Tuesday, 25 May 2010
Political ‘Stop and Search’ powers used almost 35,000 times – repression clearly on the increase
Rúnaí Ginearálta éirígí Breandán Mac Cionnaith said, “In recent years, there has been a very steady, noticeable and disturbing increase in the use of politically motivated legislation by the PSNI in the Six Counties.
“That such legislation was used on almost 35,000 occasions in the twelve months between 1st April 2009 and March 31st this year should be matter of serious alarm and major disquiet to all those concerned with the protection of human and civil rights.
“Indeed, this is particularly true when one considers that, between 1st January and March 31st this year, the PSNI made use of powers under Section 44 of the “Terrorism Act” on 8,200 occasions.
“That figure alone demonstrates the contempt which the PSNI and Policing Board have for human rights in the Six Counties.
“The vast majority of usage during that three month period occurred after the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) had issued a landmark judgment in early January which stated that “the Court considers that the powers of authorisation and confirmation as well as those of stop and search under sections 44 and 45 of the 2000 (Terrorism) Act are neither sufficiently circumscribed nor subject to adequate legal safeguards against abuse. They are not, therefore, ‘in accordance with the law’.” The Court also stated that that the powers constituted a violation of Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights and warned that there was a clear risk of arbitrariness in the granting of such a broad discretion to police.
Mac Cionnaith added, “At the time of that judgment, éirígí was one of the very few organisations prepared to publicly call for the ECtHR ruling to be made immediately applicable to the Six Counties. We also said that the ECtHR ruling was extremely pertinent for the Six Counties where there already had been a dramatic rise in the use of repressive stop and search powers under Section 44.
“Indeed, based on these new figures, it can be seen just how dramatic that increase in the use of repressive powers has been. In 2006, stop and search powers were used by the PSNI and British Army 14,910 times during a 12 month period – a figure then described as “shocking” by those nationalist politicians who have since endorsed the political policing methods of the PSNI.
“One wonders how credible any response from those nationalist parties at Stormont, or from David Ford as so-called justice minister, can be when faced with the facts that the PSNI are using repressive legislation with such frequency that the overall figure for 12 months stands at almost 35,000.
“These newly published figures and January’s European Court ruling clearly demonstrate the illegal and arbitrary reality of British policing in the Six Counties. It is a reality far removed from what was promised by the nationalist parties who took the decision to endorse the PSNI.”