BIRN, together with SHARE foundation, has been monitoring how digital rights violations in Central and South-Eastern Europe are impacting democracy and human rights even before the pandemic changed people’s lives. With the pandemic, however, they saw a tremendous growth of rights violations linked to Covid-19.
Grantees in the spotlight
By working together, members of the coalition led by VoxPublic unite strengths and expertise to promote and defend the rights of civil society actors and to provide response strategies to the growing repression experienced by associations.
Under Hungary’s present government, many independent or critical voices in the media have been silenced. Yet journalists have built new business models to go on holding the powerful to account. The founders of investigative news site Direkt36 see leaders elsewhere emulating Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban and want to share what they’ve learned.
Democracy Reporting International (DRI) recently launched a user-friendly concept for a web-based toolkit to monitor social media during elections. As the phenomenon of social media influencing the political arena is something known only for about 5 years, little knowledge existed about the impact on democracy.
The government campaign against civil organisations in the last few years has caused major damage to the sector in Hungary. The local initiatives in cities and towns across the country have withdrawn and are focusing on rather apolitical activities. Stigmatised CSO’s, especially in pro-governmental cities are isolated from public or civic co-operations.
NOSZA coordinates a coalition of five NGOs in Hungary, working on diverse topics to strengthen civic space. The coalition does so by demonstrating the professionality of civil sector actors that work on improving the lives of people who are most in need. This is achieved, even in lack of funding and in over-politicised atmospheres, via cooperation. With support from Civitates, the coalition members provide multi-sector services, raise public and stakeholder awareness across the country and learn from each other.
The environment for non-governmental organisations and journalists in Slovenia has become increasingly hostile and restrictive since the new government led by Janez Janša took office in March 2020. We constantly see the lack of understanding of the watchdog role of civil society and journalists across the political spectrum.
The European Partnership for Democracy (EPD) facilitates collective action aimed to strengthen EU action and reinforce democracy within EU countries through regulating the digital public sphere in ways that are conducive to democratic principles and practices.
A draft law in Bulgaria proposes an amendment to the Non-profit Legal Entities Act in two parts – the part regarding the functioning of the Civil Society Development Council, as well as proposing the creation of a new legal framework on declaring and controlling the funding of NGOs received from a foreign country or from a foreign natural or legal person. In view of these developments, Civitates met the grantees from Citizen Participation Forum and the Bulgarian Center for Non-for-profit Law, Iva Taralezhkova and Nadia Shabani, to shed a light on the situation in Bulgaria and the work of the coalition.