A Disruptive Problem
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The British government unveiled a draft law that aims to crack down on so-called disruptive protests carried out by environmental groups, a move critics say is aimed at “silencing non-violent people,” the BBC reported.
Home Secretary Suella Braverman said the new Public Order Bill will empower authorities to block demonstrations causing “serious disruption” to key infrastructure.
Under the proposed bill, penalties will include jail sentences of up to six months and unlimited fines for protesters accused of “locking-on” to people, objects or buildings. The draft legislation will also create a new criminal offense that will punish those who interfere with infrastructures – such as oil refineries and airports – with sentences of up to 12 months in prison.
Braverman had complained that such protests were disrupting critical infrastructure and emergency services, saying there was no “human right to vandalize property.”
The proposal follows a series of protests by groups such as Just Stop Oil and Extinction Rebellion in recent months, which has disrupted road and rail traffic in central London.
At least 350 Just Stop Oil protesters have been detained since the beginning of October.
Activists, meanwhile, said they won’t be intimidated by the draft law.
Lawmakers will vote on the Public Order Bill next week. Meanwhile, this is not the first time Britain’s Conservative government has tried to tackle demonstrations.
Earlier this year, legislators rejected a similar bill which members of the Labour-led opposition described as “oppressive” and “plain nasty.”