What’s happening to civic freedoms in the UK?
Charity Agasaro – 11 April 2023
In a recent announcement, it was revealed that as a result of clampdowns on public protests, the UK’s score in Civicus Monitor’s global index of civic freedoms has been lowered. Civicus Monitor is a partnership of over twenty global civil society organisations who provide an annual analysis of the condition of the civil freedoms in 197 countries around the world. This year’s index has highlighted increasingly authoritarian action from the UK government over the introduction of what it calls punitive laws on protest. These include the Police, Crime Sentencing and Courts Act which provides police with the power to stop, search and ban named people from demonstrations.
In addition, the Public Order Bill currently making its way through parliament aims to restrict certain types of tactics during protests. The report also voices concerns on the government’s efforts to undermine the work of organizations and individuals who are speaking against climate change, anti-racism, and refugee and asylum seeker rights. In reacting to these claims, a government spokesperson publicly expressed that while the UK supports all democratic processes such as the freedom of expression and protest, it wants to create a balance between rights, national security, and the ability for people to access basic services without disruption. A balance that, in many ways, is becoming increasingly difficult to achieve.