Human Rights Activists Appeal to Members of Parliament to Defend the Freedom of Assembly

Jun 12th, 2013 | By | Category: Civil Society, Freedom of Assembly, News, Ukraine

To: Chairs of Groups and Factions in the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine
Members of Parliament of Ukraine

APPEAL

Freedom of assembly is essential for a democratic society. The freedom of every individual to express his or her opinion directly and openly ensures pluralism of views opinion pluralism and is indispensable for an open society that we seek Ukraine to become.

Despite the progressive norms of Article 39 of the Constitution of Ukraine, the practice of freedom of assembly in Ukraine is, in our opinion, unsatisfactory. In 2012, the number of court bans on peaceful assembly increased by more than by one-third compared to the 2011 figures (358 vs 227). The court banned 88% of peaceful gatherings based on the complaints filed by the authorities. A recent survey showed that 86 out of 492 larger cities (oblast and rayon administrative centers) of Ukraine implement their own regulations on freedom of assembly, developed by the local authorities. Most of those regulations include organizational requirements for a peaceful assembly that are not envisaged by the by the Constitution and the laws of Ukraine.

The Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of the UN Human Rights Council recommended that Ukraine develops a proper freedom of assembly legislation that is in line with international human rights standards. The European Court of Human Rights made the same recommendation in its judgment on the Verentsov v Ukraine case.

We welcome the decision of Members of the Ukrainian Parliament representing all parliamentary factions to support the draft law “On Freedom of Assembly”. We value this consolidation around the issue of protection of freedom of assembly that is essential for civil society. We welcome the continuity of work over the legislative regulation of freedom of assembly, and an open discussion ensured by the Parliamentary Committee on Human Rights, National Minorities and Interethnic Relations.

We urge the Parliamentary Committee to create a working group for further preparing the draft bill for the first and the second readings. We insist on careful consideration of the proposals included in alternative draft bills, as well as proposals submitted by various stakeholders. Although the draft bill generally complies with the guiding principles of the OSCE and the Venice Commission Guidelines on Freedom of Peaceful Assembly, we believe that the OSCE and CoE experts should be involved to the discussion before the draft bill is finally approved.

When considering human rights issues, in particular those of freedom of peaceful assembly, we urge the Members of Ukrainian Parliament to be guided by the rule of law, not by political circumstances.

Yevhen Zakharov, Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group

Nataliya Zubar, Maydan Monitoring

Oleksandr Severyn, Maydan Monitoring

Volodymyr Yavorsky, Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union

Arkadiy Bushchenko, Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union

Yevhen Bystrytsky, International Renaissance Foundation

Roman Romanov, International Renaissance Foundation

Roman Kuybida, Centre for Political and Legal Reforms

Maksym Latsyba, Ukrainian Center for Independent Political Research

Respect the Constitution of Ukraine - slogan says. Citizens are protesting against interference of police into peaceful assembly in Kharkiv.

Respect the Constitution of Ukraine – slogan says. Citizens are protesting against interference of police into peaceful assembly in Kharkiv. 

 

 

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