Welcome to Liberties' monthly round-up, where we catch you up on the most pressing human rights topics we've been working on. This month, we dusted off our red pens to see how the EU's Rule of Law Report compares to Liberties' version. While we expected some differences, the stark discrepancies between the two reports suggests the EU is looking at the bloc through rose-tinted glasses. But the delusions aren't limited to the rule of law. The watered down version of the anti-SLAPP directive proposed by the European Parliament suggests that EU governments aren't taking frivolous lawsuits seriously. We also sat down with SNV's Pegah Maham to discuss the draft AI Act as it enters trilogue negotiations.
In a nutshell
🛡️ Protect Journalists: Liberties joins civil society and journalists calling on the EU Council to protect journalists from spyware and surveillance in the European Media Freedom Act.
💻 Digital Services Act: Liberties supports the open letter urging the EU to follow a human-rights centred enforcement of the DSA and include international civil society.
✊ Liberties in Croatia: Israel Butler, Head of Framing & Messaging and Valentin Toth, Head of Communications went to Zagreb to give a three-day workshop to Croatian NGOs to help them increase the impact of their campaigns
Internet Shutdowns: Liberties joined 66 other organisations seeking confirmation from the European Commission that the DSA doesn’t permit arbitrary shutdowns of online platforms
Serious Discrepancies Could Undermine the European Commission's Rule of Law Report
Reading the Commission’s Rule of Law Report, one would think that the overall trend is steady progress towards addressing identified challenges, with new initiatives and reforms underway in many member states and in most of the areas covered. Yet, the picture drawn by rights defenders on the ground is different. Liberties’ shadow Rule of Law Report 2023 points to few efforts in most EU countries to resolve documented rule of law issues.
Read our statement outlining the discrepancies between Liberties’ report and the Commission’s report, which was released earlier this month.
Liberties in the news: Democracy 'not radically worse' in EU than a year ago, says bloc's executive - Reuters
Democracy Drinks: The Rise of Artificial Intelligence: Are Our Rights in Good Hands?
Before taking a break for the summer, Liberties invited Stiftung Neue Verantwortung’s Pegah Maham to discuss the impact of AI on human rights with Orsolya Reich. The discussion centered around the AI Act, the draft EU law to regulate AI and protect fundamental rights. While the EU has woken up to the potential dangers of AI, both Pegah and Orsi agree that that current draft still has some large loopholes. They also warn that we should be wary of the deceptive utterances of public support for regulation from tech companies, when behind closed doors, they’re lobbying for watered-down restrictions. Read our summary here.
Statement on the EU anti-SLAPP directive ahead of the start of the trilogues
The trilogues on the EU anti-SLAPP directive kicked off earlier this month on a much shakier basis than what Liberties had hoped when first seeing the Commission’s promising proposal. Despite the vocal commitment of governments, the European Parliament's position seriously watered down the proposal originally put forward by the European Commission. Restricting the possibility for SLAPPs to be dismissed via an early stage mechanism to a very narrow category leaves a big loophole which risks depriving many SLAPP targets of effective protection. Read our statement in full here.
Do you want to join us? Check out our vacancies.
Are you a student interested in a career in communications in the NGO sector? We are looking for a Communications & Campaigns Assistant (Intern) to join us for an internship position.
Applications are accepted on a rolling basis. More information here.
In case you missed our explainers....
Which Are The Most And Least Democratic Countries In the World?
Every year, the Democracy Index measures the strength of global democracy. 2022 was a year that saw war in Europe and Covid-19 pandemic ease. But despite the rolling back of public health restrictions, democracy didn't bounce back in most world regions. Check out our explainer article where we explain how democracy is measured and discuss the 2022 global democracy rankings. Read it here.
Anti-LGBTQIA+ law: In Lithuania, an amendment has been initiated challenging discriminatory provisions of a law protecting minors. Read more.
Solitary Confinement: Antigone, in partnership with Physicians for Human Rights Israel, brought together a coalition of experts to unveil a statement outlining alternatives to the harmful practice of solitary confinement. Read more here.
See you in court: The Irish Council for Civil Liberties is taking the Irish Data Protection Commission to the High Court, alleging that the DPC has failed to protect people against the biggest data breach ever recorded: Google’s “Real-Time Bidding” online advertising system. Read it here.
What we're reading
- Free Speech: The Gatekeepers of Knowledge Don’t Want Us to See What They Know - The New York Times
- Democracy: What's the point of the OSCE if everyone just ignores it? - EU Observer
- Artificial Intelligence - How We Did It: Unlocking Europe's Welfare Fraud Algorithms - Pulitzer Centre