Hyde Park is an NGO that works to protect free speech and the right to freedom of assembly. It is named after Speaker’s Corner in London’s Hyde Park, a site famous for free speech.
Hyde Park organised a number of public protests in Chişinău in 2005 and 2006. One was designed to protect the right to free speech in Moldova. Another was organised in front of the Romanian embassy, to protest against Romania’s policy concerning Moldovan students.
A series of these protests were banned by the city authorities. The reasons given included the government’s disagreement with the point the protest was trying to make and the damage a protest might do to the image of the Moldovan government.
Judgment of the European Court of Human Rights
The court recalled that the convention was designed to protect free democratic societies. The right to public assembly is a crucial component of any such society and must include the tolerance of different ideas being expressed in public.
The Moldovan authorities had banned an expression of differing opinions in public, but had not given proper reasons for doing so. This had violated the right to freedom of assembly.
Following this case and a number of others, significant reforms were made to protect freedom of assembly in Moldova. In particular, in February 2008 a new law on freedom of assembly was passed, which established much stronger protections for the right to hold public gatherings.
Freedom of Assembly in Moldova is still being monitored by NGOs and the Council of Europe.
Useful links to the Hyde Park and others v the Republic of Moldova case (Application No 33482/06):