Monitoring Civil Society Space
“Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.”
Universal Declaration of Human Rights
We at L’Association Francophone pour les Droits de l’Homme (AFDH) take this right seriously and aim to work towards defending it through our work. For the past few years, there have been growing concerns about the democratic space for Civil Society shrinking in various parts of the world. With growing populism and xenophobia, Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) especially those working for the protection of human rights have suffered alarming levels of suppression.
According to Freedom House there has been a global decline in political and civil rights for 13 consecutive years, i.e. 2005 to 2018. The year 2017 was especially bad, and “democracy faced its most serious crisis in decades”. Democratic space is important not just for people but also for civil society organisations, human rights activists, media and political parties in the opposition. Freedom of expression, and the right to organize and operate is essential for CSOs to hold governments accountable in a democracy.
While many countries in the world have seen their global average scores for ‘Freedom Status’ decline in recent years, some of the worst offenders unfortunately are in the MENA region. During Arab Spring, the world observed repressive regimes attempt to restrict CSOs who were speaking up for democracy and human rights. In this context, AFDH will focus on a country from the MENA region every week to highlight the trends of a shrinking space for Civil Society. Through this we hope to not only monitor but also to create awareness about the human rights situation in the region.