Civic Space Developments

Three years on, human rights abuses continue in Nicaragua

18th April 2021 marked the third anniversary of Nicaragua’s widespread socio-economic protests of 2018, which sparked an enduring human rights crisis. Read more

Three years on, human rights abuses continue in Nicaragua

Protests and violence precede controversial presidential elections without main opposition

On 11th April 2021, close to five million people were called to vote in Benin's presidential elections, a tense and controversial election as electoral reforms introduced in 2019 require candidates for the offices of president and vice-president to be sponsored by at least ten percent of the total members of Parliament and/or mayors (16 representatives). Following the disputed legislative elections in April 2019 – in which opposition parties could not participate due to stringent requirements under the 2018 Electoral Code – and the municipal elections in April 2020, in which only one opposition party gained a majority of councillors in seven municipalities. On 27th November 2020, the African Court on Human and People's Rights (ACHPR) rendered a decision calling on authorities in Benin to annul the contentious reforms to the electoral code.
Just days before the poll, protests broke out throughout the country, with some turning violent and other dispersed by excessive force, killing at least two people in Savè. Read more

Protests and violence precede controversial presidential elections without main opposition

Wave of arrests of opposition supporters and activists; journalists continue to be imprisoned

At least 400 opposition supporters and civil society activists arrested, says human rights group

In a statement on 2nd February 2021, human rights group Amnesty International said that since the announcement of the official results of the presidential elections in October 2020, authorities have targeted at least 400 opposition supporters and civil society members in a massive wave of arrests. Four people – including three members of opposition party Union of Democratic Forces of Guinea (UFDG) who were reportedly arrested in connection with protests against a new constitution in March 2020 – died while in pre-trial detention in the main prison in Conakry. Authorities have attributed these deaths to natural causes or illnesses, but according to Human Rights Watch (HRW) family members, lawyers and activists who they spoke to claimed the deaths were due to torture, ill-treatment, poor detention conditions and lack of adequate medical care.
Read more

Wave of arrests of opposition supporters and activists; journalists continue to be imprisoned

Brunei drops two places in global press freedom rankings

In April 2021, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) released its latest press freedom index. Brunei’s ranking dropped two places to 154 out of 180 countries. RSF reported that self-censorship is the rule for journalists working for state-owned Radio Television Brunei and for the leading daily newspapers, which are directly owned by the Sultan’s family.
Read more

Brunei drops two places in global press freedom rankings

Indian authorities continue to stifle dissent and persecute activists despite pandemic surge

As the coronavirus pandemic rages in India, claiming thousands of lives, the authorities have continued to stifle civic freedoms. The authorities are formulating a new policy to regulate civil society that has raised concerns. Activists and critics continue to be persecuted and silenced with the use of restrictive laws. New regulations imposed in February 2021 allow greater governmental control over online content. Twitter and Facebook have been forced to take down or block political content critical of the government. Farmers are continuing their protests against new laws. Read more

Indian authorities continue to stifle dissent and persecute activists despite pandemic surge

Turkmenistan: New internet restrictions, new cases of persecution of outspoken activists

During the reporting period, the government continued to claim that Turkmenistan was COVID-19 free, although independent sources have reported that the pandemic has taken a serious toll in the country. As part of their efforts to cover up the COVID-19 outbreak in the country, the authorities made new attempts to track down medical workers sharing COVID-19 related information with exile-based outlets, which provide independent coverage of the situation in Turkmenistan. At the same time, President Berdymukhammedov attracted worldwide attention with his claim [https://www.rferl.org/a/turkmen-president-suggests-licorice-might-hold-the-answer-to-curing-covid-19/31028095.html] that liquorice might hold the answer to the cure for COVID-19 and ordered national scientists to work on a medicine based on this plant. Read more

Turkmenistan: New internet restrictions, new cases of persecution of outspoken activists

Bill governing cyberspace threatens to restrict freedoms as State of Emergency extended

Restrictions related to a proposed law governing cyberspace and the ongoing state of emergency threaten to affect the country’s civic space. Read more

Bill governing cyberspace threatens to restrict freedoms as State of Emergency extended

Positive press freedom rankings for Taiwan but ban on Chinese flag and book raises concerns

In recent months, Taiwan ranked highly in Asia in the Reporters Without Borders (RSF) World Press Freedom Index. However, there are civic space concerns about the proposed ban on the display of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) flag as well as a children’s book. Read more

Tags: censorship
Positive press freedom rankings for Taiwan but ban on Chinese flag and book raises concerns

Experts underscore steep decline in freedom of expression in El Salvador

On 17th March 2021, journalist Wendy Hernández denounced comments made by a judge in the initial hearing of the journalist’s case against a man who allegedly harassed her during an interview. Read more

Experts underscore steep decline in freedom of expression in El Salvador

Wave of political repression: witch hunts for activists, marred elections and scores of arrests

Events during this reporting period form part of the strongest wave of politically motivated repression in Kazakhstan since the aftermath of the 2011 events in Zhanaozen. Over 30 people were detained and are currently in custody across the country in retaliation for their peaceful exercise of the freedoms of expression, association and assembly. On top of that, at least 50 people detained for exercising their freedoms have been sentenced to prison, and around 250 have been summoned for interrogation as suspects and witnesses in criminal cases initiated in this context. Most of these people have been charged with participating in a banned extremist organisation under Article 405 of the Kazakhstani Criminal Code, a provision that the authorities use to target individuals associated with the opposition Democratic Choice of Kazakhstan (DVK) and Street Party movements. Both movements have been banned and labelled as extremist organisations by a court.

Read more

Wave of political repression: witch hunts for activists, marred elections and scores of arrests