India, Pakistan, Singapore, Thailand - restrictive law

Increasing use of draconian UAPA and other repressive laws to stifle dissent in India

In recent months, the draconian Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) and anti-terror laws has continued to be misused against activists, journalists and online critics especially around the communal violence in Tripura and in the detention of human rights defender Khurram Parvez. There have also been attacks against Right to Information (RTI) activists and attacks on the farmers’ protests. Read more

Increasing use of draconian UAPA and other repressive laws to stifle dissent in India

Singapore passes draconian foreign interference law, rejects UN recommendations on civic space

Civic space in Singapore has continued to narrow, as the government passed an encompassing law on foreign interference, despite widespread dissent, which could be used to clamp down on fundamental freedoms. The authorities suspended the licence of the independent media outlet The Online Citizen (TOC), while the courts ruled in favour of the Prime Minister on accusations of defamation against the TOC editor and writer. The authorities rejected an application by an activist against a correction order under the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act (POFMA), while a rapper has been charged with promoting feelings of ill will. Read more

Singapore passes draconian foreign interference law, rejects UN recommendations on civic space

Thai activists and protesters face judicial harassment, excessive force despite upcoming UN review

In recent months activists and protest leaders have continued to be summoned, arrested and detained on various charges including royal defamation and sedition. Some have been denied bail. A new emergency regulation issued in August 2021 threatens online freedoms. Criminal defamation charges have been brought by companies against a woman activist and a journalist. Police have used excessive force including water cannon, rubber bullets and tear gas to disperse protests. Protesters have been detained and suffered injuries, including children. Concerns continue to be raised about a draft law which includes counter-terrorism financing measures to regulate non-profit groups.
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Thai activists and protesters face judicial harassment, excessive force despite upcoming UN review

Singapore PM listed as press freedom ‘predator’ as journalists continue to be targeted

In recent months, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong was included in a list of violators of press freedom. Journalists have continued to face defamation and other charges for their reporting, there are reports of increasing surveillance and an individual has been charged under the Official Secrets Act. Read more

Singapore PM listed as press freedom ‘predator’ as journalists continue to be targeted

Death of Fr Swamy and increasing online restrictions highlights risk facing activists in India

Ongoing calls for the authorities to release human rights defenders and activists detained under the draconian Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) have escalated following the death in custody of Fr Stan Swamy, a Jesuit priest and human rights defender. UN experts have raised concerns about the arrest and detention of tribal rights activist Hidme Markam detained in February 2021. Social media companies, in particular Twitter, have been targeted by authorities to stifle dissent. Read more

Death of Fr Swamy and increasing online restrictions highlights risk facing activists in India

Singapore continues to stifle fundamental freedoms despite UN human rights review

In recent months, Singapore has continued to attack fundamental freedoms and use laws against critics and human rights defenders despite facing a UN review of its rights record. It has continued to wield repressive laws such as the Public Order Act and defamation provisions against human rights defenders, activists and journalists. It has also continued to criminalise individuals organising peaceful protests. Singapore has dropped two places in the Reporters Without Borders' World Press Freedom Index. Most recently, it issued a warning around an event discussing LGBTQI+ issues. Read more

Singapore continues to stifle fundamental freedoms despite UN human rights review

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

Crackdown on Thai activists continues as new restrictive NGO law proposed

Since the beginning of 2021, scores of activists have been charged for lese majeste, sedition and other violations, including seven leading pro-democracy protesters who have been denied bail. A restrictive new NGO law has been proposed that could be used to muzzle civil society groups and non-governmental organisations. The security forces have used rubber bullets, tears gas and water cannon to disperse protests while the authorities are increasingly invoking the lese majeste laws to restrict public discourse on the monarchy. Read more

Crackdown on Thai activists continues as new restrictive NGO law proposed

Attacks on Aurat March, minorities and critics highlight shrinking space for dissent in Pakistan

In recent months, intimidation and threats against women activists involved in the Aurat March have been experienced, while groups continue to raise concerns about enforced disappearances. Pashtun activists have been arrested for their comments during protests while transgender persons have continued to face attacks. The authorities also attempted to increase controls over the media while three people were sentenced to death for online blasphemy. Read more

Attacks on Aurat March, minorities and critics highlight shrinking space for dissent in Pakistan

Indian authorities target activists, journalists as they suppress support for the farmers’ protests

Since early January 2021, the authorities have continued to suppress and demonise the farmers protest movement using excessive force with over a hundred detained and charged as well as blocking roads and protests spaces. Activists supporting them have been criminalised using draconian laws as well as journalists reporting and commenting on the protests. The government has also attempted to silence criticism online. Read more

Indian authorities target activists, journalists as they suppress support for the  farmers’ protests