The Greek National Commission for Human Rights (GNCHR) closely monitors the execution of European Court of Human Rights judgments, including those related to human rights defenders. In August 2018, the GNCHR submitted to the Council of Europe Committee of Ministers its Recommendations under Rule 9(2) with regard to the immediate full compliance of the Greek government with the landmark Court judgment Chowdury and Others v. Greece (known as the “Manolada case”). Two years later, in June 2020, it made an additional Communication on the assessment of the level of compliance of the Greek State with the GNCHR’s recommendations on the Chowdury judgment.
In another emblematic case for the protection of human rights, the Racist Violence Recording Network (RVRN) – an initiative of the Commission and UNHCR in Greece – activated the same procedure under Rule 9(2), in December 2020, by submitting a communication for the supervision of the execution of judgments and the terms of friendly settlements, relating to the case of Sakir v. Greece.
In its submission to ENNHRI’s 2022 Rule of Law report, the Greek National Commission for Human Rights (GNCHR) expressed concern about an increasingly hostile environment for human rights defenders. This particularly affected organisations and activists working with refugees, migrants, and the LGBTI+ community. Consequently, the GNCHR approved in principle the adoption of a bill on “Recognition and Protection of Human Rights Defenders”. This was brought before the Commission’s Plenary by the Greek Transgender Support Association (SYD), a member of the Commission. The bill aims to ensure that human rights defenders are free from attacks, reprisals and unreasonable restrictions. Moreover, all human rights defenders should be able to work in a safe and supportive environment. In this context, the GNCHR considered establishing its own focal point for human rights defenders.
The Slovak National Centre for Human Rights has mapped experiences of threats, intimidation, harassment and restrictions of rights faced by human rights defenders and civil society in the field of environment protection. The research aimed to find out whether cases of harassment occur, and, if they do, what their nature is and whether they are reported to public authorities. The information was collected via questionnaires which asked respondents to detail their experiences. The NHRI collected 11 cases considered by respondents as a threat, harassment, or intimidation. Harassment of and slander against individuals or their families were most common. Additionally, threats and the use of administrative procedures as a form of harassment (e.g. complaints, criminal reports) were prevalent. In most cases, human rights defenders sought to defend themselves by legal means and addressed existing public authorities. However, human rights defenders perceived the options available to defend their rights as very limited.
In its report to the UN Committee against Torture, the Federal Institute for the Protection and Promotion of Human Rights criticised the use of the concepts of “radicalism” and “radicalisation” by Belgian authorities to preventatively manage the threat of terrorism. It highlighted the increasing tendency to use vague and ill-defined concepts to justify a variety of actions. These include bans on working in certain sensitive areas, refusal to grant Belgian nationality, the closure of establishments by local authorities, refusing to issue a Belgian passport or travel document, revoking residence permits, and expelling foreigners from Belgian territory.
The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission recommended the State to consult with children and disabled people on the General Scheme of the Online Safety and Media Regulation Bill: this was to ensure a child and disability rights perspective to the legislation. The Commission has repeatedly highlighted concerns around the involvement of disabled people in decision-making processes. This was particularly notable during the COVID-19 pandemic. Legislation and policies with significant implications for disabled people were adopted, even though they were not meaningfully engaged. The Commission has stressed the importance of closely consulting and involving disabled people and Disabled Persons Organisations in legislative and policy decision-making processes in line with Article 4.3 of the UNCRPD and General Comment 7 on the participation of persons with disabilities. To ensure meaningful participation, the Commission has called on the State to actively support the further development and involvement of Disabled Persons Organisations. It can do so by providing sustainable core funding, capacity building, and training.
The French National Consultative Commission on Human Rights expressed concern over the adoption of the law « confortant le respect des principes de la République » (confirming the respect for Republic principles) on 24 August 2021.
The NHRI adopted two critical opinions on the draft law “confirming the respect for Republic principles”. The Commission considers that the text risks weakening republican principles instead of reinforcing them. While the purpose of better combating criminal fanaticism is legitimate, it cannot justify the implementation of disproportionate measures that undermine fundamental freedoms, which lie at the heart of the republican and democratic pact.
The law was adopted on 24 August 2021 without modification of the provisions contested by the CNCDH.
In June 2021, the Federal Institute for the Protection and Promotion of Human Rights (FIRM-IFDH) commented on three proposed laws aimed at prohibiting the creation and allowing the dissolution of certain groups and organisations formed to incite hatred, violence or discrimination. These proposals were also meant to allow the sanctioning of those who set up, assist, or are members of such organisations. While FIRM-IFDH welcomed the legislator’s continued commitment to combat such organisations, it noted that the current legal framework was sufficient in this regard. It further stressed that alternative sanctions to dissolution were more proportionate and less likely to impact the right of association. FIRM-IFDH also emphasised that any dissolution of an association or a group should be decided by the judiciary, not by the executive.
The Human Rights Annual Award is granted by the Danish Institute for Human Rights’ Council to an exceptional person or organisation that has promoted and protected human rights in Denmark, Greenland, or the Faroe Islands. Candidates are nominated through a public consultation and by the media, with the NHRI acting as the secretariat for the Council jury.
To empower the advocacy and work of civil society, rights-holders, community-led groups and trade unions in Ireland, the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission operates a grant scheme to support human rights and equality projects across Ireland. This scheme supports research programmes, training and resource activities, conferences, events, and cultural initiatives. Under its Human Rights and Equality Grants Scheme 2021, the Commission supported 28 projects which encompass a range of issues. They include social exclusion and socioeconomic discrimination; racism and discrimination experienced, in particular, by ethnic and minority communities; and empowering people with disabilities to advocate for their rights.
On October 2021, the Ombudsperson Institution of Kosovo*, together with UN Women office in Kosovo*, launched the Informal Advocacy Task Force on Gender-Sensitive Standards for Occupational Safety, Health and Decent Work.
This task force aims to foster cooperation between stakeholders, the Ombudsperson Institution, the Women’s Caucus, UN entities, trade unions, private companies, gender equality activists and CSOs to promote gender-sensitive standards for Occupational Safety, Health and Decent Work.
The Task Force consists of the Ombudsperson (chair), while the co-chair will be the representative of the Women’s Caucus, several CSOs, and the Labor Inspectorate, Kosovo Chamber of Commerce, and the Union of Independent Trade Unions of Kosovo.
This task force shall promote occupational safety and health for all and will meet every three months. It will also establish a platform for the regular exchange of information, awareness raising, and advocacy for functional formal mechanisms and social dialogue at the national level.
The Greek National Commission for Human Rights (GNCHR) maintains a very close relation with NGOs and CSOs, while monitoring very closely the situation regarding civil society space and the protection of human rights defenders. Not only prominent NGOs and CSOs form part of the GNCHR Plenary, but the GNCHR also maintains within its premises the Racist Violence Recording Network (RVRN), which was established in 2011 by the GNCHR and the Greek Office of UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency.
The Protector of Citizens of the Republic of Serbia initiated changes to the Law on Public Order and Peace. These changes were presented in September 2021 at a meeting of the Working Group of the Government of the Republic of Serbia for Security and Protection of Journalists. The proposed amendments include misdemeanor sanctions for violence, threats and insults against individuals and journalists on the internet and social networks. When presenting its Annual Report to the Parliament in 2020, the NHRI also underlined the importance of regulation in the area which would stop and punish violence committed and threats and insults made on social networks.