Sweden swept away as feminists and greens plot new path.” The paper, a left-wing British outlet, published the piece the day before the election; it proved to be, well, ...
UK School to fingerprint students to ‘monitor their diets’
2014 09 15
STOURBRIDGE, England – A school is implementing a biometric system to better track what students are eating each day.
The Express & Star reports students at Redhill School in Stourbridge, England will be fingerprinted in an attempt to reduce lunch lines and “monitor pupils’ diets.”
The system requires pupils to press a finger against a machine which converts the print into ...
U.S. State Department Orders 160,000 Ebola Hazmat Suits
2014 09 15
The U.S. State Department has ordered 160,000 Hazmat suits for Ebola, prompting concerns that the federal government is anticipating the rapid spread of a virus that has already claimed an unprecedented number of lives.
In a press release posted by Market Watch, Lakeland Industries, a manufacturer of industrial protective clothing for first responders, announced that it had signaled its intention “to ...
|More News » |