Oh, the hypocrisy! The UK government champions peaceful protest in statement to UN…Does Priti Patel know?

Meme by Sadie Parker

This government don’t do honesty. They don’t get irony. But, boy, do they max out on hypocrisy!

UN Human Rights Council 48: UK statement on the promotion and protection of human rights in the context of peaceful protests – UK statement:

The United Kingdom welcomes today’s discussion.

Peaceful protests play a positive role in the development of open societies, contributing to the effectiveness of democractic systems and processes. They are an important form of exercising the rights to freedoms of peaceful assembly, expression and association.

The UK Government is concerned about the repression of peaceful protests around the world in recent months, including the unlawful use of force by law enforcement officials, and the criminalisation of those who have organised, taken part, or reported on peaceful protests. While the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights allows for restrictions of freedom of peaceful assembly and of movement in order to protect public health, these must be be targeted, time-limited, and subject to regular review to ensure they remain necessary.

The UK considers a free, open, peaceful and secure internet as a fundamental tool for promoting human rights. We share the Council’s concern about the use of internet shutdowns and measures to limit the ability to organise, facilitate and conduct assemblies, and to prevent individuals from accessing or sharing information during key political moments.

The UK works closely with our international partners to promote the freedom of peaceful assembly, including the ability to protest peacefully.

Madam President,

We would welcome the panel’s views on what steps we as States must take to ensure this right is protected.

Thank you.

Well, for a start you can scrap the Police, Crimes, Courts and Sentencing Bill, if you are so very concerned about “the criminalisation of those who have organised, taken part, or reported on peaceful protests.

Oh, Priti! The Joint Committee on Human Rights have you banged to rights on this one! To quote their report:

“A new trigger for imposing conditions based on noise strikes at the very heart of why people gather together to protest – to have their voices heard. Demonstrations with the greatest public backing could be disproportionately impacted by this expansion of police powers to move the location of a demonstration, limit its numbers, duration or even silence chants. The report points out that the law already provides a range of powers to deal with noise and urges Government to remove the new trigger for imposing conditions on processions and assemblies from the Bill. 

While some changes to the offence of failing to comply with police conditions may be justified, the Bill goes further than is necessary, making the criminalisation of peaceful protesters more likely. “

The bill has been rammed through and is now in its final stages with amendments being considered. The government needs to acknowledge that there are clauses in this bill which are wholly incompatible with the statement made today.

But as I’ve already said, this government is genuinely world-beating when it comes to hypocrisy. Are there no old-school Conservatives prepared to put their heads above the parapet or is Patel so terrifying and party loyalty so paramount that they prefer to stay silent and watch our democratic rights being stripped away piece by precious piece?