As large numbers of police officers from around the country are redeployed to respond to demonstrations against President Trump’s visit to the UK on Friday, Netpol is calling on police not to undermine people’s rights to freedom of expression and assembly under articles 10 and 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
Large protests are expected to take place at different locations in London, with demonstrators also gathering at the Prime Minister’s country house, Chequers, in Buckinghamshire and at Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire.
Volunteer legal observers from Green and Black Cross, one of Netpol’s member organisations, will closely monitor policing operations, provide information to protesters on their legal rights and document any arrests that may take place.
Already the Metropolitan Police have sealed off a large section of Regents Park to prevent Trump hearing protestors when he stays at Winfield House, the US ambassador’s London residence.
‘Stand Up to Trump’, one of the groups organising protests in London, has also complained that the police have suddenly withdrawn permission for a stage and sound system at tomorrow’s demonstration.
The police have suddenly withdrawn permission for us to have a stage and sound system at Friday’s demonstration. Tweet @metpoliceuk and tell them this is wrong and to reverse their decision immediately.
— Stand UpToTrump (@StandUp2TrumpUK) July 11, 2018
In a press statement issued yesterday, Netpol coordinator Kevin Blowe said:
Protests always result in some disruption, particularly with the large numbers expected on Friday, but demonstrations are a vital expression of public opinion and are protected by national and international human rights legislation.
The last thing we want to see, therefore, is confrontational zero-tolerance policing that leads to the kettling of demonstrators or mass arrests.
Neither is it appropriate for the Metropolitan Police to subject everyone opposing President Trump’s visit to London to intensive surveillance using facial recognition technology.
The wholesale collection of personal data, the routine tracking of participants at demonstrations and the unjustifiable designation of protesters as ‘extremists’ all have a chilling effect on the right to freedom of peaceful assembly.