positive CS development

Positive developments: New law protects Roma people against hate crimes; gender studies ban annulled

During this period, there were a number of positive developments. In November 2020, the Chamber of Deputies adopted amendments to the law concerning the functioning of NGOs in Romania (“Government Ordinance no. 26/2000 regarding Associations and Foundations”). After much advocacy, the amendments simplify NGOs’ bureaucratic procedures. On 4th January 2021 the “Law on measures for preventing and combating antigypsyism” entered into force. This law criminalises hate crimes perpetrated against the Roma community with imprisonment from three months up to ten years. A new law which sought to ban gender studies in schools and universities was annulled by the Constitutional Court, after President Klaus Iohannis sent the law for review. Read more

Positive developments: New law protects Roma people against hate crimes; gender studies ban annulled

Support for Belarus; LGBTI rights under attack

The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has been particularly harsh on hospitals, nursing homes and other healthcare facilities. With the purpose of helping one of the sectors most affected by the pandemic, and facilitating the coordination between those who need help and those who can help, the National Coordinating Centre for Volunteers was recently established. CSOs see "the rise of volunteering activities and in general the boost of civil society initiatives” as a “positive trend” currently taking place in Lithuania. Lithuanian Non-Governmental Organisations’ Information and Support Centre has been actively supporting Belarus citizens currently living in Lithuania to establish NGOs and other similar entities that facilitate civic engagement. In addition, Lithuania has also been granting political asylum, scholarship and medical assistance to Belarus citizens, and has been home to Svetlana Tikhanovskaya -- Lukashenko’s main opposition -- ever since she fled Belarus in August 2020 due to safety concerns. In a concerning development, there have been several attacks on LGBTI rights.
Read more

Support for Belarus; LGBTI rights under attack

Violations of COVID-19 protocols lead to fines and detentions for protesters in Canada

During January and February 2021, organisers and attendees of events to protest COVID-19 restrictions were detained or fined in multiple cities. In Hamilton, two people were charged for organising two “Hugs not Masks” events that reportedly drew about 100 people combined, despite local restrictions that limit gatherings to a maximum of 10 people outdoors. Read more

Violations of COVID-19 protocols lead to fines and detentions for protesters in Canada

Civil society flags threats to democracy, human rights and the rule of law during transition period

During the period covered by this update, Kyrgyzstan was in transition following the political crisis that emerged after the October 2020 parliamentary elections, when peaceful mass protests against the election outcome evolved into violent clashes with the police, where protesters seized government buildings and high-ranking officials resigned. Sadyr Japarov, who rose to power during the crisis, won a landslide victory in the presidential election held on 10th January 2021 amid concerns about the lack of a level playing field and the misuse of public resources in his favour. Japarov also used his campaign platform to encourage voters to support a presidential governance system during a referendum held on the same day as the presidential election. An overwhelming majority of the referendum participants supported presidential rule and a new constitution establishing such a system is now under consideration. A first draft constitution put forward in November 2020 drew heavy criticism, with its opponents warning that it would legitimise authoritarian rule and weaken human rights protection in Kyrgyzstan. Due to the criticism, plans to put this document up for a vote during the January 2021 referendum were abandoned and work on the draft constitution continues. Another measure criticised as inherently undemocratic was the parliament’s adoption of a law postponing new parliamentary elections until spring 2021. Human rights groups and labour organisations also rallied against a draft trade union law, which passed its second reading in parliament in November 2020. Intimidation and harassment of journalists, bloggers and other outspoken individuals were ongoing concerns.
Read more

Civil society flags threats to democracy, human rights and the rule of law during transition period

Restrictions in response to the exercise of fundamental freedoms continue

Restricted civic space and the worsening situation for human rights defenders continue in Egypt. While the three EIPR staff members, namely Gasser Abdel-Razek, Karim Ennarah and Mohamed Bashee were released, 7th February 2020 marks one year since the arrest of EIPR researcher and Bologna University student Patrick George Zaki. Graduate student Ahmed Samir Santawy was arrested on 1st February 2021, in relation to his research on women’s rights. In addition, the crackdown on freedom of expression continues. According to Reporters Without Borders, the number of journalists and bloggers detained in Egypt now stands at 33. In one case documented, freelance journalist Solafa Magdy was physically and sexually assaulted in police custody. Solafa and her husband were first arrested on 26th November 2019. Read more

Restrictions in response to the exercise of fundamental freedoms continue

Authorities must guarantee justice in the case of Sergio Rojas, says Costa Rican civil society

In a statement published in February 2021, 67 Costa Rican and 9 international civil society organisations urged authorities to resume investigations and legal processes related to the killing of Bribi leader Sergio Rojas. Read more

Authorities must guarantee justice in the case of Sergio Rojas, says Costa Rican civil society

A deadly January in Colombia

The Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP) warned that January 2021 had been the most violent start to a year since the signing of the Peace Agreement between the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the Colombian State in 2016. Read more

A deadly January in Colombia

Major victory for LGBT+ community as Bhutan parliament decriminalises homosexuality

On 10th December 2020, a joint sitting of both houses of Bhutan’s parliament approved a bill to decriminalise same-sex relations. Sections 213 and 214 of the penal code had criminalised “unnatural sex”, widely interpreted as homosexuality. Read more

Major victory for LGBT+ community as Bhutan parliament decriminalises homosexuality

Government continues its attack on CSOs

Following the downgrade of Slovenia by the CIVICUS Monitor, attempts by public authorities to undermine civic space in the country continue. After various restrictive measures and hostile rhetoric targeting NGOs since the new government took power in Slovenia in March 2020, in December 2020 the Janez Janša government unsuccessfully attempted to introduce an amendment abolishing the state’s fund for non-governmental organisations through its 7th anti-corona stimulus package. In January 2021, the Ministry of Environment proposed new changes to the Environmental Protection and Spatial Planning Acts which would exclude environmental NGOs from key relevant procedures. The law is currently under consultation. Anti-government protests have continued to take place since April 2020. The protest wave continues despite being challenged by heavy fines by the police. Read more

Government continues its attack on CSOs

Argentina’s feminist movements celebrate approval of legal abortion law

Celebrations erupted in Argentina’s streets when the Senate passed the Voluntary Termination of Pregnancy (IVE) Bill on 30th December 2020, in a victory for women’s movements in Argentina who had long campaigned for the legislation. Read more  |  Read in Spanish

Argentina’s feminist movements celebrate approval of legal abortion law