The Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine registered draft bill #3587 “On the guarantee of peaceful assembly” on 7 December 2015. The authors of the draft law are thirteen people’s deputies from various political parties and representatives of human rights organisations.
The declared goals are very “lofty” – the provision of legal guarantees for reinforcing Article 39 of the Constitution, according to which the citizens are entitled to gather peacefully without ammunition and carry out meetings, demonstrations and marches. The restrictions as to the implementation of such a right can be imposed by court only in the interests of national security and civic order.
It looks, at first sight, understandable and tangible. Total citizens’ rights violations as to peaceful assembly during the Revolution of Dignity stipulate the necessity of legal protection of the realization of these rights. But not in the way proposed by the draft law. Unfortunately the draft law #3587, instead of facilitating the constitutional rights, creates barriers which are hard to overcome.
If the draft law is adopted the authorities and their entrusted judges will have the possibility to ban peaceful assemblies and sue the assemblies’’ organisers and participants on “legal grounds”.
One statistic detail attracts attention: the word “prohibition” in the draft law encounters 19 times and the word “restriction” – 48 times.
According to Artcicle 7 of the darft law #3587 the organizer of a peaceful assembly will be obliged to notify in writing a relevant executive body about the intention of carrying out the assembly not late than 48 hours before its beginning. If the deadline falls on a weekend, the organizer has to notify the national police at the place of the peaceful assembly.
The legislators have highlighted restricted forms for submission of the notification about peaceful assembly. The notification should be sent by a courier, personally handed or by mail/telegramme.
Article 8 of the draft law provides a sample content of peaceful gatherings. This sample indicates the beginning of the assembly, its duration, purpose, place/the route of walking procession as well as information about the temporal restriction of traffic in order to get a special permit. However the current law doesn’t envisage such a permit. It is worthwhile mentioning that the governing principles of democratic institutions and human rights organizations (OSCE, Venice Commission, EU Council, ILO) say that international right in the sphere of human rights doesn’t require the national legislation to incorporate the provision about the notification to carry out peaceful assembly. Any intention to conduct a peaceful assembly can require only notification but not requests and permits.