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CSO partners trained on monitoring of assemblies

Under our ongoing project on monitoring the legal framework and practical application of the right to free assembly in Western Balkan and Eastern Partnership countries,ECNL will publish a new set of 12 country reports at the end of 2018. Building on the 2017 mini assessment of topical issues overview of topical issues, this year’s reports will provide an in-depth analysis of legal developments, the role of civil administration in facilitating assemblies, policing, criminalisation of protesters, as well as the overarching issue of accountability manifesting in all of these aspects.

As part of the research methodology, local partners also carry out structured observations of specific assemblies to gather primary data. In order to assist the researchers and build their capacity further on monitoring protests, in June 2018 ECNL organized a 3-day targeted training in Belfast for CSO expert partners from 12 countries (Albania, Armenia, Belarus, Bosnia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, Serbia, plus Ukraine, Croatia and Bulgaria).  Participants had briefing meetings with the Parades Commission, police, assembly organisers, but also those opposing the assembly. They also gained first-hand, practical experience in monitoring a parade and learnt about the Northern Ireland regulation under the expert guidance of Neil Jarman (OSCE ODIHR Expert Panel on Freedom of Assembly).

The research work coupled with possibilities for practical trainings help our partners monitor developments, report challenges and engage in the legal reform process in times when we see a disturbing region-wide trend toward more restrictions in parallel with protests increasing both in number and intensity (see recent examples from Belarus, Albania and Armenia).