Thank you, Mr President,
The United Kingdom welcomes the Special Rapporteur’s recent report. We note your recent important visit to Sri Lanka, and encourage the Sri Lankan government to engage with your recommendations.
Peaceful assembly and association, including peaceful protest, is a vital means for citizens to express concerns. Such activities are often facilitated by civil society organisations. Suppressing peaceful assembly or association, or placing unwarranted restrictions upon such activity, can increase social tensions and frustrations, and alienate citizens from the government. In line with the views of the Special Rapporteur, we agree that such restrictions can exacerbate the marginalisation of some of the world’s most vulnerable communities.
In light of the pandemic, many civil society organisations across the globe are under unprecedented political and financial pressure. Their voices remain essential: if they cannot freely raise their concerns, states risk not fully understanding the consequences of their actions, and can fail to meet their international human rights obligations.
Given the transmission of COVID-19 and the risks associated with gatherings of large numbers of people, what does the Special Rapporteur suggest states do to best facilitate peaceful assembly and association?