Human Rights Committee publishes report on facilitating peaceful protest
25 March 2011
The Joint Committee on Human Rights (JCHR) today publishes a Report on the policing of recent protests in central London and the preparations for the forthcoming 'March for the Alternative' planned for this Saturday, 26 March.
The policing of protest engages several human rights, including freedom of expression and assembly, the right to life, the prohibition against inhuman or degrading treatment, and rights to liberty and privacy.
The report welcomes the advance cooperation between the police and organisers of the TUC march, and the planned involvement of human rights observers in the control room on the day of the march itself. It also welcomes police initiatives to communicate better with protestors by using leaflets and Twitter.
But concerns remain about kettling and the use of batons, including:
- a lack of clarity about the circumstances in which the police can resort to containment or 'kettling', and the apparent lack of opportunity for non-violent protesters to leave
- the lack of specific guidance setting out the circumstances in which the use of the baton against the head might be justifiable. To meet the human rights requirement that the use of force should be proportionate, operational guidance to frontline officers needs to address this issue specifically and directly
- the need for a nimble system for assimilating lessons learned
Dr Hywel Francis MP, Chair of the Committee, said:
"The committee welcomes the cooperation between the Met and the organisers of the march this Saturday, especially the police's use of Twitter to communicate with protesters. But we remain concerned about kettling and the use of batons: clearer operational guidance is needed on both of these if the police are to meet their commitment to human rights successfully."
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