Civic Space Developments

Police use tear gas and water cannon to disperse party goers gathering against COVID-19 measures

On 1st May 2021 police broke up a party in a park in Brussels. About 2,000 mostly young people gathered in Bois de la Cambre, the city’s largest park, to protest COVID-19-related restrictions. Police dispersed the crowd by employing tear gas and water cannons and detained 132 attendees. This party protest, named ‘La boum 2’ came one month after a similar protest on 1st April 2021. During this event 22 people were arrested. A number of incidents, from intimidation to bomb threats, were documented against journalists. Read more

Police use tear gas and water cannon to disperse party goers gathering against COVID-19 measures

Activist arrested as South Korea seeks to further restrict sending materials to the North

Over the last few months, the authorities arrested and charged an activist under the amended Development of Inter-Korean Relations Act for the launching of propaganda leaflets into North Korea. It was reported in April 2021 that the authorities are planning to further amend the law so that it bans people from sending digital information to North Korea. Read more

Activist arrested as South Korea seeks to further restrict sending materials to the North

Independence of Czech TV and radio under threat

On 1st April 2021, the International Press Institute (IPI) again raised concerns over the increased interference in the independence of Czech television. During March 2021, there was an attempt made by the council to remove Czech TV CEO Petr Dvořák, who guarantees the broadcasting of critical news, alleging he had conflicts of interest. The attempt this time, however, was rejected by a majority of the council. The impartiality of the Czech national radio seems to also be under threat, with council members of Czech Radio trying to influence what is being broadcast. As Million Moments for Democracy reports, the pressure on CEO René Zavoral from the Czech Radio Council is increasing. In another development, on 29th April 2021, 10,000 Czechs assembled in Prague to call for the removal of President Milos Zeman for his pro-Russia views. Read more

Independence of Czech TV and radio under threat

Killings and fabricated charges against activists persist as ICC investigation moves forward

In recent months, the killing of activists and fabricating of changes against them have persisted. Reports also showed the killing of lawyers has escalated under the Duterte administration since 2016. After nine sittings in nearly four months, the Supreme Court on in May 2021 wrapped up the oral arguments on the petitions by civil society against the draconian anti-terror law. Human rights defenders also urged the Supreme Court and Department of Justice to review the rules on issuance which has been routinely used to judicially harass and arbitrarily detain activists. Concerns continue to be raised about the freezing of bank accounts of civil society groups for allegedly being terrorist fronts. Read more

Killings and fabricated charges against activists persist as ICC investigation moves forward

Belize: police officers prevent Love News from covering a protest and arrest reporter

On 7th May 2021, police officers arrested and assaulted Love News reporter Vejea Alvarez as he and a news team tried to cover a nurses’ protest at a hospital in Orange Walk Town. Read more

Belize: police officers prevent Love News from covering a protest and arrest reporter

Decline in RSF World Press Freedom Index amid increasing attacks on journalists

Press freedom is under great pressure in Germany, as attacks against journalists keep rising. This emerged from an assessment by the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF), which states that reporters covering COVID-19 protests often face violence and harassment. The annual press freedom report by Reporters Without Borders (RSF) released in April 2021, describes a particularly worrying picture. Overall, in 2020, 65 cases of violent attacks against journalists were reported, five times more than those registered in 2019. Most of the attacks took place in the context of protests against COVID-19 measures, where distrust of the press is a crucial element. This resulted in a negative change in Germany’s ranking in the 2021 World Press Freedom Index. Read more

Decline in RSF World Press Freedom Index amid increasing attacks on journalists

Abusive pandemic restrictions in Argentinian province of Formosa

On 5th March 2021, protesters clashed with police officers in the city of Formosa as demonstrators took to the streets to oppose the adoption of strict COVID-19 isolation measures. Read more

Abusive pandemic restrictions in Argentinian province of Formosa

Critics and media face harassment amid political and COVID-19 crisis in Nepal

In recent months, a political activist was detained for her criticism of the President, while journalists have been targeted for their reporting. New directives have been proposed under the Electronic Transaction Act to police social media. The authorities have also restricted protests and arrested protesters. Read more

Critics and media face harassment amid political and COVID-19 crisis in Nepal

Upsurge in LGBTI persecution and abuse; journalist sentenced to 23 months in prison

On 11th May 2021, two transgender women were sentenced to a prison sentence of five years and a fine of 200,000 francs CFA (371 USD) for 'attempting homosexuality', 'public indecency' and 'non-possession of ID card'. The two women - social media figure Shakiro Njeukam and Patricia Mouthe - were arrested in February 2021 in Douala Read more  |  Read in French

Upsurge in LGBTI persecution and abuse; journalist sentenced to 23 months in prison

Government considers harsher penalties as journalists continue to face physical attacks

Journalists have continued to come under attack. During the reporting period, the editor-in-chief of “Monitor”, Esad Kocan, was attacked on 27th March 2021 in front of his apartment in Podgorica. Attacks were also carried out on journalists Sead Sadikovic and Jelena Jovanovic. Following these events, on 31st March 2021, Montenegro’s Interior Ministry called for stricter penalties for attacks on journalists, promising to consider granting them the same status as state officials. Several protests also took place during the reporting period. Read more

Government considers harsher penalties as journalists continue to face physical attacks