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EU Fundamental Rights Agency finds civil society in all member states is facing increasing challenges

Author: European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (EU), Published on: 19 January 2018

"Challenges facing civil society organisations working on human rights in the EU", 19 Jan 2018

...Civil society organisations identified [several] challenges regarding the regulatory environment [including] [t]ransparency laws that require entities involved in political campaigns to register as third-party campaigners...; National rules sometimes go beyond the restrictions of the freedom of peaceful assembly that can legitimately be imposed under international instruments..; A  number of EU Member States have [also] maintained criminal laws banning defamation or insult of state officials, the state itself, and (foreign) heads of state... CSOs [also] face a number of legal and practical obstacles to accessing funding... Some form of access to the decision-making process exists across all EU Member States, as well as at the level of EU...However... [A]ccess to (and real impact on) the decision-making process is generally inconsistent and not very transparent... CSOs and activists in the EU [also] face physical and verbal attacks, harassment and intimidation by non-state actors. These incidents take place both online and offline. Some state officials even engage in verbal attacks and create negative narratives that stigmatise CSOs or discredit their work, harming both the support base for CSOs in society and activists’ morale and motivation. It is vital for public officials to refrain from attacks, including verbal attacks, and unfounded attempts to discredit organisations that promote human rights and non-discrimination...Private actors...also engage in lawsuits in the area of defamation.

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