On the 15th and 16th day of October 2011, some protestors, led by Tammy Samende and having George Barda and Daniel Ashman, among others, pitched a protest camp in St Paul’s Churchyard. The protesters set up between 150 and 200 tents in the churchyard, with some tents serving as accommodation for the protestors. Other tents were allocated different activities including setting up temporary first aid centres, a learning centre, named Tent City University, and a children’s place. The tents occupied nearly the entire compound of the church, with the protestors extending their activities to the city’s highway.
The land occupied by these protestors was subdivided into three areas, area 1, area2 and area 3. Of these three areas, area 3 was the biggest since it included part of the city’s highway and an area surrounding the church. The area occupying the highway was referred to as area 1, while that occupying the cathedral’s compound was referred to as area 2. All these areas were not operating normally because the protestors had possessed them.
One of the constitutional issues in this case is that the protestors had the right to protest as stipulated in the European Convention on Human Rights. According to article 10 and 11 of the convention, all citizens had the right to protest and to have their grievances heard. This means that the protestors were exercising their rights by protesting against the activities in the London Stock Exchange, and hence the slogans accompanying their protest, ‘Occupy London Stock Exchange’.
By establishing a camp in the church compound, the protestors were exercising their right of expression and were therefore acting within the European Convention on Human Rights. In Article 10 of the convention, all citizens are given the right to express their freedom without any hindrance from the state. This means that the protestors were acting within their constitutional right as they were expressing their freedom of expression. In addition, the protestors were exercising their rights to demonstrate against deteriorating economic situations in the country.
The other constitutional element in this case is article 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights. Under this provision, all citizens have the right to hold peaceful demonstrations. This means that the protestors were acting within the provisions as their demonstrations were peaceful and orderly. By holding meetings in the cathedral’s compound, the protestors had not breached this constitutional provision.
The convention also states categorically that demonstrators acting within article 11 were not subject to harassment from the authorities. The protestors who were camping at St Paul’s Church compound were therefore at liberty to hold their peaceful demonstrations without expecting any opposition from the authorities. However, the article cites that in case of any breach, the article would not prevent the police, or other legal officers from interfering with the...