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Article 11 European Convention on Human Rights - Freedom of Assembly & Association 

 
 
Article 11
 
 
"1. Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and to freedom of association with others, including the right to form and to join trade unions for the protection of his interests. 
2. No restrictions shall be placed on the exercise of these rights other than such as are prescribed by law and are necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security or public safety, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others. This Article shall not prevent the imposition of lawful restrictions on the exercise of these rights by members of the armed forces, of the police or of the administration of the State."
 
 
 
 
The right to freedom of assembly is a fundamental right in a democratic society and therefore should not be interpreted restrictively:
 
 
Djavit an v Turkey [2003] ECHR 91
 
 
Art 11 imposes positive and negative obligations on the Contracting State:
 
 
Ollinger v Austria [2006] ECHR 665
 
 
There is a positive obligation to safeguard the right to protest:
 
 
Berkman v Russia [2020] ECHR 847
 
 
This includes the right to protection of violence from counter demonstrations with opposing views:
 
 
 
 
 
Art 11 includes the right to hold and express opinions:
 
 
 
 
 
There is thus an overlap between the rights conferred under Art 10 and Art 11:
 
 
Ezelin v France [1991] ECHR 29
 
 
Primov v Russia [2014] ECHR 605
 
 
 
There is an overlap with Art 9 &11 in relation to religious meetings:
 
 
Barankevich v Russia [2007] ECHR 8
 
 
Freedom of assembly implies more than one person, therefore a single person protest would come under Art 10 rather than Art 11:
 
 
Novikova v Russia [2016] ECHR 388
 
 
 
Art 11 only protects peaceful assembly, therefore non violent acts are protected including roadblocks and obstructions:
 
 
 
Barraco v France [2009] ECHR 2139
 
 
 
Caroline Lucas v UK [2003] ECHR 717
 
 
 
Occupation of premises:
 
 
 
Cisse v France [2002] ECHR 400
 
 
Art 11 does not extend protection to violent protests, but an individual does not lose protection from Art 11 due to sporadic outbreaks of violence by other participants:
 
 
 
Ezelin v France [1991] ECHR 29
 
 
However, any interference by the state is more likely to be justified where violence and disorder are present:
 
 
 
Protopapa v Turkey [2009] ECHR 339
 
 
 
Whilst Art 11 is primarily aimed at political protests, it is not limited to protests of a political nature:
 
 
 
Friend v UK [2009] ECHR 2070
 
 
 

Restrictions and interference of the right to protest

 
 
Restrictions include measures taken before, during and after the assembly:
 
 
Ezelin v France [1991] ECHR 29
 
 
Interference includes refusal to allow a person to travel to take part in an assembly:
 
 
Djavit an v Turkey [2003] ECHR 91
 
 
 
Interference includes measures taken to disperse a crowd, arrests and subsequent penalties:
 
 
Kasparov v Russia [2013] ECHR 911
 
 
Police applying force to peaceful participants:
 
 
Laguna Guzman v Spain [2020] ECHR 670
 
 

Justification of restrictions

 
Restrictions may be justified only if they are prescribed by law, for a legitimate aim and necessary in a democratic society
 
 
Vyerentsov v Ukraine [2012] ECHR 1333
 
 
 
Prescribed by law requires the measure to be set out in domestic law which is accessible and foreseeable in consequence:
 
 
Kudrevicius v Lithuania [2013] ECHR 1178
 
 
 
Legitimate aims are those specified in Art 11(2):
 
  • national security 
  • public safety 
  • prevention of disorder or crime Primov v Russia [2014] ECHR 605
  • protection of health or morals Bayev v Russia [2017] ECHR 572
  • the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.
 
 
 
Necessary in a democratic society
 
 
In deciding what is necessary in a democratic society, the state is given a margin of appreciation:
 
 
Barraco v France [2009] ECHR 2139
 
 
 
There must be a pressing social need and be proportionate to the legitimate aim:
 
 
Kudrevicius v Lithuania [2013] ECHR 1178
 
 
 
 
A narrow margin of appreciation is given for interference based on the contents of views expressed:
 
 
Kudrevicius v Lithuania [2013] ECHR 1178
 
 
Primov v Russia [2014] ECHR 605
 
 
 
A narrow margin is given for a general ban on assembly:
 
 
 
 
 
In considering the proportionality of an interference, regard must be had to the chilling effect:
 
 
 
 
 
 
The nature and severity of the penalties are considered in relation to proportionality:
 
 
Kudrevicius v Lithuania [2013] ECHR 1178
 
 
Criminal sanctions require particular justification:
 
 
Rai and Evans v UK [2009] ECHR 1269
 
 
 
Particularly for peaceful assembly:
 
 
 
Akgol & Gol v Turkey [2011] ECHR 787
 
 
Gul v Turkey [2010] ECHR 847
 
 
Tarenenko v Russia [2014] ECHR 485