How is the right to peaceful assembly regulated?
The right to assemble peacefully is guaranteed to citizens by Article 39 of the Constitution of Ukraine (CU):
“Citizens have the right to assemble peacefully, without weapons, and to hold meetings, rallies, marches, and demonstrations; the executive power bodies or local self-government bodies are notified of their holding in advance.”
However, since February 24, the Decree of the President of Ukraine “On the introduction of martial law” No. 64/2022 allowed restrictions on constitutional rights, in particular, Article 39:
“In connection with the introduction of martial law in Ukraine, the constitutional rights and freedoms of a person and a citizen, provided for in Articles 30-34, 38, 39, 41-44, 53 of the Constitution of Ukraine, may be temporarily limited for the period of the legal regime of martial law.”
But does it outright prohibit all peaceful assembly?
No, it does not prohibit peaceful assembly. It is important that according to the second part of Article 39 of the Constitution of Ukrainе: “Restrictions on the exercise of this right may be established by the court in accordance with the law and only in the interests of national security and public order – for the purpose of preventing riots or crimes, for the protection of public health or the protection of rights and other people’s freedoms.”
According to the Constitution, only a court can prohibit peaceful assemblies and therefore are not entirely banned during martial law.
In addition, Article 8 of the Law “On the Legal Regime of Martial Law” allows military administrations and military command to set additional restrictions. This, in most cases, may refer to the place or time of the peaceful assembly.
Article 8 of the Law of Ukraine “On the Legal Regime of Martial Law” states:
“In Ukraine or in some of its localities, where martial law has been imposed, the military command together with military administrations (in the case of their formation) may independently or with the involvement of executive authorities, the Council of Ministers of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, local self-government bodies introduce and carry out within temporary limits restrictions on the constitutional rights and freedoms of a person and a citizen, as well as the rights and legitimate interests of legal entities, provided for by the decree of the President of Ukraine on the introduction of martial law, the following measures of the legal regime of martial law:
…8) prohibit the holding of peaceful meetings, rallies, marches and demonstrations, other mass events;”
In addition, the Law “On the National Police” allows the police to stop peaceful gatherings if they violate public order.
Accordingly, we have a situation where peaceful assemblies can be prohibited during martial law in one of three ways:
1. According to the Constitution of Ukraine, peaceful assemblies may be prohibited by a court decision.
2. According to the Law “On the National Police,” peaceful assemblies can be stopped if they violate public order.
3. According to the Law “Оn the Legal Regime of Martial Law,” peaceful assemblies may be prohibited by military command or military administrations.