The “ban on demonstrations” due to the pandemic to be discussed in the Parliamentary Human Rights Committee
23 May 2022, ‘Dialogos’ portal
The discussion of the issue of the prosecution of citizens accused of violating government orders banning demonstrations began in the Parliamentary Human Rights Committee.
The issue of the prosecution of citizens for violating government decrees banning demonstrations has been raised by the MP’s of AKEL and the Ecologists party Giorgos Koukoumas and Alexandra Attalidou, respectively.
AKEL MP Giorgos Koukoumas posted the following on social media on the issue:
“Today in the Parliamentary Human Rights Committee, together with the MP of the Ecologists Alexandra Attalidou, we tabled for discussion the issue of the persecution of citizens accused of violating government decrees that banned demonstrations.
A year and a half ago there was a major debate on this issue, with the government insisting that it could, citing the pandemic, ban all demonstrations indefinitely and universally.
Using this pretext, the government unleashed the police and the police “anti-riot” water cannon against the first “Enough” anti-government demonstration which took place on 13 February 2021. In contrast, AKEL, a group of lawyers and others stressed that on the one hand the pandemic’s exceptional circumstances allowed for restrictions on the right to demonstrate (time, space, protection measures), but not an absolute ban to be imposed on demonstrations. One year onwards, it is now clear in the most formal way who was right and who was wrong.
Last March, the European Court of Human Rights, in a judgment against Switzerland (15 March 2022, Communauté genevoise d’ action syndicale (CGAS) c.Suisse – 21881/20), confirmed that a complete and prolonged ban on the demonstrations constitutes a disproportionate and for that reason unacceptable measure.
It is useful to learn, even when an issue is no longer front page news, who in the end is vindicated and who is not. Of course, it is not the lack of knowledge of laws that is the problem of the DISY government, but its structural authoritarianism and arrogance.
However, in this case, there is a more urgent need to discuss in Parliament the issue that AKEL and the Ecologists have raised. The state is still dragging citizens who participated in that demonstration to court, including – among the charges – the violation of the decrees that were issued by the government.
Even now when the government knows that it was not the demonstrations as a whole that were illegal, but instead the decrees that were issued by the government. In addition, as we stress in the explanatory memorandum regarding the tabling of the subject for discussion, “It is also necessary to check whether these prosecutions were carried out in a selective manner and whether other considerations/expediencies relating to the content of each demonstration had been introduced”.
In other words, whether ultimately only those participating in anti-government demonstrations are being prosecuted…”