The human rights committee of the UK parliament has called for evidence on the government’s new bill that would give police greater powers to restrict protest.
The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill received its second reading yesterday.
The committee said it was concerned that some parts of the bill may interfere with human rights. These included rights to liberty, punishment without law, a family life and home, free assembly and freedom from discrimination, it said.
It specifically asked for evidence on the effect of the bill’s greater powers to deal with public order and the wider offences and increased sentences for breaching police conditions on assemblies and processions.
The committee said:
“These proposals have significant implications for the right to protest, an aspect of the rights to free speech and free assembly.”
“Are the proposed changes to the law governing public assemblies, processions and one-person protests necessary to protect those adversely affected by such activities? Do the proposals … adequately protect the right to peaceful assembly and the right to free expression?”
The committee also said the new offence targeting people living on land without permission had “implications for the right to respect for the home and the right to peaceful enjoyment of possessions, of both the landowner and the resident”.
This “may have a disproportionate impact on particular ethnic groups”, it said.
It asked for evidence on whether these new powers were justified by the need to protect the rights of landowners and other users of land.
Submissions, of no more than 1,500 words, should be submitted by Friday 14 May 2021.
The committee, with representatives from both the House of Commons and Lords, examines human rights issues in the UK. It looks at every government bill for its compatibility with human rights.