Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Britain's racist police state

More evidence today of the racist application of anti-terror laws, this time the ugly fact that Asians (which in the UK means Indians and Pakistanis) are 42 times more likely than white people to be detained at airports under stop and search powers. That's not really surprising; previous studies had shown that UK police used other stop and search powers disproportionately against ethnic minorities; this is a different arbitrary search law, but its the same racists applying it (naturally police refused to give a force-by-force breakdown on "national security" grounds, it apparently being vital to public safety that certain police organisations avoid being publicly labelled as racists).

But what's really scary is what they're abusing it for - not just to question "potential terrorists", but to browbeat people into becoming informants, on pain of torture:

One of those stopped, Asif Ahmed, 28, said he was asked to spy after landing at Edinburgh airport.

He said he was separated from his wife and taken to a room and told he must answer questions about his beliefs and faith. "They asked if I would like to work with special branch, to keep an eye on the Muslim community in Edinburgh. They asked me three times. They said do it covertly."


One person subjected to a schedule 7 stop has provided a written statement alleging an MI5 officer tried to recruit him as a spy. When he refused, he says he was threatened with torture abroad.

Which tells you that despite all their public protestations, the British Security Services' enthusiasm for torture remains undiminished.

The good news is that with such obvious abuse of an arbitrary power, it should not be too difficult to have it declared illegal under the ECHR. That's what happened to the "normal" stop and search powers, which had a similar lack of reasonable suspicion required to search someone, but arguably stronger safeguards; getting the courts to overturn this, which violates the right to silence as well as the right to be free from arbitrary search and seizure, should be a piece of cake.