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PACE committee concerned about recent degradation of the right to freedom of assembly

In its draft report on “the urgent need to prevent human rights violations during peaceful protests”, the PACE Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights expressed concern at recent restrictions in France with the adoption of a state of emergency, including a ban on all assemblies; in Turkey with the adoption of the Security Bill, which extends the powers of the police to use firearms; in Spain with the adoption in March 2015 of the law on citizen's security, which institutes heavy fines against organisers of spontaneous protests; and in the Russian Federation with an amendment to the law on public gatherings, which permits the detention of any person participating in an unauthorised public assembly.

The committee stressed that all member states had to ensure that their legislation, and the manner in which law enforcement forces operate, must be consistent with international human rights standards. The commmittee was particularly worried about the use of excessive force against peaceful demonstrators, including the systematic and inappropriate use of "less lethal weapons" such as tear gas.

The report by Ermira Mehmeti Devaja ("The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia", SOC), containing a series of recommendations addressed to member states, will be discussed at a forthcoming PACE plenary session.