The International Human Rights Framework on the Right of Peaceful Assembly
Liechtenstein is a state party to the 1966 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). Article 21 governs the right of peaceful assembly, providing that:
The right of peaceful assembly shall be recognized. No restrictions may be placed on the exercise of this right other than those imposed in conformity with the law and which are necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security or public safety, public order (ordre public), the protection of public health or morals or the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.
Liechtenstein is also a state party to the First Optional Protocol to the ICCPR, which allows individuals to petition the Human Rights Committee if they believe the state has violated their human rights as protected under the Covenant.
At regional level, Liechtenstein is a state party to the 1950 European Convention on Human Rights. Article 11 governs freedom of assembly and association:
1. Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and to freedom of association with others, including the right to form and to join trade unions for the protection of his interests.
2. No restrictions shall be placed on the exercise of these rights other than such as are prescribed by law and are necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security or public safety, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others. This Article shall not prevent the imposition of lawful restrictions on the exercise of these rights by members of the armed forces, of the police or of the administration of the State.
The Domestic Legal Framework on the Right of Peaceful Assembly
Under Article 41 of the 1921 Constitution of the Principality of Liechtenstein (as amended), the right of assembly "shall be guaranteed within the limits prescribed by law".
National law governing assemblies in Liechtenstein is primarily the 1950 Ordinance on the Authorisation of Public Events. Under Article 1(1) of the Ordinance, all public events that require official actions, such as road closures or policing, must be the subject of a government authorisation.
The Legal Framework on Use of Force During Assemblies
The Use of Force
International Legal Rules
Under international law, the duty on the state and its law enforcement agencies is to facilitate the enjoyment of the right of peaceful assembly. According to the 1990 United Nations Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials:
In the dispersal of assemblies that are unlawful but non-violent, law enforcement officials shall avoid the use of force or, where that is not practicable, shall restrict such force to the minimum extent necessary.
All force used by police and other law enforcement agencies must be necessary for a legitimate law enforcement purpose and proportionate to that purpose.
Under the 1989 Police Act, force may be used only if it is immediately necessary and if less serious means are not suitable.
The Use of Firearms
International Legal Rules
According to the 1990 United Nations Basic Principles, in the dispersal of violent assemblies, a law enforcement official may only use a firearm against a specific individual where this is necessary to confront an imminent threat of death or serious injury or a grave and proximate threat to life.
Under the 1989 Act, a firearm may be used by the police only as a last resort in accordance with the principle of proportionality. Their use is authorised primarily in cases of self-defence and assisting in self-defence. However, Article 29(b) of the 1989 Police Act also allows the use of firearms against persons who have committed a crime or are escaping capture.
This is more permissive than international law allows.
State Compliance with its Legal Obligations
Views and Concluding Observations of United Nations Treaty Bodies
In its 2017 Concluding Observations on Liechtenstein, the Human Rights Committee did not address the right of peaceful assembly. Its 2017 Universal Periodic Review under the UN Human Rights Council also did not address the right of peaceful assembly.
There have been no cases against Liechtenstein before the European Court of Human Rights concerning alleged violations of the right of peaceful assembly or excessive police use of force against demonstrators.