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High Administrative Court orders 10-day prior notification of peaceful protests

 

Ukraine’s High Administrative Court has bound Kyiv picketers to submit notification of their planned events 10 days in advance. Its ruling was issued on 23 January 2013 with regard to a suit lodged by the Kyiv City State Administration against the association of people with invalid conditions “Chornobyl Union Ukraine”.

The court stated that “the stipulation of specific timeframes for this notification, bearing in mind the particular details of types of peaceful gatherings, their scale, place, time, etc is the subject of legislative regulation”.

Since such legislation does not exist, he City Council may autonomously establish the timeframe for submitting notification. The Kyiv City Council has imposed a period of 10 days and the court deems such a period to be reasonable.

One can effectively understand that with its ruling, the High Administrative Court is permitting City Councils to autonomously stipulate the timeframe for notification of peaceful protests. Until such time as this is regulated by the relevant laws. The ruling is not subject to appeal.

Mykhailo Tarakhkalo, Director of Strategic Litigations for the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union: “In my opinion this ruling is weird and incomprehensible, since Article 39 of the Constitution clearly states that any restrictions on the right to peaceful assembly may only be imposed on the basis of law. For me it is apparent that the Kyiv City Administration’s provisions are not a Law of Ukraine and cannot therefore in any way restrict the right to hold peaceful gatherings.  Furthermore, from a practical point of view, there are situations in which it is simply impossible to notify the authorities 10 days prior to the action. After all things can happen which could not be notified in advance and which need to be responded to immediately. In addition, a ruling which changes the entire practice of court proceedings in such an area of public importance as peaceful assembly must be given detailed justification. The ruling in question, in my view, virtually gives no grounds for why the court considers that the provisions of the Kyiv City Administration have the force of law”.

Maxim Latsyba, Coordinator for the Freedom of Peaceful Assembly Partnership, is convinced that this ruling could be very dangerous for activists in all regions of Ukraine. Now the local authorities can stipulate a timeframe of 10, 15 or 20 days for submitting notification and according to the High Administrative Court ruling, this will be lawful until a Law is passed which regulates these issues. “Our partnership is insisting on the adoption of a liberal law which will meet European standards. In the draft bill which we’re proposing, the period required for notification should be no greater than 48 hours. And of course spontaneous peaceful meetings are envisaged.”

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