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  • Restrictive laws in several member states concerning freedom of peaceful assembly 
  • Need of impartial and effective investigations in case of violent police interventions 
  • Some violent, militant protesters harm legitimacy of peaceful protests 
  • Journalist should not be a target 

Parliament stressed on Thursday that public debate is vital to the functioning of democratic societies and called on member states to respect the right of freedom of peaceful assembly.

In a resolution passed with 438 votes to 78 and 87 abstentions, MEPs condemned the restrictions in several member states to the freedom of assembly and denounced the use of violent and disproportionate interventions by state authorities during protests and peaceful demonstrations.

They called for transparent, impartial, independent and effective investigations when the use of disproportionate force is suspected and underlined that law enforcement agencies must always be held accountable for the fulfilment of their duties.

“Violence against peaceful demonstrators can never be a solution in a debate or in politics”, notes the text, whilst acknowledging that the police is operating “in difficult conditions, owing in particular to the hostility of some protesters, but also to an excessive workload”.

MEPs condemn “every kind of violence against individuals or property by violent, militant protesters, who only come for a violent purpose and harm the legitimacy of peaceful protests” and emphasise the importance of guaranteeing the safety of law enforcement officers, police officers and soldiers during public protest demonstrations.

The resolution also notes the important role of journalists and photojournalists in reporting cases of disproportionate violence, and condemns all instances in which they have been deliberately targeted.