Freedom of assembly must be respected in the context of political rallies and meetings.
- States must respect and ensure counterdemonstrations as assemblies in their own right, while preventing undue disruption of the assemblies to which they are opposed.
- Article 21 of the Covenant protects peaceful assemblies wherever they take place: outdoors, indoors and online; in public and private spaces; or a combination thereof. Such assemblies may take many forms, including demonstrations, protests, meetings, processions, rallies, sit-ins, candlelit vigils and flash mobs. They are protected under article 21 whether they are stationary, such as pickets, or mobile, such as processions or marches.
- People also have the right, in principle, to choose the location or route of an assembly in publicly accessible places. The location or route may include, but need not be limited to, public parks, squares, streets, roads, avenues, sidewalks, pavement, footpaths, and open areas near public buildings and facilities.
- State authorities must observe their duty of neutrality. In particular, this concerns: iii. the right to demonstrate.
- States have a positive duty to facilitate and protect the exercise of the right to freedom of peaceful assembly. This duty should be reflected in the legislative framework and relevant law enforcement regulations and practices. It includes a duty to facilitate assemblies at the organizer’s preferred location and within ‘sight and sound’ of the intended audience. The duty to protect also involves the protection of assembly organizers and participants from third party individuals or groups who seek to undermine their right to freedom of peaceful assembly.
- The right to freedom of assembly, in principle, also includes the right to choose the date and time of the assembly.
- States shall respect and ensure the human rights of all individuals within their territory and subject to their jurisdiction. In time of elections, the State and its organs should therefore ensure: That freedom of movement, assembly, association and expression are respected, particularly in the context of political rallies and meetings.