Governments are backsliding on their commitment to freedom of association, leading some human rights defenders to go underground.
This warning, from Nils Muižnieks, is included in his latest Human Rights ‘Comment,’ published today.
The Commissioner for Human Rights writes: “In recent years I have noticed a clear trend of backsliding in several European countries in the area of freedom of association, particularly in respect of human rights organisations and defenders.
“The growing pressure and increased obstacles can take a variety of forms: legal and administrative restrictions; judicial harassment and sanctions, including criminal prosecution for failure to comply with new restrictive regulations; smear campaigns and orchestrated ostracism of independent groups; and threats, intimidation and even physical violence against their members.
“In some cases, the climate is so negative that it forces human rights work to the margins or even underground.”