Civic Space Developments

Legislation proposed by Uruguay’s new government could be a setback for human rights

On 13th March 2020, Uruguay’s government issued a decree (93/020) declaring a state of national sanitary emergency due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Among other measures, the legislation suspended all public gatherings and announced mandatory quarantine for anyone confirmed positive for COVID-19 or showing symptoms and for those who had recently visited high-risk areas. Read more

Legislation proposed by Uruguay’s new government could be a setback for human rights

Clampdown on expression online persists as Laos slips further down the press freedom rankings

There have been reports of human rights violations occurring during the lockdown in Laos. Individuals circulating a video of a land grab were detained and there were arrests for ‘fake news’ or ‘spreading rumours aimed at causing public panic’ related to COVID-19. Laos press freedom rankings dropped further, while concerns were raised around the lack of information on another proposed dam, amid a near-total lack of space for free speech. Read more

Clampdown on expression online persists as Laos slips further down the press freedom rankings

Peaceful Assembly affected by COVID-19 restrictions

Mass protests banned in Moscow due to COVID-19; Marches held to commemorate fifth anniversary of the assassination of Boris Nemtsov; Experts document decreased willingness to join protests; Jamestown Foundation and European Endowment for Democracy banned in Russia; Chechen Opposition blogger attacked by an unknown person Read more

Peaceful Assembly affected by COVID-19 restrictions

Calls for more PPE and testing amid coronavirus outbreak in Mexico

In the context of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, Mexico’s Ministry of Health published on 24th March 2020 regulations suspending mass events, meetings and congregations of more than 100 people until further notice. Read more

Calls for more PPE and testing amid coronavirus outbreak in Mexico

Civic space concerns reinforced by COVID-19 response

Emergency measures were introduced in Kyrgyzstan in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, including a state of emergency in the capital Bishkek and several other cities and regions. These measures affected the protection of the freedoms of expression, association and assembly. For several weeks, journalists were not accredited or granted special permission to move around in the capital and other areas where the state of emergency was in place, which prevented them from effectively carrying out their work. Lawyers were also not exempted from the restrictions on movement that applied, which obstructed their efforts to provide legal assistance to clients. Rallies, pickets and all other assemblies were fully banned during the state of emergency and social media users were detained, threatened with criminal prosecution and forced to “publicly apologise” for spreading alleged false information about the pandemic.
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Civic space concerns reinforced by COVID-19 response

Continued concerns about privacy and freedoms in Australia, following civic space rating downgrade

The Australian government has continued to introduce bills that could undermine fundamental freedoms. These include the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation Amendment Bill 2020 that expands counter-terrorism powers and the Telecommunications Legislation Amendment (International Production Orders) Bill 2020 which raises privacy concerns. Further, the coronavirus contact tracing app has raised human rights concerns while Australia’s press freedom ranking has dropped. Read more

Continued concerns about privacy and freedoms in Australia, following civic space rating downgrade

Concern over crackdown on opposition and dissenters ahead of 2020 elections

Dozens of opposition supporters arrested, detained, New anti terrorrism law passes, government announces restoration of phone and internet services in parts of Oromia region after shut down in January 2020, protesters injured, one killed during protest by university students at Bule Hora University in Oromia Read more

Concern over crackdown on opposition and dissenters ahead of 2020 elections

Italians find ways to peacefully assemble despite COVID-19 pandemic

The Italian government banned public gatherings as part of emergency measures against the coronavirus (COVID-19), which effectively makes peaceful assemblies impossible. Nevertheless, grassroots movement the Sardines found a way to mobilise without their usual mass gatherings. The movement raised 60,000 Euros for local culture and artisty in Italy by selling 6,000 begonias and aromatic herbs. This time, instead of people, the seedlings filled the Piazza Maggiore. In various Italian cities shopkeepers and business owners defied lockdown measures and took to the streets to protest the government’s decision not to let them open their businesses yet, as Italy transitions out of its lockdown. In a concerning development, journalists who report on the Mafia in Italy have faced various attacks. Read more

Italians find ways to peacefully assemble despite COVID-19 pandemic

Honduras’ undue restrictions on expression and police abuse of emergency powers during COVID-19

On 10th March 2020, Honduran president Juan Orlando Hernández declared a state of sanitary emergency due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. On 16th March 2020, another decree (PCM-021-2020) restricted several constitutional guarantees, including freedoms of expression, association, assembly, and movement. Read more

Honduras’ undue restrictions on expression and police abuse of emergency powers during COVID-19

Protesters arrested for breaking lockdown rules

On 8th May 2020, several dozen people gathered in front of the Finnish parliament in Helsinki to protest the lockdown measures that are in place to prevent the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19). Police were quick to disperse the demonstration. Two people were arrested for violence against a police officer and the organiser was fined for breaking the ban on public gatherings.
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Protesters arrested for breaking lockdown rules