The International Center for Not-for-Profit Law (ICNL) today launched the “Civic Freedom Monitor,” a rebranded version of its long-running NGO Law Monitor – widely recognized as the most comprehensive source of information on legal issues affecting civil society organizations (CSOs).
The name change reflects the evolving nature of both the Monitor and the legal challenges that civil society faces throughout the world, says ICNL.
“The legal obstacles confronting civil society today go far beyond restrictive NGO laws, and focusing exclusively on this aspect of the problem gives an incomplete picture,” said ICNL President and CEO Doug Rutzen. “There have also been aggressive legal assaults on expression rights, assembly rights and more.”
“The NGO Law Monitor has always addressed these issues to some extent,” Rutzen said. “But the rebranded Civic Freedom Monitor aims to capture them more systematically, making it a one-stop research tool to examine all legal issues that impact civil society.”
To coincide with the re-launch, ICNL has updated a number of country reports and is providing a brief analysis of recent trends. Key developments include:
Egypt: On September 8, the Cabinet approved a new draft law governing civil society organizations (CSOs). The draft contains a few positive changes, such as reducing criminal penalties, but maintains a restrictive approach to the regulation of civil society. If approved by the State Council, the draft will reportedly be taken up for consideration by Egypt’s Parliament, which reconvenes in early October.
South Sudan: in August 2016, the Relief and Rehabilitation Commission (RRC) began registering NGOs under the new Non-Governmental Organizations Act, which was adopted in February 2016. Disturbingly, however, the RRC reportedly informed several organizations that they would be shut down for being “political and not humanitarian.” The RRC is believed to have designated dozens of organizations to be shut down.
Kazakhstan: in yet another example of increasing restrictions on cross-border funding, a new law in Kazakhstan has introduced reporting and other requirements for CSOs who receive funds from foreign sources. The law also introduces administrative and criminal penalties for non-compliance and may restrict access to foreign funding for CSOs.