IBAHRI welcomes court ruling that Metropolitan Police in London unlawfully banned climate campaign group

Following widespread protesting by Extinction Rebellion – an international climate change campaign group – in October 2019, the Metropolitan Police in London, the capital of the United Kingdom (UK), had placed a ban on any more than two people belonging to the group assembling to protest anywhere in the city. The Guardian at the time reported that police ‘moved in almost without warning to clear protesters’ in Trafalgar Square – a busy central landmark where the group had set up a camp.

On 6 November, the UK High Court ruled that the Metropolitan Police had acted unlawfully by banning the protests, which had led to the arrest of 400 demonstrators. The International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute expressed our support for the ruling. Freedom of assembly and the right to protest are enshrined in international and domestic British law. Article 21 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which the UK is a party, states that:

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

Article 22 further protects freedom of association, while Article 19 guarantees the right to freedom of expression.