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:

(Ecologist) More than a thousand people marched amidst heavy police presence during Katowice climate talks. More than a thousand people marched amidst heavy police presence to demand negotiators and ministers attending the UN climate talks in the southern Polish city of Katowice take more ambitious action on climate change. Campaigners and activists from around ...
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/ Freedom of assembly, Latest Updates
(Disability News Service) Police forces are repeatedly targeting and assaulting disabled people involved in peaceful anti-fracking protests, campaigners have told Disability News Service (DNS). The police often target prominent environmental campaigners for surveillance. They have also targeted people seen as vulnerable - include those with disabilities - for arrest. Watch our ...
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(Network for police monitoring) Ongoing evidence of confrontational and often violent and dangerous conduct by police officers at the shale gas fracking site at Preston New Road in Lancashire has sparked a coordinated effort to encourage campaigners to formally complain about their treatment. With support from Netpol and from Green and Black ...
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(Translated from BFM) France is the only country in Europe to use explosive grenades to keep the most violent demonstrators away from rallies. This is explained by a joint report from the General Inspectorate of Police and the Gendarmerie. This explosive grenade is called the GLI-F4. It is the same ...
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A new report by Amnesty International France warns that freedom of assembly has been threatened in the country since the introduction of the state of emergency: 155 demonstrations were banned in 18 months 639 individuals were prohibited to protests: 21 linked to demonstrations for COP21, 574 to the protests against ...
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(Hungary Today) Following thirty-five arrests, five injured police officers and four documented uses of tear gas against demonstrators, the government has labeled last night’s protest illegitimate due to its aggressive nature. Supporters of the opposition parties and civil protesters gathered in front of the Parliament on Wednesday afternoon to protest the controversial ...
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(Translated from Friends of the Earth France) Florent Compain, President of Friends of the Earth France, and Denys Crolotte, a member of the Movement for a Non-violent Alternative, have just been released after 21 hours in police custody. The accusation is that they organized a peaceful climate march that brought together ...
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(Greenpeace) Prievidza, Slovakia – The decision by a Slovakian court today to keep Greenpeace activists in detention until a trial takes place is unacceptable, Greenpeace said. The 12 activists from Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Finland, Germany and Belgium protested peacefully against dirty coal by displaying banners on the mining tower of ...
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(European Civic Forum on CIVICUS Monitor) A governmental decree on security is currently being discussed in the Italian parliament. The decree covers a broader range of policy areas from migration to terrorism. It foresees the tightening of several regulations concerning public security, including some that might negatively impact freedom of assembly ...
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