On April 17, 2013 at “The European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights” forum, in which representatives of civil society from various parts of the world took part, report on “Violation of the NGOs right to funding: from harassment to criminalisation” was presented in Brussels. This is an annual report of the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH).
This report, available in different languages (Russian version published on April 3, 2013), provides a global review of the violations of NGOs’ right to funding via various forms of restrictions imposed by states. It provides a detailed picture, illustrated by concrete examples from 35 different countries, including countries of the ex-USSR. Thus, in Tadzhikistan some human rights NGOs failed to pass obligatory state re-registration and were disbanded, in Azerbaijan NGOs are subject to extremely strong taxation regime, in Uzbekistan financing for NGOs can only be carried through two state-controlled banks, which often block the financial means of public organizations and thus paralyze their activities. During the presentation of the report Deborah Stothard , a human rights activist from Burma, has reminded the audience that an extremely difficult situation exists in Belarus, where the possibilities of getting legal financing for NGOs from foreign sources are practically absent, while the activities of NGOs and their CEOs are subject to repression (for example, vice-president of FIDH Ales Bialiatski is now serving a prison term there).
Report also analyses current situation in Russia, including the recently adopted legislative restrictions (the law banning “propaganda of homosexuality”, the law on “foreign agents”) and the non-motivated audits of public organizations, which started in March 2013 and had a very negative impact on the civil society in Russia.
As was stated earlier by the secretary general of OMCT Gerald Staberock: “This is now an urgent problem because there is a pattern emerging, a global backlash, attacking and identifying human rights defenders as illegitimate because of their international connections. This new argument against international support, specifically funding, restricts the actions of NGOs. This is unacceptable”.
Reports also contains recommendations to all parties involved in NGO activities – those receiving financing, sponsors, governments and intergovernmental organizations.
Press-release of FIDH (in Russian):
The text of the report is also available in Russian: