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UK Government Considers Ban on Extreme Protest Groups akin to Terrorist Organizations

London, May 12, 2024, The Europe Today: A proposal from the UK government’s advisor on political violence suggests that protest groups such as Just Stop Oil and Palestine Action could face bans akin to those imposed on terrorist organizations. Lord Walney’s upcoming report, excerpts of which have been obtained by BBC News, recommends the creation of a new category for proscribing “extreme protest groups” known for employing criminal tactics to advance their agendas.

The report, set to be released imminently, defines these groups as entities that habitually resort to illegal methods in pursuit of their objectives. Should the recommendations be adopted, sanctions could be imposed to curtail their fundraising activities and restrict their right to assembly within the UK.

According to a government source, ministers will carefully consider Lord Walney’s proposals, which aim to address concerns over the growing influence of militant groups like Palestine Action and Just Stop Oil. Lord Walney contends that banning terror groups has proven effective in thwarting criminal activities and argues for extending this approach to extreme protest groups.

Lord Walney emphasized, “Militant groups like Palestine Action and Just Stop Oil are using criminal tactics to create mayhem and hold the public and workers to ransom without fear of consequence.” He advocates for measures that would impede such groups’ ability to orchestrate disruptive actions with impunity.

Both Just Stop Oil and Palestine Action have been contacted for comment regarding the proposed restrictions.

The envisaged restriction orders, while distinct from terrorism proscriptions, would nonetheless curtail the activities of organizations notorious for employing criminal tactics to advance their political or ideological agendas. Persistent actions aimed at causing serious disruption or promoting specific causes would be scrutinized under the proposed mechanism.

The forthcoming report forms part of a broader review into tackling political violence led by Lord Walney, the former Labour MP John Woodcock. Although commissioned three years ago, the review’s publication has been delayed, prompting anticipation and speculation regarding its findings.

A government source affirmed ministers’ alignment with Lord Walney’s objectives and pledged to consider implementing his recommendations once the review is officially released. However, the proposal has sparked debates over civil liberties and the balance between security concerns and the right to protest, underscoring the complexities inherent in addressing political extremism in a democratic society.