Joint submission on the discriminatory denial of peaceful protest in the UK

The Equal Rights Trust and Black Protest Legal Support have jointly submitted evidence to the Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association for his upcoming report on the promotion and protection of human rights in the context of peaceful protests during crisis situations.

We use our submission to present selected evidence related to the discriminatory denial of the right to peaceful assembly in the context of the UK government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, including patterns of:

• Discriminatory and disproportionate use of force by law enforcement in the policing of assemblies;
• Harassment and intimidation of Black protesters and legal observers;
• Discrimination as both a cause of interference with, and of the failure to facilitate, peaceful protests.

The evidence provided demonstrates the need for the UK to adopt an equal rights approach to realising the right to peaceful assembly. Specifically, we call on the Special Rapporteur to recommend that the UK and other states integrate equality impact assessment into their COVID response and recovery measures, as well as to the adoption of all new legislation and policies concerning assemblies, including those governing police powers (like the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill).

The adoption of meaningful and substantive equality impact assessment is a necessary means for all states to fulfil their obligations to ensure an enabling environment for the exercise of the right to peaceful assembly without discrimination.

To read our submission, click here.