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10. The manner of assemblies

Freedom of assembly includes the right to choose the manner in which the assembly is organized. The ECtHR has stated:

For the Court, the right to freedom of assembly includes the right to choose the time, place and modalities of the assembly, within the limits established in paragraph 2 of Article 11.[1]
Moreover, in Women on Waves and Others v. Portugal, [ click for full case explanation ]the European Court underlined the importance that the form of the activity can have for those seeking to protest:

[D]ans certaines situations le mode de diffusion des informations et idées que l’on entend communiquer revêt une importance telle que des restrictions … peuvent affecter de manière essentielle la substance des idées et informations en cause. Tel est notamment le cas lorsque les intéressés entendent mener des activités symboliques de contestation à une législation qu’ils considèrent injuste ou attentatoire aux droits et libertés fondamentaux.[2]

Unofficial translation:

In certain situations the mode of dissemination of the information and ideas to be communicated is of such importance that restrictions … may substantially affect the substance of the ideas and information in question. This is particularly the case where the persons concerned intend to carry out symbolic activities in protest against legislation which they regard as unfair or as infringing on fundamental rights and freedoms.

In some instances, limitations on the manner of assemblies – such as the use of sound-amplification equipment – may be justifiable. The UN Special Rapporteur,[5] the OSCE-ODIHR Guidelines on Freedom of Peaceful Assembly[6] and the AComHPR’s Study Group on Freedom of Association and Assembly in Africa[7] emphasize that any such restrictions must meet the tests of necessity and proportionality (see Assembly Section 4.4).


  1. Sáska v. Hungary, ECtHR, Judgment of 27 November 2012, para. 21.
  2. Women on Waves and Others v. Portugal, ECtHR, Judgment of 3 February 2009, para. 39.
  3. Women on Waves and Others v. Portugal, ECtHR, Judgment of 3 February 2009, para. 39.
  4. Women on Waves and Others v. Portugal, ECtHR, Judgment of 3 February 2009, paras. 41-44.
  5. UN Human Rights Council, Second Thematic Report of the Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, Maina Kiai, UN Doc. A/HRC/23/39, 24 April 2013, para. 59.
  6. OSCE-ODIHR and Venice Commission, Guidelines on Freedom of Peaceful Assembly, 2nd edn, 2010, Explanatory Notes, paras. 99-100.
  7. AComHPR, Report of the Study Group on Freedom of Association and Assembly in Africa, 2014, p. 60, para. 19.
  8. UN Human Rights Council, Third Thematic Report of the Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly, Maina Kiai, UN Doc. A/HRC/26/29, 14 April 2014, paras. 32-33.
  9. OSCE-ODIHR and Venice Commission, Guidelines on Freedom of Peaceful Assembly, 2nd edn, 2010, Explanatory Notes, paras. 99-100.
  10. Fabér v. Hungary, ECtHR, Judgment of 24 July 2012, para. 55.
  11. Vajnai v. Hungary, ECtHR, Judgment of 8 July 2008, para. 52.
  12. Vajnai v. Hungary, ECtHR, Judgment of 8 July 2008, para. 53.
  13. Fratanoló v. Hungary, ECtHR, Judgment of 3 November 2011, para. 25, summarizing and endorsing the judgment in Vajnai v. Hungary, ECtHR, Judgment of 8 July 2008. See also Şolari v. Moldova, ECtHR, Judgment of 28 March 2017, paras. 34-36.