Civic Space Developments

Swedes take protests online as freedom of assembly is further restricted due to pandemic

Following mass protests against racism in the US, after the death of George Floyd, a Black man, by a Minneapolis police officer, Black Lives Matter protests have spread across the globe, including in Sweden. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Swedish government has temporarily banned gatherings of more than 50 people, which includes public protests and demonstrations. Several Black Lives Matter demonstrations which intended to stay within this limit of 50, attracted vastly more people. A demonstration of 8,000 people in Stockholm was eventually broken up by the police.
As a result, Swedish police have issued a statement saying that they will be stricter in granting permits for demonstrations. In the meantime people have also taken their protests against racism online. In a separate development, Swedish cartoonist Mahmoud Abbas received hate messages on social media after posting a cartoon on Facebook during April 2020 which commented on the collapse of oil prices. Read more

Swedes take protests online as freedom of assembly is further restricted due to pandemic

Thousands gather for Black Lives Matter protests

While Denmark was quick to impose far-reaching measures on its citizens at the beginning of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, it is now one of the first European countries that has begun to relax these rules by slowly allowing public life to open up again. From 10th May 2020 onwards, gatherings no larger than 500 people were allowed again. Despite the limitations on gatherings, several protests took place demanding racial justice, including in the Danish cities of Aarhus, Odense and in Copenhagen, where 15 000 people gathered. All protests took place in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter protests, which started in the United States following the death of George Floyd, a Black man, by a Minneapolis police officer on 25th May 2020. officials raised concerns about the spread of the coronavirus due to large protests taking place, with Denmark's ruling party calling on protesters to get tested for COVID-19.
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Tags: protest
Thousands gather for Black Lives Matter protests

Enforced disappearances and arbitrary detentions increase in Venezuela during pandemic

On 8th May 2020, civil society organisation Foro Penal reported that arbitrary detentions and enforced disappearances increased in Venezuela since the beginning of COVID-19 containment measures in March 2020. Read more

Enforced disappearances and arbitrary detentions increase in Venezuela during pandemic

PM condemned for negative rhetoric against media, attempts to shut down TV station

Although the citizens and activists of Tirana called on the authorities to halt the plan to demolish a cultural heritage site of the city, their attempts were unsuccessful. Many people from different backgrounds took to the streets to protest the decision to demolish the National Theatre. They furthermore accused the authorities of starting the demolition while some of the protesters were in the building, thus endangering their lives. Police also used force to push back masses of protesters. A journalist was also detained during the protest. In a separate development, Prime Minister Edi Rama has been criticised for his negative rhetoric towards reporters and journalists in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic. The State Health Inspectorate has requested the closure of the RTV Ora Television station for violating the instructions by the Ministry of Health to allow only two people in television studios at a time. This is viewed as an attempt to silence critical journalism under the guise of the pandemic. Read more

PM condemned for negative rhetoric against media, attempts to shut down TV station

Protests in Nepal around COVID-19 met with excessive force while journalists face attacks

Protests expressing discontent with the COVID-19 response have been met with excessive force and arrests. There have also been ongoing threats and attacks against journalists in Nepal for their reporting on the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Online critics have also been targeted for defamation using the Electronic Transaction Act. A proposed Intelligence Bill gives the national intelligence agency unlimited surveillance and search powers. Read more

Protests in Nepal around COVID-19 met with excessive force while journalists face attacks

Protests on migrant worker conditions and discrimination against indigenous people in Taiwan

In recent months there have been protests by migrant workers and migrant rights NGOs against poor working conditions. There were also protests linked to the Black Lives Matter movement highlighting discrimination against indigenous people. At the end of June 2020, one of the few Pride marches was held in Taiwan. The country dropped one place in the Reporters Without Borders press freedom index in April 2020 Read more

Protests on migrant worker conditions and discrimination against indigenous people in Taiwan

Austerity measures during COVID-19 lead to protests in Ecuador

On 16th March 2020, Ecuador’s government published a decree declaring a "state of exception" in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. This suspended some individual rights related to freedom of association and assembly, and provided government with authority to use digital tools to monitor individuals under mandatory isolation or quarantine. Read more

Austerity measures during COVID-19 lead to protests in Ecuador

EU court finds that NGO foreign funding law violates EU law, independent media under threat

On 17th June 2020 government announced an end to the “state of danger”, but immediately declared a “state of medical crisis”, which will continue to allow the government to issue a wide range of decrees and restrict certain rights. This declaration cannot be lifted by parliament and human rights organisations are concerned that this will only lead to further powers for the Orbán government. In a positive development, the Court of Justice of the European Union ruled that a Hungarian law concerning foreign funding of non-governmental organisations “does not comply with the Union law”. The court found that the law imposed "discriminatory and unjustified restrictions" on those organisations affected. Freedom of expression is increasingly under threat, with the biggest and most-read independent news site, Index.hu, reporting that it is currently under threat from external pressures. Read more

EU court finds that NGO foreign funding law violates EU law, independent media under threat

Authorities accused of abusing COVID-19 restrictions to stifle expression despite improved ranking

RSF reports that press freedom violations had declined under president Mokgweetsi Masisi’s regime;
President Masisi was accused of using the covid-19 pandemic to crack down on media and government critics; journalist's house raided on 17th July 2019 by officials from the Directorate of Security Services (DIS) agents Read more

Authorities accused of abusing COVID-19 restrictions to stifle expression despite improved ranking

Journalists continue to face physical and verbal attacks

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on the daily work of civil society organisations (CSOs), government has taken measures to assist the sector. Namely, the Ministry of Finance included CSOs as a separate group in the list of entities eligible for the economic measures under the Emergency Fiscal Package. During the reporting period, the Association of Journalists of Kosovo (AJK) documented several cases of physical and verbal attacks against journalists. Read more

Journalists continue to face physical and verbal attacks