ALERT: UK – Oppose Full Body Scanners at UK airports

ALERT: UK – Oppose Full Body Scanners at UK airports
1. Summary
2. Background
3. Action required
4. Model letter

1.  Summary
The British Government introduced body scanners in Heathrow and Manchester airports on 1st of February 2010. The scanners, which see through clothes to produce an image of the body violates Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights – the right to privacy.

2.  Background
The body scanners are a counter-terrorism initiative which has been introduced in the wake of a failed attempt by 23-year-old Nigerian Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab to blow up a US plane on 25th December 2009.   

The IHRC strongly objects to the use of full body scanners. They are unethical and immoral as they show a persons private parts and the outline of the whole body.

The IHRC also believes that since the selection criteria is not clear nor open to public scrutiny, individuals identified as being Muslim due to their dress/nationality/ethnic origin or choice of destination will be targeted.

The scanners will also breach the Protection of Children Act 1978, under which it is illegal to create an indecent image or a “pseudo-image” of a child.

The use of the body scanners is unnecessary since the body scanners will not be able to identify most types of explosives and alternatives such as a pat down search will be just as effective in finding explosives. Also, the scanners are not productive since the use is only when departing the UK. This means that there are large numbers of passengers who are entering the UK who could pose a threat to the UK.

The IHRC has written an open letter to the Minister for Transport, Phillip Hammond MP. Both Prime Minister David Cameron and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg were invited to comment on the letter as well.  The letter can be found at:

3.  Action Required
The UK government has an open consultation on the current code of practice on the use of Full-Body Scanners at UK airports. This consultation process continues until the 19th of July. We urge you to take part in this consultation by writing to the Secretary of Transport, Philip Hammond and to Mike Alcock to show your objection to the body scanners at airports.

A sample letter is given below for your convenience. Please note that the model letter can be sent directly or adjusted as necessary to include further details. If you receive a reply to the letter you send, we request you to send a copy of the letter you sent and the reply you received to IHRC. This is very important as it helps IHRC to monitor the situation with regards to our campaigns and to improve upon the current model letters. It is preferable that letters be sent via post, or otherwise by fax and/or email.

4.  Model letter

Rt Hon Philip Hammond MP
Secretary of State for Transport
Department of Transport
Great Minster House
76 Marsham Street
London SW1P 4DR

Mike Alcock    
Department for Transport
Zone 5/12
Victoria Street
London SW1E 6DT     

Dear Mr. Hammond/Alcock,

I am writing to you to express my deep concern over the use of body scanners at UK airports. I object to and oppose the use of such scanners on the grounds of violation of individual privacy and human dignity.
The use of the body scanners violates Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights- the right to privacy. By forcing an individual to go through the body scanner and have naked images taken, they are being stripped of their privacy; their right to decide who takes and views images of them.

To allow an individual’s naked images to be viewed by others, even if by a security officer of the same sex, is immoral and an attack on that individual’s human dignity. We need to value our right not to be physically exposed to others, whether it is in front of a male or female security officer.

The procedure is also totally unnecessary for the following reasons:  
o    A pat down search will be just as effective in finding explosives strapped to the body of any would be bomber (both America and Canada allow a pat down search as an alternative to the body scanner);
o    The body scanners will not be able to identify most types of explosives,

Due to the explicit nature of the pictures that the body scanners create, I believe that the government will be breaching section 1 of the Protection of Children Act 1978, namely the prohibition against the taking of indecent images of children.

I fully support the necessary measures for the safety and protection of all passengers. We are, however, concerned about the use of the intrusive body scanners for this purpose. We, as educated and cultured people, should not be put in a position where we have to choose between our security and our dignity. It is very unnecessary, especially as other technologies can be used that detect the presence of questionable materials without infringing upon the modesty of passengers and humiliating them.

I would appreciate the alternative provision of pat-down search (as is the case in America and Canada) for those passengers whose modesty and dignity prevents them from going through these naked body scanners.

Yours sincerely,

[Your signature]
[Your name]

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Holy Qur’an: Chapter 4, Verse 75

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PO Box 598
United Kingdom

Telephone (+44) 20 8904 4222              
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