In different parts of the world, human rights and civil society is experiencing an upward trend of hostility and violations of freedom of association from their respective governments. Citing security and sovereignty, governments are restricting these group’s operations through legal and administrative policies, threats, intimidation, smear campaigns, judicial harassment and sanctions.
The excessive amount of red tape placed by the governments has exposed human rights and civil groups to a chilled environment where they are scaling down their operations while some are even discontinuing their missions. Since 2012, over 60 countries globally have either drafted or passed a law that restricts operations of civil society organizations.
For instance, Azerbaijan has placed tight regulations for NGO registration. The Russian Federation enacted a Law on Foreign Agents that require NGOs that receive funding from abroad to register as “foreign agents.”
In Russia, foreign agents are perceived as enemies of the government. In Hungary, there is mass inspection of NGOs suspected to be “foreign agents.” In Turkey, over 1,400 groups, including NGOs are experiencing closure or liquidation. This is happening despite of the existing international human rights law that states that NGOs cannot be closed without judicial proceedings. Learn more about Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin: https://about.me/michael-lacey
Smear campaigns, which are facilitated by governments against NGOs, have paralyzed the operations of different human rights groups. In 2014, top human rights defenders and civil activists in Azerbaijan were labeled as “traitors” and “foreign agents,” thus prosecuted. While various activists were released in 2016, many are still in custody, as numerous criminal cases remain open.
Governments are always justifying their restrictive measures against human rights and civil society groups as a way of enhancing transparency and accountability. However, this strategy is not realistic since all NGOs are required to submit information on their financial status and overall operations to the authorities.
Governments have also cited the need to counteract alleged interference by malicious foreign powers that influence politics and perpetrate unrest. Instead of sabotaging these group’s activities, governments should support them.
States need to treat NGOs fairly irrespective of their source of funding and give them freedom to seek funding from anywhere, including institutions or individual donors, and state or multilateral agencies. Additionally, states should stop placing restrictive administrative requirements on human rights groups, but instead promote their right to freedom of association. Read more: Jim Larkin | Crunchbase and Jim Larkin | Angel.co
About Lacey & Larkin Frontera Fund
With the increasing cases of violation and abuse towards human rights and civil societies, there is need for international communities to collaborate and support these groups. Lacey & Larkin Frontera Fund is one of the organizations that are working to ensure that these groups receive adequate support to run their operations.
Lacey & Larkin Frontera Fund supports groups that fight for human, civil, and migrant rights across Arizona. The organization was founded by two journalists, Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin, who raised funds from their arrest by Maricopa Sheriff Joe Arpaio.
The two journalists, who are founders of Village Voice Media and Phoenix New Times, started the program in 2007 after receiving $3.75 million in settlement from their wrongful arrest by Arpaio. The two had been jailed for disclosing grand jury proceedings that demanded their articles about the ill deeds of the Sheriff.