“More politics of hate, more stoking divisions” ICJP response to UK government announcement of new protest rights framework

London, 1st March 2024- Today, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced the government would bring in a ‘new robust framework’ for policing protests and back the police when they ‘take action’ against protest. In the context of the rest of the speech, this is seen to be a bid to crackdown on pro-Palestine marches. ICJP is troubled by the government’s latest effort to erode civil liberties.

Further crackdowns on protests would undermine the British people’s ability to voice their opinion on Israel’s war crimes, crimes against humanity and potential genocide in Gaza. It would also undermine their ability to criticise the UK Government’s potential complicity in these violations of international law. 

Earlier this week, Prime Minister Sunak used demonising language in an apparent reference to pro-Palestinian protesters. He spoke of ‘mob rule’, and said that ‘we simply cannot allow this pattern of increasingly violent and intimidatory behaviour.’ This worrying rhetoric risks stoking division as it appears to demonise a peaceful movement protesting Israel’s violations of international law. 

Reports earlier this week also indicated that Home Secretary James Cleverly seeks to further tighten legal restrictions on demonstrations, including increasing the required notice period that protesters must give to police before large demonstrations. This administrative policy would be a worrying development that may undercut the effectiveness of protests to respond to a fast-developing situation. 

ICJP Director Tayab Ali said: 

“This is yet another careless leap down the slippery slope of eroding civil liberties in this country. The right to expression and right to freedom of assembly are cornerstones of British democracy. 

In this country, there is an ever-growing divide between ordinary British people and those in charge. People are looking at their phones each day and seeing footage of the horrors of Gaza and they are rightly shocked. They should have the right to express their thoughts.

Its more politics of hate from the government, more stoking divisions to deflect from their own potential complicity in Israel’s violations of international law.”


Notes to Editors:

  1. The International Centre of Justice for Palestinians is an independent organisation of lawyers, politicians and academics who support the rights of Palestinians and aim to protect their rights through the law.  
  2. For more information, or to arrange an interview with a spokesperson, please contact the ICJP news desk at [email protected].