Civic Space Developments

Saudia Arabia Overview

Despite certain political and social reforms made since the turn of the century, the authorities in Saudi Arabia continue their decades-long clampdown on dissent, human rights activism and independent reporting through the media. Read more


Nearly two hundred civil society organisations from 74 countries, including South Africa, have written an open letter to South African President Jacob Zuma to mark the second-month anniversary of the brutal assassination of South African community and land rights activist Sikhosiphi Rhadebe. Mr Rhadebe was killed on 22 March 2016 by unknown assailants using firearms. Read more

Tags: HRD killing

CIVICUS condemns UK government’s attempt to silence civil society

The UK government is receiving widespread condemnation for a new clause in grant agreements that will place restrictions on civil society organisations lobbying the government. Read more

Effort of Colombia’s civil society in peace negotiations not acknowledged

Carlos A Guevara coordinates the information system for Somos Defensores (We Are Defenders), a non-governmental protection program for human rights defenders in Colombia. He is a journalist, audio-visual producer and social communicator specialising in human rights, armed conflict, public opinion, digital rights, peace building and humanitarian assistance based on the “do no harm” principle. He has extensive experience in supporting, training and consulting with social and human rights organisations in Colombia, Bolivia, Brazil, Nicaragua, Honduras and Mexico on issues of advocacy, management of public opinion and human rights, communication for protection, risk analysis, self-protection and management of communications in crisis situations. Read more

Joint letter to King of Bahrain on the arrest of Zainab Al-Khawaja

Dear King Hamad,

We, the undersigned Bahraini and international non-governmental organizations (NGOs), would like to unequivocally condemn your government’s arrest of human rights defender Zainab Al-Khawaja along with her infant son. The implementation of Ms. Al-Khawaja’s prison sentence for merely exercising her right to free expression and assembly amounts to arbitrary detention is wholly unacceptable. While Foreign Minister Sheikh Khaled bin Ahmed Al-Khalifa indicated an intention to release her, she has not yet been freed from prison and we are concerned that these arbitrary charges remain against her. We therefore call on the Government of Bahrain to secure her immediate and unconditional release. Read more

Joint letter to King of Bahrain on the arrest of Zainab Al-Khawaja

Intolerance of civil society in Vietnam: An interview with Penelope Faulkner from VCHR

Vice-President of the Vietnam Committee on Human Rights (VCHR), Penelope Faulkner, speaks to CIVICUS about the current challenges faced by civil society in Vietnam and the role of international solidarity networks in supporting the creation of a safe and enabling environment for human rights defenders. Read more

Environmental Rights Activist Killed

South Africa may be celebrating human rights month to commemorate the sacrifices made in the struggle for democracy, yet attacks on rights defenders point to a worrying trend for civil society. CIVICUS, the global civil society alliance, calls on South Africa’s government to treat two recent incidents with utmost seriousness. Read more

Environmental Rights Activist Killed


Barbados has a healthy respect for free speech and a vibrant media space ensures that people have access to a range of views and opinions. Like most Caribbean countries, defamation remains a criminal offence in Barbados and the punishment for libel is imprisonment of up to 12 months or a fine, although actual use of these laws appears to be rare. Read more

Peaceful Assembly

Protests are relatively frequent in Barbados and usually peaceful – recent protests have addressed a range of issues including unfair dismissal of workers, opposition to a new government tax and a hike in student fees. Barbados’ laws on public gatherings fall short of international standards and best practices related to peaceful assembly. Read more


The constitution of Barbados, in Article 21, provides that nobody can be deprived of the right to ‘associate with other persons’ and form ‘associations for the protection of his interests’. The only exceptions to this rule occur when it is ‘reasonably required’ for ‘defence, public safety, public order, public morality or public health’ or the protection of the rights of others. Read more