Authors: Armela Xhaho, Anida Šabanović, Rreze Hoxha, Daliborka Uljarević, Biljana Kotevska, Ismail Kamberi, Sena Marić
The position of human rights defenders (HRDs) in the Western Balkans is increasingly precarious. Across the region, HRDs and organisations, as well as independent media outlets, are prone to intimidation, threats, smear campaigns, digital and physical attacks, and an overall disregard by national authorities.
While the region shares several common features (sluggish integration, weak rule of law, intimidation of HRDs, limited democratisation, lack of press freedoms etc.), naturally each country faces specific challenges and the protection of human rights has unique consequences, depending on local contexts.
As such, this report has been compiled by experts from each of the six Western Balkan states, who have extensively researched the challenges and position of HRDs in the region, and offered a broad range of recommendations to national authorities, the international community, media and HRDs themselves. Having interviewed 100 HRDs for the purpose of this report, it represents one of the most prolific and detailed on-the-ground studies of their position in the Western Balkans, on a country-by-country basis.