attack on HRD

El Salvador: freedom of expression under threat amid rising gang violence

On 27th March 2022, El Salvador’s Legislative Assembly decreed a state of exception in an attempt to halt an increase in murders, which put a strain on the government’s security strategy with 76 killings in just two days. The measure had been requested by Salvadoran President Nayib Bukele, following a weekend of extreme violence. Read more  |  Read in Spanish

El Salvador: freedom of expression under threat amid rising gang violence

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

Smear campaigns against CSOs, opposition and independent journalists continue

The Odbranimo Sume Fruske Gore association and the Fruskac Association, which have for years been campaigning against the irregularities in the purchase of land in the Fruska Gora National Park by the Galens company, have been sued by the company's owners. Separately, the Pride Info Center (PIC) Belgrade reported that a man tried to vandalise their premises. At a press conference discussing the government's decision to annul legislation related to the lithium exploitation project in Loznica, the Prime Minister of the Republic of Serbia Ana Brnabic accused donors of financing protests which are aimed at "breaking the spine" of Aleksandar Vucic. Serbian Interior Minister Aleksandar Vulin accused environmental activists and the organisers of a protest held on 15th February 2022 of being "foreign mercenaries". In a concerning development, • After being warned by the police not to attend protests, three members of the Mitic family from Paracin are facing misdemeanour charges for participating in protests related to environmental rights on 4th December 2021. Smear campaigns against several outlets took place, and some pre-election concerns were noted. Read more

Smear campaigns against CSOs, opposition and independent journalists continue

New repressive measures after January 2022 events in Kazakhstan, ahead of presidential elections

During the reporting period, the Turkmenistani authorities continued to deny that the global COVID-19 pandemic had spread to the country, although independent sources reported on hospitals being overcrowded by patients with COVID-19 like symptoms. The World Health Organisation (WHO) for the first time publicly cast doubt on the government’s assertions of zero COVID-19 cases, with a high-level official from the organisation saying that this was unlikely from a scientific point of view. The Turkmenistani authorities also continued their attempts to cover up the devastating impact of the protracted economic crisis in the country, which has severely affected the largely impoverished population. The January 2022 events in neighbouring Kazakhstan, where peaceful mass protests turned violent and resulted in a serious national crisis, prompted renewed repression in Turkmenistan. For example, the president ordered additional measures to limit access to internet resources considered “anti-state” and the authorities reinforced their campaign against tools used to circumvent internet censorship. Read more

New repressive measures after January 2022 events in Kazakhstan, ahead of presidential elections

Honduras: Guapinol water defenders released after trial annulled by Supreme Court

On 27th January 2022, Xiomara Castro of the Libre party was sworn in as Honduras’ president. She took office amid a dispute with dissidents in her own party, who rebelled against her preferred choice for Congress leadership. Read more  |  Read in Spanish

Honduras: Guapinol water defenders released after trial annulled by Supreme Court

Costa Rica: violent attacks increase against Indigenous land defenders and territory in China Kichá

On 25th February 2022, Cabecár Indigenous land defenders were attacked with stones, sticks and machetes in China Kichá, an Indigenous territory in the San José province. According to the Coordinadora de Lucha Sur Sur (South-South Struggle Coordinator), the assailants are known to people of the region and have previously attacked other land defenders. Read more  |  Read in Spanish

Costa Rica: violent attacks increase against Indigenous land defenders and territory in China Kichá

On the Watchlist: Widespread violations reported during ‘’Bloody January’’

At the beginning of January 2022, thousands of people across Kazakhstan took to the streets in peaceful protests to call for social and political change. The protests turned bloody as the authorities used force to put an end to them, and some parts of the crowd resorted to violence . The circumstances under which the protests evolved into unrest, riots and clashes between protesters and security forces, as well as the role of different actors in these developments, have yet to be fully clarified. However, there are serious concerns about the manner in which the authorities responded to the crisis, in particular their failure to make a distinction between non-peaceful and peaceful protest participants, both of whom were indiscriminately branded ‘’terrorists’’; arbitrary mass detentions of protesters; reports of the excessive use of force, including the use of lethal force against peaceful protesters and passers-by; widespread allegations of torture and ill-treatment, due process violations and disappearances of detained protesters; as well as the prosecution of people for merely peacefully exercising their freedoms of peaceful assembly, association and expression. These events, which constitute the most serious crisis experienced by Kazakhstan during its 30 years of independence, seriously affected civic space in the country. Due to a rapid decline in civic freedoms, Kazakhstan is currently featured on the CIVICUS Monitor Watchlist. Read more

On the Watchlist: Widespread violations reported during ‘’Bloody January’’

Colombia: surveillance of civil society and detention of protest leaders

2022 began with astounding violence in the north-eastern department of Arauca along the Colombia-Venezuela border. Over 60 homicides were recorded in the region in January 2022, attributed to the escalating dispute over narcotrafficking routes between armed groups ELN (Ejército de Liberación Nacional) and dissidents of the FARC (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia). Read more

Colombia: surveillance of civil society and detention of protest leaders

Protesters in Argentina take to the streets against IMF and large-scale mining

On 24th September 2021, police in Neuquén evicted a Mapuche Lof Quemquemtreu community from territory they had occupied near El Bolsón, Río Negro province. About 30 Indigenous people, who are in the process of reclaiming ancestral territory, were violently evicted by police using disproportionate force – including rubber bullets and firearms. Read more  |  Read in Spanish

Protesters in Argentina take to the streets against IMF and large-scale mining

Attempted homicide of Indigenous leader in Costa Rica

On 30th December 2021, Indigenous leader Leonel García Segura was threatened and attacked with a machete in the Cabécar territory of Bajo Chirripó. García, who is the secretary of Asociación de Desarrollo Integral (ADI) de Reserva Indígena de Cabecera de Bajo Chirripó Matina, was taken to intensive care for treatment of wounds on his body and head. Read more  |  Read in Spanish

Attempted homicide of Indigenous leader in Costa Rica