1. States have a positive duty to ensure that individuals may exercise their right to protest. In particular, they should:

a) Affirm that human rights protections apply in all protests, even where there are individual, sporadic or widespread acts of violence, or where circumstances necessitate specific and temporary restrictions on the right to protest;

b) Facilitate protests by taking reasonable and appropriate measures to enable protests to take place without participants fearing physical violence or violations of their human rights, while minimising disruption and the risk to the safety of those affected by a particular protest. States should be mindful that in some circumstances where protest occurs in violation of applicable laws, law enforcement powers do not always have to be exercised and non-intervention might be the best approach;

c) Actively protect protesters, alongside other people, against any form of threat or violence by those who wish to prevent, disrupt or obstruct protests, including agents provocateurs and counter-demonstrators;

d) Ensure that groups at risk, given their particular vulnerabilities at the time of certain protests, including women, children, members of minorities or people with disabilities as well as those monitoring or reporting on protests, are protected. The measures adopted in this respect, however, should not be misused to confirm stereotypes, maintain discriminatory norms, values and practices, or restrict the ability of these groups to exercise their right to protest. Such measures should include, but not be limited to:

i) Holistic approaches to tackling discrimination against groups at risk, addressing the sources of discrimination and the comprehensive reform of applicable laws and procedures;

ii) Immediate means of accessing redress and protection, including legal aid, for all individuals who suffer discrimination and violence;

iii) Public condemnation by officials of all forms of harassment and violence committed against protesters who are members of groups at risk, and an expressed commitment to protect and respect the right to protest of these groups;

iv) Effective training for all officials and law enforcement officers in non-discrimination; this should be adequately resourced and include rigorous enforcement and monitoring.

To comment in detail on state duties to facilitate protests, click here

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