Back

Reforms to protect free assembly after protest was banned

Christian Democratic People’s Party v. Republic of Moldova  | 2006

Reforms to protect free assembly after protest was banned

Background

The Christian Democratic People’s Party (CDPP) is a political party from Moldova. In 2001 – when the CDPP was in opposition – the Communist Party government announced that it intended to make Russian language compulsory in schools. This caused heated public debate.

In response, the CDPP organised regular political gatherings calling for early political elections, European democratic values and democratic dialogue.   

The Ministry of Justice banned the gatherings, and the ban was upheld by the country’s courts. Following an intervention by the Council of Europe’s Secretary General, the ban was later lifted – but only after it had been in place for three weeks.

Judgment of the European Court of Human Rights

The Strasbourg court ruled that the gatherings had been entirely peaceful and the ban had not been proportionate in the circumstances. Despite being temporary, the ban could still have had a chilling effect on the CDPP’s free speech – particularly on the eve of local elections.

The court therefore found that the ban had violated the party’s right to freedom of assembly.  

Follow-up

Following this case and a number of others, significant reforms were made to protect freedom of assembly in Moldova. In particular, in February 2008 a new law on freedom of assembly was passed, which established much stronger protections for the right to hold public gatherings. 

In 2011 the Supreme Court adopted a decision explaining how the domestic courts should apply legislation to properly protect free assembly. It highlighted the relevant case law of the Strasbourg court, and the need to apply the principle of proportionality.

In the seven years following the adoption of the new law, the Chișinău mayor’s office received 6,865 notifications for public events. It intervened in only 27 cases proposing to change the place and/or time of the event - and involved the courts in only 11 cases.

The Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers continues to monitor reforms to protect freedom of assembly for sexual minorities in Moldova.


Related examples

Reforms to protect free association after environmental group denied legal status

Four Ukrainians formed a group to help protect their local environment. However, when they tried to register their association the authorities refused, relying on administrative technicalities. The group had to dissolve. The European court ruled that this had violated the group’s right to freedom of association. In 2013 a new Law on Civil Associations created proper rules to protect such groups.

Read more

Free speech group helps strengthen the right to public protest

Hyde Park is a free speech NGO. It organised a series of protests in Chişinău in 2005 and 2006. However, the authorities banned the events, giving reasons such as the fact that they disagreed with the point the protest was making. The European court ruled that the bans violated the right to free assembly. This and other cases led to reforms to protect free assembly in Moldova.

Read more

An unreasonable ban on a peaceful demonstration leads to reforms to protect free assembly

A human rights NGO planned a march in Yerevan, to commemorate a man who had died in police custody. The Mayor’s office banned the march. The Strasbourg court ruled that the ban had not been properly justified, breaching the NGO’s right to free assembly. After the ban, reforms were made to protect the right to hold public demonstrations in Armenia.

Read more

Arrest of human rights campaigner during his anti-corruption protest sparks freedom of assembly reforms

Human rights defender Oleksiy Vyerentsov organised demonstrations to protest against corruption. The peaceful gatherings were banned, Mr Vyerentsov was convicted of an offence and he was sentenced to three days’ detention. The European court ruled that his rights had been breached. The case led to ongoing reforms to protect the right to peaceful demonstrations in Ukraine.

Read more

Better protections for peaceful demonstrations after protest was banned

An NGO organised a series of demonstrations in Warsaw, to highlight discrimination against women and minorities. The gatherings were banned, after the city’s mayor said that he was against them because they included support for homosexual rights. The Strasbourg court ruled that the ban violated the right to public assembly. This led to changes to Polish law to protect the right to protest.

Read more

Woman forced to allow hunting on her land against her beliefs

Catherine Schneider was ethically opposed to hunting, but she was forced to allow it on her land under an old law. The Strasbourg court ruled that forcing her to be part of a hunting syndicate breached her basic rights. The law was changed to allow people to follow their conscience on hunting.

Read more