24 November 2020. BBC: ‘What Does The UK Debate About The #Endsars Protest Mean?’ By Jennifer Scott
After some 220,000 people signed an online petition, British MPs on Monday debated whether the UK government should impose sanctions on Nigerian officials involved in the alleged excessive use of force against peaceful protesters during last month’s anti-police brutality demonstrations.
There is a long history of petitions being submitted to Parliament for debate, with them first going online in 2006.
But in 2011, the government decided any petition reaching more than 100,000 signatures should be debated by MPs.
There is now a dedicated website where British Citizens or UK residents can launch their petitions, and a parliamentary committee to examine them.
Once a petition hits that magic number, the issue is debated in Westminster Hall – part of the Houses of Parliament away from the main Commons chamber – by MPs and a government minister responds.
But it is just a debate. There are usually no votes and no motions or laws are agreed.
It is just a chance for the issue to be discussed and for politicians to share their views – meaning the government is under no obligation to take any action called for by the petition.