Police push for dangerous additions to peaceful assembly law


Kommersant Ukraine reports that the Interior Ministry has prepared supplements to the draft bill on peaceful assembly.  They propose making it illegal not only to carry weapons during street protests, but to wear masks or hoods to hide ones face.

They also propose making not only those directly responsible for infringements of public order liable, but also the organizers of the protest.  For this they propose making amendments to the Criminal Code and the Code of Administrative Offences.

Even the parliamentary profile committee is against the moves.

The actual draft bill on peaceful assembly was supported last week by the Verkhovna Rada Committee on Human Rights, National Minorities and Inter-Ethnic Relations. The bill proposes:

Mandatory notification of the authorities that a meeting is planned 48 hours before it begins;

The presence of police officers;

Viktor Ratushnyak, a Deputy Interior Minister, stated that 48 hours was optimum since in the case of two opposing organizations wanting to hold meetings in the same place and same time, the police would have time to prepare, and the local authorities – to apply to the court to get them banned.

What neither he, nor Kommersant mentions, is the 90% chance these days that such applications will be allowed, even where there is only one meeting planned, and there are no rational grounds for banning it.

The Verkhovna Rada committee did not support the police plan to hold organizers liable, nor do human rights organizations. Yevhen Zakharov, Head of the Kharkiv Human Rights Group told Kommersant that all you need is a provocateur to hold the organizers of any meeting liable.

Valery Patskan, Committee member from the UDAR faction says that the draft bill on peaceful assembly should be tabled in the autumn.

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