March 11 Rally Case – freedom of assembly

2011 / 04 / 04 Tags:

“The decision of the Supreme Court is significant not only to HRMI and CEA but it is important to the whole society. It is the first time that the Supreme Court has reflected on the applicable standards of the freedom of assembly, and its conclusions are to prevent unreasonable restrictions or, as in this case, bans of peaceful assemblies”

– Henrikas Mickevicius, HRMI Founder

Proceedings initiated: 2009

Proceedings closed: 2011

Case in brief: human rights NGOs were denied a right to organized peaceful rally invoking unsubstantiated threats to safety, order and health

Outcome of the case: refusing to allow a rally, Vilnius city municipality violated NGOs right to peaceful assembly

Facts of the case:

In 2009, HRMI together with the Center for Equality Advancement (CEA) notified Vilnius city municipality about the intention to hold a peaceful rally “Against Racism and Xenophobia – For Tolerance” on 11 March – Day of Regaining Independence of Lithuania. The Administration of the Municipality refused to issue a certificate for the rally stating that the information gathered by surveillance allowed them to believe that counter-demonstrations and the acts of violence are likely to occur during the planned demonstration.

Legal proceedings:

Human Rights Monitoring Institute and CEA challenged the municipality’s decision in court. The courts of the first and the second instance dismissed the applicants’ complaint.

On 4 April 2011, the Supreme Court quashed decisions of lower courts. The Supreme Court, invoking the case-law of European Court of Human Rights and the rulings of Lithuanian Constitutional Court, has stated that refusal to issue a certificate on the grounds of a danger to the State security, public safety, public order, public health, morals and the rights and freedoms of others, as argued by the municipality, had to be based on the convincing evidence rather than assumptions based on classified information.  In this context, the Court reminded of the State’s positive obligation to ensure practical enjoyment of the freedom of assembly.

Documents of the case:

Judgment of the Supreme Court (in Lithuanian)