Review of freedom of associations in Belarus-2016

09/05/2017

Assembly of Pro-Democratic NGOs and the Center for Legal Transformation released the annual Freedom of Associations and the Legal Status of Non-profit Organizations in Belarus Review covering the year 2016.

The document highlights the most important issues and developments related to the legal conditions of public associations and other civil society agencies in Belarus in 2016.

The paper analyzes the development of legislation in the sphere of non-profit law in 2016, identifies the main challenges faced by non-profit organizations, provides statistics on the registration of new public organizations and on registration denials, lists new elements in the process of interaction between the state and civil society.

The Review authors claim that the financial basis for CSO activities in Belarus has changed. Changes introduced to the legislation on foreign aid in 2016 did not lead to the improvement of the conditions for receiving and using foreign funding by non-profit organizations. On the contrary, new difficulties and inconveniences for foreign aid recipients were created due to inconsistency and ambiguity in the interpretation of the new rules. At the same time, civil society organizations actively use new mechanisms for attracting financing: crowdfunding projects are blooming, social entrepreneurship is developing, non-governmental organizations have started actively using anonymous donations from domestic sources to finance their activities due to the cancellation of previous restrictions in this sphere.

The Review authors express concern regarding several cases of using Article 193 of the Criminal Code named “Organization or management of a public association, religious organization, infringing on a person, or citizens’ rights and duties” to prosecute moderators of social network groups. Despite the fact that in the case reviewed the criminal article was applied in conjunction with other charges, the mere interpretation of social network moderation as an activity on behalf of an unregistered organization raises concern. Such a negative interpretation of the concept of an unregistered organization can be very dangerous in light of the persisting Criminal Code Article 193-1, according to which activities of an unregistered organization constitute a crime regardless of the nature and effects of those activities.

This report on freedom of associations and the legal status of NCOs is the tenth, anniversary edition of the annual monitoring: it has been carried out since 2007.

Download the full version of the annual Freedom of Associations and the Legal Status of Non-profit Organizations in Belarus Review in Russian and English.

Previous editions of the annual Review of freedom of association and the legal status of NCOs in Belarus:

Review 2015

Review 2014

Review 2013