EFJ Welcomes "Landmark" Victory for Media Freedom

The European Federation of

Journalists (EFJ) today welcomed the victory of journalist Pennie Quinton and

member of the National Union of Journalists (NUJ),

an EFJ affiliate, following the judgment of the European Court of Human Rights which

upheld her complaint against the use of terror laws to stop and search people

without grounds for suspicion.

The European Court of Human

Rights today ruled that powers under the Terrorism Act 2000 to stop and search

people without grounds for suspicion violated Article 8 of the European

Convention on Human Rights.

Pennie Quinton, who was represented

before the Court by Liberty, a leading British human

rights pressure group, was one of two people who were stopped and prevented

from filming an arms fair in London

in 2003.

The court found that the pair's

right to respect for a private and family life had been violated. It awarded

them 33,850 euros (£30,400) in compensation.

Section 44 of the Terrorism Act

2000 allows the Home Secretary to authorise police to make random

searches in certain circumstances. But the European Court of Human Rights said

the people's rights under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights

had been violated in this case.

The legislation removed the

previous requirement that the police could only conduct searches where they

have grounds for suspecting law-breaking activity. The Court today said the stop

and search powers were "not sufficiently circumscribed" and there

were no "adequate legal safeguards against abuse". It is expected the

UK

government will be forced to change the law and scrap Section 44.

EFJ President Arne König said: "This

important judgment strikes a major blow for media freedom across Europe- showing that the random stop and search used

against journalists is illegal. Particular photographers are hindered from carrying out their work and document news events, this is in our view a

form of censorship. The court has agreed

with us that such powers of the police are

being abused."

For more information contact the IFJ at +32 2 235 22 15

The EFJ represents over 260,000 journalists

in 30 countries