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Public Order Bill Conflicting with Democratic Values In UK

The Public Order Bill is being processed this month among the House of Lords and House of Commons. The first reading of the Bill was introduced on 11th May 2022. The Bill has since come a long way and has been passed over between the two houses for alteration. It was created to keep order and prevent disruption of public life.  

Right now, the world is witnessing an increase in the number of protests due to various reasons such as - a rise in inflation, debt, housing crises, issues with energy and food, rising tension and conflict, and uncertainty within Governments. People are being seen more on the streets - demanding the change they want, and solutions for various ongoing problems. 

Oftentimes, having hundreds and thousands of people on the streets prevents others from going about their daily life. In some ways, these protests prevent people from living normally, but they also help tremendously. They allow people to ensure the crisis at hand that is being solved and worked through. 

In the UK, protesters are still allowed to carry out rallies on the streets, in designated areas or with a permit. They are even allowed to gather in public if a sudden movement that was not planned takes place. 

If the bill is allowed to be passed, it will reduce the rights for the public to protests in the future.

The bill has a set language that can be misunderstood by many people. The Public Order Bill can be seen placing emphases towards ‘serious disruption’. This can thus be used by the police any time they consider a protest to be disturbing the public. This can be from a small road being blocked to a larger event. Mass gathering of people would be also considered as a ‘serious disruption’ because it blocks other people from traveling normally. It will be interesting to see how these events are managed if the Bill is passed.

At first, the Bill may sound acceptable. But what comes with it is what holds the true powers. This can allow authorities to carry out stops and searches more often, and even ban protesters from gathering.

Amnesty UK is engaged in stopping the Bill from being reformed. The organization believes that the bill was created in an undefined manner and that it is subject to interpretation in many ways. According to them, it is capable of hurting human rights further and damaging the UK on international grounds - Amnesty UK.

Conservative MP Jon Trickett commented on the bill saying it is a form of cracking down on the right to protest which can deeply affect British liberty. 

Labour MP Vernon Coaker said that there should be a line between protest and daily life. It is not about putting the lives of protesters first but the people. – Guardian.

Conservative MP David Davis pointed out that if the Bill is passed, power could easily be given to people who will abuse it. He also noted that additional powers that will be given to the police and government will change the human rights of people in the UK. To add to it all, people who have had to deal with the police misusing its power haven't reported anything positive about it publicly - Twitter.

The law is currently in the Ping-Pong stage where it switches back and forth between the Commons and the Lords. If it is passed, it will be passed on to the Crown and if supported, will be rolled into action.

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Tags: #UK #Protest #Parliament #Commons #Bill #Lords


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