EC Anti-Racism Civil Society Forum: ENAR Warns of Shrinking Anti-Racism Civic Space
Brussels, Belgium (January 31 – February 1 2024) – At the workshop on shrinking antiracism civic space, followed by a meeting of the European Commission’s Permanent Anti-Racism Civil Society Forum, the European Network Against Racism (ENAR) expressed deep concerns with increasing attacks on anti-racism organisations and the lack of meaningful political action to protect them.
At the 6th Permanent Anti-Racism Civil Society Forum, ENAR raised several alarming concerns that are preventing human rights defenders and anti-racism organisations across Europe from effectively working towards justice:
- Increasing Restrictions and Attacks Against Anti-Racism Organisations:
Across Europe, we are witnessing a concerning trend of increasing restrictions and open attacks on the civil society voices working on migration, refugee rights, and anti-racism. ENAR members such as KISA, CCIF, Alliance Citoyenne, VIAD, and Doctors Against Racism, have faced relentless challenges and attacks while advocating for migrant and refugee rights. From smear campaigns to violent repression and racist violence, these obstacles hinder meaningful participation and undermine the very foundation of European democracy.
- Lack of Meaningful Action:
Alongside other civil society leaders, we voiced apprehension regarding the lack of proactive political actions from the Commission’s and Member States’ leadership in defending the anti-racism civic space. Despite alarming reports, political leaders remained largely silent on the escalating restrictions on civic space, attacks on NGOs, and defamation of activists. This silence is particularly stark in the face of incidents such as the recent bombing of the ENAR member organisation KISA‘s office.
- European Commission’s Contradictory Approach:
Emmanuel Achiri, ENAR Policy Advisor on Migration, also highlighted the contradictions in the European Commission’s priorities. While claiming to protect civil society, the recently proposed Migration Pact criminalises not only migration itself, but also search and rescue activities aimed at saving lives. The criminalisation of their efforts endangers lives and undermines the core value of solidarity championed by the European Union.