Friday, February 22, 2008

What Happens when you Attempt the Freedom of Expression in a "Democracy"


Simon from We Are Change UK gets arrested for demonstrating within the SOCPA Zone in London.

The Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 (SOCPA) was introduced into the House of Commons on 24 November 2004 and was passed by Parliament and given Royal Assent in April 2005.

The Act is controversial primarily for an additional, entirely unrelated provision, which restricts the right to demonstrate within an exclusion zone of up to one kilometre from any point in Parliament Square. Demonstrators have to apply to the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police six days in advance, or if this is not reasonably practicable then no less than 24 hours in advance. No equivalent provision is made for any other Parliament in the United Kingdom.

In October 2007, the Home Office published a public consultation document, Managing Protest Around Parliament [5], which 'takes another look at sections 132-138 (of SOCPA) and explores whether there is another way to address the situation that would both uphold the right to protest while also giving police the powers they need to keep the peace'. Campaigners are worried that this document contains new threats to freedom of assembly and the right to protest in that is suggests that there could be 'harmonisation of powers to manage marches and assemblies' throughout the UK.

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