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
has published two reports:
- — In October 2013, it launched the report “Take back the streets: Repression and criminalization of protest around the world,” which includes case studies (each written by a different INCLO member) with contemporary examples of distinct state reactions to activism and protest in unique domestic contexts. The cases highlight instances of excessive use of force resulting in injury and death, and discriminatory treatment and criminalisation of social leaders. All the cases show the integral role played by civil society organisations in protecting these fundamental democratic rights.
- — In March 2016, INCLO launched a joint report with Physicians for Human Rights called “Lethal in disguise: The health consequences of crowd control weapons.” This report aims to raise awareness about the misuse and abuse of crowd control weapons, their detrimental health effects and the impact of their use on the meaningful enjoyment of freedom of assembly and expression. It makes a contribution to the field by providing information about the health consequences that these weapons can have, a topic on which knowledge is lacking.
- 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.