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British Police Face Grill for Kettling

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TEHRAN, March 9 (ICANA) – The British activists and campaigners have lodged complaints at a London court against the Metropolitan Police for its use of the controversial “kettling” technique.
Wednesday, March 09, 2011 10:55:33 PM
British Police Face Grill for Kettling

Two separate legal actions have been brought against the Met by Public Interest Lawyers (PIL) and civil rights group Liberty, over the police use of the crowd-control technique during last year's student protests against the increase in university tuition fees up to £9,000 per year.

Police kettled thousands of people, most of them students as young as 12, and held then for several hours in freezing temperature during anti-tuition fees protests in November and December.

Violent clashes erupted between student protesters and police outside Parliament building on December 9 when MPs voted to increase tuition fees.

Police "kettled" the protesters for hours and arrested dozens of people while several others were injured.

The British police brutal crackdown on protesters drew a worldwide condemnation while at a same time it was a key test of democracy for a regime propagating itself as one of main advocate of such issues as human rights and the right to freedom of speech and freedom to protest inequalities.

However, the techniques police and security forces used to quell violence in the UK were indicative of the fact that the slogans the officials shout at international arenas about social rights and stuff like that do not work in the British society itself. Rather, police and other forces enjoy freedom to use whatever technique proved to be most effective to annihilate the people's protests. And, “this is democracy, British style”.

Now, PIL is representing two students Rosie Bergonzi, 17, and James Moulding, 18, who sustained injuries when they were kettled by the Met officers on the afternoon of December 9 in Parliament Square.

The two students have said that their rights under the European Convention on Human Rights, including the right not to be deprived arbitrarily of their liberty, the right to freedom of expression and the right to freedom of assembly have been violated by the police.

They, along with other students, were kettled for more than 9 hours and were denied access to food and water and were not allowed even to use toilet during the time.

"Kettling has become the stock police response to peaceful protest”, said PIL solicitor Phil Shiner.

"On December 9, it appears to have been resorted to by default”, added the solicitor.

"The chilling effect upon the democratic right to peaceful protest has been recognised by the Metropolitan Police and the lengthy deprivation of liberty to which my clients were subjected is wholly unacceptable", he said.

The human rights organization Liberty is leading another legal action against the police.

"Policing demonstrations is no easy task but the police must distinguish between the law-abiding majority and the handful intent on violence. Our young clients came away from November's march distressed and, in two cases, with broken bones”, said the organization's legal officer Emma Norton.

"The tactic of 'kettling' large groups so that peaceful protesters and passers-by are trapped for hours alongside more troublesome elements exacerbates tensions and creates a risk to public safety", added Norton.

This is while that, in an obvious display of defiance, Scotland Yard has said it will continue to use "kettling" wherever necessary, especially during anti-cuts demonstration planned for March 26.

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