Category - Litigation (20)

UN Special Rapporteur Maina Kiai launches FOAA Online! – a web-based collection of legal arguments related to assembly and association rights

Apr 28 2017

NAIROBI – Special Rapporteur Maina Kiai today announced the launch of FOAA Online!, a web-based legal research tool billed as the world’s most user-friendly compilation of legal arguments on assembly and association rights. The ready-made legal arguments, which are based on international law, standards and principles, will assist lawyers, activists and judges involved in freedom of peaceful assembly and freedom of association (FOAA) cases to uphold the exercise of these rights. FOAA Online! – which is available at – is initially being launched with limited content for beta testing. Additional content will be added regularly, with the complete research tool available expected to be available in late June 2017. The tool is organized by thematic topics and sub-questions in order to direct users as straightforwardly as possible to relevant legal arguments. The set-up allows users to link the facts and incidents in their cases to pertinent legal questions. Themes … Continue reading →

Zimbabwe: Kiai intervenes in African Commission case alleging suppression of WOZA’s assembly rights

Apr 28 2017

BANJUL/NAIROBI – Special Rapporteur Maina Kiai has filed an amicus curiae brief before the African Commission’s top human rights body, in a case concerning peaceful assembly rights in Zimbabwe. The case, Jenifer Williams, Magodonga Mahlangu and Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) v. The Republic of Zimbabwe, was originally filed before the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights in 2013. The applicants allege that Zimbabwean authorities have systematically suppressed their ability to engage in peaceful protest and public demonstrations through a pattern of threats, harassment, physical abuse and torture, disproportionate and excessive use of force, illegal dispersals as well as arbitrary arrests and detentions. The State argues that it only took actions in response to failures to respect laws of general application such as the failure to comply with prior notification requirements. The Special Rapporteur’s brief – which was filed on April 28 – does not take a position on … Continue reading →

South Africa Gatherings Act imposes ‘illegitimate’ restrictions on assemblies, Special Rapporteur tells court

Apr 10 2017

NAIROBI/CAPE TOWN – The notification provisions of South Africa’s Gatherings Act constitute “illegitimate” restrictions on the right to freedom of peaceful assembly, according to a brief filed by Special Rapporteur Maina Kiai before a court in Cape Town. The amicus curiae brief was filed on 31 March 2017 in the appeal of Phumeza Mlungwana, et. al vs. the State, which concerns the constitutionality of section 12(1)(a) of the Regulation of Gatherings Act 205 of 1993. The act imposes criminal sanctions on any person who convenes a gathering of more than 15 people without notifying the relevant authority. Sanctions can also be imposed for “inadequate” notification. The case arose from a peaceful protest at the Cape Town Civic Centre on 11 September 2013. Police arrested 21 people and charged them under section 12(1)(a) of the Gatherings Act for convening a gathering without providing notice to the relevant municipal authority. The 10 … Continue reading →

Authorities should not interfere with internal affairs of associations, Kiai tells African Court in Rwanda case

Jan 06 2017

NAIROBI/ARUSHA – Special Rapporteur Maina Kiai has filed an amicus curiae brief before Africa’s top human rights court stating that authorities which interfere with the internal affairs of associations violate the international right to freedom of association. The brief was filed in the case of Laurent Munyandilikirwa versus The Republic of Rwanda, which concerns the alleged government-supported takeover in 2013-14 of the Rwandan League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights (LIPRODHOR), one of Rwanda’s most prominent and outspoken human rights organizations at the time. The case is currently pending before the African Court of Human and Peoples’ Rights in Arusha, Tanzania. In July 2013, a group of LIPRODHOR members met in violation of the organization’s by-laws and voted in a new board, ousting the NGO’s previous leadership. The ousted board challenged the change in leadership via LIPRODHOR’s internal dispute resolution process, which ruled in their favor. Despite this, … Continue reading →

Brazil: Kiai writes court after historic decision on protest management suspended pending appeal

Nov 09 2016

(Português) NAIROBI – Special Rapporteur Maina Kiai has written to the Justice Tribunal of São Paulo in Brazil about the recent decision – and subsequent suspension pending appeal – in civil public action case No. 1016019-17.2014.8.26.0053, Public Defender of the State of São Paulo versus the State of São Paulo, which deals with police management of protests. A local Court decision issued last week had instructed Military Police to develop a police plan for action at demonstrations, a development which Kiai hailed. The decision was suspended by the President of the Court on Nov. 7, however, pending appeal. The President said the exceptional measure was necessary because maintaining the decision would “result in serious injuries to public order and security because it impedes regular police activities.” Kiai, who is the Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, said in his letter that he was … Continue reading →

Brasil: Relator Especial escreve à Corte após suspensão, ainda passível de recurso, de decisão histórica sobre gestão de protestos

Nov 09 2016

(English) NAIROBI – O Relator Especial Maina Kiai escreveu ao Tribunal de Justiça de São Paulo, no Brasil, sobre a recente decisão – e subsequente suspensão passível de recurso – na ação civil pública no 1016019-17.2014.8.26.0053, Defensoria Pública do Estado de São Paulo versus Estado de São Paulo – um caso envolvendo a gestão policial de protestos. Na semana passada, um tribunal de primeira instância instruiu a Polícia Militar a desenvolver um plano de ação policial em protestos, um resultado que Kiai saudou. A decisão foi suspensa pelo presidente da Corte no dia 7/11, em determinação ainda passível de recurso. O presidente disse que a medida excepcional foi necessária porque a manutenção da sentença anterior “ocasionará grave lesão à ordem e segurança públicas, pois cria embaraços à regular atividade policial”. Kiai, que é Relator Especial sobre a liberdade de reunião e associação pacífica, afirmou em sua carta estar desapontado pela … Continue reading →

UN rights experts urge U.S. court to hear activist’s claims in surveillance case against Ethiopia

Nov 03 2016

IRVINE/NAIROBI/PARIS – A group of United Nations human rights experts is urging a U.S. appeals court to grant an Ethiopian American activist the right to sue the Government of Ethiopia for secretly monitoring his online activity for almost five months. The Court’s decision on whether it will hear the activist’s claims will have major repercussions for the ability of individuals to seek redress for human rights violations in domestic courts. Amici Curiae Brief for Appellant Kidane Motion for Leave to File Amici Curiae Brief The activist, who uses the pseudonym “Kidane” in order to protect himself and his family, was born in Ethiopia and granted asylum in the United States in the early 1990s. He currently lives in Maryland and is now an American citizen, but he continues to support members of Ethiopia’s democratic opposition movement. In 2012, Ethiopia reportedly infected Kidane’s computer with malware and, from October 2012 to March … Continue reading →

Kazakhstan: Special Rapporteur analyzes case of protester on trial for ‘unauthorized’ assembly

Oct 29 2016

GENEVA – Special Rapporteur Maina Kiai has submitted a legal analysis in the case of Kazakhstan protester Max Bokayev, who is currently on trial for participating in an unauthorized assembly in April 2016. Bokayev, who heads the local NGO Arlan, stands charged under Kazakh domestic law of inciting social discord, distribution of knowingly false statements and violation of the procedure to organize and conduct meetings, rallies, pickets, marches and demonstrations. He is currently on trial in Altyrau City Court. The Special Rapporteur’s analysis was submitted to the Kazakh NGO Dignity – which is helping with Bokayev’s defense – though the Special Rapporteur has invited the organization to share the legal arguments with the Court “to facilitate a clear interpretation of the right to freedom of peaceful assembly as understood in international law, standards and principles as guaranteed under the constitution of Kazakhstan.” The Special Rapporteur was unable to submit a … Continue reading →

Kenya: UN expert tells Court that ban on 2015 protest near President’s residence violated assembly rights

May 27 2016

NAIROBI – Special Rapporteur Maina Kiai has filed an amicus curiae brief before the High Court of Kenya in Nairobi, arguing that protesters’ assembly rights were violated when they were prevented from staging an anti-corruption protest in front of the President’s official residence in 2015. The protesters, led by activist Boniface Mwangi – who is the petitioner in the case – planned to march from a nearby park to the residence, where they would present a petition acting the President to act firmly on the issue of corruption. The march was to take place on International Day Against Corruption, Dec. 9, 2015. The group notified authorities of their proposed route, but the request to march to Gate A of State House, the presidential residence, was denied. No reasons were provided. In his brief, the Special Rapporteur asserts that international law protects the right of protest organizers to choose the location … Continue reading →

India: Special Rapporteur’s legal analysis argues restrictions on foreign funding contrary to international law

Apr 25 2016

NAIROBI/GENEVA – United Nations Special Rapporteur Maina Kiai has published a legal analysis arguing that India’s Foreign Contributions Regulation Act (FCRA) – which regulates foreign funding to certain individuals, associations and companies – is not conformity with international law, principles and standards. The analysis, which was submitted to the Government of India on April 20, 2016, is available here. The FCRA, which was enacted in 2010, bars “organizations of a political nature” from accepting foreign contributions. Acceptance of foreign contributions may further be prohibited where the Government “is satisfied that the acceptance of foreign contribution… is likely to affect prejudicially… public interest.” The law has come under scrutiny in recent years, with some sources reporting that nearly 14,000 NGOs have seen their licenses to receive foreign funding revoked by the Government. The Special Rapporteur argues that the ability of civil society organizations to access resources, including foreign funding, is a … Continue reading →