On Tuesday the Court of Appeal handed down its judgment on David Miranda’s detention under the Terrorism Act 2000 and, while upholding the lawfulness of the detention in the immediate case, ruled that the stop powers under Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act lack sufficient legal safeguards to be in line with Article 10.
Mr Miranda, the spouse of then-Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald, was stopped and detained by the Metropolitan Police at Heathrow Airport on 18 August 2013 under paragraph 2(1) of Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act 2000. He was questioned and items in his possession were taken by police, including encrypted material provided by Edward Snowden. Mr Miranda was detained for nine hours, the maximum period permitted at the time (since reduced to six hours). Continue reading →
The Howard League for Penal Reform has called for a review of the “unfair and unrealistic” Criminal Courts Charge, which “ penalises the poor and encourages the innocent to plead guilty”. The mandatory charge of up to £1,200 is imposed on those who admit committing minor misdemeanours, regardless of their circumstances.
The charity has compiled a list of cases where heavy financial charges have been demanded of people convicted of low-level offences. These include the case of a 38-year-old homeless man who admitted persistently begging in Oxford, and breaching an Asbo prohibiting him from sitting within 10 metres of a cash machine. He was jailed for 30 days and ordered to pay a £150 criminal courts charge.
The controversial stop and search anti-terrorism powers are to be scrapped after a decision of the European Court of human Rights that they violated human rights law.
According to a press release on the Home Office website, the decision will have immediate effect and is a direct response to the European Court’s decision:
Theresa May today tells Parliament that the government will change how stop and search powers under section 44 of the Terrorism Act are used, with immediate effect.
The move is in response to a decision by the European Court of Human Rights (new window), which found that the use of stop and search powers under section 44 of the Terrorism Act 2000 (new window) amounted to a violation of the right to a private life. Continue reading →
Human Rights Watch has released a comprehensive report into the Government’s controversial anti-terrorism stop and search powers.
The report – Without Suspicion Stop and Search under the Terrorism Act 2000 – runs to 64 pages and seeks to systematically dismantle the case for area-based stop and search under section 44 of the Terrorism Act 2000, which allows the police to stop and search without suspicion. Responding to proposals to cut the scope of the scheme, the reports states:
… we believe that even if the law were improved—if its geographic scope were permanently narrowed or its use restricted to specialist officers—the reforms would not entirely address the risk of arbitrary use, including profiling of ethnic minorities or stops of children. It is impossible to give clear guidance to officers on the use of a power that requires no reasonable suspicion. The risk of arbitrary use also makes the power incompatible with the traditional discretion given to UK police officers in course of their duties. The use of section 44 compromises the UK’s human rights obligations and is counterproductive.
The European Court of Human Rights has rejected the United Kingdom’s application to appeal its decision in a recent finding that stop and search powers enacted as part of anti-terrorism legislation breached human rights law.
In January 2010 the European Court held that section 44 of the Terrorism Act 2000 (the broad police power to stop and search without suspicion) violates the right to respect for private life guaranteed by Article 8 of the Convention on Human Rights (Gillan and Quinton v. UK4158/05  ECHR 28 (12 January 2010)). The claimants received £500 each by way of compensation.
The Home Secretary has pledged to conduct an “urgent review” of police stop and search powers as it has been revealed that thousands of searches may have been conducted illegally.
Teresa May, the new Home Secretary, has gone on the offensive with a Guardian editorial blaming the previous Government and promising to fix the problem urgently. She says “It has been clear for a decade that the last government held our civil liberties cheap. They introduced the powers that have been abused 10 years ago, and then sat back as they were used more and more frequently.” She is reportedly “incandescent” over the report.
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