Guarantees to freedom of peaceful assembly in Ukraine: key recommendations

Since 2014, there is a positive trend related to the exercise of the right to freedom of peaceful assembly. The number of interferences from the state bodies decreased, and authorities’ competences to impose restriction on the exercise of this right were restricted by law. However, both in theory and practice there are still many controversies and challenges related to the right to freedom of assembly, among them unlawful restrictions imposed at the local level and failure to regulate the abuse of the right to freedom of peaceful assembly by demonstrators. We discussed the way forward during a DRI debate on 26 April, in Kyiv.

DRI and the experts from the Centre of Policy and Legal Reform (CPLR) conducted a study analysing the options for Freedom of Peaceful Assembly legislation. The study was based on expert interviews and focus groups discussions with representatives of civil society, law enforcement agencies, judges, local self-government, business and trade unions.

“We had the task to identify the positions of target groups on issues related to the right to freedom of assembly and find a common way to move forward with improving the legal framework for freedom of peaceful assembly. We didn’t focus on the question “special law on peaceful assembly vs. amendments to the current laws” but analysed instead the main challenges and elaborated policy recommendations that would allow to move ahead with the engagement and support of all the groups”, introduced the results Roman Kuybida, key CPLR expert.

The study looks at three possible scenarios – change of judicial practice, amendment of certain laws, or adoption of a special law. At the end of the debate speakers agreed that freedom of peaceful assembly can be guaranteed by the amendment of already existing legislation without adoption of a special law. Moreover, police and national guard need to be trained to safeguard and guarantee the right freedom of peaceful assembly. The recorded discussion is available in English and Ukrainian. The policy paper is available in Ukrainian.

The study is a follow-up of DRI a briefing paper regarding the freedom of peaceful assembly in Ukraine. The briefing paper,  presented last year in a meeting of the Parliamentary Committee on Human Rights, National Minorities and Relations between Nations in Ukraine’s Verkhovna Rada highlighted the main debate lines supporters of adopting new laws related to freedom of assembly and those in favour of amending already existing legislation.

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