Conservative government submits bill on public gatherings

Conservative government submits bill on public gatherings

The conservative government on Monday submitted a bill to Parliament that aims to restrict outdoor public gatherings, protest rallies and demonstrations.

The bill stipulates that organizers will have to promptly notify police or port authorities about planned gatherings. Nevertheless, a rally that has not been previously announced will not necessarily be deemed illegal.

Rally organizers will be held responsible for taking necessary measures to ensure public safety, such as informing demonstrators of a ban on objects that could be used for violent purposes and taking measures to prevent outsiders from infiltrating the rally.

Authorities will be able to ban a demonstration on the grounds of public safety or in cases where a it aims to counter a rally protesting a rival cause. They will be able to propose alternative areas where the counter-protest can be held.

According to the legislation, authorities will have the right to impose curbs on a planned or ongoing protest if the demonstration is expected to have a disproportionate impact on a particular area’s socio-economic.

Under Article 13, organizers of illegal gatherings will face up to one year in prison, and if violence takes place, perpetrators could receive sentences of up to two years. In addition, organizers will be responsible for the compensation of those who suffered material and physical damage inflicted by participants in the demonstration.

Furthermore, a website will provide real-time information on ongoing and planned rallies and demonstrations, as well on the traffic and transport disruptions they are causing.

Government spokesman Stelios Petsas said that the bill aims to shape a “modern legal framework,” while “safeguarding the right of those who wish to air their complaints without encroaching the rights of the majority.”

Parliament is expected to vote on the bill by July 10.

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