Protest against peaceful assembly draft law in Kyiv
On Monday 14 June members of a number of civic organizations held a protest on Maidan Nezalezhnosti [Independence Square] n Kyiv against the draft law No. 2450 “On the procedure for organizing and holding peaceful gatherings” which is due for its second reading this week. The UNIAN information agency reports that the action was organized and held by civic organizations and students. They formed the word “No” and each held up the sign “2450”.
They believe that the present draft law contains a number of failings which make it in breach of both Article 39 of the Constitution and case law of the European Court of Human Rights. They fear that it could leave to repressive measures against those taking part in peaceful demonstrations, and give the authorities excessively wide powers to restrict freedom of assembly. They are also critical of the requirement to notify of a planned meeting 4 days before the event.
The Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union points to an attempt by the authors to allow for spontaneous protest in response to events which have just taken place, but notes that restrictions here, and the demand for 4 days notice even for a very small gathering is unwarranted.
An appeal against the bill was supported by the “Respublica” Institute, the Foundation for Regional Initiatives and others and sent to the Verkhovna Rada last week.
There have been indications in the last few days that the second reading of this draft law may be postponed.
While the draft law has eradicated a number of the problems of previous bills, some new elements have crept in, too many vague terms which provide scope for arbitrary interpretation and also unwarranted possibilities for banning peaceful assembly. As the last months have shown, there would be very wide disagreement as to what constitutes an acceptable level of disruption to public order and inconvenience, making bans on these grounds dangerous without a much greater degree of clarity and foreseeability. Certain norms would almost certainly be used by at least some authorities to ban any tent cities, etc, and could lead to unwarranted restrictions on the venue for a gathering.