News / Europe

Europe Debates Airport Security

Multimedia

Audio
Jennifer Glasse

European aviation officials are meeting in Brussels to discuss airport security measures and British authorities are doing the same as governments try to decide the best way to protect planes and air passengers in the wake of a failed bombing attempt on an American airliner on Christmas day.

The European Commission's aviation experts are meeting Thursday according to commission spokesman Fabio Pirotta.

"It is a meeting of aviation security committee and they are meeting to take stock of the situation following the incidents that happened over the holidays," he said.

While Pirotta would not say exactly what the committee will address, full body scanners are likely to be on the agenda.  European nations are divided as to whether to deploy them in airports.  Officials from some countries, like Germany have cited health and privacy issues.

The Netherlands and Britain have announced they will install scanners in the coming weeks. 

Barbara Hellfferich, another commission spokesperson, says there are currently no European Union rules preventing member states from introducing body scanners and the European commission's position is clear.

"It considers body scanners, if they meet the health standards and security standards, as a useful additional tool provided they do not contradict existing European legislation," she said.

In Britain, the heads of airport security are meeting with government officials to discuss rolling out new security measures.  The British prime minister's announcement  this week that scanners will be in U.K. airports in the next three weeks has sparked protest from civil liberties campaigners such as Simon Davies, of the group Privacy International.

"Here you have a machine that electronically strip searches people," he said.  "It strip searches them regardless of age or innocence, children, grandmothers, whomever.  The reality is this is yet another assault on the dignity of the public and rights of the public.  Now if you could prove that the machines are essential to  protection of our security, then I would say the use is proportionate."

Davies says he objects to the scanners not only because of privacy issues, but also because he says they are a waste of money.

"From a security perspective, money should be diverted to tried and tested proven methods of counter terrorism. Why divert finite resources to something which does not work, which has never ever been proved to work, just on speculation, on hypothesis that at sometime in the future it may?" he asked.

Aviation analyst Chris Yates says the scanners are effective, but have to be used with other security screening methods.

"Body scanners in and of themselves provide an additional capability, in terms of aviation security, but they are by no means the only answer.  Body Scanners are only the first element, we need to look at the profiling, we need to also look at the liquid aspect.  We need to look at advanced technology as well," said Yates.

That advanced technology includes trace detectors that can determine whether someone' was touched or been exposed to explosive material.  U.S. President Barack Obama called the failed Christmas day bombing an intelligence failure.  Yates says intelligence is only part of keeping travelers safe.

"Security has always got to be a mix of technique and technology.  So on the technique side, there has to be advances in the profiling of passengers, but not necessarily in terms of ethnicity, religion and so forth," Yates added.

It is not clear whether body scanners would have identified the failed Christmas day bomber, because they do not always detect liquids or plastic. Aviation officials say it was lucky the bomb did not detonate properly.  European governments are working to find aviation security measures that will not rely on luck.
 

You May Like

Computer Crash Halts US Visa, Passport Operation

Problems with database have resulted in extensive backlog of applications, affected State Department's consular offices all over the world More

Migrant Issues Close to Home Spur Groups to Take Action

Groups placing water, food in the desert, or aiding detainees after release, have one common goal: no more deaths of migrants crossing illegally into the US More

World Bank: Boko Haram Stalls African Aid Projects

Islamist group’s terrorism sets back agriculture, health efforts in Cameroon, Chad and Nigeria More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnelsi
X
July 24, 2014 4:42 AM
The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnels

The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video MH17's 'Black Boxes' Could Reveal Crash Details

The government of Malaysia now has custody of the cockpit voice and flight data recorders from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, which was hit by a missile over Ukraine before crashing last week. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports, the so-called black boxes may hold information about the final minutes of the flight.
Video

Video Living in the Shadows Panel Discussion

Following a screening of the new VOA documentary, "AIDS - Living in the Shadows," at the World AIDS conference in Melbourne, a panel discussed the film and how to combat the stigma associated with HIV/AIDS.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video US Awards Medal of Honor for Heroics in Bloodiest of Afghan Battles

U.S. combat troops are withdrawing from Afghanistan, on pace to leave the country by the end of this year. But on Monday, U.S. President Barack Obama took time to honor a soldier whose actions while under fire in Afghanistan earned him the Medal of Honor. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.

AppleAndroid