Ealing’s “safe zones” could damage right to protest

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Index on Censorship is deeply concerned that the adoption of a “safe zone” around an abortion clinic in Ealing sets a dangerous precedent that could have far-reaching impacts on the right to protest and freedom of expression.

There are alternative legal remedies already on the books that can be used to police harassing and intimidating behaviour, as Ealing’s own options document pointed out.

The use of buffer zones to prevent protests could be used against all forms of speech – including those that wish to protest on environmental or political issues, for example.

As we wrote in our letter to the leader of the Ealing Council in March, the safe zones were potentially unlawful and disproportionate.

March 28 2018

Paul Najsarek
Ealing Council
Ealing W5 2HL

Dear Sir,

We have been advised by our lawyer that your consultation on exclusion zones was not open to non residents of the borough. But as a free speech organisation, we believe this has wider legal implications and should be open to a wider consultation.

We are, therefore, addressing this submission and letter to you personally.

Index would point out that “the proposal is unlawful on the grounds and is disproportionate to its purpose”.


Jodie Ginsberg
CEO, Index on Censorship

IN THE MATTER OF A PROPOSED PSPO IN EALING[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Buffer zones have potential to set a dangerous precedent

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]A vote by Ealing Council that could see anti-abortion protesters banned from demonstrating outside a clinic in a bid to protect women from harassment raises troubling implications for freedom of expression.

Index on Censorship CEO Jodie Ginsberg said: “We support people’s right to protest publicly and openly. In a free and democratic society that may mean hearing things that shock, offend or disturb. However, protesters do not have the right to physically intimidate others or prevent their free movement. Nevertheless, the suggested use of buffer zones by a London council to prevent protests has the potential to set a dangerous precedent that could be used against all forms of speech – including those who wish to protest on environmental or political issues, for example. Buffer zones are too a blunt tool to deal with public protests. We have legislation that deals with harassment and maintaining public access. Protesters who block the free movement of others or physically harass others could be pursued under that legislation.”[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_separator][vc_custom_heading text=”Stay up to date on free expression” use_theme_fonts=”yes”][vc_row_inner][vc_column_inner width=”1/2″][vc_column_text]Index on Censorship is a nonprofit that campaigns for and defends free expression worldwide. We publish work by censored writers and artists, promote debate, and monitor threats to free speech. We believe that everyone should be free to express themselves without fear of harm or persecution – no matter what their views.

Join the our mailing list and we’ll send you our weekly newsletter about our activities defending free speech. We won’t share your personal information with anyone outside Index.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column_inner][vc_column_inner width=”1/2″][gravityform id=”20″ title=”false” description=”false” ajax=”false”][/vc_column_inner][/vc_row_inner][vc_separator][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_basic_grid post_type=”post” max_items=”12″ style=”load-more” items_per_page=”4″ element_width=”6″ grid_id=”vc_gid:1507825054163-140d08ec-3391-5″ taxonomies=”6534″][/vc_column][/vc_row]