Author: Foluso Adegalu
Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria
The right to peaceful assembly enables individuals to express themselves collectively and to participate in shaping their societies and can be of particular importance to marginalised and disenfranchised members of society. The right to peaceful assembly entails a legitimate use of the public space. Although the exercise of the right to peaceful assembly is normally understood to pertain to the physical gathering of persons, comparable human rights protections also apply to acts of collective expression through digital means, for example online gatherings.
The right to peaceful assembly is guaranteed under both international and national laws. The right to peaceful assembly is guaranteed under article 11 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, which provides that:
every individual shall have the right to assemble freely with others. The exercise of this right shall be subject only to necessary restrictions provided for by law in particular those enacted in the interest of national security, the safety, health, ethics and rights and freedoms of others.