European Union

Creeping World Government Protects Citizens Against Police Searches

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A circa-2000 United Kingdom anti-terrorism law that gives police broad powers to search citizens without cause has been challenged by the European Court of Human Rights.

Kevin Gillan and Pennie Quinton, two protesters outside the 2003 Defence Systems and Equipment International show, were separately searched by police officers citing article 44 of the 2000 Terrorism Act, which allows random searches under certain conditions. In striking down the law (I think)*, the court awarded Quinton and Gillan 33,850 euros in legal costs.

Voltaire Net describes objections to the law:

The decision of a police officer to stop and search a person is based solely on a "feeling" or "professional intuition". Not only is there no requirement to demonstrate the existence of a reasonable motive for suspecting an offence but the officer is not even obliged to have the least subjective suspicion with regard to the person who is the object of the questioning and search. The only condition is that the search should be aimed at finding objects whose nature could serve terrorist purposes, which constitutes a very broad category covering numerous objects that anyone in the street could have in his possession. Yet, to stop and question someone, the police officer need not have any particular reason to suspect the presence of such objects if the intention is to search for them.

In the Daily Mail, Stephen Robinson asks, "Why did it take foreign judges to stand up for our liberties?"

* If some Daniel Hannan fan or other expert could explain to what degree the UK is subject to European super-government and what it means when the European court "condemns" a law that has been upheld by the British High Court and the House of Lordlings, that would be very appreciated. Comments are open.

Courtesy of Will Wilkinson's Friendfeed, um, feed.

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  1. I got nothin’.

    Well, not totally. I would assume that it boils down to a treaty thing. Which means that unless the other Euro-types plan on invading Britain, the Brit gov’t can do whatever it wants.

    1. The EU can just Euro-ize the British Army, right? Like Ike did.

      1. Well, Ike had the benefit of a few hundred thousand GIs on the ground in Britain.

  2. In the Daily Mail, Stephen Robinson asks, “Why did it take foreign judges to stand up for our liberties?”

    Because the people won’t. Doh.

  3. How long are we going to have to wait for the article making fun of democrats for the insanely unconstitutional provision to exempt labor union and local/state government healthcare plans from the “Cadillac Tax”?

    1. what the hell do the pols care? they can look good to their labor cronies, and if the courts overturn it… well that’s not their fault. win/win for them.

    2. Good point, Jay.

  4. Ah well, at least they are not European Union judges.

  5. Obama comin’ to git mah guns!

    I’m a stupid fucking Limbaugh redneck!

    I ain’t got no goddamn sense!!!

    1. I’ll go with (c).

  6. It’s a few years since I dozed through European Law lectures, but in a nutshell:

    (a) the European Convention on Human Rights is nothing to do with the European Union – it was drafted in 1950 or so as a response to WW2, the intention was to create a court of final appeal in which European citizens could challenge human rights breaches.

    (b) Every UK law has to be checked against the Convention before it’s passed. If there’s some inconsistency or something looks like it might breach the convention, Parliament is supposed to amend it before it’s passed.

    (c) the ECHR, as it’s called, cannot “strike down” a UK Act of Parliament. What they’ve done here is just issue a declaration that our law is incompatible with the Convention. Think Hans Blix’s ultimatum to Kim Jong-Il in Team America – “we will be very angry with you, and write you a letter” – and you’re on the right lines.

    Basically what it means is that the UK government now has to go and stand in the corner and think about what it’s done. And then come back and apologise to the class.

    And if we don’t change the law pronto, anyone who’s been stopped and searched illegally can now sue the government’s ass off. The government will have to amend the statute or issue new guidance ending or restricting random stop-and-search. (Now do you see why I slept through this crap?)

    So *in theory* it is up to us to write our own laws, *in practice* we are relying on Turkish judges to stop the government from strip-searching us in the street. Nice.

    1. Hey, we have our very own court that is supposed to protect our civil rights and they fuck us constantly, so you shouldn’t complain too much about getting some love, even if it is from some continental jerkoffs.

      “Aroo! Maybe so. But I know a place where the Constitution doesn’t mean squat.”

      (cuts to Supreme Court)

  7. Well. Pragmatically speaking, any advancement of liberty is a good one. (To a certain extent)

    It remains to be seen whether this kind of thing would set a precedent allowing higher level courts more control over the laws of a member state.

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  9. As has become standard practice for the British government, when faced with an unwelcome judicial ruling, it is flatly refusing to comply. This was the response from the Home
    Office:

    “Stop and search under section 44 of the Terrorism Act 2000 is an important tool in a package of measures in the on-going fight against terrorism. :

    “I am disappointed with the ECHR ruling in this case as we won on these challenges in the UK courts, including in the House of Lords. We are considering the judgment and will seek to appeal. Pending the outcome of this appeal, the police will continue to have these powers available to them.“:

    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2…..ng_orders/

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