State of (un)Freedom of Assembly in Ukraine in 2012

Jun 14th, 2013 | By | Category: Editor's Choice, Freedom of Assembly, In Depth

Freedom of assembly is guaranteed to the citizens of Ukraine by Article 39 of the Constitution of Ukraine. Article 11 of the Convention on Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms and Article 21 of the International Covenant on Civil and Human Rights adopted by Ukraine.

However in reality the freedom is restricted. Most restrictions are grounded in the Decree of the Presidium of the Supreme Rada of the USSR N 9306-XI of 28.07.88 “On the Order of organizing and conducting meetings, rallies, street marches and manifestations in the USSR” and the local orders of conducting the assemblies adopted by some city councils. The Decree and these orders directly contradict the Constitution of Ukraine and could not be considered valid in Ukraine; however the bureaucrats routinely require normative documents to justify their arbitrary actions and these unconstitutional papers are useful in that context.

This year we surveyed 567 local councils of Ukraine – all administrative centers and cities. 492 councils responded. The survey was conducted during the January – March 2013.

Such a large scale research was conducted for the first time in Ukraine and was made possible thanks to the support of the International Renaissance Foundation.

Full report is available in Ukrainian here. Short summary of findings is as follows:

In 65 cities of Ukraine local councils appealed to courts to restrict peaceful assemblies

In cities where there were court appeals to restrict the assemblies the number of assemblies if less so the court appeals serve as demotivators for organizing assemblies.

perappeals_en

Dependence of number of assemblies from number of court appeals.

Court appeals restricting the right to free assembly were adopted exclusively in cities where local orders are effective.

In 86 cities unconstitutional “local orders” of assemblies were adopted and are effective.

  • In 48 cities local councils restricted the right to assembly by age of participants.
  • In 86 cities there was not a single one assembly in a year 2012.
  • 12 city councils require approval of slogans and banners before the assembly
  • 10 city councils require not less than 3 organizers of assembly
  • 3 city councils think they should be issuing “permits” for assembly

(All these restrictions are non-constitutional)

In 199 cities local councils consider the Decree of USSR effective and are using it in their work. In 205 cities – just opposite, the rest did not reply whether they obey this Decree.

The table with raw data from all 492 city councils that sent us the replies is available for you. The table is sortable.

Full sccreen table

The data was obtained via similar requests for information sent to local councils. Even in cases when we got the response not all questions were answered necessarily.

 

Based on research findings Maidan Monitoring Information Center wrote a Memo (read it full in Ukrainian) which addresses the state of legislation on freedom of assembly in Ukraine.

The special ruling of the Constitution Court of Ukraine №4-рп of 19.04.2001 requests adopting legislative regulation of terms of advance notice about the assembly. However this legislation has not been implemented in 12 years.

However there are legal norms that refer to that absent law and several local councils mention in official replies this absent law as a legal ground of their actions. The draft law has been discussed in Parliament for several years; however it has been recalled this March. The parliamentary committee on human rights that recalled the bill, failed to explain the reason of this recall.

The memo also addresses illegal court practice and objectionable actions of the police. It was delivered to President of Ukraine, Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine, Prosecutor General, Ministry of Internal Affairs, Ministry of Justice, High Administrative Court, Parliamentary Committee on Human Rights, Ombudsman.

So far we got the response from the Prosecutor General informing us that they communicated the necessity to amend to local regulations of assemblies to their regional offices and promised the action. The Memo was used by the Ombudsman for annual report and by the head of Parliamentary Committee on Human Rights in his public advocacy of a new bill on peaceful assembly.

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