Context: The UN Human Rights Committee has declared protesting to be a fundamental human right under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
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- People have the right to demonstrate peacefully and the same should be respected by governments of 173 countries who have ratified the convention.
- They have a right to gather to celebrate or to air grievances, “in public and in private spaces, outdoors, indoors and online.
- Further the protestors have a right to wear masks and organise online meetings for protest.
- The right is available for everyone including women, migrant workers, refugees and asylum seekers.
- The Governments are forbidden from collecting personal data to harass the participants or from suppressing the protest using generalised references to public order or public safety, or an unspecified risk of potential violence”.
- The governments are also not allowed to block internet networks or close down any website because of their roles in organising or soliciting a peaceful assembly
- The committee also emphasized on the rights of journalists to monitor and document any assembly, including violent and unlawful ones.
- Every person has a right to protest as per Article 19(1)(a) of the constitution.
- It flows out from freedom of speech and expression.
- The right however can be curtailed on grounds mentioned in Article 19(2) such as contempt of court, sovereignty and integrity of India etc..
The Committee’s interpretation will be important guidance for judges in national and regional courts around the world, as it now forms part of international law.
UN Human Rights Committee:
- It is a United Nations body of 18 experts established by a human rights treaty, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).
- The Committee meets for three four-week sessions per year to consider the periodic reports submitted by the 173 States parties to the ICCPR on their compliance with the treaty.
- It should not be confused with the more high-profile UN Human Rights Council, or its predecessor, the UN Commission on Human Rights.
- Human Rights Council (since June 2006) and the Commission on Human Rights (before that date) are UN political bodies: composed of states, established by a UN General Assembly resolution and the UN Charter, and discussing the entire range of human rights concerns;
- the Human Rights Committee is a UN expert body: composed of persons, established by the ICCPR, and discussing matters pertaining only to that treaty.
The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR):
- It is a multilateral treaty adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 16 December 1966 which came into force from 23 March 1976.
- The covenant commits its parties to respect the civil and political rights of individuals, including the right to life, freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, electoral rights and rights to due process and a fair trial.
- As of September 2019, the Covenant has 173 parties and six more signatories without ratification.
- The ICCPR is part of the International Bill of Human Rights, along with the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). (Statement 1 is correct)
- The ICCPR is monitored by the United Nations Human Rights Committee which reviews regular reports of States parties on how the rights are being implemented. (Statement 2 is incorrect)
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