Democracy & Justice

Liberties' February Recap | Rule of Law Report 2023, political corruption in the EU, AI ethics & more

A monthly round-up of Liberties' work: European governments weakening democracy, political integrity a blind spot in EU institutions, and why ethics can be costly.

by LibertiesEU

In a nutshell

Media Freedom. Liberties joins 40+ media freedom actors asking Members of the European Parliament to support a strong Media Freedom Act which protects media independence from political influence.

Political Advertising. We welcome the European Parliament’s strengthening of the proposed legislation to tackle political advertising by drastically limiting the use of personal data.

European Digital ID. Liberties, alongside 39 NGOs and independent experts, call on MEPs to maintain a strong stance for the protection of highly sensitive user data with the introduction of a European Digital ID.

SLAPPs. Linda Ravo, Liberties’ Senior Advocacy Consultant, teamed up with the CASE Coalition to meet with the LIBE committee and discuss how the European Commission’s anti-SLAPP proposal can be effective against abusive lawsuits.

Framing Training. Liberties’ Head of Framing & Messaging, Israel Butler, delivered a framing workshop to Greenpeace Netherlands. Interested in tailored training to help your NGO create persuasive campaigns? Learn more here.

Charter Workshop. Liberties held a training program in Brussels on how to use the Charter of Fundamental Rights to litigate on fundamental rights issues, featuring workshops with our advocacy and communications teams as well as external experts to discuss focus areas like data protection and civic space. We’ll be making the material publicly available soon, so watch this space.

In focus

Governments Continue Weakening Democracy: EU Rule of Law Report By 45 NGOs

During February, Liberties released its 2023 Rule of Law Report, the most comprehensive report compiled by an NGO-network. Our report finds that in many EU countries during 2022, it continued to become more difficult for citizens to have a say in how we navigate the problems we face and to demand the solutions we want. Read our overview of trends here.

  • Civil Society in 2022: NGOs Still Left Out in the Cold

Civic space is a key theme in our report. Civil society actors play an invaluable role defending and strengthening the rule of law. However, our findings suggest that EU governments do not sufficiently recognise the importance of civil society organisations and, in some cases, even attack them to silence criticism and prevent people from coming together to demand change. Read our rule of law summary on civil society.

  • Tools to Stop Corruption Are Too Weak

This year’s report makes clear that the rules and mechanisms to stop corruption are simply too weak in too many countries. The majority of organisations contributing to our report saw no change, good or bad, to the anti-corruption framework existing in their country. The most widespread deficiency is the continued lack of protection given to whistleblowers, who can be essential bulwarks against corruption. Read our rule of law article on corruption.

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We have
► Created the largest fund for democracy groups in the EU
► Got new powers to cut off EU funding to autocrats
► Written new EU rules to protect journalists & campaigners from bogus lawsuits
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Artificial Intelligence: Ethics Can be Costly

On the 26th of January 2023, Liberties’ senior advocacy officer, Dr. Orsolya Reich, participated in a hybrid conference on AI and human rights, organized by Liberties’ member organisation the Estonian Human Rights Centre. During the conference, experts exchanged ideas on the foreseeable, as well as potential, social changes that could be caused by developing technology. Dr. Reich argued that the industry’s perspective, which holds that regulation stifles innovation and self-developed ethical guidelines are sufficient to protect our societies, is completely mistaken. Read the full article here.

Democracy Drinks Berlin, February | Qatargate: Is Political Corruption Rife in the EU?

In February’s edition of Democracy Drinks Berlin, Liberties was joined by Flora Cresswell and Jorge Valladares of Transparency International to discuss the fallout of Qatargate and understand how the cash-for-influence payoff was allowed to happen. Given weak transparency measures and the climate of impunity in the EU, our guest speakers agreed that a scandal of this magnitude was inevitable. Addressing the endemic corruption will require self-regulation, however, political integrity remains a blind spot in Europe. Read the full piece here.

Member's Corner

  • Happy Birthday: Liberties’ Spanish member organisation, Rights International Spain, celebrated their 10th Birthday!
  • Virtual Museum: On 24th January CILD, one of Liberties’ Italian member organisations, launched a new website of the virtual museum on the extermination of the Sinti and Roma. The website tells the story of the persecution and extermination of the Sinti and Roma at the hands of Nazis and fascists, and traces how anti-Gypsy prejudice led to racial persecution and eventually to deportation and extermination.
  • Strategic Litigation: Liberties’ Lithuanian member organisation, Human Rights Monitoring Institute, has initiated a programme of strategic litigation in the area of migration and asylum, aimed at achieving justice for individual applicants, initiating judicial assessments of systemic issues, and encouraging changes in the legislation and practice in accordance with international standards.
  • Automated Policing: Following complaints filed by GFF, our German member organisation, the Federal Constitutional Court has ruled that automated data analysis by the police is void in Hamburg & unconstitutional in Hesse.

Here’s a sneak peek at what Liberties will be getting up to in March

Democracy Drinks Berlin | Save the Date, Thursday 24th March

Liberties will be collaborating with another organisation to bring you an extra-special Democracy Drinks. Details to be revealed soon!

  • When? 18.00 - 20.00, Thursday 24th March
  • Where? Ritchie Café & Bar, Oranienstraße 174, Kreuzberg,10999 Berlin
  • RSVP: Register in advance here.

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Be a part of protecting our freedoms

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► Got new powers to cut off EU funding to autocrats
► Advocated for AI rules to strengthen democracy
► Helped 400+ rights defenders to supercharge their campaigns you cherish

More milestones

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As a watchdog organisation, Liberties reminds politicians that respect for human rights is non-negotiable. We're determined to keep championing your civil liberties, will you stand with us? Every donation, big or small, counts.

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