The Right to Dissent: International law obligations to respect, protect and fulfill the right to participate in public affairs by engaging in criticism, opposition and dissent | Handbook

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The Right to Dissent has been produced to promote human rights and the rule of law through enhancing knowledge of international human rights law guarantees of the rights to participate in public affairs by engaging in public debate, criticism, opposition and dissent. Access to this information by a broad range of users—activists, human rights defenders, journalists and bloggers, police, lawyers and judges, government officials, corporate actors and interested members of the public—will enable people to rely on, jurists to enforce, and state and corporate actors to comply, with international standards.

This guide to the Right to Dissent explains the international legal standards and underlying principles and interpretations of the standards that comprise the international legal framework for the right to dissent and protest. The guide includes observations, jurisprudence, comments and recommendations from UN treaty monitoring bodies; opinions and recommendations of Special Procedures of the UN Human Rights Council; and jurisprudence from regional courts and bodies, including the European Court on Human Rights, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and the African Commission of Human and Peoples’ Rights.


TABLE OF CONTENTS

A. INTRODUCTION – 5

The duty of States to respect, protect and fulfill international human rights – 11

The purpose of this Guide – 13

B. FOUNDATION OF THE RIGHT TO DISSENT IN INTERNATIONAL LAW – 15

Introduction – 15

Definition of “protest” – 15

Right to freedom of opinion and expression – 16

Right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association – 19

Right to take part in the conduct of public affairs – 20

Right to promote and protect human rights and fundamental freedoms – 22

Right to equality and non-discrimination – 22

Rights of children and vulnerable groups – 24

Right to privacy – 24

Right to life, liberty and security of the person – 25

Right to a remedy – 25

Interpretation – 26

Freedom of opinion and expression – 26

Right to participate in public affairs – 62

Right to equality and freedom from discrimination – 65

Right to privacy – 67

Right to life, liberty and security of the person – 69

C. SCOPE OF THE RIGHT TO PEACEFUL PROTEST – 70

Introduction – 70

State obligation to respect, protect and fulfill the rights to dissent and protest – 71

Interpretation – 73

Freedom to choose cause or issue – 74

Freedom to choose form of dissent and protest – 75

Right to access to information – 76

Freedom to choose location of protest and to have access to public space – 77

Presumption in favor of allowing peaceful protests – 78

Limited scope of restrictions on the right to dissent and protest – 78

State duty to facilitate exercise of right to dissent and to peaceful protest – 84

Right to independently monitor and report on protests – 95

State obligation to protect rights to equality and freedom from discrimination – 97

State obligation to protect rights to privacy – 98

State obligation to protect rights to life, liberty and security of the person – 100

D.RIGHT TO AN EFFECTIVE REMEDY FOR VIOLATION OF RIGHT TO DISSENT – 103

Right to an adequate, effective and prompt remedy – 103

Duty of States to investigate violations – 103

Right to reparation – 104

Interpretation – 105

Right to transparent decision-making – 105

Right to reasons for any restrictions on right to dissent and peaceful protest – 105

Right to appeal restriction or prohibitions on right to dissent and peaceful protest – 106

State duty to ensure accountability – 106

State duty to promptly investigate allegations of rights violations – 106

State responsibility for violations by non-State actors – 107

Duty of States to carry out prosecutions impartially and without discrimination – 108

APPENDIX A: INTERNATIONAL STANDARDS – A-1

APPENDIX B: TREATIES, DECLARATIONS AND OTHER INSTRUMENTS – B-1

APPENDIX C: STANDARDS – C-1