Tag - assembly ( 11 )

News | 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 http://freeassembly.net/foaa-online – 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 and questions are focused on the most widespread issues experienced by those exercising their assembly and association rights around the globe. The idea for FOAA Online! grew out of the Special Rapporteur’s litigation project, which was started in 2014 to advance the rights to freedom of peaceful... Continue reading →

News | 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 the facts of the case, but instead outlines relevant regional and international law, norms and standards on the right to peaceful assembly. Specifically, it examines (1) notification and authorization requirements; (2) sanctioning non-notification or peaceful participation in an assembly – clarifying that there is... Continue reading →

News | 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 individuals who filed the appeal were convicted on 11 February 2015. In his brief, the Special Rapporteur notes that State authorities are permitted to request notification for assemblies in order to fulfill their positive obligation to facilitate such assemblies. But this should not be construed as a permission requirement, he added. Thus, the imposition of... Continue reading →

News | 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 of their assembly – whether it is static or mobile. Thus, any restriction imposed on the location must meet the stringent requirements under international law for “legitimate restrictions” to the right to freedom of peaceful assembly. That is, they must be: (1) in conformity with the law; (2) designed with a legitimate government aim in mind; and (3) necessary in a democratic... Continue reading →

News | Uganda: “Public assembly must be protected, not attacked”

Aug 09 2013

Three United Nations independent human rights experts today expressed serious concern at the passing of the Public Order Management Bill in Uganda, which prohibits protests of more than three people without prior police authorization, and authorizes police to use guns when policing public events. The UN Special Rapporteurs on freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, human rights defenders and freedom of expression urge Uganda to repeal the law passed on 6 August to prepare a new version to comply with Uganda’s international human rights obligations. “Police intimidation has no place in a free, open and democratic society,” stressed the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, Margaret Sekaggya. “The use of fire arms must be strictly safeguarded. The Law fails to limit firearm use; it must ensure they can only be used after exhausting all other possible means, in compliance with the UN Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Official,” she stressed. “Several provisions of the law constitute an undue restriction on the ability for individuals to take part in public assembly,” added the Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, Maina Kiai. “Requiring prior authorization from the... Continue reading →

News | Iran: UN experts concerned at barring of women presidential candidates and freedom restrictions

May 29 2013

A group of United Nations independent human rights experts today warned that unreasonable limitations placed on the right of Iranian citizens to stand for Presidential office, discrimination against women candidates for elections and ongoing restrictions on freedoms of expression, association and peaceful assembly, constitute a serious violations of rights guaranteed by international law. On 21 May, the Guardian Council, a 12-member body of theologians and jurists, which vets presidential candidates, approved only 8 individuals out of the 686 people registered as candidates for the June 14 presidential elections. Several key political figures and all the 30 female candidates were disqualified, raising serious concerns about the fairness and transparency of the vetting procedures. Several candidates were apparently excluded on the basis of their affiliation with the 2009 post-election protests and their exercise of fundamental human rights, including the rights to freedom of expression, assembly and association. “This mass disqualification including that of women wishing to stand in the presidential elections is discriminatory and violates fundamental right to political participation, and run contrary to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which Iran has ratified,” said the... Continue reading →

News | Video: Understanding and Responding to Attacks on Civil Society: The Roles of Politics and Law

Aug 12 2012

On August 12, 2012, Maina Kiai participated in a discussion panel sponsored by the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington, DC, entitled "Understanding and Responding to Attacks on Civil Society: The Roles of Politics and Law." The panel also featured Nilda Bullain (International Center for Not-for-Profit Law), Carl Gershman (National Endowment for Democracy) and Kent Hughes (Public Policy Scholar, former director Program on America and the Global Economy). The panel is available via YouTube... Continue reading →

News | Malaysia: new Bill threatens right to peaceful assembly with arbitrary and disproportional restrictions

Dec 07 2011

A group of United Nations independent experts warned that a new Peaceful Assembly Bill in Malaysia may “arbitrarily and disproportionately restrict the right to assemble peacefully.” The restrictions range from a ban on street protests and a prohibition on non-citizens and citizens under 21 years of age to assemble peacefully, to conditional access for media to public gatherings. “Many of these restrictions are not justifiable under international law,” said the Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, Maina Kiai, expressing his deep regret that “neither the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (SUHAKAM), nor civil society was meaningfully consulted in the drafting of this Bill.” According to the proposed legislation, which contains a vague definition of assembly, there would also be broad restrictions and conditions on gatherings and a restrictive notification procedure. The Bill gives excessive authority and power to law enforcement officials and the Minister in charge of home affairs on matters related to assemblies, as well as full discretion to the police to make any form of recording of assemblies. “The right to assemble and protest peacefully is an essential safeguard for the defence of human rights and fundamental freedoms in any... Continue reading →

News | Egypt: UN experts alarmed at violence and clampdown on fundamental freedoms in run-up to elections

Nov 21 2011

A group of United Nations independent experts today expressed alarm at the degree of violence and deterioration of the freedoms of peaceful assembly and association which have led to loss of life in Egypt, ahead of parliamentary elections planned for 28 November 2011. “The right to freedom of peaceful assembly is an inherent element of democracies,” said the UN Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, Mr. Maina Kiai, expressing deep concern at reports announcing the death of protesters in violence over the weekend. “The Egyptian authorities must stop using violence and engage immediately in a genuine national dialogue with all groups of society. An independent investigation should be immediately initiated into the cause of death and escalation of violence.” For the UN Special Rapporteur on summary executions, Mr. Christof Heyns, “the use of lethal force is not an option when controlling demonstrations, dissent must be tolerated and not restrained with excessive force which can lead to loss of life. I strongly urge the security forces to exercise the utmost restraint to avoid the escalation of violence and take immediate measures to protect the right to life of the demonstrators.” “The right to freedom of expression is a cornerstone for... Continue reading →

News | Video: Peaceful protests -the Need for guidelines in freedom of assembly

Aug 11 2011

In this video, produced by the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Maina Kiai UN Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, discusses the need to have practical guidelines to these... Continue reading →