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THE Tory government has been accused of a general disregard for human rights concerns after it failed to respond to a UN warning over long jail sentences handed to two Just Stop Oil climate campaigners.
Ian Fry, the UN special rapporteur on the promotion & protection of human rights in the context of climate change, warned against the “significantly more severe” sentences in a letter sent to ministers on August 15, the BBC revealed today.
Protesters caused major traffic disruption after scaling the Dartford Crossing Bridge for almost 40 hours in October last year.
Morgan Trowland, 40, was jailed for three years and Marcus Decker, 34, for two years for causing a public nuisance.
In his letter, Mr Fry said the sentences were “significantly more severe than previous sentences imposed for this type of offending” and worried about “the exercise of their rights to freedom of expression and freedom of peaceful assembly and association.”
He added that the new Public Order Act, which came into force in July, “appears to be a direct attack on the right to the freedom of peaceful assembly” and said it was troubling that, despite his letter requesting a reply within 60 days, he has not received one.
Most countries take these letters seriously and respond, he said, and the lack of a formal reply reflected “a general disregard for human rights concerns by the current government.”
The Home Office claimed it had responded to the special rapporteur’s letter, adding that peaceful protest is a vital part of a democratic society and a long-standing tradition in Britain, provided it is done within the law.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said on Twitter: “Those who break the law should feel the full force of it.
“It’s entirely right that selfish protesters intent on causing misery to the hard-working majority face tough sentences.
“It’s what the public expects and it’s what we’ve delivered.”
Lady Chief Justice Sue Carr last month quashed a bid to appeal against the sentences at the Supreme Court, saying the sentences met a legitimate aim of deterring others from such offending.
In a statement issued by Just Stop Oil, Mr Trowland said: “The sentences given to myself and Marcus Decker demonstrate that our government is determined to protect those who are planning climate genocide.”
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