15:19 15.04.2013

Human rights activists call for speedy adoption of liberal law on freedom of assembly

3 min read

Kyiv, April 15 (Interfax-Ukraine) - Ukrainian human rights activists have called for the adoption of a law regulating the mechanism for holding rallies, taking into account the judgments of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in the case of "Verentsov versus Ukraine."

Executive Director of the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union (UHHRU) Arkadiy Buschenko said at a press conference at Interfax-Ukraine on Monday that human rights defenders had earlier called for the settlement of the legislation on freedom of peaceful assembly. He said that following the ECHR's judgment in the case of "Verentsov versus Ukraine," which recommended that Ukraine liberalize the law in this area, the adoption of such a law becomes even more relevant.

"UHHRU is planning to seek a speedy adoption of a liberal law on freedom of peaceful assembly and is ready to contribute to the preparation of the bill," Buschenko said.

He said that on April 11 this year the ECHR issued a judgment in the case of "Verentsov versus Ukraine." The court recognized the violation of Verentsov's rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and obliged Ukraine to pay EUR 6,000 in compensation to Ukraine.

The ECHR also proposed that Ukraine urgently reform the laws and administrative practices in order to determine the requirements for the organization and holding of peaceful assemblies, in particular, in the context of determining the grounds for restricting rallies.

Coordinator of NGO For Freedom of Peaceful Assembly Maksym Latsyba, in turn, said that Ukraine currently needs guarantees of the right to freedom of peaceful assembly. He said that it was also important that the public is taking an active part in this.

He said that human rights defenders had already prepared the text of a draft law on the liberalization of peaceful assembly and submitted it for consideration by a number of MPs.

"We very much hope that this bill will soon be submitted for consideration by the Verkhovna Rada," he said.

He said that it was necessary to set out clear grounds for restricting freedom of peaceful assembly, permit the holding of spontaneous peaceful assembly and the so-called counter-protests and protect at the legislative level the organizers and participants of rallies from administrative and criminal liability.

Verentsov, who was presented at the press conference, said that he had been arrested for holding a protest outside the building of Lviv Regional Prosecutor's Office, a protocol on administrative offense had been drafted and that he had spent the night at the district department of police. Due to the violation of his rights Verentsov decided to appeal to the ECHR.

"In its judgment, the court recognized the violation of Article 7 of the European Convention on Human Rights... Verentsov was punished for violating a mechanism [of peaceful assembly] that doesn't even exist," Buschenko said.

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