Freedom of assembly may be restricted under certain circumstances as are prescribed by law and are necessary in a democratic society.
- It is prohibited to impose limitations on the rights and freedoms guaranteed by virtue of this Charter unless where prescribed by law and considered necessary to protect national and economic security, or public order, or public health, or morals, or the rights and freedoms of others.
- The right of peaceful assembly shall be recognized. No restrictions may be placed on the exercise of this right other than those imposed in conformity with the law and which are necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security or public safety, public order (ordre public), the protection of public health or morals or the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.
- Every individual shall have the right to assemble freely with others. The exercise of this right shall be subject only to necessary restrictions provided for by law in particular those enacted in the interest of national security, the safety, health, ethics and rights and freedoms of others.
- Everyone shall have the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and to freedom of association with others, including the right to form and to join trade unions for the protection of his interests.
- The right of peaceful assembly, without arms, is recognized. No restrictions may be placed on the exercise of this right other than those imposed in conformity with the law and necessary in a democratic society in the interest of national security, public safety or public order, or to protect public health or morals or the rights and freedom of others.
- [T]he Committee recalls that the rights and freedoms set forth in article 21 of the Covenant are not absolute but may be subject to limitations in certain situations. The second sentence of article 21 of the Covenant requires that no restrictions may be placed on the exercise of the right to peaceful assembly other than those imposed (1) in conformity with the law and (2) which are necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security or public safety, public order (ordre public), the protection of public health or morals or the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.
- Moreover, while the time, place and manner of assemblies may under some circumstances be the subject of legitimate restrictions under article 21, given the typically expressive nature of assemblies, participants must as far as possible be enabled to conduct assemblies within sight and sound of their target audience.
- The prohibition of a specific assembly can be considered only as a measure of last resort. Where the imposition of restrictions on an assembly is deemed necessary, the authorities should first seek to apply the least intrusive measures.
- Central to the realization of the right is the requirement that any restrictions, in principle, be content neutral, and thus not be related to the message conveyed by the assembly.
- Peaceful assemblies should not be relegated to remote areas where they cannot effectively capture the attention of those who are being addressed, or the general public.
- In the present case, the Committee must consider whether the restrictions imposed on the author’s right to freedom of assembly were justified under any of the criteria set out in article 21. The Committee notes the State party’s assertion that the restrictions were in accordance with the law. However, the State party has not demonstrated to the Committee’s satisfaction that the impeding of the two pickets in question was necessary for the purpose of protecting the interests of national security or public safety, public order (ordre public), the protection of public health or morals or the protection of the rights and freedoms of others. Moreover, the State party never refuted the author’s claim that no event actually occurred at Gorky Square on 7 October 2007, and that the city administration’s claim of a competing Teachers’ Day event was in fact a mere pretext given in order to reject the author’s request. In these circumstances, the Committee concludes that in the present case the State party has violated the author’s right under article 21 of the Covenant.
- 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.
- Restrictions must not be discriminatory, impair the essence of the right, or be aimed at discouraging participation in assemblies or causing a chilling effect.
- Everyone will have the right of peaceful assembly and demonstration. Any restrictions which may be placed on the exercise of these rights will be prescribed by law and consistent with international standards.
- The human rights and fundamental freedoms of every person shall be exercised with due regard to the human rights and fundamental freedoms of others. The exercise of human rights and fundamental freedoms shall be subject only to such limitations as are determined by law solely for the purpose of securing due recognition for the human rights and fundamental freedoms of others, and to meet the just requirements of national security, public order, public health, public safety, public morality, as well as the general welfare of the peoples in a democratic society.
- The peacefulness of an assembly must be presumed, and the term “peaceful” must be interpreted broadly and exclude only acts of widespread and serious violence that cannot be isolated from the assembly.
- An assembly should not be banned or dispersed merely on the basis that it temporarily interferes with commercial activities or the free flow of traffic.
- In order to merit the protection of ICCPR, art 21, an assembly must be peaceful. As long as an assembly is conducted in a non-violent manner, it may be disrupted only in accordance with the strict limitations citied in the article. …there must be a genuine need in order for a State to avail itself of the permissible restrictions. In addition, the restrictions are allowed only if they are ‘in conformity’ with the law. In other words, no agent of the State may arbitrarily interfere with a peaceful assembly. Rather, he must be authorized by law to do so, and the laws in question must respect the international standards [associated with this obligation]. Any restrictions on the right to assembly may not go beyond the need to protect the public interests listed and the least restrictive means must be employed. Furthermore, it should be noted that State authorities have a duty to protect the demonstrators themselves. The right of assembly must be respected, since public demonstrations and political rallies are an integral part of the election process and provide an effective mechanisms for the public dissemination of political information.
- States must ensure that assembly participants are able, to the extent possible in light of other legitimate concerns recognized by international human rights law, to conduct their assemblies within “sight and sound” of their target audience.
- Emergency or other exceptional legislation restricting fundamental rights should be repealed or suspended. Exceptional measures must not be imposed unless strictly required by the exigencies of the situation and must not be calculated to corrupt or unnecessarily delay the political process.
- States of emergency should be declared only in conformity with the law and be authorized only in the event of a public emergency which threatens the life of the nation, where measures compatible with the Constitution and laws in force are plainly inadequate to address the situation. Relevant international standards further require that a state of emergency be officially proclaimed before any exceptional measures are put in place. Any such measure must be strictly required by the exigencies of the situation, and must not be inconsistent with other requirements under international law.
- Democratic elections are not possible without respect for human rights, in particular freedom of expression and of the press, freedom of circulation inside the country, freedom of assembly and freedom of association for political purposes, including the creation of political parties. b. Restrictions of these freedoms must have a basis in law, be in the public interest and comply with the principle of proportionality.
- The holding of democratic elections and hence the very existence of democracy are impossible without respect for human rights, particularly the freedom of expression and of the press and the freedom of assembly and association for political purposes, including the creation of political parties. Respect for these freedoms is vital particularly during election campaigns. Restrictions on these fundamental rights must comply with the European Convention on Human Rights and, more generally, with the requirement that they have a basis in law, are in the general interest and respect the principle of proportionality.
- Public security providers should avoid the use of force in the event of unlawful though non-violent assemblies or limit its use to a minimum.
- In dispersing violent assemblies and demonstrations, specific reference is made concerning firearms, i.e., that they may be used only when less dangerous measures prove ineffective and when there is an imminent threat of death or of serious injury. Firing indiscriminately into a violent crowd is never a legitimate or an acceptable method of dispersal.
- States should create an enabling legal framework for the right to peaceful assembly and association in the digital age, by: (…) (b) Repealing and amending any laws and policies that allow network disruptions and shutdowns, and refraining from adopting such laws and policies; (c) Revising and amending cybercrime, surveillance and antiterrorism laws and bringing them into compliance with international human rights norms and standards governing the right to privacy, the right to freedom of opinion and expression, the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and the right to freedom of association.
- The Special Rapporteur calls upon States in times of elections: (…) (f) To increase the threshold for imposing legitimate restrictions on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, that is, to ensure that the strict test of necessity and proportionality in a democratic society, coupled with the principle of non-discrimination, is made particularly difficult to meet.
- Any restrictions imposed on assemblies must have a formal basis in law and be based on one or more of the legitimate grounds prescribed by relevant international and regional human rights instruments: national security, public safety, public order, the protection of public health or morals, and the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.
- Any restrictions on the right to freedom of peaceful assembly, whether set out in law or applied in practice, must be both necessary in a democratic society to achieve a legitimate aim, and proportionate to such an aim. The least intrusive means of achieving a legitimate aim should always be given preference.
- The right to freedom of assembly, in principle, also includes the right to choose the date and time of the assembly.
- 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.
- Prohibiting an assembly should be a measure of last resort and should only be considered when a less restrictive response would not achieve the purpose pursued by the authorities in safeguarding other relevant rights and freedoms, and public order.
- Full exercise of the right must be the norm; the right may only be restricted where the test for the implementation of restrictions under international law is met, namely that the restrictions in question are provided for by law, serve a legitimate interests recognised by international human rights law, and are a necessary and proportionate means of protecting that interest.