UK: Bush visit - David Blunkett urged to ensure policing operations respect right to peaceful protest

Amnesty International UK Director Kate Allen said:

'There have been reports that the special powers to 'stop and search' people without suspicion, let alone a reasonable one, granted to the police under the Terrorism Act 2000 will be used during policing of the demonstrations.

'The use of special powers in the context of peaceful demonstrations may have a chilling effect on the rights to freedom of assembly and expression.

'Clearly the UK authorities have a responsibility to ensure the safety and security of President Bush and his entourage, as well as that of demonstrators, local inhabitants and property. However, it is also their duty to ensure that people are able to peacefully exercise their rights to freedom of assembly and expression.'

In March these powers were used in the context of law enforcement operations in the UK in connection with peace demonstrations, when dozens of people were stopped and searched. Buses were prevented from approaching a US airbase on the grounds that the passengers might breach the peace. Police powers were used to return bus passengers to London under police escort.

The same powers were also used in London in September in the context of demonstrations at the Defence Systems and Equipment International Fair in east London.

Amnesty International's letter to David Blunkett also drew attention to the right not to be subjected to arbitrary arrest or detention, the fundamental rights of people deprived of their liberty, and international standards on the use of force and firearms by law enforcement officials.

Amnesty International UK Director Kate Allen added

'The UK authorities must ensure that law enforcement officials act in accordance with international standards, including on the use of force, arrest and detention, in the policing of demonstrations.'

Background

Amnesty International supporters will be staging a protest outside Downing Street at 11-12am on Thursday 20 November to reinforce its message to Tony Blair and George Bush that all Guantánamo Bay detainees are either charged with recognisable criminal offences or released, that legal counsel is provided to all inmates (and interrogations meanwhile suspended), and that Amnesty International is granted access to Camp Delta in Cuba as well as other US-run military detention sites..

The human right protestors will be wearing orange boiler suits, blacked-out ski goggles and surgical masks, and will be manacled to protest against the illegal detention of the Camp Delta detainees.

Amnesty International activists will be distributing 'You do not have the right' leaflets after the demonstration. These explain the denial of basic human rights to Guantánamo Bay detainees, including the nine Britons.

More about the demonstration...

More about Guantánamo Bay... /p>

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