By: Simon B
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Demonstration in the UK
The Human Rights Act gives you the right to peaceful assembly a group or association. This right isn’t an absolute right and can be restricted by the UK law, and it only applies to lawful demonstrations. All the relevant old law that existed before the Human Rights Act came into force in 2000 is being reinterpreted to allow for these rights. The Public Order Act 1986, for example, allows the police to ban a demonstration if it’s concerned that it can’t take any other step to prevent a serious public disorder. That decision may be challenged under the Human Rights Act.
However, the Human Rights Act doesn’t apply to unlawful demonstrations, and these are ones that break the law – say, by obstructing the highway. As a demonstrator, you may be committing an offence if you obstruct or assault a police officer in the execution of his duty, cause an affray by threatening violence against someone, use violence, riot along with at least 11 other people, or you use insulting words or behaviour.