Personally SPEAKING; DOMINIC BRYAN, MICHAEL HAMILTON and NEIL JARMAN, Authors of the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission Report on Rights and Freedom of Assembly

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Byline: DOMINIC BRYAN, MICHAEL HAMILTON and NEIL JARMAN

Alex Kane (March 31) described our report as 'legalistic tosh' and 'little more than political cover for republicanism' (sic).

We would like to explain what the report is about, so that readers can then decide if the above is true.

The European Convention on Human Rights was incorporated in UK law by the Human Rights Act in October 2000. This means that case law from the European Court may be relied upon in judicial review cases here. Given that the parades issue is important to many, it seemed reasonable to look at the cases coming out of the European Court.

Our report is an analysis of European cases, with other international examples, which might be relevant to freedom of assembly (parades AND protests AND policing). We do not specifically discuss Drumcree, the Ormeau Road, or anywhere else in Northern Ireland.

We have tried to make sense of complex and contradictory opinions from the European Court. The report is quite long and detailed, as we want people to be able to use it as a resource. We have attempted to look at cases as objectively as possible. The ramifications of are that freedom of assembly (parades AND protests) can be restricted, by the state, in certain circumstances.

In enforcing a legal ruling, the police can legitimately use force, but force proportionate to the circumstances.

Our impression - and you are free to think, as Alex Kane does, that our impression is worthless - is that the European Court has not interpreted freedom of assembly in a particularly libertarian manner. …