Freedom of peaceful assembly provides, in the words of the UN Human Rights Council, “invaluable opportunities” for a range of political, literary, cultural, economic, social and religious activities.
International courts and mechanisms recognize that there is a particular risk of illegitimate restrictions when the right to assemble is used to express views critical of the authorities or other powerful interests. Restrictions in these areas are to be closely scrutinized.
The Human Rights Committee has stated, with regard to the ICCPR:
The IACHR and the Inter-American Court have
The ECtHR similarly underlined, in Sergey Kuznetsov v. Russia, that restrictions on assemblies on “political speech or serious matters of public interest” do a disservice to democracy and require strong reasons:
In Hyde Park and Others v. Moldova (Nos. 5 and 6), the ECtHR further stressed the need to be tolerant towards criticism of public figures, even if it is expressed in harsh terms: