UK will crack down on disruptive protests activists worry about new powers
UK will crack down on disruptive protests activists worry about new powers

UK: Activists and a journalists' union are concerned that proposed public order laws in the UK could give the government and police more powers to crack down on protests and media freedom.

A "small minority" of protesters who use "guerrilla" tactics to block roads, transport, and other infrastructure are the targets of tougher laws and new criminal offenses by the British government, which insists it Not opposing, presenting.

The Public Order Bill gives police in England and Wales new powers to deal with protesters, similar to those derived from Just Stop Oil, and is currently being studied by the UK Parliament's House of Lords.

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These include the power to seal off entire areas and to stop and search anyone preparing to take part in a disruptive protest.

Additionally, courts will have the ability to issue new "Serious Disruption Prevention Orders" (SDPOs), which are similar to those used for regular offenders and allow electronic tagging of a subject, even if they have not yet committed any crime. Have not committed a crime.

According to the campaigners, the SDPO will also forbid the subjects to interact with specific persons.

Mark Johnson, legal and policy officer for the civil rights and privacy campaign group Big Brother Watch, said that under the new measures outlined in the bill, police would be able to stop and search people at protests or place activists under the age of 24. Will give hours surveillance, even if they haven't committed a crime.

These are highly despotic forces that have no business existing in a liberal democracy and only harm the UK's reputation as a defender of human rights abroad.

For some offences, the UK government suggests jail time and fines. For example, "locking on" could result in a six-month sentence.

Campaigners opposing the bill claim that there is a possibility that someone could be arrested for simply carrying a bicycle lock or tube of super glue as some climate protesters prefer to lock themselves in bridges and railings so that Make it difficult for the police to move them. ,

Making or being present in a tunnel under a public road or other transport system is punishable by imprisonment of up to three years.

The Public Order Bill, which was first introduced by former Home Secretary Priti Patel, has already passed the House of Commons and is likely to become law.

The UK government's tough measures against disruptive protests contrasted with criticism of Beijing's policies towards Hong Kong and the Hong Kong government's response to the 2019 social unrest.

Conservative MP and opponent of the bill Charles Walker told the legislature last month, "I tell you, the Chinese in their embassy will be watching this very closely at the moment."
The British bill has been introduced amid a flurry of disruptive actions by Just Stop Oil environmentalists.

Activists threw soup at Vincent van Gogh's painting Sunflowers at the National Gallery in London last month. On the London M25 orbital road this month, they blocked traffic, and a man locked himself in a gantry.

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The bill comes at a time when some fear that repression is becoming more prevalent in the UK.

Police in Hertfordshire, north of London, detained LBC radio journalist Charlotte Lynch, as well as a photographer and a documentary filmmaker, as they covered the Just Stop Oil motorway protest last week.

Lynch claimed that she was not near the protesters when she was stopped and taken into custody by the police. He claimed to know about the protest on social media.

Lynch complained about the police to his radio station, saying, "They wouldn't even talk to me for two minutes." My right hand was immediately taken away as I reached for my phone with my left hand as my left hand was first handcuffed, and I was then taken into custody on suspicion of planning to commit a public nuisance.

Lynch's equipment was taken into custody and searched at the police station. He was freed after seven hours.

Later, Hertfordshire Police claimed that "in retrospect, an arrest would not be necessary," but they still had not expressed regret to Lynch.

According to Séamus Dooley, assistant general secretary of the National Union of Journalists (NUJ), "The Public Order Bill is one of a number of legislative threats to journalists being introduced by the UK government."

Journalists should be able to do their work without fear of arrest, but recent events as well as proposals for a National Security Bill pose a serious threat to press freedom.

"Last week's arrests at the Just Stop Oil protests were shocking and risk becoming normal when protest restrictions are brought forward through the Public Order Bill.

Dooley was referring to a second bill that is currently being debated in parliament and which, according to activists, could directly threaten investigative journalists and foreign media outlets operating in the UK if not changed.

The bill, which also affects Scotland, is designed to cover instances in which agents of foreign governments harm UK national security interests through espionage. 

The proposed legislation calls for a maximum sentence of 14 years in prison for foreign interference and life in prison for espionage.

The NUJ, Index on Censorship, Reporters Without Borders, and Open Democracy stated in a joint written submission to parliament that "the bill may be sufficiently broad to criminalise reporters (and others) who receive any financial (or other) assistance from other countries."

In no circumstance should journalists run the risk of being labelled spies or traitors, according to the submission. This perception, which is supported by the bill, runs the risk of allowing threats made against journalists and media professionals to be taken seriously and undermining public support for a free press.

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Campaigners have asked to meet with Tom Tugendhat, the security minister, who is also one of the UK's most vocal opponents of alleged human rights violations in China.

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