Fourteen people reported last year in connection with attending Black Lives Matter protests will not be prosecuted, Northern Ireland’s Public Prosecution (PPP) said on Wednesday.
The PPS said it had concluded that “the evidence for prosecution was not upheld on the basis of legality of any suspect.”
There was no “reasonable prospect of conviction” of the suspects as they could argue that they had a “reasonable excuse” to attend the protests, said Martin Hardy, assistant director of the PPS.
The 14 individuals, who in June 2020 attended one or more of the three BLM protests in London and Belfast, were reported to the PPS for consideration of possible offenses under the regulations instituted to spread the CCP (Chinese Communist Party). ) virus to limit. known as novel coronavirus.
According to the PPS, factors relevant to the reasonable excuse defense included ‘issues related to the proportionality and consistency of the policing approach to different protests’, and the freedom of expression and peaceful assembly guaranteed by the European Convention on Human Rights.
“The decision on this file included the discussion of a series of complex and new legal issues arising from the Coronavirus regulations in force at the time of these protests and relevant human rights considerations. It also involved a careful analysis of the particular circumstances of these protests and the behavior of the individuals reported, ‘Hardy said in a statement.
‘The evidence received from the police was subject to an impartial and independent application of the prosecution test, in accordance with the PPS Code for Prosecutors. The prosecution team was also assisted by the advice of an independent senior councilor, ”he said.
Hardy added that “the conclusion regarding these 14 individuals – who want to exercise their right to freedom of peaceful assembly and expression on an important social issue safely – is that there is no conviction for any offense.”
The PPS also said another important factor is that the regulations do not have legal clarity about the activities that are legal.
This includes the absence of any definition of an ‘event’ or ‘outdoor activity’; the absence of any provisions [at that time] specifically deals with gatherings for protest purposes; the tension within the provisions that could put unlimited numbers together for the purpose of an outdoor film, live concert or theater performance; and the fact that the reasonable excuses specified in the Regulations were not complete, ”the PPS said.