500+ participants / 80+ speakers / 20+ panels


Day 2

18:00 – 19:00

Silencing Dissent: Fight for Human Rights in Central and Eastern Europe and Western Balkans

The panel is centred around the pressing challenges faced by human rights defenders, civil society organizations, and institutions striving to safeguard fundamental rights in Central and Eastern Europe and the Western Balkans.  The discussion on these topics gains heightened relevance as these regions grapple with a disconcerting shift toward authoritarianism. Hungary, Poland, and some governments across the Balkans have resorted to tactics aimed at marginalizing opposition figures, journalists, and human rights defenders, effectively isolating them from the general populace. These tactics, such as the weaponization of SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation) lawsuits, serve as cudgels to bludgeon activists, journalists, and human rights defenders into silence. In addition, the panel will explore instances where independent institutions dedicated to safeguarding citizens’ rights have been systematically suppressed, a trend underscored by the situation in Russia. Apart from discussing these trends, the panel will address the methods human rights defenders and civil society organizations use to build resilience against democratic backslides. Finally, the discussion will also address perspectives of hope, perseverance, and human rights defenders’ reconnection with the societies they work for. This panel is organized in partnership with Amnesty International Netherlands and the Lawyers’ Committee for Human Rights YUCOM.

Roberta Taveri
Áron Demeter
Mark Taylor
Milan Filipović
Paul Helsloot




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