We have joined a large number of groups across the UK in signing an open letter detailing urgent concern over the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill which is soon to be debated in the House of Lords.
We believe that the rights contained within the European Convention on Human Rights, which were brought into domestic legislation through the Human Rights Act 1998, play a fundamental role in the protection of rights across the UK. We are therefore deeply concerned about how Part 3 of the PCSC Bill could criminalise the public’s ability to protest, which is protected through the right to Freedom of Assembly (Article 11, ECHR). In relation to this clause of the Bill and the ability of people to protest, Liberty note,
“It limits the areas in which they may take place, increases criminal penalties for people who fall foul of police-imposed conditions and establishes new offences and criminal penalties altogether.”
In addition, we are deeply concerned about the potential impact of Part 4 of the Bill which seeks to turn trespass into a criminal offence. This clause has been categorised as a direct attack on the way of life for many in the Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities and may be in violation of Article 15 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), which protects the right to take part in cultural life.