The Islamic Human Rights commission (IHRC) has welcomed the decision by the government not to install controversial airport ‘strip-search’ scanners in UK airports. The U-turn by the coalition comes after planned legal action, supported by IHRC in the High Court, challenging the use of such invasive technology.
The scanners had faced a barrage of criticism from many different groups including IHRC who supported the legal action by a former IHRC employee against the government’s policy on scanners. The legal action had been given the right to proceed to a full judicial review.
Objections to the scanners came from a number of faith and civil liberties groups globally. These included the dissolution of civil liberties, health issues, the explicit nature of the body scanners and storage of images, as well as the fact that the scanners could not detect plastics and liquids which was given as a reason for their introduction.
New scanning technology will now simply display a standard image of a person for all travellers who step through them. When nothing is detected, the screen doesn’t show a human image, an ‘OK’ is indicated on the monitor and the passenger is cleared; however, suspicious items will be depicted as a yellow box on the computer-generated outline of the standard image which corresponds with where the object is on the passengers body.
The passenger will then require additional screening. The image is not a naked image of the passenger.
The Chair of IHRC, Massoud Shadjareh said:
“IHRC has campaigned and lobbied against airport scanners, which cost £100,000 each, since their introduction and contributed to government consultation on the issue as early as 2010. With continued campaigning and action by IHRC, this decision by the British government is a massive victory for the Muslim community and all who believe in civil liberties.”
Rosa Curling from law firm Leigh Day who took the legal action on behalf of the former employee said:
“We are delighted that the government has seen sense and preserved the dignity of all citizens who would have been not only exposed by these scanners, but whose body images would have been stored. This is an important decision and shows that the power of the law does not always require a courtroom showdown.”
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