Monitoring freedom of assembly in the Western Balkan and Eastern Partnership regions
Recent years have seen an increased number and intensity of protests in both the Western Balkan and Eastern Partnership regions. At the same time, countries have experienced a significant increase in restrictions on the right to peaceful assembly. During its work, ECNL has found that there is a lack of awareness and understanding of the legal framework, related international standards and how this freedom is applied and can be protected.
To ensure systematic monitoring of both local laws and implementation, in 2016 ECNL designed a pilot research project and produced the first comprehensive country reports and assembly flashcards on monitoring this fundamental right in five Western Balkan countries (Macedonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Montenegro and Serbia).
In 2017 ECNL extended the scope of the project and worked with local experts in nine countries (Albania, Armenia, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro and Serbia) on mapping the existing environment for assembly. The nine assessment reports provide a brief overview of topical issues and recent developments related to freedom of assembly in the last years.
ECNL also focuses on peer-to-peer knowledge sharing and building local partners’ capacity further. We regularly convene regional events that allow for in-depth discussions. Most recently, in November 2017 we held a successful training for 16 experts from 11 countries in Budapest. Since 2016 this has been the third regional meeting for experts committed to joint collaborative efforts and pursuing monitoring the right to free assembly as an informal network.
In 2018 ECNL will continue with more in-depth monitoring research in 11 countries and also seeks to empower the informal network further.
ECNL currently works with the following local organizations so that the right to free assembly is better understood and partners’ advocacy efforts are strengthened:
Albania – Partners Albania | Armenia – Helsinki Committee of Armenia | Belarus – Human Rights Center “Viasna” and the Belarusian Helsinki Committee | Bosnia and Herzegovina – Civil Rights Defenders | Kosovo – GAP Institute for Advanced Studies | Macedonia – Reactor | Moldova – PromoLEX | Montenegro – Institute Alternative | Serbia – YUCOM