Right to Assembly, Demonstrative, Picketing and Petition
Article 37 of the Constitution of Kenya states;
Every person has a right, peaceably and unarmed to assemble, to demonstrate, to picket and to present petitions to public authorities.
The International Covenant or Civil and Political Rights provide for this rights and states in Article 22 that:
- Everyone shall have the right to freedom of association with others, including the right to form and join trade unions for protection of his interests.
- No restrictions may be placed on exercise of this right other than those which are prescribed by Law and which are necessary in a democratic Society in the interests of; i)National Security ii) Public safety iii) Public order iv) Protection of public health or morals v) Protection of the rights and freedom of others
The standard in the ICCPR are protected and recognized by Article 37 of the Constitution of Kenya.
What does this right mean?
This freedom and right means that NoLaw limits any person from attending a public meeting or people coming together for any lawful purpose.
Although there are no restrictions this right is not absolute and the government through laws, policies and other organs may be limited where there is an infringement of other people’s rights (example right to property), public order and as set out above.
What is also important is that the purposes of the meeting or picketing or demonstrations should be legal and lawful.
Therefore, the government through Police, should NOT limit rights of demonstrations unless they are in contravention of public order, safety, health, morals or are threatening peace and security of others.
The nature of the right DOES NOTrequire any permission by the government or Police. However, for the sake of public order and because we remain responsible to others who are not participating in the demonstration or assembly it is a requirement to INFORM the local security order.
What if this right is violated?
When the right is interfered with the citizen who is aggrieved has a right to enforce this right through;
- Administrative action (sanction against government agency restricting this right)
- High Court
- Civic defiance
This right is linked to the Right of Expression that is provided in Article 33 of the Constitution 2010 (Look out for our blog post on this coming soon)
Do you think the Kenya Government is doing enough to protect the right to Assemble, Demonstrating, Picketing and Petition?