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Communauté genevoise d'action syndicale (CGAS) v. Switzerland, N. 21881/20, ECtHR (Third Sezione), 15 March 2022

Type Judgment
Case number 21881/20


COVID-19 pandemic and blanket ban on public meetings for two and a half months. Criminal sanctions in case of violation. Absence of judicial review of proportionality. Violation of Art. 11 ECHR (freedom of peaceful assembly).

Normative references

Art. 11 ECHR 


1. In light of the threat posed by COVID-19 to society and public health, temporary restrictions to the freedom of peaceful assembly is a legitimate purpose prescribed by Art. 11 ECHR. 

2. In light of the importance of freedom of peaceful assembly in a democratic society, on the one hand, and the generalized nature and significant duration of the blanket ban on public demonstrations, on the other hand, the interference with the enjoyment of the rights protected by Art. 11 ECHR is not proportionate to the objectives pursued, given, moreover, the nature and severity of the possible penalties for violating the ban on public meetings. 

3. The domestic courts did not conduct an effective review of the measures in question during the period in which the rule was in force. Thus, the respondent state exceeded its margin of appreciation. Consequently, the interference was not necessary in a democratic society. 

(Case in which the plaintiff was an association whose stated purpose was to defend the interests of workers and non-workers and their member organizations, particularly in the area of trade union and democratic freedoms. Invoking Article 11 of the Convention, it claimed to have been deprived of the right to organize or participate in any public meetings, by virtue of an order issued during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic, March-May 2020)