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Additional reporting and compulsory e-declaration for NGOs are pressure over the civil society – MPs, activists

Kyiv, July 21, 2017.

Civil society actors, MPs, and EU civil servants discuss the highly debated issue of compulsory reporting for NGOs introduced shortly after the similar move for civil servants, with the latter seen as an anticorruption achievement.

The introduction of additional reporting and of compulsory e-declaration of assets for civic activists has no reasonable grounds. These are the results of the draft law analysis by the International Center for Non-for-Profit Law (Washington, the US). “The analysis identified no problems or reasons that would lead to demanding that the civic groups are more transparent,” said Maria Heletiy, deputy director of the USAID project “Citizens in Action” at a press-briefing at Ukraine Crisis Media Center. She emphasized that the obligations to report are discriminative and violate confidentiality.

MP Mustafa Nayyem emphasized that the draft law is an instrument of pressure upon the civil society. “The draft laws in question, as well as the attempt to pass them, are part of the wider trend on the part of the authorities to limit citizens’ rights and freedoms at any occasion. We see the systematic pressure being exercised upon the civil society in general as well as the attempts to narrow the area of their activities,” said Maria Guryeva, an expert on media communications at Amnesty International Ukraine. Mustafa Nayyem emphasized that NGOs have to work out reporting rules themselves based on international experience and research.

Natalia Lihachova, head of the NGO “Detector Media”, editor-in-chief of the “Detector Media” web site said that the main problem is that the draft law in question had been prepared behind the closed doors. “From the EU perspective, it is desirable that the civil society is consulted in the process and is able to express the concerns about what concerns them. The EU is also interested to hear the view of the civil society on whether the new reporting obligations would be manageable in the light of the limited resources they have,” said Henrik Larsen, representative of the Political Department of the EU Delegation to Ukraine. Oleksandra Dvoretska, head of the Board of the NGO “Vostok SOS” said that it makes it more difficult for NGOs to work and get funds from the private sector. “If cooperation with NGOs is equal to problems for businessmen, they will not go for it,” she said.

Natalia Ligachova said that many standards within the draft law are not in line with the European legislation. “There is a practice used when drafting documents to take some standards out of the international legal context that does not fit into the overall political aim,” said Olha Ayvazovska, coordinator of election and parliamentary programs at the civil network “OPORA”. She emphasized: “The issue of reporting should not cover the tools of this reporting against the NGO sector. […] I am absolutely for the reporting. The questions are what form is chosen and what the sanctions are. If an NGO submits a report with a mistake and has no right to correct it or to re-submit the report, it means that the presumption of innocence does not work.”

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