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ECNL launches pilot project on monitoring freedom of assembly in the Western Balkans

There is an increased government crackdown on assembly in the Western Balkans, without consistent awareness, monitoring and mapping the issues. During its work in the region, ECNL has identified threats to the right to freedom of assembly, and found that there is a lack of understanding of the legal framework, international standards and its implementation.

The objective of our project was to design and pilot a research for monitoring the legal framework and practical implementation of the right to freedom of assembly in 5 countries (Macedonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Montenegro and Serbia) in order to increase understanding of how this freedom is applied and how it can be protected. We worked with local research organizations that can also advocate for the cause (REACTOR in Macedonia, Civil Rights Defenders in Bosnia, Human Rights House in Croatia, Institut Alternativa in Montenegro and YUCOM in Serbia).

Using the methodology specifically developed for this project, the research was conducted in the first half of 2016, producing five country reports and assembly flashcards available in both English and local languages, as well as a short regional summary of all countries’ findings. ECNL and partners developed recommendations for action and advocacy safeguarding right to free assembly, for both governments and EU/donors. We ended this pilot project with a regional expert conference to discuss the outcomes and come up with an action plan for regional and in-country advocacy.

The project was made possible by the International Center for Not-for-Profit Law through the Civic Space Initiative, implemented in partnership with ARTICLE 19, CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation, and the World Movement for Democracy.