The Freedom of Assembly includes the rights to take part in possessions or demonstrations. It is also a fundamental right given to every citizen. If a citizen is unhappy about things that are going on, the citizen reserves the right to demonstrate against those things. In fact, it is this law that has given rights to any and all citizens who have taken part in demonstrations. In the recent past, the Police were slowly but surely usurping these rights that have been given to a citizen. The Police did so by relying on the Public Order Act, which among others, required any citizen who wanted to demonstrate to notify the Police about their intention to demonstrate. Between the Police and the Demonstrator, they were to agree on the route, timeframe, etc. of the demonstration. The Police often acting in bad faith would surreptitiously go to the Court at the 11th hour without notice to the Demonstrator and stop the demonstration. On one or two occasions, one could understand why the Police could take such a step but the practice became so rampant that it became obvious that the Police were totally preventing the demonstration. The Court had to put its foot down to declare that the right of a citizen to demonstrate was fundamental and even superseded the inconveniences that such a demonstration will occasion the Police Service and that the Police did not have that right to go to court to stop demonstration especially when they did not do so by giving notice to the demonstrator.

This right of Association also includes the right of Assembly. Many people can organize and meet on any field of interest. Therefore, if Uncle Ebo Whyte wants to do a play and show it at the National Theatre, he does not have to take permission from anybody except the management of the National Theatre for the venue. Similarly, it is this Law of Assembly that allows even the Church to hold a gathering. Whereas the law gives all of us the right of freedom of religion, there needs to be a freedom of assembly which would allow us to hold masses together.

This same Law allows people working together or working in similar work areas to form a trade union who would negotiate terms with your Employer on your behalf. No Employer would succeed in Court if he dismisses an employee simply because they have joined a Trade Union. Therefore, the decision to join a Trade Union is exclusively an Employee’s decision. This, of course, means that no Employee can be forced to join any Trade Union.

This Right of Association and Assembly is extremely important and perhaps as important as the right of speech. Its absence could mean that a Government could make a law that would criminalize the association of 2 0r 3 persons. If any Government succeeded in that, what it would mean would be that before there is a gathering of 2 0r persons, permission ought to be sought and granted by the Government. Effectively there would be no Church Services unless the Government wished, no parties unless sanctioned by the Government, no anniversaries or celebration and I daresay that there would have been no intimacy between husband and wife unless they went for authority from the Government to allow them to associate. The absurdity of this situation would very much be an occurrence had the constitution not made a provision for these rights which we have often taken for granted but without which our lives would have been miserable.

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