Civic Space Developments

Deadly violence against protesters by security forces as crackdown escalates in Myanmar

Over the last month, protesters demanding an end to the military's rule were met with live ammunition, rubber bullets, tear gas and water cannon by security forces as they attempted to disperse protests. Laws have been amended by the military to restrict civic space and there have been ongoing arrests of political leaders, government officials, civil servants, activists, student leaders and doctors, as well as anti-coup protesters. Read more

Deadly violence against protesters by security forces as crackdown escalates in Myanmar

Bukele secures supermajority in El Salvador's legislature

On 28th February 2021, legislative and municipal elections took place in El Salvador. Nayib Bukele’s party Nuevas Ideas won 56 seats, reaching the number needed to secure a supermajority in the country’s single-chamber legislature for the 2021–2024 period. Read more

Bukele secures supermajority in El Salvador's legislature

Worsening crackdown on civic space by Macron’s government to preserve ‘republican values’

French authorities have cracked down on civil society organisations (CSOs) accused of opposing the ‘Republican order’ and being ‘radical Islamists’. CSOs have also been under attack from extreme right and mainstream political forces, who have expressed stigmatising views towards Muslims and Muslim organisations. Following this, the French government led several initiatives which threatened civic space and the rule of law in France, which includes the draft Anti-Separatism law and the draft bill on Global Security. Objectors to the draft law on Global Security have maintained ongoing protests . The most controversial protest occurred in Paris, where organisers noted that police officers blocked access to the protest, refused to reveal their identification numbers and assaulted participants. There have been over 13,000 arrests in relation to these protests thus far.

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Worsening crackdown on civic space by Macron’s government to preserve ‘republican values’

Journalists come under attack during violent protests over COVID-19 curfew

In response to the reinstated curfew to curb the spread of COVID-19, the Netherlands saw a new wave of protests against the government's handling of the health crisis. Protests have taken place throughout the country, with some of these turning violent. Protests in Eindhoven and Amsterdam were forcefully broken up by riot-police with water cannon and tear gas. Police say around 300 people were detained for rioting so far and 5,700 were fined for breaking the COVID-19 curfew. In a concerning development, journalists covering protests faced physical attacks. Read more

Journalists come under attack during violent protests over COVID-19 curfew

Positive developments: New law protects Roma people against hate crimes; gender studies ban annulled

During this period, there were a number of positive developments. In November 2020, the Chamber of Deputies adopted amendments to the law concerning the functioning of NGOs in Romania (“Government Ordinance no. 26/2000 regarding Associations and Foundations”). After much advocacy, the amendments simplify NGOs’ bureaucratic procedures. On 4th January 2021 the “Law on measures for preventing and combating antigypsyism” entered into force. This law criminalises hate crimes perpetrated against the Roma community with imprisonment from three months up to ten years. A new law which sought to ban gender studies in schools and universities was annulled by the Constitutional Court, after President Klaus Iohannis sent the law for review. Read more

Positive developments: New law protects Roma people against hate crimes; gender studies ban annulled

Persecution of activists, opposition continue as Cambodia tightens control of online space

Over the last few months, human rights defenders and activists have continued to be targeted, with many facing trumped up charges. The authorities have also continued the judicial harassment of former members of the banned Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP). Journalists and musicians have been convicted while a new sub-decree for an internet gateway puts digital freedoms and privacy at risk Read more

Persecution of activists, opposition continue as Cambodia tightens control of online space

Support for Belarus; LGBTI rights under attack

The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has been particularly harsh on hospitals, nursing homes and other healthcare facilities. With the purpose of helping one of the sectors most affected by the pandemic, and facilitating the coordination between those who need help and those who can help, the National Coordinating Centre for Volunteers was recently established. CSOs see "the rise of volunteering activities and in general the boost of civil society initiatives” as a “positive trend” currently taking place in Lithuania. Lithuanian Non-Governmental Organisations’ Information and Support Centre has been actively supporting Belarus citizens currently living in Lithuania to establish NGOs and other similar entities that facilitate civic engagement. In addition, Lithuania has also been granting political asylum, scholarship and medical assistance to Belarus citizens, and has been home to Svetlana Tikhanovskaya -- Lukashenko’s main opposition -- ever since she fled Belarus in August 2020 due to safety concerns. In a concerning development, there have been several attacks on LGBTI rights.
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Support for Belarus; LGBTI rights under attack

Increasing civic space restrictions months ahead of presidential poll

On 4th February 2021, authorities issued a ban on protests across the country, citing fears of public disorder. The ban followed a call by a coalition of opposition parties, human rights organisations and civil society organisations to mobilise on 6th February 2021 to protest against president Idriss Déby running for a sixth term in the upcoming April 2021 elections. On 6th February 2021, more than 100 people were arrested throughout the country. Read more  |  Read in French

Increasing civic space restrictions months ahead of presidential poll

South Korea increases restrictions on activism on North Korea, passes regressive labour law revision

In recent months, South Korea has escalated its restriction on groups working on North Korea. In December, South Korea’s parliament passed a bill to ban the launching of propaganda leaflets into North Korea. The Moon administration has also directly targeted groups working on North Korean human rights or supporting efforts to assist North Koreans. Regressive labour revisions were passed that would prevent workers from occupying certain facilities at workplaces during strikes. Read more

South Korea increases restrictions on activism on North Korea, passes regressive labour law revision

Freedom of expression further at risk in Tonga with new cyberlaw following media regulations

In December 2020, RNZ reported that a new law had been passed in Tonga, an anti-cyber bullying bill, known officially as the Electronic Communication Abuse Offences Act. However, there are concerns that this new law could be misused to restrict and criminalise freedom of expression online.
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Freedom of expression further at risk in Tonga with new cyberlaw following media regulations