Thursday, December 16, 2010

New State Thug Tactic

Punishing protesters by trapping them in public places for lengths of time without food, water or access to toilets.

"The police tactic of "kettling" to confine protesters during public demonstrations, such as those in London last week, is to be challenged at the High Court.

Leading the challenge is Bethany Shiner, daughter of a high-profile human rights lawyer, who was kettled during tuition fee protests last week.

Ms Shiner is launching proceedings against the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police after being detained on Thursday in Trafalgar Square.

She is the 23-year-old elder daughter of Public Interest Lawyers (PIL) solicitor Phil Shiner. Ms Shiner and four sixth-form students, one of whom is a minor, are seeking a ruling that the use of kettling "as a standard response to protests" is unlawful.

They complain they were detained for hours in sub-zero temperatures and not released until 7pm. Birmingham-based PIL is applying for judicial review on their behalf, saying their treatment was "a matter of serious concern". Mr Shiner said: "Because I was in London I was able to advise Bethany and get her sorted so that she could eventually get out of the kettle."

The concern was that the Metropolitan Police "are now using kettling as a stock response to all public protests and appear to have authorised kettling in advance of this particular protest".

He said: "The police are required to have a range of lawful responses to different scenarios and not just resort to the most coercive tactics at the first sign of trouble. The policy on kettling needs to be stuck down."

Ms Shiner said: "I was with a group of young people who behaved at all times perfectly properly and lawfully. We then found ourselves kettled in sub-zero temperatures. I managed to get out only because I went to the rescue of a young man who had a head wound after being hit with a police baton. It is outrageous that the police should resort to such tactics against all protesters, most of whom were acting peacefully."

PIL has written to the Commissioner warning they will argue in court that the police are using kettling in a way that involves multiple breaches of the European Convention on Human Rights. These include a breach of Article 5 - the right not to be unlawfully detained; Article 10 - the right to freedom of expression; and Article 11 - the right to freedom of assembly.

At the heart of the challenge are allegations that, on Thursday, the police knew in advance all about the protest. They had previously used kettling on other recent occasions, including against student protesters in London on November 24, and appeared now to be using it as a standard response to public protests."


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