prevention of protest

Calls for justice after journalist Shireen Abu-Akleh killed in ‘targeted attack’ by Israeli forces

On 11 May 2022, Shireen Abu Akleh, a prominent 51-year-old Palestinian-American journalist from Jerusalem, was killed while she was covering the aggression in Jenin Refugee Camp in the occupied West Bank, despite her wearing her press uniform. An investigation by CNN suggests that Abu Akleh was killed in a targeted attack by Israeli occupation forces with a direct bullet in the head. Restrictions on representatives of civil society organisations have continued. For instance, on 1st June 2022, Israeli authorities prevented Ubai Al-Aboudi, the Executive Director of the Bisan Center for Research and Development, from traveling to Amman, Jordan to attend a two-day expert meeting with the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia. Separately, in an open letter to the President of the European Parliament, civil society representatives raised their concerns after Israeli authorities denied the entry of European Members of Parliament into Palestine. Read more

Calls for justice after journalist Shireen Abu-Akleh killed in ‘targeted attack’ by Israeli forces

Mass arrests of activists; HRDs and journalists hacked with Pegasus Spyware

The Law on Cybercrime Prevention has been used as a tool to detain activists and thus continues to restrict civic space. According to Democracy for the Arab World Now (DAWN) at least 150 activists were arrested during March 2022. Separately, in April 2022, Citizen Lab and FrontLine Defenders revealed that Human Rights Defenders (HRDs) and journalists in Jordan had been hacked with Pegasus spyware. The key finding of the investigation revealed that between August 2019 and December 2021, Pegasus spyware was used to hack the phones of four HRDs, journalists and lawyers. Read more

Mass arrests of activists; HRDs and journalists hacked with Pegasus Spyware

USA: Massive protests erupt over leaked Supreme Court opinion affecting legal abortion rights

Sparked by a leaked Supreme Court opinion that indicated the court would end access to legal and safe abortions, thousands demonstrated in several cities in May 2022 to demand that their right to access healthcare not be infringed. Outside the Supreme Court in D.C. and in other cities, people took to the streets on 3rd May 2022 to protest the potential decision by the country’s highest court to overturn Roe v. Wade. Read more

USA: Massive protests erupt over leaked Supreme Court opinion affecting legal abortion rights

Protesters in Sri Lanka face excessive force, arbitrary arrests and attacks with impunity

Over the last two months, human rights groups have documented the use of excessive force by the police against protesters in Sri Lanka, including the use of water cannons, tear gas and rubber bullets. Hundreds have been arbitrarily arrested and there have also been incidents of torture or ill-treatment in detention, including denial of access to medical care and lawyers. Journalists have also been targeted and some are facing charges. The authorities also used state of emergency regulations to curtail protests and also shut down social media networks. Pro-government mobs were also unleashed to attack protesters and protest sites with impunity. Read more

Protesters in Sri Lanka face excessive force, arbitrary arrests and attacks with impunity

Blanket ban on protests until the election campaign starts

On 13th May 2022, Comité National du Rassemblement pour le Développement (CNRD), the military transitional authorities, announced that all public protests “likely to compromise social tranquillity and the proper implementation of the activities contained in the timetable, (…)” are banned until the start of the electoral campaign period.

The decision follows the announcement on 11th May 2022 by the National Transitional Council (CNT), the legislative-like body of the military transitional authorities, that the transitional period would take 36 months. Previously, on 30th April 2022, the leader of the CNRD, Mamady Doumbouya, said in an address on television that the military transition period could last 39 months.
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Blanket ban on protests until the election campaign starts

Restrictive legislation, criminal cases against the media & bans on protests on Ukraine

The government pushed ahead with the implementation of a law claimed to be aimed at countering the spread of ‘’false’’ information on the internet and put forward a draft anti-extremism law containing vague wording. Critics fear that both of these laws might be used to unduly restrict freedom of expression. Decision makers and pro-government activists made new calls for designating foreign funded NGOs and media as ‘’foreign agents’’ and proposed to renew consideration of controversial draft legislation on this topic previously rejected by parliament. The implementation of a new widely criticised reporting scheme for NGOs began with technical difficulties, as a result of which NGOs were unable to submit reports online -- as required by law -- within the first deadline. Parliament passed new legislation that media organisations have warned will result in public TV and radio channels becoming mouthpieces of the authorities. In an alarming development, several criminal cases were opened against media outlets and journalists in apparent retaliation for their work. While residents continued to actively exercise their right to peacefully assemble on issues of concern to them, local authorities in the capital Bishkek imposed excessive and unlawful restrictions on protests relating to Russia’s military operation in Ukraine. Read more

Restrictive legislation, criminal cases against the media & bans on protests on  Ukraine

President Aleksandar Vucic secures second term, amid growing pressure on civil society and journalists

On 3rd April 2022, presidential elections took place in Serbia. President Aleksandar Vucic secured a second term, with his party, the Serbian Progressive Party (SNS), securing the most votes in Parliament, 43.5 per cent. However, the pre-election period was marred by violations against opposition parties, some of which were unable to hold pre-election events, and there were also cases of physical and verbal attacks. Concerning developments were also documented on environmental activism and rights. Several concerning incidents were documented against journalists. Read more

President Aleksandar Vucic secures second term, amid growing pressure on civil society and journalists

Kazakhstan: Civic space limited by continued fallout from January 2022 events

During the reporting period, the situation in Kazakhstan continued to be affected by the fallout from the January 2022 events, when mass protests for social and political change were met with excessive force by the authorities and parts of the crowd resorted to violence. Representatives of the international community have repeatedly expressed concerns about the human rights impact of these events and called for an effective and impartial investigation into them. Read more

Kazakhstan: Civic space limited by continued fallout from January 2022 events

Harsh sentences for opposition protesters; journalists and TV programme suspended

Prior to the opening of the African Cup of Nations, which took place from 9 January 2022 to 6th February 2022 in Cameroon, 27 CSOs wrote an open letter to President Paul Biya, calling for the modification of laws that have been used to criminalise protest – in particular the 2014 anti-terror law – as well as for the release of more than 100 people who have been languishing in prison for over a year, and some of over five years, for protesting. Some examples of those detained include TSI Conrad, a young journalist who was arrested while covering protests in the Anglophone regions six years ago and was sentenced by a military court to 15 years in prison; and Dorgelesse Nguessan who was sentenced to five years in prison for attending a Mouvement pour le Renaissance du Cameroun-led protest over how the regional protests were organised. Read more  |  Read in French

Harsh sentences for opposition protesters; journalists and TV programme suspended

Orbán government secures landslide victory spelling further concerns for civic freedoms

Although the governing Fidesz party, which came to power in 2010, faced a united opposition for the first time, it secured a landslide victory on 3rd April 2022 in the parliamentary elections. For several years, civil society, and even European institutions, have raised concerns about democratic backsliding in the country, and critics feared that the election process would not meet the minimum standards of fairness. The preliminary findings of the OSCE mission found that the election process was not fair, with the presense of unbalanced and biased media coverage. In the lead up to the elections, civil society faced smear campaigns aimed at attacking their credibility, while the government passed a new decree which would further limit which press are allowed access to hospitals to report on COVID-19. Although the governments LGBTQI+ referendum was declared invalid, concerns for LGBTQI+ rights remain. Read more

Orbán government secures landslide victory spelling further concerns for civic freedoms