Civic Space Developments

The Gambia adopts Access to Information Law

On 1st July 2021, Gambia’s National Assembly adopted the Access to Information (ATI) Bill, which is currently waiting for the President’s assent. The ATI Bill in the Gambia was a result of close collaboration between civil society – organised through the CSO Coalition on ATI – and government departments. Read more

The Gambia adopts Access to Information Law

Organisers take legal action after municipality prevents LGBTI march from going ahead

On 9th June 2021, Belarusian activists in Lithuania organised a rally at a border crossing in Medininkai to block traffic to and from Belarus. The aim of the protest was to put pressure on Belarus and call for stricter EU sanctions. The protest was not authorised by Lithuanian authorities and protesters attempting to block roads were threatened by police and the Lithuanian Border Guard Service (VSAT) with detention and fines. In a separate development, organisers of the first LGBTI Pride march in the city of Kaunas are suing the municipality over its refusal to issue a permit for the event, which is planned to take place on 4th September 2021. Even though the organisers proposed three different routes through the city, they were all rejected due to infrastructure renovation works and the “disproportionate inconvenience” due to traffic disruptions that the protest may cause. Related to LGBTI rights, on 4th June 2021, the National Association of Families and Parents sent a letter to the Lithuanian Radio and Television Council (LRT) complaining that there is too much LGBTI representation and that this “propaganda can no longer be tolerated.” Read more

Organisers take legal action after municipality prevents LGBTI march from going ahead

Unrelenting harassment of activists and critics by police to stifle all forms of dissent in Malaysia

In recent months, the government continued to curtail fundamental freedoms and intimidate activists and journalists. Dozens have been hauled up by the police for peaceful protests critical of the government and its policies. Activists faced investigation for raising issues related to police brutality and the government handling of the pandemic, while journalists were also targeted for their reporting. Amidst a worsening COVID-19 crisis, the government continued to use the anti-fake news ordinance against individuals, a move criticised as detrimental to promoting access to information which is essential during a public health crisis. P
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Unrelenting harassment of activists and critics by police to stifle all forms of dissent in Malaysia

Antiterrorism laws further threaten civic space in Senegal

On 25th June 2021, Senegal’s National Assembly passed two draft laws, modifying the Penal Code and the Criminal Procedure Code, with the aim of “reinforcing the fight against terrorism”, but they contain problematic and overly broad provisions which could affect civic freedoms negatively. Opposition and civil society groups have denounced the adopted laws as an attempt to limit opposition and to restrict the right to protest Read more

Antiterrorism laws further threaten civic space in Senegal

El Salvador: Step backward for transparency in proposal to reform Access to Public Information Law

On 7th July 2021, the Nayib Bukele government presented a bill which would make regressive reforms to El Salvador’s Access to Public Information Law (Ley de Acceso a la Información Pública), undermining government transparency. Read more

El Salvador: Step backward for transparency in proposal to reform Access to Public Information Law

Protests against immigration policies and new environmental regulations in New Zealand

In recent months, hundreds have participated in protests across New Zealand against government policies. Protesters including migrant workers have mobilised against immigration policies that they say are ‘broken’ while farmers have protested against a swathe of new environmental regulations. Read more

Protests against immigration policies and new environmental regulations in New Zealand

Journalists questioned over report; concerns remain over draft law on whistleblowers’ protection

Since 20th May 2021, employees of the daily newspaper Libertatea and the weekly magazine Newsweek Romania have been questioned by prosecutors at the Directorate for Investigating Organised Crime and Terrorism (DIICOT) over their coverage of alleged corruption in public works contracting. According to experts, this is an attempt to silence journalists reporting critically on the use of public funds. In an independent development, the Ministry of Justice did not adopt most of the proposals submitted by APADOR-CH and other non-governmental organisations, which were aimed at improving the draft law on whistleblowers’ protection. Significant issues with the draft law which NGOs raised were disregarded. Read more

Journalists questioned over report; concerns remain over draft law on whistleblowers’ protection

Media independence, access to information and self-censorship of NGOs still an issue in Bhutan

There continue to be concerns about media independence, access to information and the chilling effect of defamation laws on journalists. Further, according to reports, NGOs continue to self-censor and avoid issues perceived as sensitive by the government. Read more

Media independence, access to information and self-censorship of NGOs still an issue in Bhutan

Haiti: President Moïse assassinated, launching country into further uncertainty

Overnight on 7th July 2021, a group of armed assassins gunned down President Jovenel Moïse after breaking into his residence in Port-au-Prince. Read more  |  Read in French

Haiti: President Moïse assassinated, launching country into further uncertainty

Flawed elections and deterioration of media freedom

On 11th June 2021, ahead of the HRC47, a group of NGOs led by DefendDefenders wrote a letter urging the UN Human Rights Council to adopt a resolution on the ongoing human rights crisis in Tigray, Ethiopia. The letter urged the HRC to “take urgent action to address the crisis and fulfil its mandate to address and prevent violations of human rights, including gross and systematic violations and abuses, and to respond promptly to emergencies.”. On 21st June 2021, Ethiopia held its general elections amidst the conflict in Tigray and other regions including the Benishangul-Gumuz region. Officials announced that Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed had won 410 out of 436 seats on 10th July 2021. International observers and political opposition groups claimed the elections were undemocratic and unfair. On 26th June 2021, five opposition parties that took part in the election alleged that the ruling party had interfered with the general elections. The European Union did not send observers, and the United States criticised the electoral process, claiming it had too many obstacles for it to be perceived as credible. Multiple opposition parties boycotted the elections, as previously reported by the Monitor, and 18 percent of parliamentary seats from the Tigray, Somali, Harari, Afar,and Benishangul-Gumuz regions did not vote. Read more

Flawed elections and deterioration of media freedom