PACE condemns human rights violations during peaceful protests

The PACE Standing Committee, meeting today in Tallinn, expressed its concern at the frequent use of excessive force against peaceful demonstrators and at the recent legal restrictions on the right to freedom of assembly in several member States, in particular:

- in Turkey, where a security law was enacted, extending police powers and allowing them to use fire arms;

- in Spain, with the adoption of a law on citizen’s security, which institutes heavy fines against organisers of spontaneous protests;

- in the Russian Federation, with an amendment to the law on public gatherings which permits the detention of any person participating in an unauthorised public assembly.

It is also concerned at the lack of legislation on freedom of assembly in some countries, for example Ukraine.

In a resolution based on the report by Ermira Mehmeti Devaja (“The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia”, SOC), PACE called on member states to bring their legislation into conformity with international human rights instruments regarding the right to freedom of peaceful assembly, to regulate the use of tear gas and other “less lethal” weapons to minimise the risk of death and injury, and effectively investigate and sanction all instances of ill-treatment committed by law enforcement officials.