Civil liberties

1 June 2022News

Police Bill becomes law as UK government commits to scrapping Human Rights Act

The Police Bill received the royal assent on 28 April and thus became law as the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act 2022.

During its passage, the bill was twice returned to the commons by the house of lords with many amendments. The lords removed measures in the bill to give police new powers to: stop protests in England and Wales if they are deemed too noisy and disruptive (in the opinion of the police); impose conditions on protest on noise grounds; stop and search…

1 October 2019News

Tower Hamlets Council feared event would breach International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of anti-semitism

1 August 2016Feature

Back to a hard border?

Murals commemorating the Northern Ireland civil rights movement at Glenfada Park, Derry, Northern Ireland.
PHOTO: yeowatzup from Katlenburg-Lindau, Germany [CC-BY-2.0] via Wikimedia Commons

It is unwise to generalise too much as why people voted the way they did.

As elsewhere in the UK, the Remain vote was highest among the middle classes and the young. Nationalists were most likely to vote Remain; middle-class unionists were more likely to vote Remain than working-class…

1 June 2016Feature

Decades of dedication, giving a voice to the voiceless

Liz Fekete (with megaphone) at a candlelit vigil for justice for Ricky Reel, New Scotland Yard, London, 21 October 2014. Photo: Peter Marshall

Liz Fekete is director of the seven-person Institute of Race Relations in central London. She is one of Europe’s leading authorities on racism, heading one of the most respected advocacy groups in the UK, a body which has published a rigorously radical journal, Race & Class, since 1974. That could sound intimidating. In person,…

1 June 2015Feature

Fears for civil liberties as Tories launch new drive against 'extremism'

Within days of being elected, the new Conservative government made it clear that a new drive against ‘extremism’ will be a major part of its legislative programme. Universities were already legally obliged to monitor their students and report any suspicions of ‘people being drawn into terrorism’, under the Counter-Terrorism and Security Act passed in January.

Conservative home secretary Theresa May introduced the act by declaring that, due to the rise of the terror group ISIS, the…

1 June 2015Review

The internet has been transformed from a tool of emancipation ‘into the most dangerous facilitator of totalitarianism we have ever seen’. Thus wrote Julian Assange* in his 2012 introduction to Cypherpunks, an eye-opening annotated transcript of a conversation between the Wikileaks founder and three other prominent internet activists.

At that time, such a claim might have appeared hyperbolic. However, in the wake of Edward Snowden’s 2013 exposure of the global surveillance…

31 March 2015News in Brief

Reporters from Angola and Saudi Arabia shared the ‘journalism’ Freedom of Expression award for 2015 given by Index on Censorship on 18 March.

Rafael Marques de Morais has exposed government and industry corruption and human rights abuses in Angola despite repeated arrests and threats, including a 40-day detention without charge.

After filing charges of crimes against humanity against seven Angolan generals, Marques de Morais was counter-sued for $1.6m by those same…

31 March 2015News in Brief

The media storm around the unmasking of ISIS executioner ‘Jihadi John’ in February provided an opportunity for the right-wing press to exert enormous pressure on anyone connected with the Muslim human rights group Cage.

Cage had revealed the enormous harassment and pressure that British citizen Mohammed Emwazi (‘Jihadi John’) had suffered from the British security services over several years, and argued that this was a major factor in his ‘radicalisation’.

The Quaker…

1 February 2015News in Brief

On 1 December, US whistleblower Edward Snowden addressed the Swedish parliament by video from Russia as he was given the Right Livelihood award for his exposure of NSA spying on an industrial scale.

No one collected the award on his behalf, as his family and supporters said they hoped that one day Snowden might be able to receive it in person – he is wanted for ‘espionage’ by the US government.

The awards jury said Snowden was honoured ‘for his courage and skill in…

1 February 2015Feature

The renowned US dissident reflects on the hypocrisy of the elite response to the Charlie Hebdo killings

The world reacted with horror to the murderous attack on the French satirical journal Charlie Hebdo. In the New York Times, veteran Europe correspondent Steven Erlanger graphically described the immediate aftermath, what many call France’s 9/11, as ‘a day of sirens, helicopters in the air, frantic news bulletins; of police cordons and anxious crowds; of young children led away from schools to safety. It was a day, like the previous two, of blood and horror in and around…

25 November 2014News

New banning orders for the law-abiding

At the 2014 Tory party conference, home secretary Theresa May announced that the Conservative election manifesto for the 2015 election will pledge the introduction of banning orders for extremist groups and ‘extremism disruption orders’ for extremists who ‘who stay just within the law but still spread poisonous hatred’.

But what is an ‘extremist’? David Cameron said Conservatives want to look at the ‘full spectrum of extremism’ and not just the ‘hard end’. Thus the policy says…

9 June 2014Review

University of Manchester, 2014; 402pp; £16.99

Until recently the 1911 Census Boycott was seen as another colourful Suffragette tactic in the ongoing campaign for women's suffrage. But Vanishing for the Vote reveals it to have been an episode of high drama – personal and political, private and public. In proposing that women boycott the census, Suffragettes intensified the 'battle for democracy', asking, Which side are you on: the paternalistic state, or the grassroots campaign for citizenship?

This was a near-perfect…

9 June 2014Review

University of California Press, 2013; 120pp; £34.95

An eight-year-old boy, standing alone outside a courthouse with a handmade sign, is approached by a group of helmeted law enforcement officers. Moments later he will be arrested.

This picture – taken in Selma, Alabama, six days after the Civil Rights Act passed into law, and one of 71 photos reproduced in Martin Berger’s stunning new collection - differs from the most famous civil rights images in a number of significant ways.

For one thing, it highlights the important role…

1 October 2013News

Zimbabwe's women beaten testing new government's commitment to free speech

Members of Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) were arrested and beaten by police for organising marches in Harare, on 19 September, and in Bulawayo on 20 September.

Demonstrators waved placards, sang songs, and presented Zimbabwe’s new government with a list of demands, according to SW Radio Africa. While onlookers applauded the women, police tried to disperse the crowds and injured many protesters with baton strikes.

The marches celebrated the International Day of Peace,…

25 September 2012News in Brief

Most Critical Mass cycle protesters arrested on the eve of the Olympic Games in London (PN 2549) will face no further action, according to solicitors representing the protesters, speaking on 13 September.

Of the 182 people arrested on the outskirts of the Olympic Park, only 16 were interviewed by the police at the end of September.