Comment to US Government on its compliance with Article 21 of the ICCPR


Comments to the United States Government in Advance of its Upcoming Presentation to the Committee on the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and Optional Protocols

Over the last several years, the United States has witnessed widespread violations of Americans right to peaceful assembly, including extensive police violence against nonviolent protesters and unjustified arrests. The country’s federal counterterrorism infrastructure has been used to surveil and spread misinformation about nonviolent protesters. Earlier this year in Georgia, activists, including nonviolent protesters , were charged under the state’s domestic terrorism law, which carries a sentence of up to 35 years in jail. Since 2017, 21 states have enacted at least 40 anti-protest bills that apply draconian penalties for common nonviolent protest activity. Authorities have also repeatedly failed to protect protesters from growing intimidation and violence from armed counter-protesters and vigilantes, particularly at LGBTQ, reproductive rights, and racial justice protests.

While not going far enough, recent initiatives of the federal government to better secure protest rights are welcome. These include new guidelines from COPS on the policing of protests; Justice Department pattern and practice investigations that examine First Amendment violations of protesters; and the Justice Department filing a statement of interest in a constitutional challenge to HB 1 in Florida. Read ICNL’s full testimony by downloading the PDF here.