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Govt. policing bill 'oppressive and wrong', UK parl. committee

Saeed Pourreza
Press TV, London

The UK parliament’s Joint Committee on Human Rights has called on the government to drop what it called disproportionate plans to hand police greater powers to control protests. The controversial draft law set off massive ‘’kill the bill’’ protests over the past year, with campaigners saying the measure impinges on freedom of expression.

The right to assemble, to demonstrate, to be heard by people in power, a cornerstone of democracy is potentially under threat in proposed UK government legislation that gives the police sweeping new powers.

And it was those provisions in the bill that got people out on the streets over the past year– not just in London, but up and down the country.

The parliamentary committee’s warning echoes campaigners’ concern that the policing bill is deeply imbalanced. Apart from unwarranted curbs such as noise limits on protests for instance, it does too little to protect women. That it metes out longer jail terms, let’s say, for vandalism, than for rape.

The government response has been one of denial and defiance. ‘’Our proposed measures, it says, are in line with human rights legislation and in no way impinge on the right to protest."

The bill would allow police to "better manage demonstrations so that legitimate protest groups can make their voices heard without disrupting the lives and livelihoods of others.’’ Tell us why you don’t take government’s word for it!

The contentious legislation came after protests by the Extinction Rebellion movement that first began in 2018- and last year's toppling of the statue of a slave trader in the southwestern city of Bristol. The UK government has a majority in parliament: it remains to be seen if the ongoing protests, the warning from the committee on human rights and concerns among some its own libertarian MPs, will prevent the draft legislation from becoming law.

The right to assemble, to demonstrate, to be heard by people in power, a cornerstone of democracy….Potentially under threat in proposed UK government legislation that gives the police sweeping new powers.

And it was those provisions in the bill that got people out on the streets over the past year– not just in London, but up and down the country.

The parliamentary committee’s warning echoes campaigners’ concern that the policing bill is deeply imbalanced. Apart from unwarranted curbs such as noise limits on protests for instance, it does too little to protect women. That it metes out longer jail terms, let’s say, for vandalism, than for rape.

The government response has been one of denial and defiance. ‘’Our proposed measures, it says, are in line with human rights legislation and in no way impinge on the right to protest."

The bill would allow police to "better manage demonstrations so that legitimate protest groups can make their voices heard without disrupting the lives and livelihoods of others.’’ Tell us why you don’t take government’s word for it!

The contentious legislation came after protests by the Extinction Rebellion movement that first began in 2018- and last year's toppling of the statue of a slave trader in the southwestern city of Bristol. The UK government has a majority in parliament: it remains to be seen if the ongoing protests, the warning from the committee on human rights and concerns among some its own libertarian MPs, will prevent the draft legislation from becoming law.


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