I recently met with anti ‘kettling’ campaigner Lois Austin and her legal team before their case in the ECHR in Strasbourg to show his support for the case.Lois Austin is a member of the Socialist Party and was participating in the May Day demonstration in London in 2001 when Police ‘kettled’ her and 3,000 other peaceful protestors.
The practice of ‘kettling’ involves police holding demonstrators behind police cordon for hours, with no permission to leave. Lois was kept for over 7 hours in the rain, with no access to food, water or even toilet facilities. Lois was not even permitted to leave to collect her then 11 month old child from the nursery.
Lois took a legal case against the British state arguing that this tactic amounts to arbitrary detention and violated basic democratic rights. This tactic has been increasingly used in Britain in the last few years.
In fear of the anticipated big movements against the massive programme of austerity that the Con-Dem government are implementing, including a massive planned public sector strike on 30 November, the British state are increasingly using repressive measures against protest.
The London Police later accepted that those kettled on May Day 2001 were peaceful and posed no threat. Despite this the House of Lords (highest ‘court’ in the UK) found that this detention was lawful. Lois then appealed her case to the European Court of human Rights.
The case was heard in an initial hearing today in Strasbourg, a verdict will be known in the coming months.
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