A British parliamentary committee finds the police guilty of misusing counter terrorism laws and being too heavy-handed toward protestors.
As thousands in London prepare to take to the streets for next months G20 summit, the House of Parliament’s select committee on human rights has criticized the police for being too heavy-handed in their preparation for protests.
According to the committee, British police have manipulated legislation such as the counter terrorism laws in dealing with protestors, have resorted to intimidation and have abused its stop-and-search powers.
“The right to protest is a fundamental democratic right and one that the state and police have a duty to protect and facilitate,” said the committee’s chairman Andrew Dismore.
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“Of course, there is a balance to be struck between the rights of protestors, the police and the public but the state must not impose restrictions unless it is necessary, and proportionate, to do so,” Dismore added.
In 2008, campaigners claimed that the police had used 1,500 officers, including riot police to deal with 1,000 protesters at Climate Camp in Kent.
The committee also found that police were too heavy-handed with journalists reporting on demonstrations, saying it is “unacceptable that individual journalists are left with no option but to take court action against officers who unlawfully interfere with their work”.
In response to the parliamentary report, the Metropolitan Police issued a statement, saying, “Human rights and the right to protest are at the heart of our policing philosophy.”
The report found no “systematic” human rights abuse but recommended changes in the law and policing methods and urged protesters and police officers to work together to avoid further violence.