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February 22, 2010

Pope says 'strip search' at airports breach of 'human dignity'

     London: Pope Benedict XVI has spoken out against the use of full body scanners across airports in UK insisting that 'human dignity must be preserved'. 'Every action, it is above all essential to protect and value the human person in their integrity... Respecting these principles can seem particularly complex and difficult in the present context," the Telegraph quoted the Pope, as saying. "The economic crisis has had problematic effects on the civil aviation sector, the international terrorist threat which, precisely, has in its line of fire airports and aircraft to realize its destructive schemes." "Even in this situation, one must never forget that respecting the primacy of the human person and attention to his or her needs does not make the service less efficient nor penalize economic management," he added. Travelers at British airports are subjected to the full-body scan after Prime Minister Gordon Brown backed the system. Brown has emphasized that the controversial technology, introduced at Heathrow and other airports, is "essential" in tackling a new terrorist threat. The system was introduced following the failed Christmas Day bombing in the US. Earlier, the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) of UK had written to Home Secretary Alan Johnson raising concerns over the scanners, saying it feared the body scanners could breach an individual's right to privacy as laid out in the Human Rights Act. The EHRC said that the scanners were likely to have a negative impact on privacy, especially in certain groups such as disabled people, the elderly, children and the transgender community. "The commission fully accepts the Government's responsibility to protect the safety and security of air travelers. However, the Government needs to ensure that measures to protect this right also take into account the need to be proportionate in its counter-terrorism proposals and ensure that they are justified by evidence and effectiveness," said John Wadham, group director at the EHRC.
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