News & Views

Media Statement- Protect Protest

12 April 2024

A requirement to obtain a permit to hold a protest, rally or public assembly undermines human rights, suppresses political expression, they’re discriminatory and are fundamentally incompatible with the core principles of democracy.

Protest permits are completely antithetical to the very nature and purpose of protests.

Melbourne Activist Legal Support urges the Victorian Government to shift its approach to creating safer protest spaces, not restricting them further with administrative processes.

The levels of force by police against people who participate in protests is unacceptable. Melbourne Activist Legal Support has routinely documented police members punching, pushing and shoving and using OC spray in circumstances where people were of no physical threat to police.

The Victorian Government, and Victoria Police Chief Commissioner Patton have a responsibility to the community to protect it from harm, especially by its own members. The best way to do this is to shift the culture of the state’s policing.

We need a properly resourced, independent and empowered police ombudsmen office to investigate police misconduct.

Quotes attributable to Melbourne Activist Legal Support spokesperson

‘MALS welcomed the rejection of a protest permit system by Premier Allen, however we still have concerns if we want to ensure protests, rallies and other forms of public assembly can continue to serve their vital place in our democracy.’

‘If the Victorian Government wants to facilitate safer protest environments, then it needs to adopt a culture supportive of protests and shift away from policing and control.’

Additional information

The Case Against Protest Permits in Victoria

Melbourne Activist Legal Support – Statements of Concern

Melbourne Activist Legal Support (MALS)

is an independent volunteer group of lawyers, human rights advocates, law students and para-legals. MALS trains and fields Legal Observer Teams at protest events, provides training and advice to activist groups on legal support structures, and develops and distributes legal resources for social movements. MALS works in conjunction with law firms, community legal centres, and a range of local, national, and international human rights agencies. We stand up for civil and political rights.

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