Question 1: Do you agree with this approach? If not, what changes to the code of practice do you propose?
The Interim Code, while protecting the anonymity of an individual selected for screening through various measures introduced to maintain an observable distance between reviewer and screener is still substandard and does not address fundamental concerns over the creation of body images and the problems these pose for the individual’s right to privacy under Article 8 of the European Convention.
The Interim Code and the introduction of airport scanners giving individuals no alternative but to pass through the screening process or be denied entry into secure
zones permitting air travel wholly ignores the considerations of Muslim passengers on the creation of body images and religious views on these.
The Charter of Fundamental rights preserves the rights to human dignity (Article 1), respect for private life (Article 7), freedom of thought, conscience and religion (Article 10) and protection against discrimination (Article 21).
The extension of airport scanners to airports across the UK over the course of the year, we believe, interferes with these fundamental rights, in particular the rights to privacy, non-discrimination and freedom of religion.
Whatever stipulations are included in the Interim Code there is a strong body of evidence from research into stop and search policies and policing procedures which give good cause for concern that the rights to freedom of religion and non-discrimination will be breached in relation to Muslim passengers.
The religious considerations of the traveling public and their rights to privacy are not catered for in the Interim Code with no effort made to appreciate the respect for freedom of religion.
The Code of Practice acknowledges concerns of groups about undergoing a security scan and claims security officers would be equipped with the necessary skills to address any such concerns. We believe this to be an insufficient guarantee of serious concerns on security scanners interfering with fundamental religious beliefs and the protection of freedom of religion.
The European Commission’s communication of the use of airport scanners stipulates the need for health concerns to be addressed in relation to vulnerable groups (pregnant women, babies, children, and people with disabilities) and levels of radiation emitted by the scanners through provision of alternative security checks. The situation would give rise to an uneven application of fundamental rights where human health protection considerations of the Charter of Fundamental Rights (Article 35) would be respected while the right to freedom of religion would be compromised.
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