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 released our annual Rule of Law Report, caught up with corruption experts, and reflected on why ethics for AI are a must, despite the price tag.
In a nutshell
📰 Media Freedom: Our senior advocacy officer Eva Simon was a guest speaker on the Media Lab podcast discussing how to fix transparency in the Media Freedom Act:
"Lack of media ownership transparency is a problem in many EU countries.”
👓 Surveillance: Liberties, alongside 37 other civil society organisations, signed an open letter raising concerns that a proposed law in France related to the 2024 Olympic Games paves the way for invasive AI surveillance and may be contrary to the future AI Act.
📢 Civic Space: Liberties is the EU contributing partner to CIVICUS Monitor assessing the state of civic freedoms globally. Their latest report ‘Power People Under Attack’ found that civic space continued to come under attack in Europe.
🏳️🌈 LGBTQ+: Liberties and other rights defenders joined 8000+ citizens calling on French Minister for Europe & Foreign Affairs Catherine Colonna to confirm that France will join the EU Commission’s case against Hungary’s anti-LGBTQ+ propaganda law.
🔇 SLAPPs: Liberties, as part of the CASE Coalition, wrote a letter to the Swedish Presidency of the EU Council voicing our concerns that the compromise proposal of the anti-SLAPP Directive waters down crucial protections. Read it here.
European Media Freedom Act Paper: Media Ownership Transparency Lacking
Liberties teamed up with the European Partnership for Democracy to write a policy paper on how transparency of media ownership is addressed in the proposed European Media Freedom Act (EMFA). Our conclusion: we think the current draft of the EMFA doesn’t guarantee meaningful media ownership transparency. To fix this, we’ve put together a list of 9 recommendations for the EU to follow. Read the summary here.
Liberties’ rule of law ‘report card’
‘Outliers’: Hungary and Poland remain the worst rule of law offenders.
‘Fast learners’: Early signs from the new governments formed in Italy and Sweden in 2022 point to the risk that, if checks and balances do not stay strong, ruling coalitions may turn towards authoritarianism.
Recovering Slovenia: In contrast, developments in Slovenia since the replacement of the far-right government show that countries can rehabilitate their democracies.
Mixed results: While the situation across the member states continues in the wrong direction, the EU has had mixed success in exerting a positive influence. Read our full press release here.
In the News: Liberties’ Rule of Law Report 2023 was mentioned in the media over 100 times in 10 languages across the EU: Euronews, EurActiv, La Republica, EU Observer & more.
State of Emergency: How can we prevent abuses of power during a crisis?
In response to a crisis, the state can grant itself special powers to protect citizens from danger. But what happens when the steps to protect people from danger also means restricting their human rights? While this may be appropriate if it is a necessary and temporary response, weakening democratic checks increases the opportunities for abuse of office by those in power. As the Covid-19 pandemic showed, emergency measures which helped us in the short-term can also do long-term damage. To keep these risks in check, the use of emergency powers is only legitimate if certain conditions are met and legal principles followed. Learn more.
Follow The Money - If You Can
For the March edition of
Democracy Drinks Liberties teamed up with the Open Spending EU Coalition to ask
- are EU citizens getting value for money? To answer this question we were
joined by Sándor Léderer, Director of K-Monitor (Hungary), Adriana Homolova, a
Freelance Data Journalist (Czech Republic) and a growing audience of concerned
citizens, plus engaged non-profit staff. So, is EU spending a black box? Find out 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....
Free Courts | What is the Role of the Judiciary? Why are Free Courts Necessary?
The judiciary plays a formative role as the guardian of society’s core values. Free courts ensure that everyone in society plays by the same rules, even the rich and powerful, and are a source of consistency during periods of political instability. This ensures that democratic standards are maintained during a crisis, and limits the damage that authoritarians can cause while in power.
But governments in Europe are trying to control their judges. This undermines democracy and weakens our fundamental rights.
Call for Proposals: Liberties is pleased to announce that we are accepting applications for CERV Strive 2023, a grant available to our 18 member organisations to support their network development, capacity building and expert contribution to the rights and values in the EU. Deadline: 20th May 2023
Female Detention: On 8th March, Antigone presented its first report on women detention in Italy "Dalla parte di Antigone" (On Antigone's side). Detained women represent only 4% of the Italian prison population, but they have specific needs that have to be met by the penitentiary system. Antigone's observers have visited all prisons to report on detention conditions and put forward several proposals for reform. Read it here or watch this video.
Anti-Torture: Following their advocacy work calling on the implementation of the UN Convention Against Torture, HRMI welcomes the Committee for the Prevention of Torture report which highlights problematic aspects of the detention conditions of inmates, migrants and asylum seekers, and people with disabilities. Read their summary of the report here.
What we're reading
- Surveillance: Wired’s Suspicion Machine Series
- NGO Rights: EU Observer’s Oped Debate: Should NGOs Be Subject to Stricter Transparency Regulations?
- Media Freedom: Courthouse News’s Press Freedom is Under Attack in Europe and Greece is Exhibit A
Democracy Drinks, Thursday 20th April
As always, we’ll be hosting our monthly edition of Democracy Drinks. Details to follow.
- When? 18.00 - 20.00, Thursday 24th March
- Where? Ritchie Café & Bar, Oranienstraße 174, Kreuzberg,10999 Berlin
- RSVP: Keep an eye on our Eventbrite profile.
How do I stay in the loop? | Shoot us an email at email@example.com to be added to our mailing list.
Try before you buy | Read a write-up of our past Democracy Drinks events.
3, 2, 1….Liberties’ Media Freedom Report will go live in April!
The countdown for our second annual Media Freedom Report is on, so keep an eye out in your inbox for the official launch in the coming month.
With the support of our member organisations, this report will capture how well media freedom and media pluralism is faring in Europe.
Need refresher? | Read last year’s reportto brush up.
Campaigners' Learning Corner
FREE Campaign Accelerator for NGOs
Our new project, a summer school for campaigners, is soon to be announced.
Liberties’ Head of Framing and Narrative Israel Butler with Head of Comms Valentin Toth will hold a workshop in June in the Netherlands for applicants to fine-tune their campaign strategies and messaging.
Watch this space for more.
Liberties’ e-learning platform
Liberties’ knowledge hub offers free, easy-to-follow online courses that will help make your advocacy work and campaigns more impactful.
The currently available learning material is an exciting crash course on framing & messaging.
Sign up here.