Irish Republican News · May 10, 2013
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
IRISH REPUBLICAN NEWS: PSNI to pay for harassment
PSNI to pay for harassment

murneystopandsearch.jpg

The harassment of republicans through ‘Section 21’ stop and search operations has been found to be illegal by the Court of Appeal in Belfast.

In a test case, the court ruled that the detention and questioning of two Derry republicans was unlawful.

Senior judges held there was a lack of adequate safeguards against potential abuse of the system in the cases of Bernard Fox and Marvin Canning. Both men are now to seek damages over their treatment at the hands of the PSNI.

Mr Canning said he had been stopped and questioned by the PSNI up to 100 times in an oppressive and confrontational manner. His treatment was incompatible with his right to privacy under European law, he argued.

The 55 year old, who is a memeber of the 32 County Sovereignty Committee, is related to Sinn Fein’s Martin McGuinness through marriage.

A similar legal challenge was brought by Mr Fox, who took part in the 1981 IRA hunger strikes inside Long Kesh, and his companion Christine McNulty.

The PSNI stopped a car he and Ms McNulty were travelling in near Camlough, County Armagh, in March 2011. Their vehicle was searched before the PSNI search Ms McNulty’s handbag.

Lawyers in both cases were seeking to overturn a High Court decision that no violation under the European Convention on Human Rights had occurred.

Delivering judgement in the Court of Appeal on Thursday, Justice Girvan said there were no safeguards against potential abuse of the Justice and Security (NI) Act 2007. He said European law required a code of practice.

“Pending the introduction of such a code the PSNI does not have a proper convention law compliant basis for exercising the section 21 power,” he ruled.

Sinn Fein Assembly member Sean Lynch welcomed the Court of Appeal decision.

The Fermanagh/South Tyrone representative said: “Sinn Fein has for several years now been raising this matter. After the European Court ruled in 2010 that stop and search under Section 44 of the British Government’s ‘Terrorism’ Act was illegal the PSNI then used Section 21 of the North’s Justice and Security Bill 2007, to carry on where they left off.

“Clearly the court has decided that this legislation is open to abuse by those conducting the stop and search procedures and does not contain the adequate safeguards to prevent such an abuse.

“People want the PSNI to demonstrate to the community that they can deliver an effective, accountable and civic policing service. Resorting to harassing members of the public in some form of political policing is more likely to alienate people.”

© 2013 Irish Republican News