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SOCA & The Totalitarian Tiptoe?

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posted on May, 23 2006 @ 04:02 AM
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This just caught my eye...



BBC News

Police have removed placards from peace activist Brian Haw at the scene of his five-year vigil outside Parliament.

Officers went to Parliament Square in the early hours of Tuesday to deal with alleged breaches of Mr Haw's demonstration conditions.

A Metropolitan Police spokeswoman said officers removed the placards at 0235 BST over allegations that Mr Haw had continually breached conditions of the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005.

The legislation bans unauthorised protests within a 1km zone of Parliament Square and requires any permitted protests to cover no more than three metres.


What was serious and organised about this individuals protests? This considered, it shocked me that the Serious Organised Crime & Police legislation was used to charge this protestor. Is the right to protest becoming a crime?



SOCA Legislation

Demonstrations in vicinity of Parliament

132 Demonstrating without authorisation in designated area
(1) Any person who-

(a) organises a demonstration in a public place in the designated area, or

(b) takes part in a demonstration in a public place in the designated area, or

(c) carries on a demonstration by himself in a public place in the designated area,

is guilty of an offence if, when the demonstration starts, authorisation for the demonstration has not been given under section 134(2).



Is the right to free protest in Britain is slowly being eroded? One now needs permission to protest within the vicinity of parliament. I am finding it hard to believe that an individual is being charged for protesting under the ‘Serious Organised Crime & Police’ act. If I were a protestor like the guy in the news story, I would be nothing short of amazed to be told I was being charged under such an act for a lone protest.

I do think however it is reasonable to say that SOCA was not legislated or established solely as a consequence of the war on terrorism, so comparisons to the patriot act are unsuitable. I do think that this legislation is the start of a slippery slope which could begin to erode liberties. It is now official: we cannot spontaneously protest directly outside of parliament, and the government are surprised groups like Fathers for Justice take to scaling the walls of royal palaces.

mod edit: external quote tags
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[edit on 23-5-2006 by UK Wizard]




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