Civic Space Developments

Japan's press freedom ranking drops while Okinawans, women and LGBTQI+ groups hold protests

The state of civic space in Japan is rated as ‘narrowed’ by the CIVICUS Monitor. In recent months, there has been a drop in press freedom rankings issued by Reporters Without Borders (RSF). There also have been ongoing protests by Okinawans against the US bases, by women’s rights activists for improvements in gender equality and by LGBTQI+ groups for the Tokyo Rainbow Pride parade and to address discrimination against them. Read more

Japan's press freedom ranking drops while Okinawans, women and LGBTQI+ groups hold protests

Civil society calls for human rights reforms as new government comes to power in Australia

On 21st May 2022, Australia’s Labor party claimed victory in the national election, ending nearly a decade of conservative government. Civil society groups had been calling for civic space reforms in recent months. This include a greater commitment to press freedom as Australia’s press freedom rankings drop and the existence of national security and defamation laws that have made the journalism more difficult. There are also calls for the reform of whistleblowing laws and to drop the prosecution of three whistleblowers. There are also concerns about new and planned anti-protest laws as well as the treatment of refugees and asylum seekers. Read more

Civil society calls for human rights reforms as new government comes to power in Australia

Teachers strike in Togo: over 100 teachers dismissed, trade unionists arrested

On 24th and 25th March 2022, the trade union Syndicat des enseignants du Togo (Teachers Union of Togo, SET) organised a strike in the education sector to demand a monthly housing allowance for any teacher without distinction in accordance with the 1975 education reform, a distance allowance and a transfer allowance, among others. The strike is considered illegal by the Togolese government, as SET is not considered by authorities as having been legally constituted, which is refuted by the trade union and civil society organisations.

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Teachers strike in Togo: over 100 teachers dismissed, trade unionists arrested

Protests by LGBTQI+ activists, migrant network and railway union in Taiwan

In recent months, there have been protests by LGBTQI+ activists against the marriage law, migrant workers’ rights advocates in support of protections for caregivers and a railways union protesting plans to corporatise the agency. While there is press freedom, there is a very polarised media environment. Read more

Protests by LGBTQI+ activists, migrant network and railway union in Taiwan

Ongoing persecution of unionists, media and opposition ahead of commune elections in Cambodia

In recent months, the harassment and persecution of NagaWorld unionists and workers has persisted. Licences were revoked for three digital media outlets while civil society groups remained concerned about the internet gateway sub-decree. Activists have been charged around land disputes while opposition activists continued to be criminalised or targeted ahead of the commune elections. Read more

Ongoing persecution of unionists, media and opposition ahead of commune elections in Cambodia

Uruguay: decline in freedom of expression; restrictive law maintained after referendum

Uruguay fell from 18th to 44th place in Reporters Without Borders’ World Press Freedom Index, despite the organisation’s analysis that the country’s “political climate encourages constructive and inclusive dialogue on the media’s role in national life.” Read more

Uruguay: decline in freedom of expression; restrictive law maintained after referendum

HRDs face life sentences & death penalty for their peaceful human rights work

HRD Abdullah Al-Maliki at risk of death sentence for his peaceful human rights work; Amnesty International published a 74-page report documenting the forced labour and other abuses of migrant workers in Qatar’s private security sector ahead of the FIFA World Cup; Court hands down a life sentence to lawyer Dr Hazzaa bin Ali Abu Shraydeh Al-Marri and his brother and fellow lawyer Rashid bin Ali Abu Shraydeh Al-Marri for their participation in peaceful protests in August 2021, others Read more

HRDs face life sentences & death penalty for their peaceful human rights work

Indonesian authorities criminalise activists, violently suppress protests around Papua

In the last few months, human rights defenders have been arrested, criminalised and threatened, especially those speaking up on violations in the Papuan region. Those who organised or have been involved in protests against the creation of new provinces in Papua have also been arrested and ill-treated and some have faced excessive or deadly force from the security forces. Farmers and activists in Wadas were arrested for opposing a mining project. The press freedom ranking for Indonesia has dropped and digital repression continues to be reported. Read more

Indonesian authorities criminalise activists, violently suppress protests around Papua

Opposition members sentenced to prison; concerns about violations against LGBTQI+ people

In its annual report, issued in December 2021, the National Human Rights Commission noted its concern about "physical and sexual assaults, arbitrary detention, torture and inhuman and degrading treatment observed recently in Benin against Lesbians, Gays, Bi-sexuals, Transgenders, Queers, Intersex and others (LGBTQI+)". Read more  |  Read in French

Opposition members sentenced to prison; concerns about violations against LGBTQI+ people

Restrictive legislation, criminal cases against the media & bans on protests on Ukraine

The government pushed ahead with the implementation of a law claimed to be aimed at countering the spread of ‘’false’’ information on the internet and put forward a draft anti-extremism law containing vague wording. Critics fear that both of these laws might be used to unduly restrict freedom of expression. Decision makers and pro-government activists made new calls for designating foreign funded NGOs and media as ‘’foreign agents’’ and proposed to renew consideration of controversial draft legislation on this topic previously rejected by parliament. The implementation of a new widely criticised reporting scheme for NGOs began with technical difficulties, as a result of which NGOs were unable to submit reports online -- as required by law -- within the first deadline. Parliament passed new legislation that media organisations have warned will result in public TV and radio channels becoming mouthpieces of the authorities. In an alarming development, several criminal cases were opened against media outlets and journalists in apparent retaliation for their work. While residents continued to actively exercise their right to peacefully assemble on issues of concern to them, local authorities in the capital Bishkek imposed excessive and unlawful restrictions on protests relating to Russia’s military operation in Ukraine. Read more

Restrictive legislation, criminal cases against the media & bans on protests on  Ukraine