As the same time the UK government was claiming to want to promote human rights and democracy around the world in its ‘Integrated Review’, it was pushing a draconian new law through the Houses of Parliament which would massively curb our right to protest, and undermine the rights of travellers in the UK.
What is wrong with the Bill?
This Bill gives police the powers to crack down on protests considered too disruptive or noisy. It grants judges the right to give protestors draconian new prison sentences. It gives special powers to the Home Secretary Priti Patel, allowing her to redefine terms in the Bill without the need for parliamentary approval. So Patel, who has branded Black Lives Matter protests ‘dreadful’, will be able to decide whether a protest is legal or not – a move which is especially concerning considering the disproportionate use of police and judicial powers already on racialised protesters.
The Bill passed its second reading in the House of Commons, which means enough MPs voted for it to allow it pass through to the next stage. However it has been delayed at Committee stage, thanks to sustained protests organised by Sisters Uncut, backed by widespread condemnation from civil society. This Bill is an attack on democracy, but it shows that the government is feeling pressure from increased protests. We know we’re having an impact, and we will not accept an increasingly militarised response.
What can I do?
- Put pressure on your MP Use this template letter to let them know you don’t want this Bill to become Law. Encourage people you know to write to their MP with their concerns about this erosion of democracy.
- Share NETPOL’s petition to reject the Bill and protect protestors instead of persecuting them.
- Contact your local media – write to the local paper letters page, or call a local radio phone-in.
- Reach out to other social justice movements in your area and let them know what is happening.
- Read Netpol’s Charter for Freedom of Assembly Rights, which sets out what people taking part in protests have the right to expect from the police.