Civic Space Developments

Protesters return to the streets ahead of constitutional referendum in Chile

On 25th October 2020, Chile is scheduled to hold a plebiscite to decide if the country will draft a new constitution, a key demand of the mass protests that started at the end of 2019. For many, this process would represent the hope of establishing a new social pact founded on human dignity and pluralism, replacing the current constitution which dates back to the country’s military regime. Read more

Protesters return to the streets ahead of constitutional referendum in Chile

Calls for #UNInvestigateApartheid as Israel attempts to silence civil society groups at UN

During the 45th session of the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC), Palestinian human rights organisations, through a joint statement, shed light on the systematic violations taking place due to the Israeli occupations. Palestinian organisations stated that such occupations were aimed at silencing their activities, including their advocacy work at the United Nations. On 1st October 2020, Israel attempted to silence civil society groups at the UNHRC for condemning its imposition of apartheid on the Palestinian people. This attempt comes as a global letter signed by 452 civil society groups worldwide called on the UN to take responsibility for investigating and eradicating Israeli apartheid. In addition, Israel’s judicial harassment of human rights defenders (HRDs) continue to take place. In a separate development, many of the protests which took place during the reporting period were due to the normalisation agreements signed between the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Bahrain and the Israeli occupation forces. Despite COVID-19 and its impact on public activities, there has been an increase in violations against journalists and media outlets while covering Palestinian activities. Read more

Calls for #UNInvestigateApartheid as Israel attempts to silence civil society groups at UN

Post-election protests plunge Kyrgyzstan into crisis

Following the parliamentary elections on 4th October 2020, a deep political crisis evolved in Kyrgyzstan, entailing serious human rights concerns. The parliamentary elections, which were marred by allegations of widespread irregularities, resulted in a landslide victory for pro-government parties, with most opposition parties left out in the cold. This prompted mass protests by opposition members and supporters in the capital Bishkek. What began as peaceful demonstrations evolved into clashes between protesters and law enforcement authorities during the evening of 5th October 2020 when the latter resorted to forceful tactics after an attempt by some protesters to break through the gates of White House, the seat of the president and parliament. The clashes ended with the seizure of the White House and several other public buildings by groups of protesters in the early morning of 6th October 2020, and the unlawful release of previous high-profile political figures from prison. In the days which followed the post-election protests, the Central Commission for Elections and Referendums of the Kyrgyz Republic (CEC) cancelled the election results, the prime minister and other top officials stepped down, calls were made for the resignation or impeachment of the President Sooronbay Jeenbekov, and parliament was left in a debilitated state. Through a convoluted chain of events, Sadyr Japarov – a former MP who was among those freed on 5th-6th October 2020 – was endorsed to head a new government on 14th October 2020. Read more

Post-election protests plunge Kyrgyzstan into crisis

Continued violence and harassment of HRDs and journalists as UN extends arms embargo

Two South Sudanese aid workers killed by armed group in Jonglei state; Targeting and attacks against journalists in South Sudan continues as several journalists arrested and one killed; HRD and government critic Peter Biar Ajak, flees to the United States over fears for his life

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Continued violence and harassment of HRDs and journalists as UN extends arms embargo

Despite re-election to Human Rights Council, civic space concerns persist in Nepal

In recent months, there have been further attempts by the authorities to impose new restrictions on the internet and the media. Civil society has raised concerns at the judicial harassment of a journalist and the death of another senior journalist. There have been protests by Dalits against the discrimination and violence they face and against Chinese encroachment. There were allegations of ill-treatment of a health activist, while the Chepang Indigenous peoples are facing eviction. Read more

Despite re-election to Human Rights Council, civic space concerns persist in Nepal

Tightening restrictions on freedom of speech ahead of presidential election

Ugandan Communications Commission issues a public notice stating that anyone wishing to publish information online needs to be issued with a licence; New draft regulations to require comedy performers to sign a code of ethics and have their scripts approved by a committee; Protesters supporting opposition party NUP dispersed and arrested; Read more

Tightening restrictions on freedom of speech ahead of presidential election

More restrictions reported ahead of October election

Offices of leading opposition party CHADEMA, in Arusha, attacked with firebombs and badly damaged; Tanzanian Human Rights Defenders Coalition's (THRDC) bank accounts frozen following an order from authorities; Read more

More restrictions reported ahead of October election

Journalist association and union call for media reforms and protections

During the reporting period, several gatherings were held, while adhering to the recommendations to curb the spread of COVID-19. However, the director of the Croatian Institute of Public Health, Krunoslav Capak stated that there is a high possibility that gatherings will be limited again in the autumn. The Croatian Journalists' Association (HND) and the Trade Union of Journalists and Media Workers of Croatia (SNH) sent an open letter to Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic and Culture and Media Minister Nina Obuljen Korzinek reminding them of unresolved challenges facing journalists and calling for a quality media strategy, new media laws and journalism funds. They also called on the government to adopt the promised media legislation reform and to solve cases of threats and pressure against journalists.

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Journalist association and union call for media reforms and protections

Crimean Tatars sentenced in Russian court

On 16 September, a court in the Russian Federation sentenced seven Crimean Tatars to up to 19 years in prison. The individuals are accused of being members of the Hizb ut-Tahrir Islamic group, which is an illegal entity in Russia, including in Russian-occupied Crimea, but the group remains legal in Ukraine. Read more

Crimean Tatars sentenced in Russian court

Inconsistent police responses to protests; female journalist receives death threats

Police have shown inconsistency in their reactions towards protests. For example, LGBTI activists report that significant additional costs of securing the 2019 Pride parade were imposed on the organisers but were not sought from other similar gatherings in 2019 and 2020. In addition, activists, journalists and lawyers expressed concerns about the inconsistent actions of the police towards the citizens of Banja Luka because of the different attitude towards unannounced rallies and the reasons for the gatherings. For example, police officers lay misdemeanor charges against "Justice for David" organisers, while it seems that the organisers of several other unreported rallies have not been punished. Read more

Inconsistent police responses to protests; female journalist receives death threats