Balkans: NGOs protest state harassment

From: MINELRES moderator <>
Date: Fri, 9 Oct 1998 10:56:37 +0300 (EET DST)
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Subject: Balkans: NGOs protest state harassment

From: MINELRES moderator <>

Original sender: Panayote Elias Dimitras <>

Balkans: NGOs protest state harassment

We, the representatives of the 30 NGOs listed below from 9 countries
of South-Eastern Europe, who participated in Budapest (Hungary) in the
"Multilateral meeting on ‘The legal status of Non-Governmental
Organizations and their role in a pluralist democracy’ (1-3 October
1998), organized by the Council of Europe in the framework of the
Royaumont Process on Stability and Good Neighborliness in
South-Eastern Europe"
- Having discussed at length the legal framework for NGOs in our
respective countries and the legal and/or practical restrictions
imposed in many cases to the registration and/or the operation of the
- Acknowledging that the variety of legal traditions may legitimately
lead to different legal frameworks for NGOs
- Regret nevertheless that, in many countries of the region, the state
does not fully respect such fundamental freedoms as the freedom of
expression and the freedom of association, hindering the registration
and/or the operation of NGOs through either the introduction of
restrictive legislation or the abuse of otherwise fair legal
- Call on the Council of Europe to intensify its efforts to induce its
members to stop such practices impeding on the operation of NGOs, so
as to be considered democratic states of law worthy of continuing
membership in the Council of Europe
- Call on the governments of the region to stop undemocratic
practices, some of which were discussed in the meeting: these are
listed below but by no means should be considered exhaustive; they are
merely indicative of the examples mentioned during the meeting, which
naturally do not include all related problems in the region
- Absence of special favorable tax provisions for NGOs
Bosnia and Herzegovina:
- Arbitrary delay or refusal of registration
- Taxation identical with the "for-profit" organizations
- Important differences in the laws of the two entities (Republika
Srpska and Federation) regulating NGOs
- Denial to citizens of one entity to be members of NGOs in the other
- Refusal of registration of Macedonian and minority religious
- Arbitrary delay or refusal of registration by state authorities
- Excessive right to state control of, interference in, or
penalization of NGO activities provided by the Law on Citizens’
- Hostile attitude towards NGOs, including publicly stigmatizing them
as ‘enemies of Croatia’ even by representatives of the state
- Refusal of registration or dissolution of NGOs from the
ethnonational minorities of Macedonians and Turks, with the pretext of
the non-existence of such minorities or the allegedly inappropriate
geographical term used in their title
- Dissolution of an association from the Church of Scientology,
invoking inter alia the incompatibility of its values with those of
the nation which are supposed to be the values of the official state
religion (Orthodox Christianity)
- Restrictive regulations for the registration of non-traditional
religious associations in a law that favors the traditional religions
(Orthodox and Catholic Christianity and Islam)
- Restrictive policies of the Secretariat of State for the Cults
affecting freedom of religion, especially with regard to religious
associations and foundations
- Avoiding the responsibility of the state to guarantee the physical
and moral security of the members of the various religious groups in
Romania who are not members of the Orthodox Church
- Threats to freedom of religion by the new draft law on the cults
- Ambiguous legal framework with high discretionary state power on
matters of registration and operation of NGOs
- Absence of legal basis for registration and operation of
international NGOs
- Hostile attitude towards NGOs in the Serbian Parliament
International NGOs working on/in Southeastern Europe:
- Association for Aid to Children in Distress
- Carpathian Foundation
- European Roma Rights Center
- International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights
- Albanian Committee against Racism and Intolerance
- Albanian NGO’s Forum
- Useful to Albania Women
Bosnia and Herzegovina:
- Forum of Tuzla Citizens
- Helsinki Committee for Human Rights in Republika Srpska
- Bulgarian Helsinki Committee
- Center for Direct Protection of Human Rights
- Center for Peace, Non-Violence and Human Rights
- Initiative for the Third Sector
- Partners for Democratic Exchange
- Serbian Democratic Forum
- Greek Helsinki Monitor
- Minority Rights Group - Greece
- Civil Society Resource Center
- Helsinki Committee for Human Rights in the Republic of Macedonia
- Journalists Environmental Center
- Macedonian Center for Culture and Development
- Center for Independent Journalism
- Liga Pro Europa
- Pro Democracy Association Cluj
- Romanian Helsinki Committee
- Helsinki Monitor of Slovenia for Human Rights
- Belgrade Center for Human Rights
- Center for Antiwar Action
- Civic Initiatives
- European Movement Serbia
Greek Helsinki Monitor &
Minority Rights Group - Greece
P.O. Box 51393
GR-14510 Kifisia
Tel. +30-1-620.01.20
Fax +30-1-807.57.67

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