Strasbourg judges reprimand Swiss demonstration ban

A recent ruling by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) shows how necessary it is to come to terms with various violations of fundamental rights over the past two years. In the judgement published on 15 March 2022, the Strasbourg court criticises the Swiss authorities for taking disproportionate decisions, as Article 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights protects freedom of assembly and association as a central good of a democracy.

On 16 March 2020, not only was a demonstration announced for 1 May banned, but the organisers were banned from holding public demonstrations for two and a half months. The Geneva umbrella organisation of trade unions, the "Communauté Genevoise d'Action Syndicale", filed a complaint against this and has now won its case before the ECtHR.1

We recall many decisions by authorities in Switzerland, in particular to ban demonstrations against Corona measures, even though the decisions violated Art. 22 BV (guaranteeing freedom of assembly). How many arbitrary decisions by authorities have even been examined in substance by Swiss courts, let alone overturned?

Now the Strasbourg Court holds that the Geneva ban on demonstrations was disproportionate to the aims pursued. In particular, the court criticises the fact that the government's decision was not reviewed by the courts for its proportionality. In particular, the order not to hold any more public demonstrations for two and a half months was "unlawful and too radical".2

Where is the outcry of Swiss politicians in the face of this Strasbourg judgement? We must become active ourselves in order to come to terms with the history of this injustice. The judgement of the ECHR is encouraging.

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