Country reports

These are reports written and compiled by Civil Rights Defenders’ experts. The aim is to give an overview of crucial human rights issues in the countries and regions where we work.

Human Rights in Vietnam

Against the backdrop of a growing and diversifying civil society movement, the Government of Vietnam continues to repress dissidents and human rights defenders and has taken steps in recent years to amend or introduce laws and regulations that impact on civil and political rights. A host of laws, regulations and decrees grant broad discretionary powers to officials to impose restrictions of basic rights and freedoms guaranteed in the Constitution and under international human rights law.

Human Rights in Belarus

The Belarusian government continues to severely curtail freedoms of association, assembly, and expression, and the right to a fair trial. In 2012 new restrictive legislative amendments paved the way for even more intense governmental scrutiny of civil society organisations and human rights defenders. Harassment of human rights defenders, independent media, and defense lawyers by the authorities continues, including arbitrary bans on foreign travel. Several political prisoners remain behind the bars. Allegations of torture and mistreatment in custody persist. The UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Belarus calls the restrictions on human rights “systemic and systematic”.

Human Rights in Russia

Since 2000 the human rights situation worsened in Russia and has greatly deteriorated since Putin was reinstalled as President of Russia in 2012. State repression over the past few years became more sophisticated as legislation was adopted to discredit and/or attack human rights defenders. New laws restricting the rights to freedom of expression, assembly and association have been introduced since Putin’s re-election. Russian authorities have made efforts to control and limit the last available channels for freedom of speech – Internet and social media through two new laws introduced in 2014.

Human Rights in Macedonia

Macedonia is a member of the Council of Europe and has been a candidate country for membership of the European Union since 2005. However the country falls short when it comes to implementing reforms and human rights standards and as of writing has not yet started negotiations with the EU. Ever since the 2001 armed conflict between ethnic Albanian rebel forces and the Macedonian Army and the Police, inter-ethnic tensions between the two groups has been constant, with numerous reported cases of ethnically motivated violence.

Human Rights in Azerbaijan

Azerbaijan is an authoritarian country, with civil and political rights severely restricted and violated. The political power is completely concentrated in the hands of the president Ilham Aliyev and ruling party directly affiliated with him. The human rights record, poor to begin with, has been on a slide in the last two years and became especially apparent with Azerbaijan in international spotlight for hosting 2012 Eurovision Song Contest. Most notable are violations of freedom of expression, assembly, and association.

Human Rights in Kenya

On the 27th August 2010 a new Constitution was adopted in Kenya. The Constitution, considered to be progressive, is seen as the primary instrument required to make social and political reforms in the country, so badly needed, after the violent events of the 2007 elections. Kenya adheres to the monist legal system and as such ratified international treaties are automatically incorporated into national law. Kenya is party to the majority of the core international human rights treaties as well as regional instruments such as the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights.

Human Rights in Bosnia and Herzegovina

It is twenty years since the end of the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The country has been described as the state that has made the least progress when it comes to EU integration of all of the Western Balkans countries. In spite of widespread workers protests in February 2014,political deadlock is continuing to hamper human rights organisations in their capacities as watchdog. Inter-ethnic violence, hate speech, and poor implementation of human rights standards is still part of everyday life in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The Government has failed to initiate reforms of the judiciary, whilst media independence and self-censorship remain key impediments to the implementation of freedom of expression standards. New laws that are seriously damaging human rights and freedoms are being introduced on a daily basis.

Human Rights in Montenegro

Since independence in 2006, Montenegro has adopted all relevant international human rights conventions, and has been a member-state of the Council of Europe since 2007. National legislation concerning human rights is considered to be within European standards, but better implementation is still required, especially when it comes to freedom of expression, anti-discrimination and the judiciary. Amendments to the Laws regarding the role of the Ombudsman were adopted in August 2014, which foresees a greater level of independence so as to strengthen the institutions role in combating discrimination. This will represent a significant step forward in combating discrimination and monitoring of institutions.

Human Rights in Kosovo

Kosovo has a sound statutory framework in place for the protection of human rights: the Kosovo Constitution lists a number of directly applicable international human rights instruments. Kosovo has shown great progress when it comes to the adoption of key human rights laws over the past 10 years. However, there remain challenges and issues with regards to the practical implementation of human rights legislation and relevant documents, such as byelaws and National Strategies. Moreover, a functional and effective Ombudsperson and judiciary are yet to emerge. As a consequence, a number of human rights issues including the marginalisation of Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian communities and LGBT persons, hate speech, hate crimes, violence against women, pressure and intimidation to journalists have not been addressed effectively

Human Rights in Moldova

In recent years there has been some positive developments regarding the human rights situation in Moldova. New legislation and policies have strengthened protection against discrimination and facilitated the promotion of freedom of expression. However, significant human rights issues still persist; lack of fair trials, inadequate conditions in prisons, hate speech, violence against women, people trafficking, the marginalisation of the Roma community and harassment of LGBT people. In the breakaway territory of Transnistria, human rights abuses are grave.

Human Rights in Serbia

The EU officially opened negotiations for Serbia’s accession to the Union in January 2014. The negotiating framework requires progress in normalising relations with Kosovo, while the implementation of the Agreement will be closely monitored. The opening of the negotiations has not improved the situation in regards to human rights; they have even deteriorated compared to 2013, particularly in the area of national minorities, freedom of expression, independent regulatory bodies and judicial reform.

Human Rights in Cambodia

The Cambodian constitution provides for separation of power and judicial independence, but the political dominance and influence of the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CCP) over all branches of government poses a serious challenge to democratisation and human rights protection and promotion. Prime Minister Hun Sen has been in power since 1985. Human rights violations in Cambodia include excessive use of force against and arrests of protesters; threats, intimidation, and judicial actions targeting human rights defenders, journalists, trade unionists, opposition groups, and politicians; hate speech directed at people of Vietnamese origin; trafficking in persons; corruption; and mass violations of land and housing rights.

Human Rights in Myanmar

Significant changes have taken place in Myanmar after the quasi-civilian government was installed in 2010, ending a fifty-year military rule. However, the military still has great influence in politics. Corruption and impunity persist and reinforce each other. With current peace negotiations and wide discussions on constitutional reforms as well upcoming elections in 2015, Myanmar is at a crossroads for democratisation or a possible reversal.

Human Rights in Albania

Currently Being Updated:The awareness of citizens regarding domestic laws and the European Convention on Human Rights (EctHR) remains low. Nevertheless, the ECtHR is considered to be the most important and secure legal instrument to guarantee human rights protection and reinstatement of violated rights. Up to now, the European Court has delivered 33 judgments where Albania has been declared guilty of violation of the European Convention and related protocols.