“However, the right to protest is not absolute,” a Melbourne activist told Legal Support Age.
“This means that it is in balance with other laws, the rights of others and the lawful use of public space or private property.”
Even in pre-pandemic times, lawyer Felicity Graham, Who brought Black Lives Matter organizers to court in New South Wales last yearHe said that the right to protest was often “conditional on state approval” requiring permission from the police to march or gather according to an agreed-upon plan.
What about the epidemic?
There is no right to protest In light of the current trends Because public health orders only allow for certain reasons to leave the house (groceries, medical supplies) and prevent large gatherings.
“Directives to stay at home etc that prevent people from leaving their homes to protest are justified under public health legislation, which sets out really broad powers,” said Dr. Maria O’Sullivan, of the Kastan Center for Human Rights at Monash University. .
O’Sullivan said that freedom of expression and assembly can in fact be restricted, for example, for reasons of public health or national security, in contrast to other untouchable human rights provisions, such as the prohibition of torture.
Melbourne Activist Legal Support said restrictions on freedom of movement and assembly are sometimes necessary temporarily, but must be legal, necessary and proportionate in scope, purpose and duration.
But what about the Black Lives Matter protest?
Although public health directives have made traditional protest illegal, demonstrations continue.
Black Lives Matter rallies were held in June 2020, before Victoria entered the fourth phase of the lockdown, when people could leave their homes and gatherings were limited to a maximum of 20 people.
Organizers encouraged protesters to wear masks, social distance, and walk in groups of 20. The organizers were subsequently fined by the police, who said the large numbers of attendees (an estimated 10,000 marches in Melbourne) had dissuaded her from going after everyone else.
And what about the protest against the lockdown, against the vaccine?
The Center for Human Rights Law’s chief lawyer, Yusor Al-Azzawi, said protesters have a responsibility to maintain safety when attending to protest the spread of a pandemic.
The protests, which began more than a week ago, against mandatory vaccinations for the construction sector, It turned into a mobile anti-vaccine and anti-lockdown march It was chaotic, sometimes violent, with little adherence to procedures like masks.
Cottrell was fined while holding a banner featuring Prime Minister Daniel Andrews under the words “toot to boot”. She argued that it was her right to protest as an exercise. The right to political communication while being exercised literally close to home.
In New South Wales, courts have in some cases confirmed the right to protest even amid the pandemic.
Graham Also a legal affairs podcastHe said the main Black Lives Matter protest in Sydney was originally “outlawed” in the New South Wales High Court, before the Court of Appeal. Judgment at the last minute General Assembly authorized on technical grounds.
in a Police Commissioner v. GrayJudge Kristen Adamson authorized the Black Lives Matter demonstration in Newcastle in July last year, saying: “Denying such groups the opportunity to demonstrate at an authorized public gathering will inevitably lead to resentment and isolation if public fears of the risks do not justify it.”
Graham argued in court that the attempt to ban the protest was a “totally unsatisfactory case for a country that calls itself a democracy,” while at the same time thousands were allowed to attend sporting events in stadiums.
Should the Victorians be allowed to protest in the event of a pandemic?
“We should always have the right to assemble and protest, but we have an obligation to protect our communities and make choices to protect our communities,” Sam Castro said.
She said protests such as the Black Lives Matter rally are a good example of how safe demonstrations can be in the event of a pandemic, adding: “If the government can make it easier for people to watch a football match safely, then they can facilitate the right to protest.”
Al-Azzawi said there was a clear need to stop serious and violent incidents, but the pandemic should not be a gateway to a permanent restriction of protest rights.
“Democracy does not stop when a pandemic occurs. As we move to the next stage of the public health response, we need to make sure there is space for safe COVID protest procedures,” Al-Azzawi said.
“My argument is, if we take a broader view of a core function, it should include invocation if you can do it in a safe way.”
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