By Dora Chan
on October 21, 2013
Watch the above video to hear from CCLA’s Director of Public Safety Abby Deshman on G20 Toronto, policing at protests and You Should Have Stayed Home.
CCLA is partnering with Praxis Theatre throughout their National Tour of You Should Have Stayed Home, a performance piece about the largest peacetime mass arrest in Canadian history. Written by Tommy Taylor, the play is an award-winning account of what he and many others experienced when they were arrested and detained during the G20 Toronto Summit in June 2010. Starting this fall, Praxis Theatre will take this play on a Canada-wide tour to:
- Whitehorse, Yukon: Yukon Arts Centre, Sept 12-15 2013
- Vancouver, British Columbia: Firehall Arts Centre, Sept 24 -Oct 5, 2013
- Toronto, Ontario: Aki Theatre, Oct 16 -27, 2013
- Montréal, Quebec: Mainline Theatre, Oct 30 – Nov 2, 2013
- Ottawa, Ontario: Arts Court Theatre, November 13 -16, 2013
If you’re interested in getting involved and participating in the play, check out this call for volunteers here!
CCLA is helping Praxis Theatre to pull together panel discussions on broader issues facing civil liberties in several of the cities that the play will be hosted in. See below for details about the panels in Vancouver and Toronto:
TORONTO PANEL DETAILS
Post-show Panel Discussion on Civil liberties and protest in post-G20 Toronto
Where: Aki Studio Theatre @ Daniels Spectrum – 585 Dundas Street East.
When: Tuesday, October 22, 2013. Show @ 8pm panel @ 9:30pm.
Moderated by: Praxis Theatre Artistic Director Michael Wheeler
Abby Deshman – CCLA: Director, Public Safety Program
Abby first joined the CCLA as the Law Foundation of Ontario’s Pro-Bono Articling Fellow and stayed on as the Project Director of the Fundamental Freedoms Project. She graduated from the University of Toronto Law School with an Hons JD in 2008, and obtained an LLM from New York University in 2010. She is currently involved in all aspects of CCLA’s advocacy and educational programs.
Prior to joining the CCLA she worked with numerous local and international non-governmental organizations, including the United Nations High Council for Refugees in Kenya and Human Rights Watch’s Terrorism/Counterterrorism division in New York. She was also a case worker in the law school’s International Human Rights Clinic, where she worked primarily on international human rights and counterterrorism issues, including the Clinic’s intervention before the Supreme Court of Canada in the Khadr case.
Her previous work has also taken her to Nicaragua, Bangladesh, Belize and Peru. Although she loves Toronto, she is concerned about the lack of sun available during Canadian winters, and is therefore constantly on the lookout for inexpensive flights to combat incipient vitamin D deficiencies.
Jan Borowy – Cavalluzzo
Jan Borowy’s practice areas include labour relations, human rights, pay equity and professional regulation. Jan brings to her practice a longstanding commitment to the promotion of workers’ rights and human rights. Her experience gives her an understanding of the importance of a clear strategy in union negotiations, campaigns, strikes, organizing and educational programs.
Jan is the former Research Co-ordinator at the International Ladies’ Garment Workers Union, where her work focused on a campaign for fair wages and working conditions for garment home-workers. She further developed her advocacy skills as the Worker’s Rights Community legal worker at Parkdale Community Legal Services. At law school, Jan developed an expertise in Aboriginal law and issues facing Aboriginal workers.
Jan’s experience within the firm has included close involvement in the representation of private sector and public sector workers before labour arbitrators, the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal, the Pay Equity Tribunal and the Ontario and Canadian Labour boards. Jan is a member of the Canadian Association of Labour Lawyers and the Canadian and Ontario Bar Associations.
Tommy Taylor – Writer/Performer: You Should Have Stayed Home
Tommy is a theatre artist, activist and NGO fundraiser living in Toronto. Recently Tommy was assistant director/video designer on The Belle of Winnipeg (Dora Winner), adaptor/director of Dear Everybody at the CanStage Festival of Ideas and Creation and director of Kayak at The SummerWorks Festival. He is a graduate of the Centre for Cultural Management (University of Waterloo/ CCCO), The Vancouver Film School and Humber College’s Community Arts Development Program.
Tommy was arrested (but never charged) and detained during the 2010 G20 Summit in Toronto. He has since turned his account of the experience into You Should Have Stayed Home. The show is on a cross-Canada tour for Fall 2013, playing in Whitehorse, Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal and Ottawa.
VANCOUVER PANEL DETAILS
Post-show Panel Discussion on Civil Liberties, Activism and Surveillance
Where: Vancouver, BC – Firehall Arts Centre, 280 E Cordova St.
When: Thursday, October 3, 2013, following the 8pm performance
Moderated by: Neworld Theatre Founding Artistic Producer Camyar Chai
About the Panelists
Micheal Vonn is a lawyer and has been the Policy Director of the BC Civil Liberties Association since 2004. She has been an Adjunct Professor at the University of British Columbia (UBC) in the Faculty of Law and in the School of Library, Archival and Information Studies where she has taught civil liberties and information ethics. She is a regular guest instructor for UBC’s College of Health Disciplines Interdisciplinary Elective in HIV/AIDS Care and was honoured as a recipient of the 2010 AccolAIDS award for social and political advocacy benefitting communities affected by HIV/AIDS. Ms. Vonn is a frequent speaker on a variety of civil liberties topics including privacy, national security, policing, surveillance and free speech. She is an Advisory Board Member of Privacy International. bccla.org
Harsha Walia is a South Asian activist, writer, and researcher based in Vancouver, Coast Salish Territories. She has been active in grassroots social movements for over a decade, including with No One Is Illegal, Women’s Memorial March Committee for Missing and Murdered Women, Radical Desis and more. She was one of the many leading up to both the Anti-Olympics Convergence and the G20 Protests in 2010, facing arrests and trumped charges at both. Harsha has been named one of the most influential South Asians in BC by the Vancouver Sun and Naomi Klein has called Harsha “one of Canada’s most brilliant and effective political organizers.” Her first book Undoing Border Imperialism is forthcoming in November 2013 by AK Press. Find her @HarshaWalia.
Greg McMullen is a litigation associate with Branch MacMaster. He focuses on class action work concerning privacy and access to information. Greg was one of the organizers of the BCCLA’s Legal Observer Program during the 2010 Winter Olympics, which trained more than 400 citizen-observers to record police interactions with the public (and especially with protesters) during the 2010 Games. He is also on the Board of Directors of the BC Civil Liberties Association, and authored the BCCLA’s Electronic Devices Privacy Handbook.
Tommy Taylor is a theatre artist, activist and NGO fundraiser living in Toronto. Recently Tommy was assistant director/video designer on The Belle of Winnipeg (Dora Winner), adaptor/director of Dear Everybody at the CanStage Festival of Ideas and Creation and director of Kayak at The SummerWorks Festival. He is a graduate of the Centre for Cultural Management (University of Waterloo/ CCCO), The Vancouver Film School and Humber College’s Community Arts Development Program. Tommy was arrested (but never charged) and detained during the 2010 G20 Summit in Toronto. He has since turned his account of the experience into You Should Have Stayed Home. The show is on a cross-Canada tour for Fall 2013, playing in Whitehorse, Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal and Ottawa.
By Abby Deshman
on October 10, 2013
CCLA has joined with nine other domestic civil liberties and human rights organizations from around the world to release a report, “Take back the streets”: Repression and criminalization of protest around the world. Download the report here.
In June 2010, hundreds of thousands of Canadians took to the streets of Toronto to peacefully protest the G20 Summit, which was taking place behind a fortified fence that walled off much of the city’s downtown core. On the Saturday evening during the Summit weekend, a senior Toronto Police Commander sent out an order – “take back the streets.” Within a span of 36 hours, over 1000 people – peaceful protesters, journalists, human rights monitors and downtown residents – were arrested and placed in detention.
The title of this publication is taken from that initial police order. It is emblematic of a very concerning pattern of government conduct: the tendency to transform individuals exercising a fundamental democratic right – the right to protest – into a perceived threat that requires a forceful government response. The nine case studies detailed in this report, each written by a different domestic civil liberties and human rights organization, provide contemporary examples of different governments’ reactions to peaceful protests. They document instances of unnecessary legal restrictions, discriminatory responses, criminalization of leaders, and unjustifiable – at times deadly – force.
The ten organizations that have contributed to this publication work to defend basic democratic rights and freedoms in nine countries spread over four continents. Across the regions where our organizations operate, States are engaged in concerted efforts to roll back advances in the protection and promotion of human rights – and often, regressive measures impacting the right to protest follows in lockstep. And across the globe, social movements are pushing for change and resisting the advancement of authoritarian policies; dozens, hundreds, thousands or hundreds of thousands of individuals are marching in the roads and occupying the public space. In rural areas across the global south, there are a variety of demands, calling for access to land or resisting the exploitation of natural resources that threaten indigenous peoples’ or peasants’ territories. In urban settings, housing shortages or lack of basic services spark social protests and upheavals. Even in developed economies, there are disturbing tensions provoked by the contraction of the economy, globalization policies and the social and political exclusion of migrants. Students’ movements all over the globe are demanding the right to education.
History tells us that many of the fundamental rights we enjoy in our contemporary life were obtained after generations before us engaged in sustained protests in the streets: the prohibition against child labor, steps toward racial equality, women’s suffrage – to name just a few – were each accomplished with the help of public expression of these demands. If freedom of expression is the grievance system of democracies, the right to protest and peaceful assembly is democracy’s megaphone. It is the tool of the poor and the marginalized – those who do not have ready access to the levers of power and influence, those who need to take to the streets to make their voices heard.
Unfortunately, these are also rights that are frequently violated. Our organizations have witnessed numerous instances of direct state repression during protests: mass arrests, unlawful detentions, illegal use of force and the deployment of toxic chemicals against protesters and bystanders alike. At other times the state action is less visible: the increased criminalization of protest movements, the denial of march permits, imposition of administrative hurdles and the persecution and prosecution of social leaders and protesters.
This publication attempts to address some of the gaps in public debate about the state responsibility toward the protection of the right to protest and assembly. We relate nine case studies from the nine countries about how governments have responded to diverse kinds of protest and public assembly.
The cases, originating from Argentina, Canada, Egypt, Israel and the Occupied Territories, Kenya, Hungary, South Africa, the United Kingdom and the United States, each present a unique state reaction in a unique domestic context. They relate instances of excessive use of force resulting in injury and death, discriminatory treatment, criminalization of social leaders, and suppression of democratic rights through law, regulation and bureaucratic processes. And despite the fact that all the cases come from different countries, with different substantive debates and different social contexts, a number of common threads are identifiable.
A number of case studies document disproportionate and illegal use of force by police, resulting in hundreds of wounded and dead. The American Civil Liberties Union details the case of police brutality against protesters in Puerto Rico, recounting violent beatings and low-flying helicopters spraying toxic chemicals over hundreds of peaceful demonstrators. The Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights details six days in November 2011, when the police shot thousands of tear gas canisters directly into the crowds, resulting in numerous deaths due to asphyxiation, in addition to deaths caused by live fire and shotgun pellets. In one case, the police shot tear gas into a building and then sealed all the doors and windows, suffocating the people inside. In Kenya, police beatings and shootings around the 2013 election left several dead and dozens more injured. And in Argentina, the Centro de Estudios Legales y Sociales tells of police indiscriminately firing live ammunition to disperse of some of the poorest families from Buenos Aires, who had descended from the overcrowded outskirts of the city to peacefully occupy an open piece of land.
These cases collectively illustrate the use of lethal and deadly force in response to largely peaceful gatherings seeking to express social and political viewpoints. The deaths and injuries are caused both by the use of firearms with live ammunition, and also through the use of so-called “nonlethal” weapons – a term that we intentionally reject. The numbers of dead and injured due to the inhalation of tear gas and other less-lethal weapons clearly demonstrates the urgent need to clarify and expand the norms that regulate the use of these law enforcement tools. It is also striking that these documented acts of violence and repression are frequently compounded by a lack of accountability. Justice systems in multiple countries appear unwilling or unable to undertake the serious investigations necessary to hold powerful state actors accountable for their actions.
Several other chapters document the persecution or criminalization of those social leaders and community members that organize demonstrations. The Association for Civil Rights in Israel, for example, relates the struggles of community activist and West Bank resident Bassem Tamimi, who has spent over 13 months in jail for peaceful, expressive activities.
In Canada, the Canadian Civil Liberties Association sets out how a student leader was put on trial for contempt of court – and found guilty – after telling the media he thought it was legitimate for students to picket universities. And in Argentina, the social leaders who were essential to establishing dialogue with authorities during a critical point of social crisis were afterwards prosecuted. Their participation in official negotiations was used as evidence that they were capable of controlling others involved in the event, and that they had instigated others to commit crimes.
These cases demonstrate how the justice system not only frequently fails to provide accountability for the illegal acts committed by law enforcement, but can also at times act as a repressive force toward demonstrators and social organizations. Too often, those individuals who are courageous enough to lead peaceful opposition or voice dissent must also be brave enough to face subsequent prosecution and detention from government authorities. It is difficult to calculate the chilling impact such prosecutions have on current and future leaders of social movements.
The post-9/11 context has also made a mark on governments’ reactions to societal dissent. Many countries have introduced broad anti-terrorist laws, and as time passes there is an increasing risk that these tools of interrogation, arrest, search and detention will be redirected toward peaceful political activity and domestic dissent. The case study from Liberty provides one example of how the United Kingdom’s counterterrorism laws were applied to peaceful anti-arms protesters. It was only during Liberty’s case challenging the abuse of these search powers that the UK public discovered that the whole of Greater London had been subject to a multiyear, high-level terrorism designation giving police officers significantly enhanced powers of search and detention. The fact that this discretionary power was disproportionately and arbitrarily used against blacks, Asians, and individuals from other visible minority communities should not come as a surprise.
Finally, the case studies from the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union and South Africa’s Legal Resources Centre demonstrate how the very existence of laws regulating the exercise of the right to protest can facilitate the denial of rights and discrimination. In both countries, community groups had to go to the courts to force the government to facilitate their basic democratic rights. Laws that give authorities a measure of discretion can be applied or interpreted in a manner that restricts or limits the impact of the expression or actions of social groups – and in particular those groups that are vulnerable or likely to be subjected to discrimination. It is clear that, when faced with the potential disruption or inconvenience that is inevitably caused by protest, governments too often react by seeking to ban the demonstration, rather than accommodate it.
All the cases presented show the integral role played by civil society organizations in protecting these fundamental democratic rights. Each organization that has contributed to this publication recognizes that a democratic society must not only tolerate, but actively facilitate, social participation and protest. And each organization actively operates on the premise that, no matter the underlying cause or issue, individuals’ and groups’ right to protest must be protected. Dissenting voices must be heard. And they must be given the space – both legal and physical – to do so.
Recommendation 1: Increase regulation of less-lethal weapons
• Governments should establish and enhance domestic and international regulatory frameworks to control police use of less-lethal weapons, with particular attention to limits on deployment during protest
• Thorough, independent, scientific testing of less-lethal weapons should occur prior to deployment to establish lethality and health impacts
• Strict deployment guidelines and training must be implemented based on thorough, independent scientific studies, and reviewed regularly to ensure compliance and currency
Recommendation 2: Increase precision and clarity regarding the scope of human rights protection for protests
• States should explicitly affirm even protests that are strictly “unlawful” are equally protected by the right to freedom of peaceful assembly
• States should explicitly recognize that individuals who are exercising their peaceful assembly rights continue to receive protection, even when other individuals within a crowd commit acts of violence
• Government statements on the limits of peaceful assembly should be accompanied by an affirmation that other human rights norms, including limits on state use of force, remain relevant
Recommendation 3: Increase attention to, and vigilance of, legal and administrative limitations on the right to protest
• States should review domestic legislation to ensure that any administrative or legal regulations that could restrict protest are demonstrably necessary and proportionate
• All legislation that could restrict protest should explicitly state that the role of the state is to facilitate the right to protest
• Governments should carefully monitor the operation of these laws and policies to ensure they are not being implemented in a discriminatory or unnecessarily restrictive manner
About the Report
This document has been produced by a group of ten domestic human rights organizations which cooperate as the International Network of Civil Liberties Organizations (INCLO). Each organization is multi-issue, multiconstituency, domestic in focus, and independent of government. We advocate on behalf of all persons in our respective countries through a mix of litigation, legislative campaigning, public education and grass-roots advocacy.
The nine organizations that participated in the preparation of this report are the American Civil Liberties Union, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, Centro de Estudios Legales y Sociales (Argentina), the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union, the Kenyan Human Rights Commission, the Legal Resources Centre (South Africa), and Liberty (United Kingdom). The tenth member of INCLO, the Irish Council for Civil Liberties, contributed editorially to the report.
By Sukanya Pillay
on August 20, 2013
Canadians Tarek Loubani and John Greyson are being detained in Egypt. (Photo originally published by The Globe and Mail.)
CCLA is very concerned about reports that Canadians Tarek Loubani and John Greyson were arrested in Cairo last Friday, August 16th, 2013, and reportedly are being detained in an Egyptian prison. CCLA was contacted on Saturday, August, 17th by medical colleagues of Dr. Tarek Loubani, an emergency room physician in London, Ontario who is renowned for his humanitarian work in providing medical relief in Gaza. CCLA wrote to our human rights colleagues in Egypt to obtain more information about Dr. Loubani. We know now that award-winning filmmaker and human rights activist John Greyson was also arrested with Dr. Loubani, and we are deeply concerned for both individuals. Read more…
By Noa Mendelsohn Aviv
on August 12, 2013
The Canadian Civil Liberties Association has written to Stephen Harper, John Baird and Bal Gosal applauding their public statements supporting human rights in Russia in light of new homophobic legislation passed there recently. One law appears to ban the public expression of support for LGBTQ equality, same-sex marriage, or fundamental rights for LGBTQ people. CCLA condemns this law that not only violates the right to equality of LGBTQ people, and violates such fundamental freedoms as expression, speech and opinion, but also seems to promote homophobia and transphobia – all in contravention of international human rights law standards. CCLA calls on the Prime Minister and Ministers to seek assurances for the protection of all people at the Sochi Olympic Games. CCLA also calls on the Canadian government to take a leadership role in the promotion of equal rights for all people regardless of their sexual orientation and gender identity, at the Sochi Olympic games, in Russia and internationally.
For CCLA’s letter to the Prime Minister and Ministers, click here.
By Dora Chan
on May 23, 2013
Noa Mendelsohn Aviv
Canadian Civil Liberties Association to Address Toronto Catholic District School Board on Proposed Motion to Ban Gay-Straight Alliances in Schools
MAY 23, 2013 – The Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA) will address the Toronto Catholic District School Board this evening expressing its concerns regarding a motion by Trustee Garry Tanuan proposing to ban gay-straight alliances and other LGBTQ-positive student clubs in TCDSB schools.
“Students, like all people in Canada, have a right to freedom of expression, freedom of association and equality, subject to reasonable limits. There is no reasonable justification for depriving TCDSB students of these fundamental rights by banning gay straight alliances or other LGBTQ-positive clubs in their schools,” said Noa Mendelsohn Aviv, CCLA Equality Program Director.
CCLA has spoken out frequently about the rights of students to form LGBTQ-positive student clubs in schools, including an address to the Halton Catholic District School Board and a submission to the Ontario Parliamentary Committee reviewing Ontario’s recent Amendment to the Education Act with respect to bullying and other matters.
Details of tonight’s Board meeting:
Date: Thursday, May 23rd 2013
Time: 7 PM
Location: Catholic Education Centre
80 Sheppard Avenue East
North York, Ontario M2N 6E8
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For more information, contact: Noa Mendelsohn Aviv – Director of Equality Program – CCLA – cell: 647-780-9802 – email@example.com or visit www.ccla.org
By Cara Zwibel
on April 22, 2013
CCLA has written to Montreal Councillor Alex Norris who planned to introduce a motion to repeal Montreal’s controversial bylaw: P-6. The bylaw requires individuals to provide prior notice to police of their meeting places and demonstration itineraries regardless of the size of the planned protest and without making any exceptions for spontaneous assemblies. The bylaw also prohibits individuals from wearing facial coverings at a public demonstration without reasonable cause. The bylaw has been used to clamp down on peaceful protests before they have even gotten underway and individuals have received tickets of over $600 each. CCLA wrote to Montreal’s City Council in May of 2012 when the amendments to the bylaw were first considered and passed. With recent mass arrests taking place under the bylaw, CCLA has again written to the City expressing its concerns and arguing for the need to protect fundamental freedoms, including the freedom to peacefully assemble and freedom of expression.
See CCLA’s letter regarding the motion to repeal P-6 in English here and in French here.
By Cara Zwibel
on April 4, 2013
The CCLA is deeply concerned about the Montreal police force’s use of a controversial municipal bylaw to cut off social protests before they begin, detain individuals en masse, and issue costly tickets to individuals seeking to exercise their constitutionally protected rights.
In May of 2012 Montreal’s City Council adopted amendments to a bylaw that made it illegal to wear a mask during a public demonstration and required demonstrators to provide prior notification to police of their meeting place and route. At that time, CCLA wrote to the Mayor and city councillors expressing our concerns about the bylaw – in particular that these provisions placed unnecessary and unconstitutional restrictions on freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, both of which are protected under the Canadian and Quebec Charters. While these freedoms may be subject to limits or restrictions, such restrictions can only be put in place where there is a demonstrated compelling and pressing objective and where the measures taken to achieve the objective do not infringe on rights more than necessary. Restrictions similar to those included in the Montreal bylaw were also in a controversial piece of provincial legislation in Quebec, Bill 78 (which subsequently became Law 12). Quebec’s new PQ government repealed Law 12 shortly after coming into power in September, but Montreal’s similar municipal bylaw remains in place.
In a series of recent demonstrations in Montreal, the Service de police de la Ville de Montreal (SPVM) has used the bylaw to “kettle” demonstrators when they fail to provide the police with a route for their demonstration. In three instance in March of 2013, police put an end to demonstrations before they even began and issued hundreds of tickets under the bylaw for over $600 each. In CCLA’s view, individuals should not have to pay to exercise their fundamental freedoms, nor should police engage in mass arrests and detentions of peaceful social protesters. CCLA has written to the Mayor of Montreal urging repeal of the bylaw and to the Chief of the SPVM urging the police to cease engaging in these troubling practices.
Read the CCLA’s letter to the Mayor of Montreal.
Read the CCLA’s letter to the Chief of the SPVM.
By Abby Deshman
on March 20, 2013
From the Toronto G20 to the Occupy movement, the widespread (and continuing) protests in Quebec and the nation-wide Idle No More actions, individuals in Canada have been participating in their democracy through diverse and creative expressive acts. As a society we have also witnessed a range of government and police responses to these grassroots movements. And on numerous occasions in recent years CCLA has called out to municipal, provincial and federal government actors to respect and facilitate freedom of peaceful assembly. Although there have certainly been some examples of government effectively facilitating peaceful protest, there have been numerous instances over the past three years where CCLA believes that this freedom has been threatened or where constitutional rights were violated.
CCLA is now joining voices with civil society NGOs from across the globe to voice shared concerns and call on the United Nations to provide meaningful protection for freedom of peaceful assembly and human rights in the context of social protest.
On March 7, a letter signed by nine national organizations spanning five continents was sent to the Member States of the United Nations Human Rights Council. Democracies must welcome diverse forms of public participation. Such activities must be actively facilitated by states if they are to comply with their obligations to protect, respect and fulfill international human rights.
CCLA and our international counterparts welcome the renewed and increased attention to freedom of peaceful assembly and the protection of human rights, including freedom of association, expression and opinion, in the broader context of social protest. As domestically-focused actors with decades of experience monitoring policing and protest, the signatory organizations have seen first hand the diverse and multiple facets of the right to peaceful assembly and rights within the context of social protest more broadly. Although our individual domestic experiences stem from diverse political contexts and legal systems, we are united by our conviction that public protest is an essential component of any vibrant democracy. We are also united by our concern for the protection of this fundamental right.
A draft resolution, “The promotion and protection of human rights in the context of peaceful protests”, is being debated in Geneva and is scheduled for adoption at the 22nd Session of the Human Rights Council. The civil society organizations that have signed the letter are:
American Civil Liberties Union – ACLU (USA)
Association for Civil Rights in Israel – ACRI (Israel)
Canadian Civil Liberties Association – CCLA (Canada)
Centro de Estudios Legales y Sociales – CELS (Argentina)
Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights – EIPR (Egypt)
Hungarian Civil Liberties Union – HCLU (Hungary)
Irish Council for Civil Liberties – ICCL (Ireland)
Legal Resource Centre – LRC (South Africa)
To read the letter to the UN Human Rights Council click here.
To read the joint press release from all nine organizations click here.
By Cara Zwibel
on February 21, 2013
CCLA has written to a Committee of Ottawa City Councillors considering a new special events bylaw. The bylaw requires that individuals and groups wishing to have special events seek a permit from the City. For large events of 300 people or more, a permit is required even when the event will take place on private property. The CCLA is concerned about the impact that the requirements contained in the bylaw may have on expressive freedoms and the freedom to peacefully assemble. The bylaw may have a particularly harsh impact on spontaneous demonstrations since, in most cases, the bylaw requires organizers to seek a permit at least 90 days in advance of the event. The permit holder is also responsible for obtaining significant insurance coverage, paying for medical services, paid-duty officers, and a variety of other services at their own expense. Policies and bylaws that require individuals to pay to exercise their fundamental rights have the effect of chilling expression and may discourage individuals from speaking out on matters of public importance.
Read the CCLA’s letter to the City of Ottawa here.
By Cara Zwibel
on January 15, 2013
CCLA has recently written to two universities about the issue of protests and demonstrations on campus. Universities are significant sites for discourse and debate and an environment where questioning the status quo should be welcomed. Policies around campus security and the use of campus space may, in some cases, unduly limit freedom of expression and peaceful assembly on campus. While these freedoms have limits, those limits must be justified by a compelling purpose and must be proportional to the purpose. The mere fact that a protest may cause disruption or inconvenience is not a sufficient basis for shutting it down or subjecting participants to disciplinary action.
McGill University is currently considering a draft Protocol Regarding Demonstrations, Protests and Occupations on McGill University Campuses. The University invited comments on the Protocol from members of the McGill community and CCLA has made submissions through that process. CCLA has also recently written to security personnel at York University to express concerns about the treatment of protests and demonstrations on campus.
Read CCLA’s submissions to McGill University here.
Read CCLA’s letter to York University here.