UHHRU calls on MPs to rework draft law on peaceful assembly
The Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union has addressed an open appeal to the members of the Verkhovna Rada Committee on Human Rights, National Minorities and Inter-Ethnic Relations. It calls on them to rework Draft Law No. 2450 On the Procedure for Organizing and Holding Peaceful Gatherings and only after that submit it to parliament to be voted on.
UHHRU is convinced that the draft law must incorporate the following principles and norms:
- a differentiated term for notification of plans to hold peaceful gathering. It must fix a minimum timeframe for notification of no longer than 24 hours.
- The draft law must not impose additional obligations on organizers and participants in a rally other than that the gathering should be peaceful and that the authorities or bodies of local self-government should be notified, i.e. those obligations which are clearly outlined in Article 39 of the Constitution.
- The law must not allow any grounds for restricting peaceful gatherings aside from those set down in Article 39 of the Constitution. There should be no provision allowing for restriction of the right to peaceful assembly on the grounds of “the imposition by decision of the Cabinet of Ministers on the relevant territory of quarantine in accordance with the Law on Protection of the Population from Infectious Illnesses, if this envisages the possibility of restriction by the court of freedom of peaceful assembly in order to protect the population from epidemic (outbreak) of a particularly dangerous infectious illness”, since this is in breach of Articles 22, 39, 64 of the Constitution, by reducing the scope and content of this right.
- The law must not contain a provision which would make it possible to restrict freedom if “the gathering is aimed at obstructing enjoyment by others of their rights and freedoms”, since this creates the possibility of banning any peaceful gathering without any real grounds, and in accordance with the position taken by the European Court of Human Rights renders meaningless Article 11 of the European Convention (the right to peaceful assembly). In other words, the inclusion of such a provision in the law would be in breach of Article 39 of Ukraine’s Constitution and Article 11 of the European Convention.
- Tthe law should allow in the final provisions for the abolition of administrative liability for infringements of the procedure for organizing and holding peaceful gatherings (i.e. exclusion of Article 185-1 of the Code of Administrative Offences).
If these proposals are not taken into consideration, the draft law will be in breach of the provisions of Ukraine’s Constitution, will reduce the content and scope of the right to peaceful assembly, and will be capable of worsening the situation with peaceful assembly in Ukraine.
This concerns first of all the possibility of repressive influence on the organizers of meetings and unwarranted court bans. A law which does not comply with the above-listed demands will not enable Ukrainian citizens to properly foresee the consequences of their actions and place in jeopardy Ukraine’s implementation of its human rights obligations. It will have an extremely negative impact both on Ukrainian society and on the country’s standing in the world.