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Special Rapporteurs worried about the massive arrests made during the night of May 24.
Lisa-Marie Gervais, 31 May 2012
Original French Text: http://www.ledevoir.com/societe/education/351317/l-onu-fait-la-lecon-a-quebec-sur-sa-loi-speciale
The United Nations (UN) has snubbed the government of Quebec, exhorting it to respect the rights of students and demonstrators. It has also criticized the Special Law adopted by the Charest government, emphasizing that this legislation “unduly restricts the right of association and peaceful assembly in the province of Quebec”.
The UN stands by the report prepared by two independent experts who specified being in contact with the government, which had promised to clarify these issues. The special rapporteurs were particularly concerned by the “acts of serious violence” and by the massive arrests made during the night of May 24 when at least 700 demonstrators were arrested across the province of Quebec.
“It is regrettable that the authorities resorted to a restrictive approach rather than to dialogue and mediation in order to resolve the present situation,” Maina Kiai, one of these Rapporteurs, had made known via communique. According to Mr. Kiai, Bill 78 excessively blames the student associations, and the amount of the fines (up to $125,000) is “disproportionate” and “of a nature to dissuade the students from exercising their right of peaceful assembly.”
In their report, the two experts had insisted on the importance of protecting the students’ right of peaceful assembly, the right of expression, and the right of association. They also take up a good part of the arguments presented by the students who, along with unions and other civil society organizations and individuals, have challenged Bill 78 in the courts last Friday.
The new municipal regulation adopted by the City of Montreal, also aiming to restrict the demonstrations, has received its share of criticism. The Rapporters suspect that the regulation immediately assumes that the assemblies are not peaceful. A legislation requiring that a route be furnished also should not be used “abusively to restrict the right of peaceful assembly”. And as for wearing a mask? Individuals should have the right to dress as they wish as long as this right does not infringe on the rights of others, maintained the UN.
Translated from the original French by Translating the printemps érable.
*Translating the printemps érable is a volunteer collective attempting to balance the English media’s extremely poor coverage of the student conflict in Québec by translating media that has been published in French into English. These are amateur translations; we have done our best to translate these pieces fairly and coherently, but the final texts may still leave something to be desired. If you find any important errors in any of these texts, we would be very grateful if you would share them with us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please read and distribute these texts in the spirit in which they were intended; that of solidarity and the sharing of information.