Call for input to the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association - The rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association in the digital age

The Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, Clément Voule, wishes to seek your input to inform his thematic report to the Human Rights Council at its 41st session.

Previously, at the 38th session of the Human Rights Council (A/HRC/38/34), the Special Rapporteur identified 8   global trends regarding the exercise of the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association among which the obstructions encountered in the digital space.

The increasing use of the Internet, in particular social media and other information and communication technologies, constitutes a fundamental tool of enablement for individuals and groups to organize peaceful assemblies and associate with one another. The utmost importance of information technologies to enjoy the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association has already been underlined in the 2013 report published by the mandate (A/HRC/23/39). However, at the same time caution was advised under the mandate against the implementation of regulations and practices that seek to curb the enjoyment of these rights online.

The aim here is not to duplicate previous work conducted in closely related fields, such as in the areas of Freedom of Expression and Privacy in the Digital Age, but to complement them and bring to the forefront issues that are specific to freedom of assembly and association

In this context, the Special Rapporteur will dedicate his next report to the Human Rights Council at its 41st session on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association in the digital age.

In the elaboration of this report the Special Rapporteur therefore welcomes inputs from Member States, civil society actors, international organizations, the private sector and other stakeholders. He would appreciate receiving responses to the questionnaire below as well as other inputs related to the theme of the report to freeassembly@ohchr.org by March 14, 2019. Kindly indicate in the subject of your email “Submission to digital FoAA report”.

Questions for input:

  • Definition of assembly and association online, including the delineation of the two notions in the digital space, and relevant distinctions between online and offline enjoyment of these freedoms.
  • Freedom of assembly and association online as enabling the enjoyment of other rights, including best practices toward this aim.
  • Limitations on and restrictions to assembly and association online (including references to specific cases; surveillance before, during and after assembly; the relationship between online and offline surveillance, and the legal implications of such measures).
  • Responsibilities beyond the primary responsibility of the state, including the responsibilities of intermediaries.

Additional questions to States:

  • What measures are in place in your country to guarantee the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association online?
     
  • Do you encounter impediments or challenges to ensuring the enjoyment of these rights in your country?

Additional questions to ICT businesses and other industry stakeholders:

  • How do you understand your role in ensuring the enjoyment of the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association online?
  • Do you currently undertake to perform measures or activities to ensure the enjoyment of these specific rights online?
  • At present do you encounter obstacles or challenges to your efforts to guarantee the enjoyment of these rights online?

 

Where possible, please substantiate your responses with relevant specific examples that the Special Rapporteur can showcase in his report.