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Rosa Lalor was arrested for praying silently during coronavirus lockdown

Grandmother arrested for taking a prayer walk during lockdown

Grandmother arrested for taking a prayer walk during lockdown

#LetUsPray

#LetUsPray

Who:
Rosa Lalor

Where:
Liverpool, United Kingdom

Advocacy Team:
Jeremiah Igunnubole

Topic | Freedom of Religion

Can a silent, peaceful prayer be a criminal act?

This is the question facing the court as it considers the penalty that Rosa Lalor received when on a prayer walk during lockdown in 2021.

On 24th February 2021, 76-year-old grandmother Rosa Lalor took a prayer walk as part of her daily exercise permitted under covid regulations. She walked near an abortion facility, as she prayed about the issue that was on her mind. She was masked, socially-distanced, alone, and silent. Then, in an unexpected turn of events, she was arrested and fined £200 under temporary coronavirus measures.

With ADF UK’s support, Rosa is challenging her fine in court.

Who:
Rosa Lalor

Where:
Liverpool, United Kingdom

Advocacy Team:
Jeremiah Igunnubole

ADF UK ROSA WITH JEREMIAH IGUNNUBOLE

“I never thought that in a democratic country like the UK I would be arrested for a simple and solitary prayer walk...

What kind of society are we, when people can be arrested simply for peacefully manifesting their faith in public?”

Case Summary

During the lockdown in 2021, Rosa was always careful to follow the rules. She took a walk most days, as was permitted, and even wore a mask, which wasn’t required, in order to take extra precautions.

While she was taking prayer walk on 24th February 2021 – alone, masked, socially distanced and praying silently with headphones in – a police officer approached her and asked why she was out of her house, at a time when reasons to be outside were very limited.

“I’m walking and praying”, she answered.

The officer said Rosa wasn’t praying in a place of worship. She didn’t have a “reasonable excuse” to be outdoors. She was there to “protest”, he said.

Rosa was arrested, detained in a police car, charged and fined under a temporary coronavirus regulatory measure that sought to ban activities on the street for the sake of public health.

“The right to express faith in a public space, including silent prayer – is a fundamental right protected in both domestic and international law. Whether under coronavirus regulations or any other law, it is the duty of police to uphold, rather than erode, the rights and freedoms of women like Rosa. Such arrests subject otherwise law-abiding individuals to distressing and drawn-out criminal proceedings, leading to a chilling effect on freedom of expression and religion generally,” said Jeremiah Igunnubole, Legal Counsel for ADF UK, which is supporting Rosa’s case.

Nobody should be criminalised simply for expressing their faith. Rosa has pled “not guilty” to the charge, but severe court delays have kept her case from progressing for over a year. Members of the public are invited to leave her a message of support here.

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