PM to Announce New Law Outlawing Intimidation - RightsInfo

PM to Announce New Law Outlawing Intimidation

The Prime Minister is set to announce new measures that would outlaw intimidation against MPs and their families.

This comes after a speaking event attended by Conservative back-bencher Jacob Rees-Mogg over the weekend was disrupted by protesters and turned violent.

Details on the proposed law are scarce, however Conservative Party Chairman Brandon Lewis has said that it will involve “bringing intimidation into electoral law.”

Is a New Law Against Intimidation Necessary?

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Presently, there are several criminal offences which cover threats and harassment, including:

However, it appears that the new law will be intended to specifically target acts of intimidation against politicians – such as the abuse suffered by many candidates, predominantly women and ethnic minorities, in the 2016 general election.

The Prime Minister is expected to use a speech marking 100 years of women’s suffrage to highlight the “tribalism and rancour” that has infected politics, and to call for a return to “decency, tolerance and respect.”

What About Free Speech?

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Concerns have been raised that the new law could be used to suppress legitimate political protest, in violation of the right to free expression (guaranteed by Article 10 of the Human Rights Convention).

Free speech is a qualified right, meaning that it may be restricted in certain circumstances – for example, to prevent disorder or crime. However, any limitation must be clearly defined in law, and must be strictly necessary to achieve the stated objective.

Without further details about the proposed law it is difficult to assess its potential impact on free speech. However, it is crucial, in order to prevent suppression of legitimate political speech, that the circumstances in which the new offence applies are clearly and narrowly defined.

Featured image: Wikimedia Commons.

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About the Author

Saxon Norgard

Associate Editor
Saxon is one of RightsInfo's volunteer Site Editors and a future trainee solicitor in London. Originally hailing from Australia, his interests lie in family law, international affairs and human rights. View all posts by Saxon Norgard.
PM to Announce New Law Outlawing Intimidation
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