New General Comment on the Right to Peaceful Assembly
Date: 6th August 2020
Category: Civil Rights and Freedoms
The Human Rights Committee has published General Comment No.37 on Article 21 (right to peaceful assembly) which places obligations on states to protect children’s right to peacefully assemble.
Notably, the general comment places a positive obligation on states to make efforts to facilitate the participation of individuals from groups subject to discrimination or who may face particular challenges in participating in assemblies, such as children.
Children and young people are often unable to participate in peaceful assemblies because they are not informed of such opportunities and are not taken seriously by the adults involved. In a submission to the Human Rights Committee in February, Child Rights Connect advocated for states to create safe and enabling environments for children to engage in peaceful assemblies.
The new general comment also obliges states to ensure that officers responsible for policing assemblies should only have “fit-for-purpose less-lethal weapons” and receive specific training to help them evaluate their impact on the rights of those affected by their actions. As children are often smaller in stature than adults, they are often most at risk of physical harm if authorities resort to force so additional training for police is welcomed.