The total prohibition of protest violates the right of assembly
Chumak v. Ukraine 6.3.2018 (no. 44529/09)
Protests of indefinite duration outside an official building. The aim was the protest about the social and economic situation in the region. An interruption of the protest by the city council and a court order to ban the protests in the city altogether. Unreasonable limitation of the right to freedom of assembly.
The applicant, Sergiy Chumak, is a Ukrainian national who was born in 1968 and lives in Stryzhavka (Ukraine).
The case concerned the banning and dispersal of a protest outside an official building.
Mr Chumak arranged the protest outside the buildings of the regional authority of Vinnytsia in September 2006 in the form of a picket for an indefinite period. The action, organised by him on behalf of a youth association, was aimed at protesting about what the association called the unhealthy social and economic situation in the region.
Vinnytsia city council went to court for an order to end the picket, which had included the setting up of two small tents by the walls of the regional authority building. The District Court upheld the city council’s action and ordered the tents to be taken down. It found in particular that protestors had obstructed the pavement and endangered road users, and that further breaches were possible given the indefinite nature of the protest. It also banned any further peaceful assemblies by the Association in the streets and squares of the town. The police later the same day dispersed the protestors.
The court’s decision was upheld on appeal in November 2006. The appeal court found that a blanket ban on peaceful assemblies was not allowed under the Constitution and replaced the word “assembly” with “picket” in its judgment.
Relying in particular on Article 11 (freedom of assembly and association) of the European Convention, Mr Chumak complained of an artificial and disproportionate restriction on his right to freedom of assembly.
THE DECISION OF THE COURT
Violation of Article 11
Just satisfaction: 4,500 euros (EUR) (non-pecuniary damage) (echrcaselaw.com editing).