The rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association are essential for the full enjoyment of the civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights, as well as for the involvement in the civil society, which can facilitate the achievement of the United Nations purposes and principles. In addition, the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association are essential components of the democracy. Thus a Special Rapporteur was appointed by the Human Rights Council to gather information for Governments, NGOs and all relevant stakeholders and make recommendations to ensure the protection of these rights; elaborate a framework of best practices and experiences to promote and protect these rights; report violations and collaborate with the other mechanisms of the Human Rights Council.
The mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association comprises 3 parts:
a)Transmitting urgent appeals and letter of allegation to Member States on alleged violations of the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and/or of association.
Upon receiving credible and reliable information from governments, non-governmental organizations and other parties that have knowledge of pertinent situations and cases, the Special Rapporteur sends communications to the concerned authorities from clarifications on the allegations raised.
The transmission of allegations does not imply any kind of accusation or value judgment on the part of the Special Rapporteur, but rather are part of a dialogue to ensure the protection of the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association.
Urgent appeals: when the Special Rapporteur receives credible information on concrete incidents and individual cases related to the infringement of the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, an urgent appeal will be transmitted to concerned Government with a request to provide comments and observations.
Allegation letters: for communications that do not require urgent action, but relate to violations that already occurred and/or to general patterns of violations - including in relation to the legal framework and its application as regards the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association - the Special Rapporteur may send allegation letters requiring Governments to clarify the substance of the allegations received.
The Special Rapporteur tries to react as quickly as possible to allegations, with special attention given to the most serious and urgent cases. When cases contain sufficient information, the Special Rapporteur might be able to look at them within a few hours after having received information. However, when insufficient information is available in the initial contact it can take several days to gather and clarify sufficient information for contact to be made with a Government.
Governments are urged to respond tocthe letters sent, but in many cases, responses are not received or only several months later. If the Special Rapporteur does not receive a rapid response from a Government, particularly with regard to an urgent and very serious case, then additional efforts are made to follow-up with the Government concerned, via contact with its representation at the United Nations in Geneva.
The communications sent by the Special Rapporteur will include the identity of the alleged victim. However, if the victim is a minor, the identity will not be included in any subsequent public report. Similarly, if there are grounds to believe that revealing the identity of the victim in a public report might put the victim at further risk, they will not be included in any public report. The source of the information provided or the victim may also request that the victim’s name not be included in public reports. The name of the victim will be made public in the joint communications report of special procedures mandate holders, issued three times per year (March, June and September), unless the victim requests not to have his/her identity revealed in the said report.
The identity of the source of information on the alleged violation is always kept confidential, unless the source agrees that it may be revealed. When submitting information you may indicate whether there are any other details that you would like to remain confidential.
b)Undertaking country visits
The Special Rapporteur will conduct on-site visits, which last usually 10 days, to examine in detail the enjoyment of the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, to identify any problems and to make recommendations on how these could be resolved. The visits are intended to provide an independent and impartial assessment, for use by all actors on the ground.
During his visit, the Special Rapporteur usually meets with the Heads of State and of Government, relevant Government Ministers, heads of law enforcement authorities, members of the legislative and the judiciary, representatives of independent human rights institutions, representatives of civil society, the media, United Nations agencies, among others. The Special Rapporteur will usually begin a visit in the capital city, and then proceed to other cities or towns, as well as to rural areas of particular relevance to the mandate. At the end of the visit, the Special Rapporteur generally holds a press conference during which he shares his preliminary observations and recommendations for the consideration of the Government concerned and other stakeholders.
After his visit, the Special Rapporteur will present his observation and recommendation ot the Human Rights Council, and may undertake, when necessary, follow-up to issues raised during the visit.
c)Submitting annual reports covering activities relating to the mandate to the Human Rights Council and to the General Assembly from 2013
d)Engaging publicly on issues of concern, including through press releases.