access to info. law

Concerns over limiting freedom of information

Due to the pandemic, firms and other commercial entities have been exempted from declaring their beneficiaries. NGOs, however, were not. This has placed a significant burden on NGOs, especially for smaller organisations with a small budget. While the current government has not run a smear campaign against NGOs, they are not very NGO-friendly either. Discriminatory laws, such as the law on preventing and combating money laundering and terrorist financing, are in place. In a seperate concern, there are plans to limit freedom of information permanently. According to a proposal of the General Secretariat of government for changes to the application norms of Law 544/2001, public authorities and institutions would need to provide information only in formats they already have. If the institutions do not possess the information in the format that an external actor has requested, they have no obligation to provide any information. NGOs have condemned proposed limitations to freedom of information.

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Concerns over limiting freedom of information

Mass #ShutItAllDown protests demand action against rising GBV

Throughout several months this year, there have been a series of abductions and gender-based violence cases which prompted youths and civil society organisations to begin protests calling for government action to address the rising numbers; CSOs call for enactment of Access to Information Bil Read more

Mass #ShutItAllDown protests demand action against rising GBV

Civil society intensifies calls to release jailed activists, journalists

Civil Society calls for renewed interest in the case of human rights defender Germain Rukuki, who has been imprisoned for the past three years; Recent case of the four journalists from Iwacu group was named by Time Magazine as the fifth most urgent case of threats to press freedom in the world; Human Rights Watch (HRW) concerning Burundi’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the silencing of medical doctors and healthcare workers; President Ndayishimiye makes reference to exiled opposition leaders, linking them with “support of homosexuality" in televised speech Read more  |  Read in French

Civil society intensifies calls to release jailed activists, journalists

Harassment and intimidation of journalists continue unabated

The Center for Ecology and Sustainable Development- CEKOR" is a target of a smear campaign on the phantom portal "Prismotra.net". The text accuses the association and its activists of being informers of foreign services, tasked to work against the interests of Chinese investments in Serbia. The text labels CEKOR as “the economic killers of Serbia”. In addition, during the reporting period journalist faced several verbal threats and insults, including from President Aleksandar Vučić and other ministerial officials. There is a noticeable trend of an increasing number of threats towards journalists. In just one week during August 2020 as many as five cases of attacks on journalists were recorded.
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Harassment and intimidation of journalists continue unabated

Massive restrictions on expression during COVID-19; sudden banning of peaceful opposition

The reporting period was characterised by mass restrictions on freedom of expression and freedom of association, specifically in relation to the banning of the popular unregistered “Street Party” movement by a court decision in May 2020 after it was labelled as extremist. The reporting period also saw important legislative developments, including changing slander from a criminal to an administrative offence and the corresponding reduction of penalties from prison sentences to fines. However, insult and insulting a government representative remain criminal offences. Read more

Massive restrictions on expression during COVID-19; sudden banning of peaceful opposition

Charges against HRD Madi Jobarteh dropped, Gambia closer to an access to information law

Country representative of the Westminster Foundation for Democracy Madi Jobarteh was summoned for questioning on 30th June to the Kairaba police station in Serrekunda, in relation to statements he made in an interview during a Black Lives Matter protest he organised on 27th June 2020 in front of the US embassy. That same day, Jobarteh was charged with 'false information and broadcasting' under the Criminal Code, which is punishable with a prison sentence of six months to five years or a fine of 500 to 50,000 dalasis (9.6 to 960 USD), before being released on bail. Read more

Charges against HRD Madi Jobarteh dropped, Gambia closer to an access to information law

New hope for Malawi after sustained protests

Following the court’s nullification of the May 2019 election results on 3rd March 2020, authorities under president Peter Mutharika’s regime embarked on a crackdown of dissenters, critics and the judiciary as the rerun, slated for 23rd June 2020 approached. , the NGO Board in collaboration with the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs began developing reporting regulations for NGOs. Read more

New hope for Malawi after sustained protests

Press freedom a grave concern during pandemic; attempts to ban gender studies in education

Despite recent political changes, press freedom remains a grave concern in Romania, even more so during COVID-19. As an attempt to counter the spread of coronavirus-related “fake news” online, articles and even entire websites were taken down. Media freedom in the country has declined since the introduction of the state of emergency in mid-March 2020 in the following ways: First, the response time for freedom of information (FOI) requests doubled from a maximum of 30 days to 60 days. Second, it was decided that all official COVID-19-related information would be released from the capital and thus limiting local journalists’ ability to verify any information outside of Bucharest. Third, the government threatened doctors and public servants with criminal charges for releasing any information on the pandemic to the media. However, after press watchdog bodies raised concerns, more information on COVID-19 has been released since. In a separate development a new law has been approved by both houses of the Romanian parliament banning gender identity studies—or “gender ideology”, as termed by right-wing populists—in schools and universities.


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Press freedom a grave concern during pandemic; attempts to ban gender studies in education

COVID-19 restrictions affect peaceful assembly, expression

Commemorative march cancelled due to COVID-19, Residents protest demolition of cultural building, Police arrest 252 people during a politically motivated protest in Yerevan, Concerns over media censorship in guise of COVID-19 restrictions , Civil Society raises concern over draft law on freedom of information, Armenia ranked 61st in the 2020 World Press Freedom Index, Read more

COVID-19 restrictions affect peaceful assembly, expression

Critics detained for COVID-19 related remarks

Civic activists, opposition leaders and journalist under attack amid COVID-19 pandemic, Azerbaijani journalist Afgan Mukhtarli released from detention, Azeri activist detained for a Facebook post one day after release from psychiatric clinic , Azeri activist detained for demonstrating police brutality on social media, March for women rights ends with police violence, Student protest ends with arrests, Protesters, journalists beaten during protest in Baku, Civil society publishes report highlighting challenges faced by NGOs and issues recommendations, Read more

Critics detained for COVID-19 related remarks