The government is planning to make important changes to the law that will restrict the right to protest when lockdown restrictions ease.
We oppose this new planned legislation and instead demand that the National Police Chiefs Council adopts a new, eleven-point Charter for Freedom of Assembly Rights – or explain why they refuse to do so
Why is this important?
PLEASE NOTE THIS IS A TEST SITE – NOT THE REAL THING (YET!)
Police chiefs and government ministers are seeking new powers to clamp down protests that may cause disruption and, in particular, that involve direct action and civil disobedience. These changes are an unnecessary attack on the freedom to protest.
Netpol’s Charter for Freedom of Assembly Rights calls on the National Police Chiefs Council (the national body for Chief Constables) to accept greater transparency and accountability for the way protests are policed, based on international human rights standards.
There have already been repeated attempts to convince senior officers to publish their own guidelines. Despite promises to do so, they have been reluctant to explain how police will protect, not restrict, the right to protest. With new restrictions planned, we are tired of waiting.
Backed by a coalition of other organisations, the Charter for Freedom of Assembly Rights sets out what people taking part in protests can expect from the police. It calls for:
* Proper protections – not more restrictions – for the right to protest. This includes an end to treating direct action and civil disobedience as an excuse to shut down protests completely.
* An end to routine surveillance of protesters. This includes strict limitations on the use of police video recording, use of facial recognition, and surveillance of social media sites used by campaigners.
* An end to the excessive use of force and the targeting of organisers for arrest, surveillance and punishment. Black-led protests in particular disproportionately face excessive and violent interventions by police.
* An end to targeting the most vulnerable. The police have a particular duty to protect the rights of young people, vulnerable and disabled people wishing to exercise their rights to freedom of assembly
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