Between January 14 and 23 the is visiting the United Kingdom. It is the first information-gathering mission to the country by an independent expert charged by the UN Human Rights Council to monitor and promote the realization of the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association worldwide. The Special Rapporteur, Mr Maina Kiai, is visiting the UK at the invitation of the British Government. “The United Kingdom has voiced its commitment to human rights on repeated occasions, and this mission will give me an opportunity to assess in-depth to what extend the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association are enjoyed in the country,” Mr. Kiai said. During his nine day visit the Special Rapporteur will go to London, Edinburgh and Belfast where he will meet with officials, representatives of the judiciary, legislature, various human rights commissions, and civil society.
On the first day of his visit to the UK, Mr Kiai attended a civil society forum, where issues such as kettling, intelligence gathering and surveillance, the regulation of protests on private property were on the agenda. Dr Hamilton, member of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe’s (OSCE) Panel of Experts on Freedom of Assembly, and one of the organizers of the Civil Society Forum said: “the roundtable forum will provide a unique opportunity to refocus attention on vital issues relating to the enjoyment and regulation of the right to freedom of peaceful assembly in the UK, and to hear from those most closely involved.”
The visit of the Special Rapporteur comes at a time when the right to protest is in the spotlight, with continuing protests in Northern Ireland over the flying of the union flag and recent action in response to the tax arrangements of Starbucks and Amazon, as well as the prospect of large scale demonstrations this year as government cuts take effect.
The right to peaceful assembly and association was put down in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights under Art. 20.1.
• UN Human Rights, Country Page – United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
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