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Scottish police thwarted Palestinian activists' right to protest in peace

November 14, 2017 at 11:32 am

Activists come together to protest against the crisis in Gaza in Scotland, UK [Keith Alexander/Flickr]

Scotland’s Police Investigations & Review Commissioner (PIRC) has warned Police Scotland over its conduct towards pro-Palestinian campaigners, saying that officers’ actions risked violating the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), including the rights to protest in peace and to privacy.

The PIRC upheld three complaints from the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign (SPSC) after “officers in Aberdeen visited one man at home to warn him off attending a rally, barred activists from entering a court and used an activists’ meeting to gather intelligence”.

In addition, PIRC concluded, “officers investigating the SPSC’s complaints about the highly unusual incidents then misrepresented what the force had done”. Police Scotland has been instructed “to appoint independent officers to entirely reexamine two of those complaints from the start.”

In one case, a police inspector and sergeant visited a campaigner at home at 21:00 to tell him not to take part in a demonstration at a shopping centre the next day. PIRC said: “The police cannot impose conditions on the location of a peaceful protest that effectively negate the purpose of the protest.”

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In another incident, as the Guardian reported, “the watchdog also criticised a uniformed sergeant for arriving at an activists’ workshop at a cinema without invitation”, and who then “gathered information about the group during the visit which was thereafter recorded on police systems.”

Sofiah MacLeod, chair of SPSC, told the paper that said police activities against the campaign had been escalating since 2014.

“They have really been trying to intimidate individuals as far as we’re concerned. That’s how it comes across, and we’re very pleased that PIRC has investigated the matter and asked the police to look again at the complaints.”