In the legitimate interests of transparency and accountability, States may require that certain types of associations file reports in specific circumstances. International standards provide that such reporting not be arbitrary or burdensome. The Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association has recognized that States may request reports, but asserts that:
The right to freedom of association includes the duty of States “to protect individuals and associations against defamation, disparagement, undue audits and other attacks in relation to funding they allegedly received.”
The Venice Commission and the OSCE/ODIHR have also issued guidelines emphasizing that reporting requirements should not be burdensome, and shall be proportionate to the size of the association and the scope of its activities, taking into consideration the value of its assets and income.” A joint opinion on the Kyrgyz Republic further cautioned that excessive reporting burdens can hinder the exercise of freedom of associations:
In Cumhuriyet Halk Partisi v. Turkey, the ECtHR held that financial-inspection mechanisms should not be abused for political purposes:
AComHPR Draft Guidelines 43 and 44 extensively discuss the parameters of reporting requirements, outlining the conditions under which reporting may not be considered burdensome, including limiting reporting to an annual submission to a single body. Some extracts:
Yearly reporting requirements are adequate – an association shall not be required to report on every project or acquisition of funding. The law shall not require associations to make public their sources of funding other than through such yearly reports. Prior reporting requirements shall not be imposed.
Reporting requirements shall be entirely laid out in a single piece of legislation, and reports shall only be required to a single governmental body.
Any yearly reporting requirements shall not require extensive details, but shall rather be aimed at ensuring financial propriety.
Reporting requirements shall be proportionate to the size and scope of the organization. In no circumstances shall not-for-profit associations be subjected to greater reporting requirements than for-profit entities.
Reporting requirements shall not be used as a way to limit or target associations.