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Liberty: Policing bill vote a dark stain on our democracy

Posted on 16 Mar 2021

Liberty has responded to the House of Common voting in favour of the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill during its second reading in Parliament.

The human rights organisation warned the bill is an assault on basic civil liberties and criticised the Government for passing legislation through Parliament that impacts the right to protest at a time when people cannot protest.

Sam Grant, Liberty head of policy and campaigns, said:

“Today’s vote on the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill is a dark stain on our democracy. Our right to protest is not and should never be viewed as a gift from the State. We also have the right to live free from undue or discriminatory state interference. The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill seeks to undo these basic foundations of our democracy. It is an assault on basic civil liberties, and MPs should have rejected it outright. We cannot allow these powers to pass and while today’s vote is beyond disappointing, the Bill still has a long distance to travel until it’s passed into law. We’re urging all those who are concerned about what is happening to basic civil liberties in this country to come together to stand up for our democratic values.

“We also need an urgent remedy from the Home Secretary on the Government’s current quasi ban on protest following the High Court ruling on the Clapham Common case. We want to see guidance issued to all police forces to ensure socially distanced protests can go ahead and for the inclusion of an explicit exemption for protest in the current regulations. To have legislation that has such a profound impact on our right to protest passing through parliament without having the ability to protest is as absurd as it is authoritarian.

“Now is the time for us to come together to stand up to this aggressive and egregious use of power.”

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