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OSCE/ODIHR – Venice Commission Guidelines on Freedom of Peaceful Assembly (2nd Edition)

Adopted on: 4 June 2010
Reference number: CDL-AD(2010)020 Adopted by: European Commission for Democracy through Law (Venice Commission) together with OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (OSCE/ODIHR)
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These guidelines are primarily addressed to practitioners – legislative draftspersons, politicians, legal professionals, police officers and other law enforcement personnel, local officials, trade unionists, assembly organisers and participants, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), civil society organisations (CSOs), and those involved in monitoring both freedom of assembly and policing practice. The document consists of two parts: Section A contains guidelines on rights to peaceful assembly and Section B with explanatory notes which are not only essential to a proper understanding of these guidelines but also provide examples of ‘good practice’. Part I of Section B (chapters 1-5) emphasizes the importance of freedom of assembly and sketches its parameters. It outlines the importance of freedom of assembly (chapter 1), identifies core issues in the regulation of freedom of assembly (chapter 2), sets out a number of guiding principles which should govern its regulation (chapter 3), examines the legitimate grounds for, and types of, restriction (chapter 4), and examines relevant procedural issues (chapter 5). Part II (chapters 6‑8) is more focused and examines the implementation of freedom of assembly legislation. It covers the policing of public assemblies (chapter 6), the responsibilities of assembly organisers (chapter 7) and the role of the media and independent monitors (chapter 8). The right to peaceful assembly, according to the guidelines, is a fundamental human right which can be enjoyed and exercised by individuals and groups, unregistered associations, legal entities and corporate bodies. Assemblies may serve many purposes, including the expression of diverse, unpopular or minority opinions. It can be an important strand in the maintenance and development of culture, and in the preservation of minority identities. The document stresses that any restrictions to the rights to peaceful assembly must be based on the principles of legality (restrictions imposed must have a formal basis in law and be in conformity with the European Convention on Human Rights and other international instruments on human rights), proportionality (it requires that authorities do not routinely impose restrictions which would fundamentally alter the character of an event, such as relocating assemblies to less central areas of a city), and non-discrimination (it must be guaranteed to individuals, groups, unregistered associations, legal entities and corporate bodies; to members of minority ethnic, national, sexual and religious groups; to nationals and non-nationals – including stateless persons, refugees, foreign nationals, asylum seekers, migrants and tourists; to children, to women and men; to law enforcement personnel, and to persons without full legal capacity, including persons with a mental illness).

Youth specific: No

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