Sean Paul (Licensed Taxi Driver/Proprietor) Dear Patricia Gallan (Assistant Commissioner)
Re: Taxi Demonstration
Commencement: Monday, October 5th 2015, 14:00
The licensed taxi trade appeals to the Commissioner of Police to reconsider the time constraint placed on The United Cabbies Group.
This appeal is made under the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association under Article 11 is a qualified right
I write without prejudice, to ask the Commissioner of Police to oblige Article 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights, and allow a reasonable amount of time for the pertinent and valid peaceful protest by Licensed taxi drivers to take place. Demonstrations organised by the UCG have a demonstrable history of being peaceful. Special mention should be given also to the MET who have also been creditable in all matters when policing these events.
With respect, the 30 minute time allowed, due to the nature of the demonstration, is insufficient and would automatically place taxi drivers in contravention of the Section 12 Order. It appears highly unfair, given the time constraint, that a Section 12 Order would prove be the default setting, prior to the actual demonstration itself.
For formal and clarification purposes. Article 11 provides that everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and freedom of association with others. The right to freedom of peaceful assembly means the right to protest in a peaceful way, and includes static protests, parades, processions, demonstrations and rallies. The right to freedom of association protects the right to join or form ‘associations’, such as political parties, as well as the right to form and join a trade union. These rights are fundamental in a democracy. Protest allows individuals to unite in support of a common belief to express their opinions and voice their frustrations, and to criticise and voice opposition to opinions or beliefs they do not share.
Article 11 imposes two different types of obligations on the state:
• a negative obligation, which means that public authorities must not prevent, hinder or restrict peaceful assembly except to the extent allowed by Article 11(2), and must not arbitrarily interfere with the right to freedom of association
• a positive obligation, so that in certain circumstances public authorities are under a duty to take reasonable steps to protect those who want to exercise their right to peaceful assembly. The state must also take reasonable and appropriate measures to secure the right to freedom of association under domestic law.
The right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association under Article 11 is a qualified right, and balances the rights of the individual against the broader interests of the community and society. Article 11(2) provides that the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and freedom of association can be restricted in certain ways, but the restriction must be lawful, and in pursuit of a legitimate aim such as national security, public safety, the prevention of disorder or crime, or the protection of the rights and freedoms of others, and is ‘necessary in a democratic society’. The restriction must also be proportionate, meaning that the measures taken are the least restrictive necessary to achieve the legitimate aim. It is my belief that previous demonstrations organised by the United Cabbies Group, have proven to be beyond reproach, and obliging in all matters. I draw on my experience of the last demonstration conducted outside Windsor House, Victoria St
What is also relevant to Article 11 is that it is intrinsically linked to the right to freedom of expression (Article 10).7 It is also closely linked to the right to manifest a religion and belief (Article 9). The protection of personal opinion guaranteed by Articles 9 and 10 is also one of the purposes of freedom of assembly and association.
The regulation of the right to peaceful assembly and association may engage a number of other rights. For example, police operations in relation to protests or strike action may engage the right to liberty (Article 5), and rights protecting physical integrity (Articles 2, 3 and 8).
The licensed taxi trade and the metropolitan police service have a long and healthy history, in fact, many taxi drivers such as myself, fondly remember the time when the PCO was responsible to the MET. By comparison the taxi trade feel they are being negatively targeted by the present incumbent at TfL, and that their voices are not being heard. Couple that with the imminent ruling by the High Court to define a taxi meter, these demonstrations have proven to be a remarkable aid at quelling growing frustrations. With this in mind, I believe the time restraint and the automatic inference of pre-emptive impeachment interferes disproportionately with the right to peaceful protest and falls below reasonable requirements of the Commissioner to meet human rights obligations under Article 11.
I once again appeal to you, to satiate growing feelings of frustration by lifting the 30 minute time constraint on tomorrow's demonstration.
Kind Regards Sean Paul