Freedom of expression organisation ARTICLE 19 has called on the police to protect the right to protest.
Executive Director Thomas Hughes said:
“Section 14 of the Public Order Act should not be used to close down protests completely. By forcing protestors from designated areas in Trafalgar Square, the police have limited their right to freedom of expression. ARTICLE 19 believes that everyone should have the freedom to choose how they want to protest, and that non-violent direct action or civic disobedience should be considered legitimate forms of protest.
“Non-violent direct action or civic disobedience protests, such as those undertaken by Extinction Rebellion, are acts of political conscience grounded in a desire to improve society and raise awareness of issues of public interest.
“The right to protest is a fundamental right in a democracy, and enables people to individually and collectively influence governments’ policymaking. Some of the most important advances in human rights have been a result of nonviolent direct action or civic disobedience. The police might restrict freedom of expression in some circumstances but the protection of internationally guaranteed human rights must be applied as a rule during all protests.”