Freedom of Association and Assembly / Protests
Vajnai v. Hungary
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The Supreme Court of Brazil granted a preliminary injunction to three directors of the Central Única dos Trabalhadores (United Unions Central or CUT), the country’s main trade union, enabling them to enter the National Congress’ building following a protest obstructing their admission.
This case was contributed by the Open Society Justice Initiative in collaboration with Article 19.
On April 7, 2015, unions and social movements organized a protest in front of the National Congress’ building, in Brasília, against the passing of Bill No. 4330/2004, which proposed a new legal regime for subcontracted work.
The protest was violently repressed by the police and left eight people injured, including two congressmen. The police also arrested five protesters – two for damage to property, two for assault and one for theft. In order to prevent further protests at the Chamber of the Deputies, the lower House of Congress, its President, Eduardo Cunha, prohibited protesters from entering the Chamber’s galleries, specifically targeting members and representatives of CUT, as well as other unions.
CUT filed for habeas corpus with the Supreme Court in relation to three of its directors, Sérgio Aparecido Nobre, Jandyra Massue Uehara Alves and Maria Aparecida do Amaral Godoi, in order to guarantee their right to be present during voting sessions.
On April 8, 2015, J. Marco Aurélio granted the injunction, enabling the three directors to enter and stay inside the Chamber of Deputies during voting sessions.
He stated that Parliament should properly represent the people and should therefore listen to their social concerns. Further, the National Congress is the House of the People and it is only by representing and listening to the people that a true Democratic Rule of Law can be built.
It is unimaginable, J. Marco Aurélio continued, that any obstacles should be put in the way to prevent the admission of any citizen into the National Congress buildings. He added that the Legislative Branch must be strengthened through the enforcement of its system of checks and balances to avoid abuse by any other Branch of government.
On April 21, 2016 J. Marco Aurélio rejected the President of the Chamber of Deputies’ application to revoke the injunction repeating the reasons he gave for his prior decision.
Decision Direction indicates whether the decision expands or contracts expression based on an analysis of the case.
The decision maintains the right to speak about, follow and protest bills and legislative subjects discussed inside the National Congress.
Global Perspective demonstrates how the court’s decision was influenced by standards from one or many regions.
Case significance refers to how influential the case is and how its significance changes over time.
As a precedent related to the National Congress, it is important for further cases involving restrictions on access or cases seeking the prevention of discussion about legislative bills. However it is important to note that the decision is still only a provisional measure.
The S.T.F.’s decisions influence all the other Courts and, in this case, it can be replicated to Local Legislative Branches.
Let us know if you notice errors or if the case analysis needs revision.