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Report of the Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, A/HRC/32/36, 31 May 2016

[Cited from the advance unedited version.]

III.     Fundamentalism and its impact on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association

A.      Introduction

10.     The present report can be viewed as a sequel to the Special Rapporteur’s 2014 report to the Council on threats against groups most at risk when exercising assembly and association rights (A/HRC/26/29). That report focused on the groups whose rights were being violated, including persons with disabilities; women; lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people; members of minority groups; and many others. This report adds a focus on the other half of the equation: who are the perpetrators of these abuses, what are the ideologies that drive them, and what are the State’s obligations to respect, protect and fulfil the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association in this context?

B.      State and non-State actors: the interplay between fundamentalism and power

15.     In other cases, violations may arise due to the inability or unwillingness of the State to respond to the actions of non-State actors. The State’s failure to protect participants in a peaceful rally against violent, fundamentalist counter-protesters, for example, constitutes a violation of the right to freedom of peaceful assembly. It does not matter if the State does not officially promote the counter-protesters’ ideology; it has a positive duty to protect those exercising their right to peaceful assembly, even if they are promoting unpopular positions (e.g., rights for LGBTI persons or those of a minority religion). Similarly, States may violate their duty to protect by failing to investigate allegations of rights violations and holding the perpetrators accountable; ignoring retaliation against victims of violations; and failing to legislate and enforce the protection of rights for certain groups.

F.       Religious fundamentalism

63.     The Special Rapporteur is also concerned when ostensibly secular States leverage fundamentalist religious teachings to restrict the assembly and association rights of certain groups. Nigeria[71] and Uganda,[72] for example, have seized upon majority Christian opposition to homosexuality to impose draconian laws that severely restrict the assembly and association rights of LGBTI groups and individuals.[73]

Link to full text of the report: report-srassembly-auv-2016-eng

Footnotes    (↵ returns to text)

  1. 71. NGA 1/2014.
  2. 72. UGA 1/2014.
  3. 73. See, e.g., NGA 5/2011, NGA 4/2013 and UGA 5/2012.