SEE Digital Rights Network – May 2023 Newsletter2023-05-31
Dear Network members,
This month, too, all of us have been very active in the field of digital rights by organizing various events and creating interesting content!
We are proud to announce that we have opened the applications for the 2023 Digital Rights Summer School in Perast, Montenegro. Our School takes place from 23 to 29 July, and it will gather participants from South-East Europe, who work in the field of digital rights. We are happy to be able to organize this school with our partners from European Digital Rights (EDRi) and Digital Freedom Fund for the second time and please see testimonials of last year’s participants here. We will explore the impact of emerging technologies on human rights with the help of experts, and talk about artificial intelligence, online safety of female journalists, information warfare and the link between migration policies and data exploitation. If you wish to join us, please apply here and please note that accepted applicants will be provided with travel and accommodation during their stay. Our call for applications closes on 5 June 2023, at 17.00 CEST (Belgrade time), and the selection committee will inform you about the outcome of your application in mid-June. Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions.
BIRN is organising a three-day training course for journalists, regarding growing concerns about the violation of digital rights in the Balkans. The training will be held in Mavrovo from June 8-10, 2023, and it will focus on the latest methods and strategies to uncover and appropriately report on digital rights violations. This training will provide ten selected journalists from North Macedonia with knowledge and skills helping them to identify and report on digital rights violations more effectively. All participation costs including accommodation, food and transport will be fully covered by the organizers. The working language of the training is Macedonian and Serbian. In order to apply, please fill out this application form and send it with your CV to [email protected] no later than May 25, 2023 at 5pm CET with the subject line: Digital Rights Reporting Training for Journalists North Macedonia.
– An article on Child Pornography, Hate Speech and Cybercrime Surge in Balkans
BIRN’s Mat Mastracci published an article dealing with some of the most pressing online issues discussing the fact that there has been a rise of child pornography cases in Romania and Croatia. Furthermore, the article points at the dangers of hate speech and discrimination in Hungary, North Macedonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Albania and Montenegro. The article shows the growing trend of troubles in the online sphere as well as the worrisome cases of threats directed at journalists, especially in Serbia. All the incidents mentioned in the article raise questions about how to prevent such crimes because they have become more and more frequent.
– An article on online harassment in North MacedoniaRiha Behadini from BIRN explored the case in North Macedonia when more than a dozen women in the town of Kicevo were harassed by the same person via phone and social media. The article pointed at the fact that no one has been arrested yet and stated that perhaps a new law could be the solution in such cases. Namely, the article also discusses the amendments to North Macedonia’s Penal Code which finally recognized stalking and online harassment as crimes, after numerous cases of explicit pictures and personal information of women and girls were being shared between thousands of members of a Telegram group in North Macedonia called Public Room.
FIND OUT MORE ABOUT OUR MEMBERS
The Helsinki Committee for Human Rights is a civic association registered in 1994. The Committee monitors the situation with human rights, provides legal assistance, co-operates with other organizations and state bodies for the purpose of improving the promotion, respect and protection of human rights and freedoms. The Committee’s goal is protection and promotion of the human rights and freedoms guaranteed with the Constitution of the Republic of North Macedonia, the international instruments and the Helsinki Final Act from 1975, as well as building democratic conditions in which they can be exercised based on the rule of law. The Committee sets off from the premise that all people should have the possibility to enjoy and practice their basic rights and freedoms and should be able to protect them in case of violation or limitation. This is the basis of the rule of law, human rights and democracy.
In its persistent efforts to promote and protect human rights and harmonize the domestic legislation and practice with that of the European Union, the Helsinki Committee: Organizes systemic monitoring of the situation of human rights in the country; Provides free legal assistance and protects the individual, collective and rights of other legal entities on the territory of the Republic of North Macedonia and before international organizations; Prepares monthly, annual and special reports on the situation of human rights; Prepares analyses and other specific documents related to the situation of human rights; Organizes conferences, seminars, panels, public actions and other legal forms of civic engagement; Promotes and aids the development of democracy, rule of law and civic society; and Performs other activities of public interest pursuant to the Law on Citizens’ Associations.
OUR CONTENT/PROJECT/ETC WE THINK IS RELEVANT FOR THE NETWORK
Please present in a paragraph and link some of your projects, contents or similar that you think is valuable for other network members.
- “Enhancing national protective mechanisms against hate speech in North Macedonia”-(2023-2025)
This Action is to enhance the effective protection mechanism of others’ rights in North Macedonia while practicing freedom of expression and combating hate speech in line with international and European standards. The action’s impact is specifically designed to enable for synergy between the work of CSOs sector and the relevant institutions as protective mechanisms against hate speech based on collection of data and direct engagement with selected target groups. This will be achieved via open policy dialogue in order to secure commitment by the Government to further improve the overall situation through operational and institutional strengthening of the capacities to tackle hate speech in line with European best practices. For this phenomenon, in our own experience, it is essential to have an independent watchdog mechanism that would produce evidence-based data, provide legal aid to potential victims and provide training curriculum for national institutions.
- Advancement of protective mechanisms for free legal aid and hate speech in the Republic of North Macedonia –(2023-2024)
According to the Committee’s priorities, based on the Committee’s Strategy 2022-2025, the organizational grant will focus on improving the protective mechanisms for free legal aid and hate speech in the Republic of North Macedonia. The Helsinki Committee for Human Rights will realize its mission through:
1.Direct communication with stakeholders (especially vulnerable and marginalized communities) and a comprehensive mechanism for monitoring hate speech at the national level,
2. Promoting public policy documents and evidence-based analyses,
3. Representation of public policies before public decision makers and contribution to the public discourse through direct communication with the public and the media.
- Anti-Hate speech in Western Balkans – (2021-2023)
This project enabled establishing a regional network of organizations that monitor hate speech, collect and analyse data and increase knowledge of target groups to recognize and report hate speech through public advocacy and flow of information. Through the regional network consisted by the partners of this project, Helsinki Committee for Human Rights – Skopje, YUCOM – Lawyer’s Committee for Human Rights – Serbia, Albanian Helsinki Committee – Albania and Youth Initiative for Human Rights – Kosovo the collection of data was improved and the structured data that was collected was successfully used to influence the public and the target groups through briefs, reports and infographics. The target groups and the public were informed through the social media and the data bases of cases of hate speech and they are encouarged to report it. The reports to the relevant instituions are also increased.
4.Greater Internet Freedom Project- (June-Dec) 2022
Internews launched in September 2020 a global consortium that aims to strengthen Internet freedom in 50 countries. The Consortium, which is funded by the US Agency for International Development, is a three-year initiative that aims to enhance digital safety of civil society actors, promote increased knowledge of Internet freedom issues, and advance human rights in the digital space. MHC as a local partner was implementing this project during the implementation period, and achieved to monitors and report the situation with human digital rights, co-operates with other organizations and state bodies for the purpose of improving the promotion and raising awareness of human digital rights and freedoms in North Macedonia.
What is your organization’s super power?
Our organization is consisted of strong flexible and dynamic team, with legal and research expertise, oriented towards social change. We have huge expertise in working with marginalized and vulnerable groups. As a organization we work based on the rights-based approach in both programming and implementation of the projects, which ensures a framework to address the problems of the poorest and most vulnerable groups. We also follow the principles of “do no harm” and “do maximum good” in our work. We also use results-based management strategy that enables that all processes, outputs and services are contributing to the achievement of our vision and mission.