excessive force

Human rights defenders, critics targeted in Indonesia while protests on Papua repressed

In recent months, activists have been targeted for comments they made during an online talk or for reporting on corruption. An academic has been jailed for defamation while street artists are being silenced for a mural and graffiti critical of the state. A West Papuan activist facing trial has been hospitalised while there has been a lack of accountability for excessive force and other violations by the security forces during several protests related to Papua. Read more

Human rights defenders, critics targeted in Indonesia while protests on Papua repressed

Activists and journalists at risk, crackdown on protests in Afghanistan following Taliban takeover

On 15th August 2021, the Taliban seized power in Afghanistan after the government collapsed and two weeks before the US was set to complete its troop withdrawal. Civic space violations have been documented including house-to-house searches for activists, excessive use of force or firearms against peaceful protesters and raids as well as the torture and ill-treatment of journalists with impunity. Read more

Activists and journalists at risk, crackdown on protests in Afghanistan following Taliban takeover

Indian government snooping row sparks outrage as restrictions on civic freedoms persist

Calls for the authorities to release human rights defenders and activists detained under the draconian Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) have escalated following an exposé by online news portal The Wire and 16 other media organisations which revealed the names of people who were either persons of interest or forensically identified as having been targeted by clients of the Israel-based NSO Group’s Pegasus spyware. Farmers have continued protests against the new farm laws despite restriction, arbitrary arrests and excessive force by the authorities. There have also been new reports on restrictions on civic freedoms in Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir
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Indian government snooping row sparks outrage as restrictions on civic freedoms persist

Violations continue: CSOs Offices raided, HRDs arrested, women reporters attacked

On 16th August 2021, the headquarters of the Pioneers Association for Culture and Arts, and the Pioneers Vocational Training Center in Aida camp in Bethlehem was raided. On the other hand, on 7th July 2021, Israeli occupying forces (IOF) raided the home of Shatha Odeh Abu Fannouneh (Ms. Odeh) in Ramallah, arbitrarily detaining her and using gas grenades to terrorise her family. Odeh is the chairwoman of the Palestinian NGO Network (PNGO) and serves as the Director of the Health Work Committee (HWC). Protests were staged following the death of activist Nizar Banat as a result of Palestinan security force action on 24th June 2021. According to Amnesty International, Palestinian security forces beat protesters and bystanders and used sound grenades, tear gas and other force to disperse them. Women were particularly targeted, many of them journalists, including with sexual assault during protests. Read more

Violations continue: CSOs Offices raided, HRDs arrested, women reporters attacked

USA: Penalties for protesters increasing

Several lawmakers and activists were arrested while protesting for voting rights in Washington D.C. in July 2021. The arrests took place during demonstrations calling on the Senate to pass the For the People Act, Democrats’ election reform bill, and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. Read more

USA: Penalties for protesters increasing

Homophobic killing sparks nationwide protests; 2020 lockdown restrictions declared unconstitutional

The brutal killing of Samuel Luiz, a young gay man in the city of A Coruña in Galicia sparked nationwide protests. In Madrid, clashes erupted between protesters and the police, with police using excessive force against protesters as graphic images shared on Twitter show police attacking protesters with batons. There are have been several court rulings. In a case with international significance, the Constitutional Court ruled on 14th July 2021 that the lockdown imposed by the government between 14th March and 21st June 2020 was illegal. On 2nd July 2021, the Supreme Court confirmed the previous decision of the Superior Court of Justice of Madrid against Isabel Serra, which sentenced her to 19 months in prison for allegedly insulting and throwing objects at policemen during protests against an eviction in the Lavapiés neighborhood in 2014. On 18th August 2021, Spain’s Supreme Court rejected the introduction of a Digital COVID Certificate to access restaurants, bars, museums and other public places. Read more

Homophobic killing sparks nationwide protests; 2020 lockdown restrictions declared unconstitutional

Heavy-handed policing as hundreds arrested at Extinction Rebellion protests

There have been several concerning developments during this period. At the beginning of July 2021, the government introduced a new Elections Bill. However, concerns have been raised about the chilling effect this bill will have on charities campaigning. In other developments, several employees were arrested at the arts and architecture charity Antepavilion in Hackney, London. Two of the charity’s staff and one tenant were detained as part of a “proactive” raid intended to target Extinction Rebellion activists prior to a planned protest. Related to XR, the group launched a two-week series of protests in London, beginning on 23rd August 2021, ahead of COP26. By the fourth day of action, police arrests surpassed 200 with reports of heavy-handed policing. These policing tactics set a dangerous precedent, should the controversial Police, Crime, Courts and Sentencing bill pass its second reading on 14th September, proposing to grant police even greater powers to crack down on protests and an increase in penalties for protesters. Related to freedom of expresssiona and privacy, Privacy International and 30 organisations have criticised the Home Office for “bypassing” Parliament on the use of facial recognition technology, calling for its immediate ban. The surveillance tool actively takes ‘faceprints’ of millions of people, often without them knowing. In addition, it was revealed that councils are conducting mass profiling and citizen scoring of welfare and social care recipients, via the use of hidden algorithms, to predict fraud, rent non-payments and major life events. Read more

Heavy-handed policing as hundreds arrested at Extinction Rebellion protests

National Assembly approves controversial ‘Separatism Bill’, massive protests opposing #PassSanitaire

On 23rd July 2021, France’s National Assembly approved the controversial ‘Separatism Bill’ (also known as ‘projet de loi confortant le respect des principes de la République’), by 49 votes to 19, with 5 abstentions. The bill has serious consequences on the right to freedom of association. Following the passing of the bill, , La Coalition pour les libertés associatives coordinated the submission of an ‘external contribution’ to the Constitutional Council, which gave the bill the green light. In another development, which cracks down on environmental activists, a new bill appears to respond to growing acts of civil disobedience related to consequences of air traffic on the climate. In the fourth week of successive protests against France’s new “health pass”, almost a quarter of a million people took to the streets across 180 cities to oppose the latest extension of the controversial pass. During these protests, journalists and media outlets were “targeted, harassed, intimidated and insulted". Related to freedom of expression, two journalists from Mediapart, Lénaïg Bredoux and Edwy Plenel, were spied on via NSO software installed on their smartphones. Read more  |  Read in French

National Assembly approves controversial ‘Separatism Bill’, massive protests opposing #PassSanitaire

More than a thousand killed in Myanmar as repression of activists continues unabated

Over the last month, concerns have been raised by the UN around the situation of human rights defenders as arrests and attacks on activists continue. A new report shows the systematic targeting of healthcare workers. The crackdown on the media has continued with arrests and sentencing of journalists. Civil society groups criticise the exit of Norwegian telco, Telenor. Protests continued, including in prisons by political prisoners. Read more

More than a thousand killed in Myanmar as repression of activists continues unabated

Protests against mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations; right to protest under threat during pandemic

On 14th July 2021, over 5,000 people gathered in Athens to protest Greece’s vaccination programme, after the government ordered mandatory vaccinations for health care workers and nursing home staff In addition to Athens, people gathered in other cities including Thessaloniki, Ioanninia and Heraklion. Police officers used tear gas and water cannon to disperse the crowd in Athens. Human rights watchdog organisation Amnesty International issued a statement, stating that Greek authorities have used the COVID-19 pandemic as a pretext to violate the right to peaceful protest. Read more

Protests against mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations; right to protest under threat during pandemic