Tories announce pro-apartheid bill

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Original article republished from the Skwawkbox for non-commercial use.

Anti-boycott law would have forced public bodies to do business with racist South Africa in the 1980s – and will force them to do business with apartheid, racist Israel now

Parliamentary friends of apartheid visit the illegal wall

The government has published its ‘anti-boycott bill’, which aims to prevent public bodies from choosing not to use products or services from countries with appalling human rights records – and in particular, to neuter the pro-Palestinian ‘Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions’ (BDS) campaign against the use of products, services and companies involved in illegal Israeli expansion onto Palestinian territory.

BDS has long been targeted by official and ‘cut-out’ organisations of the Israeli government, which has rightly been condemned by human rights organisations such as Amnesty International and, in Israel, B’Tselem, for its apartheid policies that the latest hard-right regime is entrenching even further – and the apartheid regime is avidly supported by the Tories (and ‘without qualification’ by the so-called ‘opposition leader’ Keir Starmer.

So there is no expectation of any significant parliamentary opposition to the bill and it is left to human and civil rights campaigners and organisations to mount resistance, such as Liberty, which has today published a statement on the anti-democratic bill, co-signed by unions, human rights groups and others, noting that such a policy would have forced public bodies to do business with apartheid South Africa and scuppered the campaign that eventually helped bring down that regime:

As a group of civil society organisations made up of trade unions, charities, NGOs, faith, climate justice, human rights, cultural, campaigning, and solidarity organisations, we advocate for the right of public bodies to decide not to purchase or procure from, or invest in companies involved in human rights abuse, abuse of workers’ rights, destruction of our planet, or any other harmful or illegal acts. We therefore oppose the government’s proposed law to stop public bodies from taking such actions.

The government has indicated that a main intention of any legislation is to ensure that public bodies follow UK foreign policy in their purchasing, procurement, and investment decisions, particularly relating to Israel and Palestine. We are concerned that this would prevent public bodies from deciding not to invest in or procure from companies complicit in the violation of the rights of the Palestinian people. We affirm that it is the right of public bodies to do so, and in fact a responsibility to break ties with companies contributing to abuses of rights and violations of international law in occupied Palestine and anywhere else where such acts occur.

From bus boycotts against racial segregation to divestment from fossil fuel companies to arms embargoes against apartheid, boycott, divestment, and sanctions campaigns have been applied throughout history to put economic, cultural, or political pressure on a regime, institution, or company to force it to change abusive, discriminatory, or illegal policies. If passed, this law will stifle a wide range of campaigns concerned with the arms trade, climate justice, human rights, international law, and international solidarity with oppressed peoples struggling for justice. The proposed law presents a threat to freedom of expression, and the ability of public bodies and democratic institutions to spend, invest and trade ethically in line with international law and human rights.

We call on the UK government to immediately halt this bill, on opposition parties to oppose it and on civil society to mobilise in support of the right to boycott in the cause of justice.

Former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has also spoken out to underline the importance of BDS in opposing apartheid and pledge his support in fighting the latest anti-democracy bill:

The evening has also seen the Glastonbury festival cancel its planned showing of the excellent film exposing the sabotage of Corbyn’s Labour and the smear campaign against him – many are presuming that his principled stand and the cowardly Glastonbury decision are not unconnected.

Original article republished from the Skwawkbox for non-commercial use.

Continue ReadingTories announce pro-apartheid bill

UK Tory government intends to criminalise the fundamental democratic right to protest

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Jun Pang – Policy and Campaigns Officer on 02 Dec 2021 at Liberty

Not content with the already draconian powers in the [Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts] Bill to shut down protests and criminalise people trying to make their voices heard, the Government has recently added amendments to it.


Locking on only needs to be “capable” of causing serious disruption to “two or more people”. On top of that, no one knows what “serious disruption” means because it’s not defined in the Bill. Instead, the Home Secretary will get to define and re-define it at will.


The current punishment for someone who wilfully obstructs the highway is a fine. Amendments to the Policing Bill will change it to up to 51 weeks in prison, a fine, or both.

Such heavy punishments will stop people taking to the streets to stand up to power – and will add to existing pressures on courts, prisons, and the probation service.


This is another new offence that a person commits if they obstruct someone from taking any steps connected to the construction or maintenance of any major transport works, or they in any way interfere with “any apparatus” relating to that construction or maintenance.


The Government’s amendments will also expand stop and search. Police will be able to stop and search a person or vehicle for items intended for use in connection with the offences in the Bill: obstructing the highway, public nuisance, locking on, and obstructing major transport works.

Police will also be able to put orders in place allowing for ‘suspicion-less’ stop and search for these items in a specific location for up to 24 hours (and up to 48 hours, if authorised).


People given a protest banning order will be subject to a set of conditions, including not associating with certain people, going to certain places, carrying certain items, or using the internet in a certain way.

They can last for up to two years, but there is no limit to the number of times a protest banning order can be renewed by the court.

Protest is a fundamental right, but protest banning orders effectively ban people from organising and making their voices heard, striking at the heart of what makes protest meaningful and effective: political community.


These new offences will either deter people from protesting, or drag them into the criminal justice system for doing so. They will further entrench discrimination, with devastating consequences for marginalised communities.

But they are’t law yet, and this Government buckles under public pressure and u-turns time and again.

If you haven’t yet signed the petition against the Policing Bill, do so today.

We’ve also created this quick and easy tool to email your MP and tell them to stop this dangerous and discriminatory Bill from becoming law.

Continue ReadingUK Tory government intends to criminalise the fundamental democratic right to protest