Concerns rise over new NGO law
A new law on #NGOs is about to be voted on in #Kosovo’s Assembly, with critics warning that “smuggled” amendments could see millions of euros siphoned out into private hands overnight. https://t.co/Qomtavy7bX #InDepth— KOSOVO 2.0 (@kosovo2point0) February 1, 2019
As previously covered on the CIVICUS Monitor, a controversial new law governing freedom of association prompted a fightback from civil society in Kosovo. The Law 06/L-043 on Freedom of Association in NGOs drafted by the Government of Kosovo with civil society’s support in December 2017, went to Kosovo's National Assembly for its first and second reading. During the second reading in November 2018, a number problematic amendments were added to the bill.
If it remains unchanged, the Law on Freedom of Association in NGOs will enter into force with provisions that run contrary to Kosovo's international commitments on human rights. In particular, it gives the state space to terminate NGOs based on arbitrary interpretations of their activities, as well as complicating the formation and registration of NGOs. There are also serious concerns regarding amendments to the financial status of NGOs and their application for Public Benefit Status. A full analysis of the law by the CIVICUS Monitor partner, the Kosovo Civil Society Foundation (KCSF) can be found here.
CSOs in Kosovo will continue to meet with head of Parliamentary Groups in order to halt the approval of the law. Local groups argue that if enacted, the new legislation could endanger the future of independent civil society in Kosovo.
61 MPs can stop this!— KCSF (@KCSFoundation) February 28, 2019
The NGO Law to be voted in the Assembly, today or tomorrow.#NdalVjedhjen pic.twitter.com/F7N4XCDvNX
A number of protests have taken place in recent months. There are no reports of any protest turning violent or being unwarrantedly disrupted by authorities in Kosovo. Below are some examples:
- Local Serbs in North Mitrovica (including students and women) demanded the removal of the 100% tax for products originating from Serbia through continuous protests;
- The Student Parliament (University of Pristina) gathered in front of the Rectorate asking for improved conditions for students;
- In North Mitrovica, Serbs gathered to prompt the EU in Brussels to impose sanctions against Kosovo;
- In Gjakova local Albanians protested against Serbian pilgrims suspected for war crimes;
- Students from the University of Pristina gathered to pressure the European Union for visa liberalisation for Kosovo citizens.
“Visa liberalisation was more realistic during 2018 than it is in 2019," says Jehona Lushaku.— Balkan Insight (@BalkanInsight) January 21, 2019
The lecturer in Political Sciences at the University of Pristina believes that Kosovo's chances for a visa-free regime with the EU are dwindling. https://t.co/gukpn5dyii
Civic Space Developments