Assembly and freedom of organization – A fundamental right revise normative act no. 3, of 15.03.2020
According to the Constitution, our law on assembly, and the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), as well as other international documents, freedom of organization and peaceful assembly are fundamental rights of man.
Article 11 of the ECHR also presents restrictions on the exercise of this right, which may not be subjected to other limitations other than those prescribed by law and that are necessary in a democratic society, in the interest of national security or public safety, for the protection of order and prevention of crime, protection of health or morals, or the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.
Triggered by rallies held in the recent days in the country, AHC deems it necessary to present the following objections:
AHC has expressed support for preventive measures taken and in force aiming at disallowing the spread of Covid19. However, AHC thinks that even in the situation of the pandemic that we are going through, assembly (except for cases prescribed by law) should not be limited and, moreover, prohibit the exercise of this right. This does not mean disrespect for relevant restrictive measures, such as the physical distancing of protesters, the use of protective items by them, etc.
In AHC’s opinion, there is room for a revision of the formulation in normative act no. 3, of 15.03.2020 “On taking special administrative measures in the course of the period of the infection caused by Covid-19,” approved by law no. 24/2020. This provision envisages that subjects or individuals who organize the conduct of public and non-public events, such as sports, cultural events, and conferences, or massive gatherings in closed or open sites, such as concerts, rallies, and public hearings, are punishable by a fine of up to 5 million leks for organizers and the prohibition of the event. AHC notes that based also on the practices of other democratic countries in Europe, where rallies respecting physical distancing and protective measures have been allowed, this provision should be revised in order to avoid different and subjective interpretations and to guarantee the fundamental right of assembly and the freedom of organization of any citizen who respects protective measures.
In closing, AHC suggests that in defense of the law, police bodies, when it is necessary to intervene in rallies or limit them, are motivated and act in a proportional manner.