Bill Watch 39/2019

Parliamentary Legal Committee Adverse Report
on Maintenance of Peace and Order Bill

29 July 2019

BILL WATCH 39/2019
[29th July 2019]
Maintenance of Peace and Order Bill
Adverse Report by Parliamentary Legal Committee
On the 24th July the Deputy Speaker of Parliament announced that the
Parliamentary Legal Committee had issued an adverse report on the
Maintenance of Peace and Order Bill, meaning that the Committee had found
some provisions of the Bill to be unconstitutional. The report can be seen on
the Veritas website [link] as can the Bill itself [link].
To understand the report one needs to refer to the Bill and the Constitution,
which readers may not have readily available; so in this bulletin we shall
summarise and clarify the report’s findings. Before doing so however we
should point out that the Bill is virtually identical to the Public Order and Security
Act, so the Committee’s criticisms of the Bill apply equally to the Act, which is
currently relied on by the security services to control demonstrations and
protests.
Analysis of the PLC Report
The Committee found that no fewer than 11 clauses of the Bill were
unconstitutional. We shall deal with each of them in turn.
Clause 3 (Regulating authorities)
This clause declares that the senior police officer of every police district is the
“regulating authority” for that district ‒ i.e. the official who will fix conditions
under which public gatherings (i.e. meetings, demonstrations and processions)
can be held within the district.
The Committee considered the clause “gives regulating authorities the power
to limit the freedom of assembly and association” in violation of section 58 of
the Constitution. With respect to the Committee, this criticism should not be
directed at clause 3, which does no more than appoint regulating authorities,
but rather at those clauses which give regulating authorities excessive powers
‒ and, as we shall see, the Committee does attack those clauses later in the
report.
Clause 4 (Prohibition of carrying of weapons in public)
This clause gives regulating authorities power to prohibit for up to three months
the carrying of weapons, and items capable of being used as weapons, in
public places if the regulating authorities think they are likely to cause public
disorder. Prohibition orders under the clause will be published in newspapers
or posted up on public buildings or broadcast by radio. Anyone aggrieved by
an order will have a right to appeal against it to the Minister of Home Affairs,

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