1) The protection of internationally guaranteed human rights must apply during all protests and must be the rule, while restrictions must be the exception.
2) States should ensure that derogable rights which are integral to the right to protest are subject to restrictions only on grounds specified in international law. In particular, no restriction on the rights to freedom of expression, assembly, association and privacy may be imposed unless the restriction is:
a) Prescribed by law: Any restriction must have a formal basis in law which is accessible and formulated with sufficient precision to enable individuals to foresee whether a particular action is in breach of the law and to assess the likely consequences of any breach;
b) Pursues a legitimate aim: Any restriction must be shown by the government to have the genuine purpose and demonstrable effect of protecting a legitimate aim, either: the protection of national security or public safety, public order (ordre public), the protection of public health or morals, or the protection of the rights and freedoms of others. The rights to freedom of assembly and association may also be restricted to protect public safety.
(i) National security may be invoked only to protect a country’s existence or its territorial integrity against the use or threat of force, or its capacity to respond to the use or threat of force, whether from an external or internal source;
(ii) Public order may be invoked only where protesters threaten the very functioning of society or the fundamental principles on which society is founded, such as the respect of human rights and rule of law. Non- violent protests, including spontaneous, simultaneous and counter protests, should be considered an essential characteristic of public order and not a de facto threat to it, even where the protest causes inconvenience or disruption;
(iii) Public health may be invoked in protests only if evidence-based and dealing with a serious threat to health. The measures must be specifically aimed at preventing disease or injury or providing care for the sick and injured, and simultaneously applied in the case of other activities for which people ordinarily gather;
(iv) Public morals may be invoked only if the restriction is demonstrably essential to the maintenance of respect for the fundamental values of the community, while respecting the universality of human rights and the principle of non-discrimination. Given the evolving nature of morality, limitations should never derive exclusively from a single tradition and should never be used to justify discriminatory practices, perpetuate prejudice or promote intolerance;
(v) The authorities must always strike a proper balance when restricting protests on the basis of protecting the rights of others – different groups or individuals involved in protests or those who live, work, or carry out business in the affected locality. They should always fall in favour of those asserting the right to protest, unless there is strong evidence for interfering with that right. Such restrictions should not be invoked as a result of other people’s opposition to protests or in order to limit political debate. Inconvenience or disruption alone are never reason to restrict protests;
(vi) Public safety may be invoked to restrict the rights to freedom of assembly and association only against a specified and real danger to the life or physical integrity of people, or serious damage to their property.
c) Necessary and proportionate in pursuance of a legitimate aim:
(i) Restrictions on the right to protest should be deemed necessary only if there is a pressing social need for the restriction. The party invoking the restriction must show a direct and immediate connection between the protest and the protected interest;
(ii) Restrictions should not be overly broad and should be the least restrictive means available in order to protect the legitimate aim. Restrictions should be shown to be compatible with democratic principles, specific and individual to attaining the particular protective outcome and no more intrusive than other instruments capable of achieving the same restrictive result.
3. All restrictions based on prohibiting advocacy that constitutes an incitement to violence, discrimination or hostility (‘incitement’) should fully comply with the following conditions:
a) Grounds for prohibiting advocacy that constitutes incitement should include all grounds recognised under international human rights law;
b) The intent of protesters to incite others to commit acts of discrimination, hostility or violence should be considered a crucial and distinguishing element of incitement;
c) Legislation prohibiting incitement should include specific and clear reference to incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence with references to Article 20(2) of the ICCPR and should avoid broader or less specific language;
d) The prohibition of incitement should conform to the three-part test of legality, proportionality and necessity, as stipulated in Principle 4.
e) Criminal law penalties should be limited to the most severe forms of incitement and used only as a last resort in strictly justifiable situations, when no other means appears capable of achieving the desired protection.
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