The International Human Rights Framework on the Right of Peaceful Assembly
Tuvalu is not a State Party to the 1966 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), Article 21 of which governs the right of peaceful assembly.
The right of peaceful assembly is, though, a fundamental human right that is part of the corpus of customary international law. It is also a general principle of law.See Art. 38(1), 1945 Statute of the International Court of Justice.
There is not yet a regional human rights treaty to which Pacific nations can adhere despite discussions going back decades as to the possibility of establishing a regional mechanism.
The Domestic Legal Framework on the Right of Peaceful Assembly
Section 25 of the 1986 Constitution of Tuvalu guarantees the right to assemble freely, but makes it subject to laws protecting the interests of defence, public safety, public order, public morality, or public health, or for the purpose of protecting the rights or freedoms of others.
There is no dedicated national legislation governing assemblies in Tuvalu.
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 Section 16(2) of the 2008 Criminal Procedure Code, if a person forcibly resists a police officer's attempt "to arrest him, or attempts to evade the arrest, such police officer or other person may use all means necessary to effect the arrest".
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.
The Constitution potentially allows deadly force in the protection of property or to suppress a riot. This does not comply with international law.
State Compliance with its Legal Obligations
Views and Concluding Observations of United Nations Treaty Bodies
Tuvalu is not a State Party to the ICCPR.
In the 2018 Universal Periodic Review of Tuvalu under the UN Human Rights Council, the right of peaceful assembly was not addressed.
Views of Civil Society
According to Freedom House's 2019 report on Tuvalu:
The constitution provides for freedom of assembly, and the government typically upholds this right in practice.