Northern Ireland news

'Stop and search border zone' to face legal challenge

Solicitor Michael Brentnall
Connla Young

A Co Fermanagh man is seeking to challenge new ‘stop and search' powers introduced last month.

Under the Counter Terrorism Border Security Act, a new mile-wide “stop and search border zone” has been established along the length of the border.

The controversial new powers are to be challenged by a man who lives close to the border at Kinawley.

Under the legislation any member of the public could be stopped to establish if they are entering or leaving the north.

The law states that an “examining officer” may question a person to determine if they are engaged in “hostile activity”.

Last year The Irish News revealed how the legislation, which at that stage was making its way through Westminster, intended to create a special ‘border zone'.

Thousands of people live in border areas across the north.

Solicitor Michael Brentnall, of Brentnall Legal, said his client intends to challenge the legality of the act.

"This legislation is a throwback to the now discredited and defunct ‘section 44 of the Terrorism Act 2000' which the European Court of Human Rights ruled to be illegal,” he said.

“The implementation of this new legislation raises serious human rights and civil liberties concerns, not least within border areas as we face into a real and distinct prospect of a ‘no deal' Brexit situation.”

Daniel Holder, deputy director of the Committee on the Administration of Justice, also raised concerns about the act.

“These powers are so vaguely drafted and do not require any suspicion, which effectively means that they can just end up being used against any person for any purpose,” he said.

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