U.K. reins in police power to stop, search people

LONDON — Britain said on Thursday it will impose stricter rules on police using counterterrorism powers to stop and search people, following a European court ruling that those powers violated individual freedoms.

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Home Secretary Theresa May told lawmakers that police will no longer be allowed to search individuals unless they "reasonably suspect" them of being terrorists. The government's duty to protect the public "must never be used as a reason to ride roughshod over our civil liberties," May said.

The European Court of Human Rights ruled that the powers to search anyone without suspicion, granted to police under Britain's 2000 Terrorism Act, were illegal. The court described the powers as too broad and lacking safeguards to protect civil liberties.

That ruling followed a case brought by two Britons who had been stopped and questioned by police near an arms fair in London in 2003. Police found nothing incriminating on them, and they went to court questioning the legality of police powers.

terroristS guilty: A jury convicted three British Muslims of conspiring to murder hundreds as part of a plot to blow up passenger planes over the Atlantic. Ibrahim Savant, 29, Arafat Waheed Khan, 29, and Waheed Zaman, 26, were found guilty after a three-month trial. They face life imprisonment. Prosecutors say the men were part of a group that planned to detonate liquid explosive bombs hidden in soft drink bottles on aircraft bound for the United States and Canada in 2006, an attack that could have killed people on the scale of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

extradition halted: An international court ordered Britain to hold off on extraditing four terrorism suspects to the United States, saying it must show that life terms without parole in maximum security prisons would not violate Europe's human rights charter. The suspects include three Britons and the Egyptian-born radical cleric Mustafa Kamal Mustafa, also known as Abu Hamza al-Masri. The European Court of Human Rights gave Britain until Sept. 2 to respond to questions about the punishment they will face.

U.S., Europe reach deal to share data

The European Parliament approved a long-awaited deal to share financial data with the United States in suspected terrorist cases, after Washington agreed to major concessions to allay concerns over privacy. The agreement allows U.S. officials to request financial data from European banks if they suspect accounts are being used by people with terrorist links. Officials must provide European authorities with reasons for their suspicions, rectify inaccurate data and grant legal redress in U.S. courts if information is abused.

U.K. reins in police power to stop, search people 07/08/10 [Last modified: Friday, July 9, 2010 12:02am]

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