The CEELI Institute is delighted to be able to announce the launch of a new initiative to support civil society organizations, journalists and lawyers striving for greater public accountability and transparency in Central and Eastern Europe. The project is supported by a grant from the US Department of State. It will allow us to provide training, assistance and guidance to anti-corruption civic activists from across the region as they work to access publicly available government information, thereby highlighting and exposing official corruption. The project will include civil society participants from the Visegrad, Baltic and Balkan regions, as well as the Eastern Partnership countries.
Official corruption is often perceived as a major factor in undermining public trust in democracy and the rule of law; public corruption strengthens oligarchies and autocracies, bolsters populist responses, undermines the rule of law and deteriorates state institutions, and weakens legal and judicial systems. This project will tackle the problem from two angles. First, we will work to train journalists, civic advocates, lawyers and CSOs on methods of conducting research about governmental activities, on researching and collecting publicly available data and on using that data in the design of advocacy efforts aimed at promoting public accountability, including public interest litigation. Second, because successful efforts by activists often draw retaliation from powerful public officials or from the oligarchs, we will also work to equip lawyers to effectively represent bloggers, activists and investigative journalists who are exposing corruption, and who are attacked as a result of their efforts.