Criminal Justice and the Right to Peaceful Demonstration

Peaceful protests have a dignified and long tradition. Over years, peaceful demonstrations have played a key role in bringing about a lot of significant political and social modifications ranging from the founding of the welfare condition, improvement of union rights and extension of voting rights. Historically, there were no rights of protest. For this reason, the protest was just tolerated. However, this controversy has changed after the enforcement of the “Human Rights Act” in the year 2008.The articles 10 and 11 contained in the “European convention” based on human rights offer protection for the rights such as freedom of expression as well as freedom of assembly. Laws and actions of the public organizations that seem to interfere with these rights can presently be challenged by the lack of enough justification or the fact that they are uneven in the effects. This essay elaborates the process of criminal justice and the right to peaceful protest.

In numerous legal cases relating to protest rights, considerations should be made regarding the two freedoms (expression and assembly) as protected by the articles mentioned above. The right to protest is a fundamental element of our democracy and it is a legal act. According to Article 11 of the “European Convention of Human Rights” (ECHR), every person is entitled to freedom of peaceful protest and assembly. It further states that no restriction should be put on these rights. The prescriptions by the law grant restriction according to interests of national security or the safety of the public, for moral or health protection, protection of other people’s rights and freedoms as well as prevention of crime or chaos. Peaceful assemblies may include gatherings for universal purposes, sit-ins, meetings and matches with no violence intended outcomes. It is the responsibility of the state to make possible lawful demonstrations that include defense from brutal counter-protestors by ensuring that the contending groups bear with each other.



Although the right to protest is critical, there are legal restrictions attached to it. One of the legal restrictions is that any protest must be within the law and prescribed by the law. Secondly, it must also be for legal intentions set out in “Article 11” of the U.S constitution. The protest should also be essential in a democratic culture. Precisely, this means that is it should be significant and satisfactory to the intention pursued. If the protest is based on political issues, the restrictions are strictly scrutinized. Lastly, taking part in prohibited assemblies is permissible to penalty under the article 11.

The Right to Peaceful Protest

This right to peaceful protest is expressively guaranteed under the “European Convention of Human Right (ECHR). Many peaceful demonstration cases in history are currently used to the great outcome and for changing the world. Nevertheless, they have been viewed by the majority as a political bother. Other individuals view it as the worst circumstance in which hostility and brutality could breakout. Article Ten and article eleven in the “ECHR gives the whole freedom to peaceful demonstration as based on freedom of expression and freedom of assembly. Individuals are free to hold demonstrations to express their claims and voice out their wants as long as the protest complies to set rest rules and restrictions.

Key Factors to Peaceful Demonstrations

There exist many regulations and rights when it comes to peaceful protestors. One of the rights is that no crime committed by protestors as much as they are nonviolent or not expressing any threatening behavior. Thus, trespassing on personal land with no consent is not considered as a criminal offense. The second right is that protestors have the right to gather and protest on the communal highway without consent from the police or other authorities. However, protestors can be detached from private land by use of force. Besides, they are not supposed to be arrested except if cases of intimidation or aggravation are involved. Lastly, peaceful demonstrations are lawful but the essence of providing conduct is reasonably reserved.

The Right to Freedom of Belief and Expression

The right to freedom of conscience, religion and thoughts are expressed under ECHR Article. The freedom of expression is highlighted in Article 10 embraces the freedom to manifest individuals’ religion to hold views and to obtain and impart information and thoughts. The right to expression does not only apply to information, views or thoughts that are common or favorable or considered as inoffensive, but also those that upset, disturb or shock. The mode, as well as the content of expression, is confined under the article. Electronic transmissions, words, video, pictures and conduct proposed to pass on ideas such as wearing some particular clothing is all protected. Restrictions ideas and racist can be lawful. On the other hand, statements that provoke violence and hate speech are not included in the protection right by the ECHR.

Planning and Organization of a Protest

It is not essential to inform the relevant authorities when planning a protest.  Nevertheless, informing them could avoid unnecessary difficulties or predicaments from emerging on the set date.  It is true that police are more expected to be cooperative if they are given early warnings of what to expect as well as having an understandable point of contact amid those planning the protest. This keeps them alert and notified that the personnel responsible for the organization of the protest have put in place considerations to ensure smooth flow of everything. Some protests need permits for their execution, but this entirely depends with the area of protest. Failure to obtain this permit before the protest could lead to the cancel of the event. Police can act as a barrier to planned protest and can use any communication made to them to accuse individuals of arranging illegal demonstrations.

Challenging Police Conditions

Although the police have power based on the law to enforce restrictions on planned protests, the restrictions are exceptional for every case and the rights for expression and protest gives individuals the alternative to petition against any restrictions the police try to make on the freedom to organize a protest. The filing is founded on three main grounds. One of them is individuals feel the restrictions would disregard the rights to protest that is granted to all under the ECHR, for instance, if the police settle on the aim behind the protest as horrible to be permitted, thus violating Article. Secondly, a claim can be based on the decision-making procedures behind the restrictions as unsatisfactory, for example, if there was a case of false or unspoken information was considered in the decision. Lastly, a petition can be laid on the basis that the choice is entirely unreasonable or irrational. A good example is a case where a school boy is involved in the organization of a protest against the shutting down of his local library and allowing it forbidden by the police for the fright of violence occurrence of public disorders. Police are only allowed to put restrictions on a planned demonstration if there is a cause to trust that the protest may end up in damage of property or distraction of the society of severe public disorders. 

Police Action (Arrest)

The police are granted the authority to arrest anyone they trust have committed a crime is currently committing a crime or is just about to committing a crime. The police arrest should put into consideration the reasons behind it which may include, Preventing injury of the destruction of property, may be done to allow prompt and efficient investigation of some offense, to get a personal address and name or to someone trying to breach the peace or their behavior is aggravating someone else. Breach of the peace is an act that is likely to harm individuals or property or put someone in fright of the incidences happening.


Kettling involves police sealing off protesters who are likely to cause trouble. To some extent, this method undermines the just of some individuals as frequently, innocent individuals who may not be involved in the causing of the trouble find themselves trapped in the kettle. The release of these people is slow and takes a time to prevent all the culprits held in the kettle from being released at the same time thus causing more trouble. This slow and staggered release helps the police in identifying the suspects who might have been involved in the act of causing trouble. This method of detaining suspects is controversial as it entails detention of people for hours and it may be a big problem for those who are innocently accused. Kettling method is also applicable to many students protesting against tuition fee increment. The Kettling procedure is mostly counterproductive as confining persons who are already filled with anger will solve nothing, but just increase the hostility of the crowd. This method came to eminence in May 2008 when a multitude of protestors together with a large number of blameless bystanders were held in London. The method was passed to be used for prevention of severe breach of peace. The ruling complied with Article five of the ECHR restricts the situations on which people may be detained. Other offenses include assault, criminal damage and obstruction of police, harassment and riot.

Breach of Peace

Breach of the peace is committed when someone appears to cause destruction to another person or their property, or causes harm and places the individual in fright of such harm occurring through maybe a riot, assault, unlawful assembly, affray or other disturbance.  In occurrences involving the breach of peace, the police are allowed to take a practical action that may include the arrest of the concerned persons to put to an end a breach of peace happening, or to avoid one they foresee will occur as it may lead to losing of property or injury. Action may also be put to use where breach cases have already occurred, and there is a threat of recurrence. For compatibility, the measures taken must be legal, necessary and proportionate. The purposes should comply with Article and ten which indicates that an action may only be taken to prevent crime or disorder.

In conclusion, each is entitled to freedom of expression and peaceful demonstrations. Further, individuals have the right to hold any assemblies without disruption from authorities. Occurrences involving peaceful demonstration for freedom of expressions should not cause damage to property or cause harm, but should have a common divine aim that will not destruct other people. Individuals have the freedom to protest on public and private land without arrest, but their protest should not breach the peace. Besides, people are too entitled to freedom of religion, conscience, and thought and it is protected by the “ECHR. The law also offers protection for everyone holding a protest on private property and trespass, and no arrest cases should be done unless there are cases of aggravation or intimidation.

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