In his annual report to the Committee of Ministers, the Secretary General of the Council of Europe focuses on the role of institutions, both domestic and international, including NGOs. The report consists of five chapters that look at the key building blocks of democratic security: efficient, impartial and independent judiciaries; freedom of expression, freedom of assembly and freedom of association; democratic institutions; and inclusive societies. In line with previous editions, the report finds many good examples of Council of Europe member states carrying out reforms in line with their obligations and to the direct benefit of their citizens. The Secretary General underlines that the space for civil society is shrinking and that human rights non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and defenders have experienced a clampdown in some countries that have drafted or passed oppressive legislation or undermined them by a range of other means. The same applies to the right to peaceful assembly: in some states, peaceful public events are viewed and treated as dangerous. The reader can find many examples related to states that either implemented oppressive legislation or used measures to restrict freedom of assembly and association, together with the description of relevant cases brought to the European Court of Human Rights. The Secretary General clearly states that there can be no complacency with regard to attacks on political freedoms: the Council of Europe must react by firmly rejecting them and supporting the member states to implement policies and measures that are in line with Council of Europe standards. One part of the report (Chapter V – Inclusive societies: Engaging young people) refers specifically to challenges experienced by young people and youth organisations in accessing rights, the Secretary General states that “(…)youth participation must be protected from threats to participatory democracy in the form of laws, tax regulations and other measures that restrict, inter alia, youth organisations’ activity and their right to freedom of assembly and association”.
Youth specific: Partially