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Tartu court fails to uphold appeal against ban of pro-Palestinian rally

Tartu Administrative Court has turned down an appeal against a decision by the Tartu Police and Border Guard Board (PPA) to ban a planned demonstration in support of the Palestinian people.

"One person lodged an appeal with the Tartu Administrative Court against the decision not to allow a public meeting on November 17. The complainant asked for a declaration that the contested decision was null and void or, alternatively, that it was unlawful. The court returned this appeal," said Tartu courts spokesperson Siim Saavik.

According to Saavik, the court considered it important that, following the refusal to allow the protest on November 17, the Estonian Police and Border Guard Board (PPA) then allowed the appellant to hold a public meeting on December 2, 2023.

Saavik explained that the complainant had lodged an application to the court for a declaratory ruling, the filing of which is subject to restrictions under the Code of Administrative Court Procedure.

"The abstract threat alone that the PPA may prohibit the holding of a public meeting again in the future is not sufficient for the purposes of bringing a declaratory action for preventive purposes. The court dismissed the complaint due to its lack of preventive interest. Nor does the intention to bring a claim for damages provide the right to lodge an appeal," Saavik said.

An appeal against the court's decision may be filed with the Tartu District Court within 15 days of December 7, when it was issued.

The PPA banned a public meeting in Tartu in support of Palestinians planned for November on the grounds that the law does not allow for meetings to be held that incite hatred and violence.

On November 9, the police received a notice of registration for a public meeting, according to which a peaceful public gathering with information referring to international law was planned for November 18 on Tartu's Town Hall Square (Raekoja Plats).

After considering its decision, the Tartu PPA took the view that it would not allow the public meeting to take place. The reason given was that the PPA believed other citizens may also attend the meeting and display posters that could contain justifications for aggression.

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Editor: Michael Cole

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