Freedom Of Assembly

Freedom of assembly is the citizens’ right to publicly gather together to express, advocate and achieve shared needs. Assembly encompasses the right to express dissent through meetings, demonstrations, protests and strikes. This civil liberty is an essential complement to freedom of association and expression. Assembly is one of the citizens’ tools to engage with governing bodies, other forms of authority and multinational organisations. Indeed, assembly channels and magnifies the democratic will, including that of minority groups and urges interlocutors to take citizens’ perspectives into consideration.

The United Nations Human Rights Council stated that:

“The ability to assemble and act collectively is vital to democratic, economic, social and personal development, to the expression of ideas and to fostering engaged citizenry. Assemblies can make a positive contribution to the development of democratic systems and, alongside elections, play a fundamental role in public participation, holding governments accountable and expressing the will of the people as part of the democratic processes”.

Governing bodies have the duty to provide a safe and empowering environment for people to come together and express their views. This responsibility includes ensuring access to public spaces, supplying protection in favour of and punishing violence against citizens exercising their freedom of assembly.

According to CIVICUS, emerging trends limiting the right to peaceful assembly include policing techniques such as the use of excessive or unlawful violence and undercover tactics, illegal or unreasonable refusal of authorisation to gather peacefully, denial of protection from violent counter-demonstrations.

In recent years, several European governments undertook anti-terror strategies that left legal loopholes failing to protect or even eroding freedom of assembly in the name of security of public places. These measures often led to a transfer of powers from the independent judicial sector to prefects and police authorities, who now have more discretion in regulating assemblies in public spaces.

Read Latest Alerts:

Article originally published on NETPOL website - accessible here POLICING Big Brother Watch has written a letter (PDF) to the National Police Chiefs Council to make the case for an urgent review of all 14,000 police fines issued under coronavirus emergency powers. Other signatories include Netpol, Kirsty Brimelow QC, Jules ...
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Article originally published on Waging NonViolence, 7 May 2020 - accessible here Author: Miloš Budimir For the past few years around election time in Serbia, people have taken to the streets to protest government corruption, attacks on free press and voter suppression. This Spring, despite a nationwide lock-down to combat ...
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The Polish movements Committee for the Defence of Democracy (Komitet Obrony Demokracji) and Polish Women's Strike (Ogólnopolski Strajk Kobiet) warn that a number of street initiatives have been announced on social media to happen between 1st to 3rd May. According to the latter, “many of these initiatives are being set ...
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Article originally published on ECNL - accessible here To download this paper in pdf, click here.  A brief overview by Neil Jarman, Independent Consultant, with Simona Ognenovska, Monitoring and Research Advisor, ECNL Stichting on the right to peaceful assembly during a time of pandemic in Europe. Across the world governmental ...
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Extract from article originally published on Reporting Democracy, 21 April 2020 - accessible here Author: Claudia Ciobanu [...] In 2016 an ultraconservative citizen’s initiative sought to tighten Poland’s abortion law, sparking mass demonstrations known as the Black Protests. Four years later, another ultraconservative initiative is seeking once more to toughen ...
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Article originally published on ICCL website, 23 April 2020 - accessible here The Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL) has said that the government should review the decision to exclude protest from the list of reasonable excuses to leave home during the pandemic. The call comes as discrepancies arose between ...
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Article originally published on DW, 24 April 2020 - accessible here Protests may have been restricted during the pandemic, but young climate activists in Berlin have found an alternative way of reminding people of the other emergency threatening life as we know it. View the video of the protest climate ...
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Article originally published in German on GFF website, 9 April 2020 - accessible here Public life has been almost completely paralysed by the measures with which the government intends to contain the corona pandemic. This is a critical time for our democracy. At present, civil society actors, organisations and individuals ...
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Article originally published in German on Amnesty International Austria, 16 April 2020 - accessible here The COVID-19 pandemic poses an unprecedented threat, affecting all aspects of our lives and having unforeseeable consequences for our society. It is therefore also a comprehensive threat to all our human rights. Amnesty International Austria ...
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