Court rules Britain's search law illegal

Jan. 12, 2010 at 11:57 AM
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STRASBOURG, France, Jan. 12 (UPI) -- The European Court of Human Rights ruled Tuesday that Britain's stop-and-search powers were illegal.

The court ruled powers under Britain's Terrorism Act of 2000 to stop and search people without grounds violated Article 8 of the European convention on human rights, The Guardian reported.

The case involved two people who were stopped, searched and detained as they were traveling to a demonstration at a weapons fair in East London in 2003.

Seven judges sitting in Strasbourg, France, said the searches violated the pair's right to respect for a private and family life, and awarded slightly more than $49,000 in damages.

The ruling is expected to force the British government to amend the stop-and-search legislation -- passed as part of the government's policy to combat terror -- to ensure it complies with human rights, the British newspaper said. Section 44 of the Terrorism Act allows the Home secretary to authorize random searches by police under certain circumstances.

"In the court's view, the wide discretion conferred on the police under the 2000 act, both in terms of the authorization of the power to stop and search and its application in practice, had not been curbed by adequate legal safeguards so as to offer the individual adequate protection against arbitrary interference," the ruling said.

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