and Social Protest
We continue to see the direct repression of social protests, not only in the global South but also in the global North. Violent actions by police forces include the excessive use of force, the use and abuse of less lethal weapons, and violent techniques of crowd dispersal including, on some occasions, the use of firearms against protesters. These practices have resulted in thousands of injuries and countless deaths.
We also witness the proliferation of new legislation and norms that seek to limit the exercise of the right to assembly, and the increased criminalisation of protest movements through the persecution and prosecution of protesters and activist leaders. Debates on these issues are happening at the national, regional and international levels, and INCLO members as a group of national organisations can act jointly to influence discussions on standard-setting and to produce knowledge to fill gaps on the proper management of assemblies.
Our goals are:
- To advocate against repressive police and security responses to social protests and human rights activism, while promoting the protection of the freedom to assembly
- To raise awareness about the misuse and abuse of crowd control weapons (CCWs) and the holes in regulating this kind of equipment
- To promote proper management of assemblies in our national contexts
- To promote the development of standards on the management of protests at the international and regional levels
INCLO has published three reports:
INCLO published this report in partnership with the International Human Rights Clinic at the University of Chicago Law School (IHRC). The publication provides guidance on how to apply legal human rights principles in practice when policing protests. In addition, it offers an analysis of the existing laws and deployment tactics used by law enforcement. The research includes interviews with policing experts in eight countries and relies on the expertise of the INCLO member organizations on human rights and policing. Authorities can use the report as a toolkit when evaluating their existing policies, practices, and institutional mechanisms.
INCLO published this report in partnership with Physicians for Human Rights. It aims to raise awareness about the misuse and abuse of crowd control weapons, their detrimental health effects and their impact on the meaningful enjoyment of the right to freedom of assembly and expression. It brings to light a wealth of new information about the impact of these weapons on the health of the protestors.
The report showcases contemporary examples of distinct state reactions to activism and protest in unique domestic contexts, brought forward by INCLO member organizations. The cases show instances of excessive use of force resulting in injury and death, as well as discriminatory treatment and criminalisation of social leaders. All the cases show the integral role played by civil society organisations in protecting people’s fundamental rights to freedom of assembly and expression.
INCLO's members participated actively and substantively in the process led by the UN Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, Maina Kiai, and the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Christof Heyns, to draft a report with recommendations on how to manage assemblies, as mandated by Resolution 25/38, adopted by the UN Human Rights Council in April 2014. As a result, the Rapporteurs’ report includes much of the input given by the network’s members. “Practical recommendations for the proper management of assemblies” takes a step forward towards establishing international standards on the policing of social protests and is a significant and meaningful contribution to discussions on these issues.
Defending Dissent: Towards State Practices that Protect and Promote the Rights to Protest - Full ReportEnglish PDF
Defending Dissent: Towards State Practices that Protect and Promote the Rights to Protest - Executive SummaryEnglish PDF
Lethal in Disguise: The Health Consequences of Crowd-Control WeaponsRead online English PDF Spanish PDF
Take Back the Streets: Repression and Criminalization of Protest around the WorldEnglish PDF Spanish PDF Hungarian PDF