Tag - Europe ( 56 )

News | Russia: “Draft law on non-commercial organizations detrimental to civil society”

Jul 12 2012

Maina Kiai and two other United Nations experts have urged the State Duma not to adopt legislative amendments that can adversely impact civil society in Russia. The Special Rapporteurs on freedom of association, human rights defenders and freedom of expression warned that the draft law, if approved, would brand as ‘foreign agents’ all foreign-funded non-commercial organizations (NCOs) engaging in political activities, and impose harsh penalties for non-compliance with the new requirements. “These amendments constitute a direct affront to those wishing to freely exercise their right to freedom of association,” stressed the UN Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, Maina Kiai. According to the draft legislation to regulate NCOs’ activities, which is currently being discussed in the State Duma, NCOs wishing to engage in ‘political activities’ will have to register as organizations ‘performing the functions of foreign agents’ before receiving foreign funding. The term ‘foreign agent’ has been considered as carrying a negative connotation in Russia, and could be interpreted as a synonym for ‘foreign espionage.’ Moreover, the draft law stipulates that any material published by such organizations will have to be labelled as being... Continue reading →

News | Statement by the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association at the conclusion of his visit to the Republic of Georgia

Feb 13 2012

Tbilisi, 13 February 2012 I would like thank the Government of the Republic of Georgia for inviting me to undertake a visit to the country, and for the cooperation that has been extended to me and to the members of my delegation before and during the conduct of the mission. I am most grateful to all interlocutors I have met, which include a large variety of senior government officials, the Public Defender and his Office, representatives of non-governmental organizations, labour unions, political parties, research institutes, activists and human rights defenders in Tbilisi, Kutaisi and Batumi. I am especially honoured as this is my first country visit since I was appointed UN Special Rapporteur in May 2011, and I am grateful to the Government of Georgia for its warmth and graciousness in inviting me. I was appointed right in the midst of the Arab Spring. The resolution that establishes my mandate asks me to “report on violations, wherever they occur, of the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, as well as discrimination, threats or use of violence, harassment, persecution, intimidation or reprisals directed at persons exercising these rights, and to draw the attention of the Council and the High Commissioner to situations of particularly serious concern”. The overarching... Continue reading →

News | Georgia: UN expert raises alarm on arbitrary restrictions against opposition, unions and NGOs

Feb 13 2012

TBILISI, GEORGIA - United Nations Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, Maina Kiai, voiced alarm at the increasing climate of fear and intimidation against opposition parties, labour unions and members of non-governmental organizations. At the end of his eight-day mission to the country, Mr. Kiai warned that a number of restrictive legislative amendments adopted in late December 2011 by the Parliament of Georgia restricted the freedom of association. “It is clear that all these restrictive efforts have been put in place to deliberately prevent and restrict certain individuals from standing in the upcoming parliamentary and presidential elections,” the expert said. “The role of freedom of association in this context is to give hope to any political party that it can genuinely compete in elections. In the case of Georgia, there is an unequal political playing field.” “Georgia has come a long way since in 2003,” Mr. Kiai said, “however, there are a number of worrying signs that indicate that the focus on greater modernization and investment can easily derail the human rights achievements that were won through the painful process of the Rose Revolution. Given the way the current government was formed there is an expectation to respect the rights... Continue reading →

Report | Country Visit: Republic of Georgia (A/HRC/20/27/Add.2)

Report on Georgia
Feb 07 2017

UN Special Rapporteur Maina Kiai undertook an official mission to the Republic of Georgia from Feb. 6-13, 2012, at the invitation of the Georgian government. The visit was carried out pursuant to his mandate to assess the situation of freedoms of peaceful assembly and association in the country. Mr. Kiai visited the cities of Tbilisi, Kutaisi and Batumi, and held meetings with Government officials, non-governmental organizations, trade unions, political party officials and representatives of the international community based in Tbilisi. Since the “Rose Revolution”, Georgia has experienced a remarkable period of reforms in many areas of public life. The Special Rapporteur considers, however, that these improvements should not be taken for granted. A climate of fear and intimidation against members of opposition political parties and civil society could seriously threaten this path. In the light of the 2012 parliamentary and 2013 presidential elections, more efforts to ensure protection of the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and association should be made. The Special Rapporteur’s report was officially released on June 8, 2012, and was presented to the Human Rights Council at its 20th session in June... Continue reading →

News | Kiai to make first official country visit to Georgia

Feb 03 2012

The UN Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, Maina Kiai, will undertake the first visit of his tenure to Georgia from 6 to 13 February 2012, at the invitation of the Government. "With elections planned for this year, Georgia has a wonderful opportunity to enhance the enjoyment of all human rights for all its citizens, and especially the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, which are the fulcrum for the enjoyment of democracy and economic development," said the independent human rights expert, who will travel to Tbilisi, Kutaisi and Batumi. “This mission will provide me with an opportunity to look in-depth at issues concerning freedoms of peaceful assembly and association in Georgia, by allowing me to collect first-hand information from the different actors concerned.” During his visit, the Special Rapporteur will meet with Government officials, representatives of the judiciary, legislature, media, civil society, as well as with the Public Defender. He will also meet representatives of the diplomatic corps, United Nations system and other international organizations. A press conference will be held on Monday, 13 February, at the Courtyards Marriott at the Freedom Square in Tbilisi, from 14h00 to 16h00, during which the... Continue reading →

News | Belarus: “New legislative amendments unduly restrict fundamental rights,” warn UN experts

Nov 24 2011

Three United Nations independent experts warned that the new legislative amendments recently adopted by the National Assembly of Belarus may severely and arbitrarily restrict the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly, association and expression, and breach international law. “These amendments could constitute a direct affront to the exercise of fundamental civil and political rights which are at the core of any democratic society, such as the rights to assembly and to associate freely,” said the Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, Mr. Maina Kiai. Mr. Kiai recalled that the National Assembly of Belarus introduced changes to the Laws on Public Associations, Political Parties, Public Gatherings and Administrative Violations, as well as the Criminal and the Election Codes, “in a legislative process that lacked proper consultation with civil society.” According to the new legislation, organizing assemblies without the prior and explicit consent of the incumbent authorities is now considered a criminal offense, and new reporting liabilities are imposed on organisers concerning the financial resources used for such assemblies. Disseminating information, including through the social media, without any permission for assembly is also strictly... Continue reading →