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
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
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
For more information contact the IFJ at +32 2 235 22 15
The EFJ represents over 260,000 journalists
in 30 countries