13 Jul
  • By 5ZeV9xjyyjv7xxPBRf2mQzF
  • Cause in

Greek NGO Registration. Our Statement

Joint letter to:

  • The Minister of Migration and Asylum, Notis Mitarachi
  • The Alternate Minister of Migration and Asylum, Giorgos Koumoutsakos

 

Cc:

  • The European Commissioner for Values and Transparency, Věra Jourová
  • The President of the Expert Council on NGO Law of the Council of Europe, Jeremy McBride
  • The President of the Conference of INGOs of the Council of Europe, Anna Rurka
  • The UN Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, Clément Nyaletsossi Voule
  • The UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, Felipe González Morales

 

The undersigned organisations welcome the ‘Opinion on the Compatibility with European Standards of Recent and Planned Amendments to the Greek Legislation on NGO Registration’ from the Expert Council on NGO Law of the Conference of INGOs of the Council of Europe (hereafter Expert Council). The organisations appreciate the efforts of the Ministry of Migration and Asylum to centralize the registration of organisations active in the field of international protection, migration, asylum and social integration of third-country nationals, but endorse the recommendation that current legislation “should be substantially revised so that they are brought into line with European standards”. 

The Expert Council expressed their concern that the registration and certification procedure creates unnecessary and disproportional barriers on the work of NGOs and impedes freedom of association. This could have a chilling effect on civil society and potentially create a “worrying humanitarian situation” as organisations cover existing gaps in the provision of services, protection, health and the monitoring of human rights. These concerns are not unfounded; a recent announcement by the Minister of Migration and Asylum made clear that after the registration process only 18 out of 44 organisations will be allowed to continue work inside government facilities until a final decision on their certification is given. A first listing of NGOs that will receive a final decision on their certification, and which are allowed to continue their work in government structures excludes a large number of organisations which provide essential services, including medical NGOs. 

In order to continue work in government facilities, organisations that previously registered were obliged to re-register within two months after publication of legislation. According to the Expert Council these requirements do not satisfy proportionality requirements for the restriction on the freedom of association. The low number of organisations that proceeded to the certification stage of the registration procedure reflects the Expert Council finding that the procedure is onerous, time consuming and costly, especially for smaller NGOs. In addition the Expert Council warns there could be arbitrary decisions made based on the vagueness of criteria for certification and a lack of independence of the deciding body.

Both the Expert Council and the European Court of Justice recently emphasized that the work of NGOs is essential for a democratic state and a well functioning pluralistic society and therefore there should be minimal limitations to their work. The work of many organisations in Greece is essential in providing basic services including legal assistance, medical care, child protection, women’s protection and empowerment, housing, support for unaccompanied children, (informal) education, employment counseling, job matching, Site Management Support, and provision of information, but are currently hampered by legislative requirements. To ensure the well functioning of civil society in Greece NGOs should have been consulted about legislation regarding their work and the procedure for registration and certification should be made as ‘simple as possible’ and in line with the right to the freedom of association. Therefore, we respectfully ask you:

  • To implement the recommendations made by the Expert Council on NGO Law to bring legislation on NGO registration in line with European standards.
  • To urgently reconsider the requirements for certification and the decision making pathway for certification in accordance with the findings of the Expert Council on NGO Law.
  • To engage in a constructive dialogue with civil society on the requirements for registration and certification and how the government could encourage organisations to be accountable and transparent, as a means to attain the legitimate goals set out in Article 11(2) of the ECHR.
  • To proceed with timely public consultation and discussion with civil society on legislative reforms and forthcoming legislation regarding registration of NGOs in Greece as per the Expert Council’s recommendation. 

 

We remain at your disposal for more information.

 

Signed by,

 

  1. Action for Education
  2. Action for Women 
  3. ActionAid Hellas
  4. Advocates Abroad
  5. Afghan Community Migration & Refugees in Greece
  6. ARION-CETACEAN RESCUE AND REHABILITATION RESEARCH CENTER
  7. ARSIS – Association for the Social Support of Youth
  8. Bridge2
  9. Centre for Research on Women’s Issues (CRWI) “Diotima”
  10. Changemakers Lab
  11. Danish Refugee Council (DRC) 
  12. Donate4Refugees
  13. ECHO100PLUS 
  14. ELIX
  15. Fenix – Humanitarian Legal Aid
  16. foodKIND
  17. Free Movement Skateboarding UK
  18. Greek Forum Of Migrants – Ελληνικό Φόρουμ Μεταναστών 
  19. Greek Forum of Refugees
  20. Hellenic Liver Patient Association “Prometheus”
  21. Help Refugees
  22. HIGGS
  23. Humanity Now: Direct Refugee Relief
  24. HumanRights360 
  25. Humans for Humans (The Imagine Project)
  26. I AM YOU Humanitarian Aid
  27. InCommOn AMKE
  28. Indigo Volunteers
  29. Intereuropean Human Aid Association
  30. INTERSOS Hellas
  31. InterVolve
  32. Jesuit Refugee Service Greece – JRS Greece
  33. La Luna Di Vasilika ONLUS
  34. Lesvos Solidarity
  35. Medical Volunteers International e.V.
  36. Melissa: Network of Migrant Women in Greece
  37. mellifera
  38. MERIMNA – Society for the care of children and families facing illness and death
  39. Mobile Info Team
  40. Northern Lights Aid
  41. Office of Displaced Designers 
  42. OMNES 
  43. One Happy Family
  44. Project Armonia
  45. Refugee Legal Support (RLS)
  46. Refugee Rescue
  47. Refugee Rights Europe 
  48. Refugee Trauma Initiative (RTI)
  49. Refugee Youth Service
  50. RefugeeEd
  51. Samos Volunteers
  52. ShowerPower Foundation
  53. Social Hacker A.M.K.E.
  54. SolidarityNow
  55. Still I Rise
  56. Terre des hommes Hellas
  57. Velos Youth 
  58. Verein FAIR.
  59. Wave – Thessaloniki
  60. We Need Books
  61. Yoga and Sport For Refugees
  62. YouBeHero
  63. ΒΙΟΚΑΤΑΝΑΛΩΤΕΣ ΓΙΑ ΠΟΙΟΤΙΚΗ ΖΩΗ (ΒΙΟΖΩ)
  64. Θάλασσα Αλληλεγγύης- Thalassa of Solidarity 
  65. Κοινωφελές Σωματείο Αρωγής Ηλικιωμένων και Ατόμων με Αναπηρία-ΦΡΟΝΤΙΖΩ
  66. Μary Pini Director KESO Μαίρη Πίνη Διευθύντρια ΚΕΣΟ 
  67. Τεχνοδρομώ/ArtActing
  68. 50και Ελλάς