Civic Space Developments

Police brutality during protests and targeting of journalists a huge concern

On 17th November 2020, hundreds of people gathered in Athens to remember the 1973 student uprising. Every year on this day, thousands gather in front of the Athens Polytechnic to remember the protesters who died there. In order to prevent this year’s march from happening, the government tightened the restrictions on gatherings to a maximum of three people between 15th and 18th November 2020 citing the strain on the healthcare system. Human rights groups raised concerns about the blanket ban on the right to protest. Several other protests were staged which saw police using excessive force and detaining protesters. Concerns have been raised over the increase in police brutality during protests. Journalists were also targeted through detentions and harassment from police at protests.
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Police brutality during protests and targeting of journalists a huge concern

Bolivia: attacks on journalists continue

On 3rd December 2020, Movimiento Al Socialismo (Movement Toward Socialism - MAS) supporters attacked, pushed and threatened journalists who were covering former president Evo Morales’ return to Bolivia at the El Alto airport. Read more

Bolivia: attacks on journalists continue

Police brutality during student-led protest in Panama

On 16th December 2020, police in Panama City repressed a student-led protest against legislation excluding some people under 25 from receiving pandemic aid. Read more

Police brutality during student-led protest in Panama

Journalists in Yemen continue to face severe threats in carrying out their work

Journalist Adeeb Al-Janani hit by shrapnel and killed while on duty; Journalist Tawfiq Mohammed Al-Mansouri, who is appealing a death sentence handed down in April 2020, is suffering a serious deterioration of his health in prison in Sana’a; journalist Mohammed Ali Al-Maqri released from the Political Security prison in Ma’rib. Read more

Journalists in Yemen continue to face severe threats in carrying out their work

Saudi Arabia continues to detain, harass and torture human rights defenders

Specialised Criminal Court (SCC) sentences prominent Saudi woman human rights defender Loujain Al-Hathloul to five years and eight months in prison; human rights defender Mohammad Abdullah Al-Otaibi sentenced to another year in prison; Saudi-American medical doctor Dr Walid Fitaihi sentenced to six years in prison on vague charges; Human Rights Watch criticises proposed reforms to the kafala system for excluding 3.7 million domestic workers; Read more

Saudi Arabia continues to detain, harass and torture human rights defenders

China continues Hong Kong crackdown, persecution of activists and journalists for their reporting

In recent months, the authorities have continued the crackdown on activists in Hong Kong with mass arrests of the opposition and activists, charging individuals under the draconian National Security Law and jailing pro-democracy activists, including Joshua Wong, Agnes Chow and Ivan Lam. The ‘Hong Kong 12’ youth activists were also convicted in an unfair trial. There has also been a lack of accountability for police violence during 2019 protests. On the mainland, activists and journalists have been arrested, while Zhang Zhan, a 37-year-old former lawyer and citizen journalist was sentenced to four years in jail for her reporting on Wuhan. Human rights groups reported that a big data program for policing in China’s Xinjiang region arbitrarily selects Turkic Muslims for possible detention
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China continues Hong Kong crackdown, persecution of activists and journalists for their reporting

Journalists assassinated and detained incommunicado, peaceful protesters arrested

Several protesters arrested following peaceful protests which began on 7th June 2020 in the predominantly Druze city of Sweida; journalist Hussain Khattab assassinated by unidentified masked gunmen; civil society activist and journalist Nour Al-Shilo released after she was arrested and detained incommunicado; On 9th December 2020, Syrian civil society organisations marked the anniversary of the kidnapping of four activists in Douma in 2013; Read more

Journalists assassinated and detained incommunicado, peaceful protesters arrested

Democracy in peril in the United States as rioters storm Capitol

At least five people died, including a police officer, and over 50 people were arrested after thousands of pro-Trump rioters stormed the U.S. Capitol on 6th January 2020 to disrupt a joint session of Congress and attempt to overturn the recent presidential election. Read more

Democracy in peril in the United States as rioters storm Capitol

Human rights organisations criticise civic space restrictions ahead of UPR review

Joint CSO UPR report on Oman finds that the government of Oman has failed to implement the recommendations relating to civic space since its last UPR review in 2015; Human Rights Watch publishes a letter sent to the Oman Human Rights Commission expressing their deep concern at the arrests and convictions of several individuals under a provision of Oman’s 2018 Penal Code that criminalises “imitating the opposite sex;" Internet activist Ghazi Al-Awlaki released after a period of detention by the Internal Security Service (ISS) in retaliation against his social media activities; Sultan bin Tariq issues decree No. 64 of 2020 establishing the Cyber Defence Centre grants absolute control for regulating internet services devices and data to the ISS Read more

Human rights organisations criticise civic space restrictions ahead of UPR review

Journalist detained, newspaper ordered to cease its operations

On 29th December 2020, armed security forces detained journalist and editor of the newspaper l’Indépendant Express Carlos Ketohou at his residence in Lomé and he was summoned to appear before the Criminal Investigations Central Service on 30th December 2020. The journalist was held for 4 nights on accusations of defamation and was released on 2nd January 2021 Read more  |  Read in French

Journalist detained, newspaper ordered to cease its operations