Civic Initiatives: Report on “Associations of Citizens: Shrinking Civic Space in Serbia for 2019” Published

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Civic Initiatives published the Report- “Associations of Citizens: Shrinking Civic Space Serbia for 2019″. The report highlights key issues in the areas of fundamental rights and freedoms, notably the rights of association, expression and assembly, as well as the issues of civil sector involvement in policy and decision-making.

The report points to the worrying practice of јеpolarizing freedom of expression, primarily through tabloid campaigns against media and professional journalists. The report emphasizes that the problem is overburden by the fact that the holders of the highest public functions and representatives of the governing structures participate in these campaigns, but primarily because of the absence of reactions from the relevant authorities. Recalling that 2019 was marked by a large number of citizens’ protests, the report indicates that key deficiencies of the laws governing the area have not yet been eliminated, above all regarding the regulation of spontaneous gathering but also the excessive fines for organizers and participants. It also points to the attempt to deter citizens from activism by initiating numerous penalties.

Considering the freedom of association, the report highlights the dangers posed to civil society by creating a parallel, or the so-called GONGO organizations. The purpose of establishing these “governmental non-governmental organizations” is primarily to collect financial sources from the state and local budgets through calls for proposals for co-financing projects, but also to discredit the relevant non-governmental organizations.

The report concludes that the overall rating for the position of the CSOs in Serbia is obstructed because of the lack of political dialogue. Moreover, due to the deep political crises and weak political institutions, the role of CSOs is of particular importance for the preservation of democratic procedures and values, and that this role will be even more significant in the coming period.

Read the report in local language here.

Source: Civic Initiatives

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