32 non-governmental organisations has issued an open letter on the Assemblies Act
An open letter concerning the amendment to the Assemblies Act has been a joint initiative involving 32 NGOs, including the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights, the Association of Leaders of Local Civic Groups, the Stefan Batory Foundation, the Panoptykon Foundation, the Campaign against Homophobia and the Association for Legal Intervention.
Wednesday, 20 June 2012
The organisations claim that if the amendment to the Assemblies Act “was adopted in its current wording, this would negatively affect the constitutional standard of freedom of peaceful assembly”.
They refer to the inclusion in the draft amendment of a provision stating that an intention to hold a peaceful assembly has to be notified to the authority at least six days prior to the planned date of the event as compared to a currently applicable three-day notice requirement. “Such a change may not be accepted as this would be an interference with the essence of the freedom of peaceful assembly”, read the open letter.
The draft amendment fails to address the issue of spontaneous assemblies, despite the fact that the need to regulate them had been already raised by NGOs on many occasions. “The absence of regulations of spontaneous assemblies combined with more restrictive notice requirements will certainly lead to the increase in a number of disputes and legal problems”, warns the NGOs.
The letter also recalls the opinion of the Legislative Department of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, which comprises a number of critical remarks on the amendment. The organisations indicate that legislators didn’t take due regard of this opinion.
The NGOs who subscribed to the letter believe that the freedom of peaceful assembly is of key importance to the functioning of democracy in Poland. “At the same time, we are unable to accept a situation where, on the one hand, more restrictive notice requirements are to be introduced and, on the other, the regulation of spontaneous assemblies is going to be postponed until the issue is further legislated, which may never happen”, reads the letter.