Sharp rise in number of bans on peaceful assembly in 2012
In July 2012 Cherkasy police used gratuitous violence to disperse peaceful protesters
The number of applications to ban peaceful gatherings examined by district administrative courts in 2012 was a third higher than in 2011 – 355 rulings in 2012 against 227 in 2011. Of these 313 did ban the gathering as against 203 in 2011. The percentage of bans remained virtually unchanged with the courts allowing the applications from the authorities for a ban in 88% of the cases (89% in 2011).
For comparison, since 2009 (the last year before the judicial reforms introduced by President Yanukovych) the number of such cases in 2012 had tripled, with the number of bans four and a half times higher.
The largest number of bans were issued in the Kharkiv oblast (103, almost a third of all the bans in the country, with the district administrative court and administrative court of appeal allowing the authorities’ applications for bans in 100% of the cases). Next were the Crimea (42 bans); the Kyiv oblast (26) and Mykolaiv oblast (24).
Only two courts – the Kherson District Administrative Court and the Vinnytsa Administrative Court of Appeal – in all cases rejected the authorities’ applications and upheld freedom of peaceful assembly. Furthermore in the Kherson oblast the local authorities minimized their applications for bans. This may be linked with the ruling from the Kherson District Administrative Court in 2012 which found unlawful the city’s provisions on procedure for holding peaceful gatherings. The local authorities had previously based claims that a ban was needed on this document.
There was some cheer also in the practice of the High Administrative Court which in 2011 had allowed all applications from the authorities, while in 2012 half the rulings were in favour of the organizers of peaceful gatherings. This could be because in 2012 the High Administrative Court generalized court practice in this category of cases and is preparing an explanation for lower level courts.