On October 24th, 2016, CIVICUS World Alliance for Citizen Participation launched in beta a new tool that rates countries based on how well they uphold the three fundamental rights that enable people to act collectively and make a change: freedom of association, freedom of peaceful assembly, and freedom of expression. In this endeavor, BCSDN is acting as Research partner to CIVICUS by providing bi-monthly updates for countries in the Balkan region and Turkey.
According to the CIVICUS Monitor, the first-ever online tool to track and compare civic freedoms on a global scale, more than three billion people live in countries where the rights to protest, organize and speak out are currently being violated.
Of the 104 countries currently rated, it finds that civic space in 16 countries is closed, a rating characterized by an atmosphere of fear and violence and severe punishment for those who dare to disagree with authorities. A further 32 countries are rated repressed, meaning that 3.2 billion people live in countries where civic space is either repressed or closed. 21 one countries are rated obstructed and 26 narrowed. Just 9 countries were rated as open, meaning the state authorities safeguard the space for civil society and provide platforms for dialogue.
The CIVICUS Monitor finds violations of civic freedoms in every region of the world, and it documents attacks on civil society with updates every weekday. Analysis of more than 200 updates to the CIVICUS Monitor over the past four months has found that detention of activists, use of excessive force against protesters and attacks on journalists were the three most common violations of civic freedoms, with the state being the perpetrator of violation in the vast majority of the cases.
From the countries in the Western Balkans (Albania, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, and Serbia) and Turkey, the analysis highlights Macedonia as a country whereby the state authorities detain people to prevent them from criticizing or challenging state officials, policies or institutions, but also as a country whereby reporting on political affairs can be dangerous for journalists. The analysis also pinpoints to Serbia, where journalists experienced attacks not because of their coverage, but because of their ethnicity, or religious or political affiliations. Finally, the analysis emphasizes Turkey as a country where serious civic space violations are taking place, with thousands of activists, journalists, and others being targeted in a systematic crackdown upon the attempted coup. Read the full analysis here.
CIVICUS hopes the CIVICUS Monitor will be an invaluable tool allowing activists, journalists, civil society organizations, academic institutions and the general public to assess how well their governments are enabling civic freedoms, as enshrined in national constitutions and guaranteed in international law, as well as through intergovernmental commitments. Unique amongst global measures of freedom, democracy, and governance, the CIVICUS Monitor will be updated each weekday, and users are invited to contribute in order to improve accuracy.
BCSDN, as CIVICUS research partner, is entitled to provide the bi-monthly updates for the Western Balkans (Albania, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, and Serbia) and Turkey, along with its members and local CSOs.
For more information please feel free to contact Sanja Bogatinovska, Junior Policy and Advocacy Officer for Civil Society Development at BCSDN Executive Office on firstname.lastname@example.org. Should you wish to set up an interview with CIVICUS staff, please contact CIVICUS’ global press office on email@example.com. Interviews can be arranged with CIVICUS Secretary General Danny Sriskandarajah and CIVICUS Monitor lead researcher Cathal Gilbert, as well as regional researchers located in different countries.
The full Press Release of CIVICUS is available here.