Policing / Protest rights
Liberty responds to plans to “fast-track” prosecutions for protesters
Posted on 12 Jun 2020
Liberty has responded to reports that the Government will ensure protesters face “24-hour justice”, warning that this will undermine the right to protest and it fast-tracks people into the criminal justice system rather than ensuring their rights are upheld.
Sam Grant, Policy and Campaigns Manager at Liberty, said: “This is the latest step by the Government to undermine protest rights by threatening protesters with criminalisation. This move echoes mistakes made in 2011 when many, often young black men, were handed heavy sentences. It prioritises channelling people into the justice system over ensuring their rights to protest and due process are respected. This is particularly worrying given Black Lives Matter protests, which were the subject of heavy-handed policing last weekend, have been called off as organisers are so concerned for the safety of participants.
“Instead of trying to intimidate protesters, the Government should be doing everything possible to facilitate protest and ensure the rights of protesters are upheld.”
The plans, brought forward by Justice Secretary Robert Buckland and Home Secretary Priti Patel, are reported to repeat measures pursued during the 2011 disturbances in the wake of the police shooting of Mark Duggan.
At Black Lives Matter protests across the country in recent weeks 135 people have been arrested out of over 137,000 participants. Legal Observers from Black Protest Legal Support Group saw protesters kettled outside Downing Street and other forms of intimidating policing that Liberty said may have been illegal.
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