Northern Ireland: Prosecution dropped for Black Lives Matter protestors
‘The PSNI’s discriminatory approach to policing the Black Lives Matter protests, and their failure to consider the right to peaceful protest, demolished any supposed justification for pursuing prosecutions’ - Patrick Corrigan
Amnesty International welcomes the decision by the Public Prosecution Service for Northern Ireland to not proceed with prosecutions of people who participated in the Black Lives Matter protests in Belfast and Derry-Londonderry in June 2020.
The Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) had sought the prosecution of organisers, a first for any Black Lives Matter protest in Britain or Ireland. Interviews were conducted with the protest speakers under Section 44 of the Serious Crime Act, legislation normally used against organised crime.
Responding to the news, Patrick Corrigan, Northern Ireland Programme Director of Amnesty International, said:
“This is the right decision. The police clearly failed to uphold people’s rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly.
“The PSNI’s discriminatory approach to policing the Black Lives Matter protests, and their failure to consider the right to peaceful protest, demolished any supposed justification for pursuing prosecutions.
“The Chief Constable has already apologised to the Black Lives Matter protestors, yet the fear of prosecution has been hanging over the protest organisers and speakers for the last year, causing huge stress and worry.
“The police must fundamentally reassess how it approaches facilitating the right to peaceful protest and must set about rebuilding their badly damaged relationship with Northern Ireland’s Black and minority ethnic communities.
“I pay tribute to the anti-racism activists, who went to great lengths to ensure protests on an issue of huge public importance were socially distanced and safe for participants.”