ICCPR - International Convenant on Civil and Political Rights. Adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1966. Entered into force 23 March 1976. Ratified by the U.K. 20 August 1976.
ECHR (1) - The European Court of Human Rights.
ECHR (2) - European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.
HRA - The Human Rights Act 1998. Incorporates into British Law the rights in Articles 2 to 12 and in Article 14, plus those in the First and Sixth Protocols of the ECHR(2).
OSCE - The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe.
ODIHR - The OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights is based in Warsaw, Poland. It is active throughout the OSCE area in the fields of election observation, democratic development, human rights, tolerance and non-discrimination, and rule of law.
Reference 1 -
The Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005, Sections 132-135
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).
(2) It is a defence for a person accused of an offence under subsection (1) to show that he reasonably believed that authorisation had been given.
(3) Subsection (1) does not apply if the demonstration is-
(a) a public procession of which notice is required to be given under subsection (1) of section 11 of the Public Order Act 1986 (c. 64), or of which (by virtue of subsection (2) of that section) notice is not required to be given, or
(b) a public procession for the purposes of section 12 or 13 of that Act.
(4) Subsection (1) also does not apply in relation to any conduct which is lawful under section 220 of the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992 (c. 52).
(5) If subsection (1) does not apply by virtue of subsection (3) or (4), nothing in sections 133 to 136 applies either.
(6) Section 14 of the Public Order Act 1986 (imposition of conditions on public assemblies) does not apply in relation to a public assembly which is also a demonstration in a public place in the designated area.
(7) In this section and in sections 133 to 136-
(a) "the designated area" means the area specified in an order under section 138,
(b) "public place" means any highway or any place to which at the material time the public or any section of the public has access, on payment or otherwise, as of right or by virtue of express or implied permission,
(c) references to any person organising a demonstration include a person participating in its organisation,
(d) references to any person organising a demonstration do not include a person carrying on a demonstration by himself,
(e) references to any person or persons taking part in a demonstration (except in subsection (1) of this section) include a person carrying on a demonstration by himself.
133 Notice of demonstrations in designated area
(1) A person seeking authorisation for a demonstration in the designated area must give written notice to that effect to the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis (referred to in this section and section 134 as "the Commissioner").
(2) The notice must be given-
(a) if reasonably practicable, not less than 6 clear days before the day on which the demonstration is to start, or
(b) if that is not reasonably practicable, then as soon as it is, and in any event not less than 24 hours before the time the demonstration is to start.
(3) The notice must be given-
(a) if the demonstration is to be carried on by more than one person, by any of the persons organising it,
(b) if it is to be carried on by a person by himself, by that person.
(4) The notice must state-
(a) the date and time when the demonstration is to start,
(b) the place where it is to be carried on,
(c) how long it is to last,
(d) whether it is to be carried on by a person by himself or not,
(e) the name and address of the person giving the notice.
(5) A notice under this section must be given by-
(a) delivering it to a police station in the metropolitan police district, or
(b) sending it by post by recorded delivery to such a police station.
(6) Section 7 of the Interpretation Act 1978 (c. 30) (under which service of a document is deemed to have been effected at the time it would be delivered in the ordinary course of post) does not apply to a notice under this section.
134 Authorisation of demonstrations in designated area
(1) This section applies if a notice complying with the requirements of section 133 is received at a police station in the metropolitan police district by the time specified in section 133(2).
(2) The Commissioner must give authorisation for the demonstration to which the notice relates.
(3) In giving authorisation, the Commissioner may impose on the persons organising or taking part in the demonstration such conditions specified in the authorisation and relating to the demonstration as in the Commissioner's reasonable opinion are necessary for the purpose of preventing any of the following-
(a) hindrance to any person wishing to enter or leave the Palace of Westminster,
(b) hindrance to the proper operation of Parliament,
(c) serious public disorder,
(d) serious damage to property,
(e) disruption to the life of the community,
(f) a security risk in any part of the designated area,
(g) risk to the safety of members of the public (including any taking part in the demonstration).
(4) The conditions may, in particular, impose requirements as to-
(a) the place where the demonstration may, or may not, be carried on,
(b) the times at which it may be carried on,
(c) the period during which it may be carried on,
(d) the number of persons who may take part in it,
(e) the number and size of banners or placards used,
(f) maximum permissible noise levels.
(5) The authorisation must specify the particulars of the demonstration given in the notice under section 133 pursuant to subsection (4) of that section, with any modifications made necessary by any condition imposed under subsection (3) of this section.
(6) The Commissioner must give notice in writing of-
(a) the authorisation,
(b) any conditions imposed under subsection (3), and
(c) the particulars mentioned in subsection (5),
to the person who gave the notice under section 133.
(7) Each person who takes part in or organises a demonstration in the designated area is guilty of an offence if -
(a) he knowingly fails to comply with a condition imposed under subsection (3) which is applicable to him (except where it is varied under section 135), or
(b) he knows or should have known that the demonstration is carried on otherwise than in accordance with the particulars set out in the authorisation by virtue of subsection (5).
(8) It is a defence for a person accused of an offence under subsection (7) to show-
(a) (in a paragraph (a) case) that the failure to comply, or
(b) (in a paragraph (b) case) that the divergence from the particulars,
arose from circumstances beyond his control, or from something done with the agreement, or by the direction, of a police officer.
(9) The notice required by subsection (6) may be sent by post to the person who gave the notice under section 133 at the address stated in that notice pursuant to subsection (4)(e) of that section.
(10) If the person to whom the notice required by subsection (6) is to be given has agreed, it may be sent to him by email or by facsimile transmission at the address or number notified by him for the purpose to the Commissioner (and a notice so sent is "in writing" for the purposes of that subsection).
135 Supplementary directions
(1) This section applies if the senior police officer reasonably believes that it is necessary, in order to prevent any of the things mentioned in paragraphs (a) to (g) of subsection (3) of section 134-
(a) to impose additional conditions on those taking part in or organising a demonstration authorised under that section, or
(b) to vary any condition imposed under that subsection or under paragraph (a) (including such a condition as varied under subsection (2)).
(2) The senior police office may give directions to those taking part in or organising the demonstration imposing such additional conditions or varying any such condition already imposed.
(3) A person taking part in or organising the demonstration who knowingly fails to comply with a condition which is applicable to him and which is imposed or varied by a direction under this section is guilty of an offence.
(4) It is a defence for him to show that the failure to comply arose from circumstances beyond his control.
(5) In this section, "the senior police officer" means the most senior in rank of the police officers present at the scene (or any one of them if there are more than one of the same rank).
Reference 2 -
The Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 (Designated Area) Order 2005
In exercise of the powers conferred upon me by section 138 of the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005, I hereby make the following Order:
Citation and commencement
1. This Order may be cited as the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 (Designated Area) Order 2005 and shall come into force on 1st July 2005.
2. - (1) For the purposes of sections 132 to 137 of the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005, the designated area is the area bounded by an imaginary line starting at the point where Hungerford Bridge crosses Victoria Embankment, continuing along Hungerford Bridge to the point where it crosses Belvedere Road, rightwards along Belvedere Road as far as Chicheley Street, leftwards along Chicheley Street as far as York Road, rightwards along York Road, crossing Westminster Bridge Road into Lambeth Palace Road, along Lambeth Palace Road as far as Lambeth Bridge, over Lambeth Bridge, leftwards along Millbank as far as Thorney Street, along Thorney Street as far as Horseferry Road, leftwards along Horseferry Road as far as Strutton Ground, along Strutton Ground crossing over Victoria Street into Broadway, along Broadway as far as Queen Anne's Gate, along Queen Anne's Gate as far as Birdcage Walk, rightwards along Birdcage Walk as far as Horse Guards Road, along Horse Guards Road as far as the Mall, rightwards along the Mall, across the north end of Whitehall as far as Northumberland Avenue, along Northumberland Avenue as far as Victoria Embankment, leftwards along Victoria Embankment returning to the starting point.
(2) Subject to paragraph (3), references in paragraph (1) to a named street or other highway include the pavements adjoining that street or other highway on the extremity of the designated area.
(3) The pavements in Trafalgar Square are not included in the designated area.
Reference 3 -
The European Convention on Human Rights, ROME 4 November 1950
(Article 11 is incorporated into British Law by the The Human Rights Act 1998.)
1. Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and to freedom of association with others, including the right to form and to join trade unions for the protection of his interests.
2. No restrictions shall be placed on the exercise of these rights other than such as are prescribed by law and are necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security or public safety, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others. this article shall not prevent the imposition of lawful restrictions on the exercise of these rights by members of the armed forces, of the police or of the administration of the State.
Reference 4 -
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
(Adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1966, entered into force 23 March 1976. Ratified by the U.K. 20 August 1976.)
The right of peaceful assembly shall be recognized. No restrictions may be placed on the exercise of this right other than those imposed in conformity with the law and which are necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security or public safety, public order (ordre public), the protection of public health or morals or the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.
Reference 5 -
OSCE/ODIHR Guidelines for drafting laws pertaining to the freedom of assembly, Warsaw, December 2004.
4. General principles
"The presumption in favour of holding assemblies should be clearly and explicitly established in the law".
"The state has a positive duty to actively protect peaceful and lawful assemblies."
"The only purposes that may justify the restriction of the right to peaceably assemble are the interests of national security or public safety, the prevention of disorder or crime, the protection of health or morals, or the protection of the rights and freedoms of others. Such restrictions can only be imposed to an extent which is no more than absolutely necessary.
5 Regulation of public assemblies.
"It is common for the public authorities to require an advance notice of a public meeting. Such requirement is justified by a legitimate interest to make the necessary arrangements to secure public order or public safety, and has been interpreted by the U.N. Human Rights Committee as a restriction falling within the ambit of the second part of Article 21 of the ICCPR". (U.N. Human Rights Committee, Kivenmaa v. Finland, Communication No. 412/1990, views dated 31 March 1994, Doc. CCPR/C/50/D/412/1990.).
"Such requirements should not stifle demonstrations thus negating freedom of assembly."
"It is strongly recommended that the provisions of the law concerning advance notice require a notice of intent rather than a request for permission. This implies, inter alia, that when the authorities do not respond to a notification on time, an assembly cannot be found unlawful merely on the ground that the authorities did not give their express permission."
"It is assumed that all public places are available for the purpose of holding assemblies. However, the regulation of place, time, and manner is justified by the need to take account of all interests that compete with freedom of assembly. In the light of this, for example, a prohibition to hold an assembly in a specific location when there is a suitable alternative available, depending on the circumstances of the case, may be a proportionate response" (European Court of Human Rights, Appl No. 25522/94 by Rai, Almond, and "Negotiate Now" v. UK.
"A suitable alternative, where one is proposed must be such that the message which the protest seeks to convey is still capable of being effectively communicated to those whom it is directed, including the communication being in sufficient time to have a potential impact."
"Note however, that under exceptional circumstances the decision to ban an assembly from a particular area may be justified if the content of the event is likely to provoke hostility by the neighborhood residents or other persons who are expected to be in the place at the time (e.g. a demonstration outside a place of worship of a place of work). Banning an assembly from a particular location should not, however, be the automatic response and the final decision should pass the proportionality test policing resources to protect public order balanced against the importance of the proposed venue for the demonstrators´ cause).
"The possibility to respond immediately to an event by a public expression is an essential element of freedom of assembly."
"It is important to avoid the dangerous conflation of the notions of spontaneity and unlawfulness. A spontaneous event may be peaceful and pursue a lawful objective."
"It is therefore important that the law does not stifle spontaneous demonstrations by unnecessarily restrictive provisions, including those concerning the requirement of prior notice. It is recommended that the law provide for exceptions from the requirement of prior notification where giving prior notification is altogether impracticable, thus making allowance for spontaneous events."
"Prohibition is a measure of last resort, and it is unlikely to be needed to safeguard competing interests to freedom of assembly other than public order. The authorities should have the right to ban an assembly only if there exists resonable grounds supporting the concern that the assembly would present a threat to public order, and where a less restrictive response would not be possible."
Reference 6 -
Serious Organised Crime and Police Bill - Liberty´s amendments for Committee Stage in the House of Lords, March 2005
"It is difficult to see how Clause 129 [The Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005] can be compatible with Article 11 HRA (the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association). This requires that any restriction on this right be for a legitimate purpose and proportionate measure. The list of legitimate purposes is: in the interest of national security or public safety; for the prevention of disorder or crime; for the protection of health and morals or; for the protection of rights and freedoms of others. The largest demonstrations might raise public safety issues but it is still difficult to see how others might legitimately be restricted. Even if there was an attempt by the Government to shoehorn Clause 129 into one of these purposes we cannot imagine it would pass any test of proportionality."
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