Global Human Rights Defence

Frontline workers condemn UK policing bill for privacy invasion and human rights violations
Source: Getty Images©

On the 13th of September 2021, a group of 665 frontline workers, including social, youth, education, healthcare, and charity workers protested against the British Parliament’s Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill (PCSC) for its potential involvement in privacy violations. The protesters argued that the bill would “directly conflict with our duties and will actively put people we work with in harm’s way” (Letter to the Home Secretary, 2021).

The letter expresses concern for the bill’s proposal for information sharing between public bodies without the usual data protection safeguards. This means that the police in England and Wales would have more extensive powers to demand information from various public bodies. Furthermore, the Home Secretary would be granted powers to compel public authorities to potentially disclose any information requested, even if the said authorities believe this would violate “professional duties of confidence, statutory restrictions, or even contractual restrictions”. 

The frontline workers have warned that this may undermine public trust in essential services and violate the “dignity and privacy” of those most vulnerable in British society. 

Additionally, the letter stresses that people of colour are particularly likely to be affected by this bill, stating that it will lead to further criminalization and surveillance of young people of colour. This feeds into the already existing distrust of public authorities, which prevents people of colour from accessing vital educational, accommodation and health-care services for fear of over-surveillance and further discrimination (Letter to the Home Secretary, 2021).

The PCSC Bill also proposes the introduction of serious violence reduction orders (SVROs), which would aim to make it easier for police to stop and search those who have been convicted of crimes in which they used offensive weapons or in which others involved in the crime used weapons (Home Office, 2021). It is feared that SVROs would extend the harmful legacy of stop and search, a practice that has been demonstrated to disproportionately affect people of colour, with black people being 9 times more likely to be stopped and searched than their white counterparts (UK Government data, 2021).

These increased powers will likely only lead to further targeting of ethnic minorities by police, as even those who have not been convicted of violent offences may still be considered by police to be likely to commit serious violent offences based on racial prejudices. It is also argued that their introduction would exacerbate the effects of over-policing within these groups – namely trauma, depression, anxiety and the reinforcement of the idea that those stopped and searched are a threat to British society (Williams, 2018, pp. 6, 21). Williams affirms that the practices of the British police in targeting those perceived as gang members has “served only to infringe the human rights of young people who reside in police-defined gang affected communities and in turn, curtailed the possibility of prosocial self-beneficial opportunities” (Williams, 2018, p.28). As Gavin Moorghen of the British Association of Social Workers has stated, “The only effective approach to serious violence is to focus on the root causes such as poverty, racism, and other forms of structural injustice” (Sharman, 2021).

Furthermore, Agenda, a charity alliance for women and girls at risk, has pointed out that women coerced into criminal activity by partners or through criminal exploitation are particularly at danger of being unfairly penalised with up to two years’ imprisonment. This happens because they are associated with others who carry offensive weapons (Mohdin and Topping, 2021). The director of the Alliance for Youth Justice, Pippa Goodfellow, also warned that the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on at-risk girls and women could lead to an increase in offending. She stated that “It is vital that systems and services work together to meet these growing and emerging needs, whilst standing firmly against punitive measures that will criminalise those most in need of support” (Goodfellow, cited in Mohdin and Topping, 2021).

The Letter to the Home Secretary (2021) also points towards other major criticisms of the PCSC Bill.  For instance, restriction of the right to protest and the government’s increased criminalisation and punishment of the way of life of Gypsy, Roma and Traveller (GRT) communities. 

Regarding the right to protest, the Bill curtails protesting by clamping down on or preventing any protests that cause levels of noise the police deem likely to cause “serious disruption to the activities of an organisation which are carried on in the vicinity of the procession” (Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts HL Bill 40, 2021). The nebulous use of language on the interpretation of what constitutes “serious disruption” highlights the British government’s intention to limit any kind of protest that may be impactful. Legal Professor David Mead (2021) has emphasised that these measures amount to an “existential threat to protest, so closely entangled are protests with noise”.

GRT communities’ nomadic way of life depends on their rights to travel. This Bill proposes punitive measures that criminalise trespassing, which in turn forces more members of these communities into the criminal justice system (Kirkby, 2021, p.3). The criminalisation of trespassing breaches the British government’s duty to “facilitate the Gypsy way of life” (ECtHR Chapman v. the United Kingdom, 2001). Due to the existing lack of adequate and authorised transit and permanent encampment sites, with only 6 of 68 authorities having met pitch needs,

GRT communities will face even more regular evictions, family separations, imprisonment and fines under this proposed law (Kirkby, 2021, pp. 4, 7-8).

Overall, the letter asserts that the proposed Policing, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill reflects the current British government’s human rights restricting agenda. These key workers believe that the bill  shows a disregard for the complex struggles faced by ethnic minorities and women, and how these are best tackled according to experts in these fields. They state that, instead, this Bill demonstrates the British government’s turning towards harsher measures which do not address the underlying causes of crime. This may further serve to entrench public distrust in key services, which is not conducive to ameliorating the United Kingdom’s social issues.


European Court of Human Rights’ Chapman v. the United Kingdom (2001), Application no. 27238/95. 

Home Office (2021) Home Office measures in the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill: Equalities Impact Assessment.

Kirkby, A. (2021) Briefing for House of Lords Second Reading PCSCB: Part 4. Friends, Families and Travellers. 

Letter to the Home Secretary on the serious violence provisions of the PCSC Bill (2021, September 13). 

Mead, D. (2021) ‘Yes, you can… but only if you’re quiet’. Verfassungsblog.

Mohdin, A. and Topping, A. (2021, September 13) Policing bill will deepen racial disparities, say experts. The Guardian. 

Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts HL Bill (2021-2022) 40.

Sharman, J. (2021, September 13) Policing bill ‘will put young people at risk’, hundreds of experts warn. Independent.

UK Government (2021) Stop and Search. 

Williams, P. (2018) Being Matrixed: the (over)policing of gang suspects in London. Stopwatch: Research and Actions for Fair and Inclusive Policing. 



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Coordinator - Tibet Team

Mandakini graduated with honours from the Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights. Her team analyses the human rights violations faced by Tibetans through a legal lens.

Kenza Mena
Team Coordinator -China

Kenza Mena has expertise in international criminal law since she is currently pursuing a last-year Master’s degree in International Criminal Justice at Paris II Panthéon-Assas and obtained with honors cum laude an LLM in International and Transnational Criminal Law from the University of Amsterdam. She also holds a Bachelor’s degree in French and Anglo-American law. 

Since September 2021, she has been the coordinator of Team China at GHRD, a country where violations of human rights, even international crimes, are frequently perpetrated by representatives of the State. Within Team China, awareness is also raised on discrimination that Chinese women and minorities in the country and, more generally, Chinese people around the world are facing.

Kenza believes that the primary key step to tackle atrocities perpetrated around the world is advocacy and promotion of human rights.

Aimilina Sarafi
Pakistan Coordinator

Aimilina Sarafi holds a Bachelor’s degree cum laude in International Relations and Organisations from Leiden University and is currently pursuing a Double Legal Master’s degree (LLM) in Public International Law and International Criminal Law at the University of Amsterdam.
She is an active advocate for the human rights of all peoples in her community and is passionate about creating a better world for future generations. Aimilina is the coordinator for the GHRD team of Pakistan, in which human rights violations of minority communities in Pakistan are investigated and legally evaluated based on international human rights legal standards.
Her team is working on raising awareness on the plight of minority communities such as women, children, religious and ethnic minorities within Pakistan.

Lukas Mitidieri
Coordinator & Head Researcher- Bangladesh

Lucas Mitidieri is currently pursuing his bachelor’s degree in International Relations at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ). As the GHRD Bangladesh Team Coordinator, he advocates for human rights and monitors violations across all minorities and marginalized groups in Bangladesh. Lucas believes that the fight for International Human Rights is the key to a world with better social justice and greater equality.

Nicole Hutchinson
Editorial Team Lead

Nicole has an MSc in International Development Studies with a focus on migration. She is passionate about promoting human rights and fighting poverty through advocacy and empowering human choice. Nicole believes that even the simplest social justice efforts, when properly nurtured, can bring about radical and positive change worldwide.

Gabriela Johannen
Coordinator & Head Researcher – India

Gabriela Johannen is a lawyer admitted to the German bar and holds extensive knowledge in the fields of human rights, refugee law, and international law. After working for various courts and law firms in her home country, she decided to obtain an LL.M. degree from Utrecht University where she studied Public International Law with a special focus on Human Rights. Additionally, while working as a pro-bono legal advisor for refugees, she expanded her knowledge in the fields of refugee law and migration.

Gabriela is the coordinator and head researcher for GHRD India, a country, she has had a personal connection with since childhood. Her primary focus is to raise awareness for the severe human rights violations against minorities and marginalized groups that continue to occur on a daily basis in India. By emphasizing the happenings and educating the general public, she hopes to create a better world for future generations.

João Victor
Coordinator & Head Researcher – International Justice

João Victor is a young Brazilian lawyer who leads our team of International Justice and Human Rights. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Law from the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and possesses over 5 years of experience in dealing with Human Rights and International Law issues both in Brazil and internationally, including the protection of refugees’ rights and the strengthening of accountability measures against torture crimes.

João has an extensive research engagement with subjects related to International Justice in general, and more specifically with the study of the jurisprudence of Human Rights Courts regarding the rise of populist and anti-terrorist measures taken by national governments. He is also interested in the different impacts that new technologies may provoke on the maintenance of Human Rights online, and how enforcing the due diligence rules among private technology companies might secure these rights against gross Human Rights violations.

Célinne Bodinger
Environment and Human Rights Coordinator

As the Environment and Human Rights Coordinator, Célinne is passionate about the health of our planet and every life on it.

Angela Roncetti
Team Coordinator and Head Researcher- South America

Angela holds a Bachelor of Laws (LL.B) from Vitória Law School (FDV) in Brazil. Her research combines more than five years of experience conducting debates and studies on the rights of homeless people, the elderly, children, and refugees. Besides that, she also volunteers in a social project called Sou Diferente (I am Different in English), where she coordinates and takes part in actions aimed at the assistance and the emancipation of vulnerable groups in the cities of the metropolitan area of Espírito Santo state (Brazil).

Lina Borchardt
Team Head (Promotions)

She is currently heading the Promotions Team and University Chapter of Global Human Rights Defence. Her background is the one of European and International Law, which I am studying in The Hague. She has previously gained experience at Women´s Rights organizations in Germany, the Netherlands and Turkey over the past years.
She has been working for Global Human Rights Defence in the Netherlands since 2020. Her focus now is concentrated on the Human Rights and Minorities Film Festival and the cooperation of GHRD with students across the country.

Pedro Ivo Oliveira
Team Coordinator and Researcher

Pedro holds an extensive background in Human Rights, especially in Global Health, LGBTQ+ issues, and HIV and AIDS. He is currently finishing his Bachelor’s Degree in International Relations and Affairs at the Pontifical Catholic University of Minas Gerais, Brazil. Moreover, he successfully attended the Bilingual Summer School in Human Rights Education promoted by the Federal University of Minas Gerais and the Association of Universities of the Montevideo Group. Besides, Pedro Ivo has a diversified professional background, collecting experiences in many NGOs and projects.

With outstanding leadership abilities, in 2021, Pedro Ivo was the Secretary-General of the 22nd edition of the biggest UN Model in Latin America: the MINIONU. Fluent in Portuguese, English, and Spanish, Pedro Ivo is the Team Coordinator and Head Researcher of the Team Africa at Global Human Rights Defence. Hence, his focus is to empower his team from many parts of the world about the Human Rights Situation in the African continent, meanwhile having a humanized approach.

Alessandro Cosmo
GHRD Youth Ambassador
(European Union)

Alessandro Cosmo obtained his B.A. with Honors from Leiden University College where he studied International Law with a minor in Social and Business Entrepreneurship. He is currently pursuing an LL.M. in Public International Law at Utrecht University with a specialization in Conflict and Security. 
As GHRD’s E.U. Youth Ambassador, Alessandro’s two main focuses are to broaden the Defence’s reach within E.U. institutions and political parties, as well as mediate relations between human rights organizations abroad seeking European funding. 
Alessandro believes that human rights advocacy requires grass-roots initiatives where victims’ voices are amplified and not paraphrased or spoken for. He will therefore act on this agenda when representing Global Human Rights Defence domestically and abroad

Veronica Delgado
Team Coordinator and Researcher- Japan, Sri Lanka & Tibet

Veronica is a Colombian lawyer who leads our team of Japan, Sri Lanka and Tibet. She holds a master’s degree in Public International Law from Utrecht University. She has experience in Colombian law firms. Here she represented clients before constitutional courts. She also outlined legal concepts to state entities such as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ombudsman’s Office on international law issues.

Veronica has an extensive research background with subjects related to public international law. She worked as an assistant researcher for more than two years for the Externado University of Colombia. Here she undertook in-depth research on constitutional, business, and human rights law issues. She was involved with consultancy services with the Colombian Army regarding transitional justice. 

Wiktoria Walczyk
Coordinator & Head Researcher (Nepal & Indonesia)

Wiktoria Walczyk has joined GHRD in June 2020 as a legal intern. She is currently coordinator and head researcher of Team Nepal and Indonesia. She has an extensive legal knowledge concerning international human rights and is passionate about children’s and minorities’ rights. Wiktoria has obtained her LL.B. in International & European Law and she specialised in Public International Law & Human Rights at The Hague University of Applied Sciences in the Netherlands. Moreover, she is pursuing her LL.M. in International & European Law and focusing on Modern Human Rights Law specialisation at the University of Wroclaw in Poland. In order to gain an essential legal experience, Wiktoria has also joined Credit Suisse’s 2021 General Counsel Graduate First Program where she is conducting her legal training and discovering the banking world. She would like to make a significant impact when it comes to the protection of fundamental human rights around the world, especially with regard to child labour. 

Fairuz Sewbaks
Coordinator and Head Researcher

Fairuz Sewbaks holds extensive legal knowledge regarding international human rights, with a specific focus on human rights dealings taking place in continental Africa. She holds a bachelor’s degree from The Hague University in public international law and international human rights and successfully followed advanced human rights courses at the Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria. She furthermore participated in the Istanbul Summer School where she was educated about the role of epidemics and pandemics in light of human rights.


Fairuz is the coordinator and head researcher for GHRD Africa. Her primary focus is to establish and coordinate long-term research projects regarding the differentiating human rights dealings of vulnerable and marginalized groups in continental Africa, as well as conducting individual research projects.

Priya Lachmansingh
Coordinator and Head Researcher, Political Advisor
(Asia & America)

Priya Lachmansingh is currently pursuing her bachelor’s degree in International & European
Law at the Hague University of Applied Science.
As GHRD’s Asia & America human rights coordinator and GHRD Political Advisor, Priya’s
prominent focus is to highlight human rights violations targeted against minority and
marginalized groups in Asia and America and to broaden GHRD reach within Dutch political
parties and as well seek domestic funding.

Jasmann Chatwal
Team Coordinator & Head Coordinator: North America

Jasmann is a political science student at Leiden University who joined GHRD in May 2021 as an intern in team Pakistan. Now, she is the team coordinator for North America and is responsible for coordinating the documentation of human rights violations in USA, Canada, and America.