Civic Space Developments

Serious abuses in North Korean camps documented by NGOs while radio broadcasts jammed

In recent months abuses continue to be documented including the jamming of radio broadcasts by a South Korean non-profit human rights organisation and a new detention camp for violators of COVID-19 quarantine rules. Human rights groups also reported satellite evidence of North Korean death camps located just 30 miles south of the capital Pyongyang and systematic torture, dangerous and unhygienic conditions and unpaid forced labour in pretrial detention Read more

Serious abuses in North Korean camps documented by NGOs while radio broadcasts jammed

Cuban government backtracks on talks with protesters and uses COVID-19 regulations to harass critics

As previously reported on the CIVICUS Monitor, in November 2020 the arrest of musician Denis Solís González led artists and activists with Movimiento San Isidro to mobilise for his release. On 26th November 2020, the Cuban authorities raided the movement’s headquarters and detained 14 activists who had been on hunger strike for several days. Read more

Cuban government backtracks on talks with protesters and uses COVID-19 regulations to harass critics

Censoring critical voices: Social media giants fined; journalists, women HRDs behind bars

On 2nd October 2020, the Ministry of Interior announced as part of COVID-19 measures that activities held by NGOs, unions and cooperatives were required to be postponed until 1st December 2020. The Turkish President ordered the Turkish Medical Association (TTB) to be outlawed and its leadership prosecuted, accusing the association of terrorism after it criticised governments response to COVID-19. Several protests were staged by the association over this. In a separate development, after three waves of operations against it, eight women affiliated with Rosa Women’s Association were arrested while eight others were released on probation due to their work on womens rights. The imprisonment of journalist remains a concern with four journalists being detained following their repeated reports on an incident where two Kurdish villagers were allegedly tortured and thrown from a helicopter. In addition, journalist Ayşegül Doğan was convicted for "establishing an armed organisation" and sentenced to six years and three months in prison due to her reporting. In another act of censorship, Turkish authorities imposed fines of 10 million Turkish lira (one million Euros) to social media giants, including Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, for failing to comply with the new social media law. Read more

Censoring critical voices: Social media giants fined; journalists, women HRDs behind bars

Costa Rica: arbitrary detention of journalist and criminalisation of protests

On 29th October 2020 police in Ochomogo, Cartago, detained journalist Stella Chinchilla Mora when she was reporting from a demonstration against the government’s negotiations with the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Read more

Costa Rica: arbitrary detention of journalist and criminalisation of protests

Two environmental defenders killed in Honduras

On 24th November 2020, Laura Carolina Valentín Dolmo, a young Garífuna defender and member of the Organización Fraternal Negra Hondureña (OFRANEH), was found dead in the river Danto in La Ceiba, in the northern Atlantida department. Read more  |  Read in Spanish

Two environmental defenders killed in Honduras

Media outlets and journalists face a wave of SLAPP suits and hateful attacks

Several protests were staged in relation to the governments COVID-19 response which included protests by restaurant and cafe owners as well as for medium sized businesses. In a concerning development, the Croatian Journalists’ Association (HND) warned of an upcoming wave of lawsuits against journalists and media workers filed by high-ranking politicians and public personalities. Sites such as Telegram, Index.hr and Virovitica.net are facing several SLAPP suits. In addition, Croatian journalist Anja Kožul was subject to a hate campaign. Read more

Media outlets and journalists face a wave of SLAPP suits and hateful attacks

Academic freedom at risk, barriers for transgender women as NGOs submit reports to UN on Japan

In recent months, there have been attempts by Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga to suppress academic freedom while Japan’s legal gender recognition law creates significant discriminatory barriers for transgender women to enroll in all public women’s universities in the country. There have also been ongoing protests against the Olympics and abuses in China. Read more

Academic freedom at risk, barriers for transgender women as NGOs submit reports to UN on Japan

Canada: protests against COVID-19 restrictions as country struggles with new wave of infections

On 7th November 2020, about 2,000 people demonstrated in Aylmer, Ontario, to express their opposition to facial coverings and social distancing rules implemented by the provincial and federal governments in response to COVID-19. Read more

Canada: protests against COVID-19 restrictions as country struggles with new wave of infections

Skopje court fails to protect journalists as they continue to come under attack

Around 2,000 demonstrators gathered in an anti-government protest, calling for the resignation of Prime Minister Zoran Zaev. The protest, which was staged by supporters of the opposition VMRO-DPMNE party, was in reaction to an interview of the PM in which he commented on the history between Bulgaria and North Macedonia. The Association of Journalists of Macedonia (AJM) condemned the decision of the Basic Civil Court in Skopje after it rejected the lawsuits of two journalists against the alleged violation of their rights by the state. The case centres around the events of the 2017 “Bloody Thursday” at Parliament where journalists were insulted and beaten. The decision comes amid a number of attacks against journalists. Read more

Skopje court fails to protect journalists as they continue to come under attack

President and deputies of the ruling majority in parliament verbally attack journalists

With the formation of the new government and the establishment of the Ministry of Human and Minority Rights and Social Dialogue, the Office for Cooperation with Civil Society ceased to exist. A significant part of the competencies in the field of work of the Office will be transferred to the Ministry. The abolition of the Office marks the end of its role to ensure the participation of citizens in the preparation of legal regulations by ministries and local governments. In addition, the entire process was conducted in a non-transparent manner. As reported previously, the phantom portal of “Prismotra” continues to discredit the work of CSOs and individuals working on the protection and promotion of human rights. Journalists continue to face threats and harassment. In the latest cases documented, during a tour of the construction work of a COVID-19 Hospital, the President of Serbia attacked the independence and objectivity of the media. In addition, deputies of the ruling party in Parliament also verbally attacked journalists, branding them as "anti-Serbian". Read more

President and deputies of the ruling majority in parliament verbally attack journalists