Institute Alternative in Belfast: Monitoring Public Assemblies

Aleksandra Vavić and Ivana Bogojević, Public Policy Researchers at the Institute Alternative, participated in a training on observing of public assemblies, held in Belfast, Northern Ireland.

The training was organized by the European Center for Not-for-Profit Law (ECNL) in the framework of the project “Monitoring Right To Free Assembly”, which aims to assess the environment for assembly in eleven countries: Montenegro, Serbia, Macedonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Albania, Kosovo, Armenia, Moldova, Belarus and Ukraine.

The focus of this training was monitoring of a parade organized by the Orange Order (Protestants), through mainly Catholic parts of Belfast, a city divided and characterized by conflicts between the two communities for years. In the process of preparation for the monitoring of the parade, participants held meetings with key actors: representatives of the Parades Commission, protests decision-making body and a representative of the Police Service of Northern Ireland. Conversations were also held with a representative of the parade organiser, the Orange Order and their opponents, a representative of the Sinn Féin party. The parade gathered around 600 people, while several dozen people watched this gathering on the move.

Training was conducted with a view to observing public assemblies in all the countries where the project is being implemented, hence, the reports from assemblies in Montenegro will be an integral part of this year’s report for Montenegro within this project.

The project was launched by the International Center for Non-Profit Law (ICNL) through the Civic Space Initiative, with the support of the Government of Sweden, and presents a continuation of the 2016 and 2017 research that mapped the burning issues in the area of public assembly regarding legal framework and practical problem ranging from registration and banning of assemblies to policing them. The research resulted in a series of recommendations for the Ministry of the Interior, the Police Administration, independent control bodies and civil society.

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