London Implements Stricter Measures against Protesters: Demonstrations Face Harsher Penalties

news 02-Jul-2023 Europe

London Cracks Down Harder on Protesters

Subtitle: Controversial Laws Empower Police and Judiciary in the UK

In the UK, further parts of a controversial law have come into effect, imposing hefty penalties for certain methods of protest. The government aims to crack down on environmental activists who repeatedly disrupt traffic with their demonstrations. Police officers can now demand that protesters clear the streets.

Obstructing important transportation infrastructure can result in up to six months of imprisonment. Building or occupying tunnels to cause significant disruptions can lead to a prison sentence of up to three years. Moreover, it is now illegal to impede the construction or maintenance of future transportation networks.

According to the Ministry of the Interior, protests, especially near construction sites, impose a financial burden on taxpayers. Digging makeshift tunnels has been employed for many years as a form of protest against projects such as the construction of a high-speed railway line, as well as by groups like "Extinction Rebellion" and "Just Stop Oil."

Critics Warn of Authoritarian Tendencies

While the conservative government acknowledges the right to demonstrate, it strongly criticizes radical forms of protest. "Hardworking people want to go about their daily lives without being disrupted by a selfish minority," said Home Secretary Suella Braverman. "The public has had enough of their lives being disrupted by selfish demonstrators. The chaos we have witnessed on our streets was a scandal."

However, critics warn of authoritarian tendencies, asserting that the tightening of laws jeopardizes the right to protest. In recent months, the government has significantly curtailed the rights of protest participants, such as slow walking and glueing or chaining oneself.

Police officers are now empowered to arrest anyone they suspect of potentially disturbing public order. This right was first utilized on the sidelines of the coronation of King Charles III, sparking sharp criticism. Despite the intensified measures, environmental groups have continued their actions.

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