Expression

Human rights defenders, pro-democracy activists and bloggers are routinely subjected to surveillance, restrictions on movement, arrest and arbitrary detention, and physical attacks. The authorities use vaguely worded offences to charge and convict peaceful activists, including “abusing democratic freedoms to infringe upon the interests of the state, the legitimate rights and interests of organizations and/or citizens” and “conducting propaganda against the state” (Penal Code, 1999). At least 29 activists were arrested in 2017, and others went into hiding after arrest warrants were issued. The authorities control all print and broadcast media. A 2006 decree prescribes fines for any publication that denies revolutionary achievements, spreads “harmful” information, or exhibits “reactionary ideology.” Decree 72, issued in 2013, gave the state sweeping new powers to restrict speech on blogs and social media.