criminal defamation

Proposed Foreign Agents Law would expand government control over civil society in Nicaragua

On 22nd September 2020, legislators of Nicaragua’s governing party presented a bill that would require individuals, businesses and civil society organisations that receive funding from abroad to register as “foreign agents”. Read more

Proposed Foreign Agents Law would expand government control over civil society in Nicaragua

Activists, academics and journalists in India face judicial harassment despite pandemic

The Narendra Modi government has continued its persecution of human rights defenders, activists, student leaders and journalists. Political activists and student leaders continue to be the government’s prime targets, with some detained under the draconian Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) and for sedition. A raging pandemic and national lockdown has not stopped the National Investigation Agency (NIA) from making more arrests in the controversial Bhima Koregaon case of 2018. Human rights groups have continued to remain concerned about violations in Indian-administered Jammu and Kashmir.
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Activists, academics and journalists in India face judicial harassment despite pandemic

Suppression of journalists and activists by Bangladesh ruling party and supporters intensifying

The Bangladesh authorities are intensifying their crackdown on the media and critics. The authorities are forcing all news portals to register with them, raising concerns about freedom of expression. A critical news website on Bangladesh, Amar Desh, has been blocked by the authorities. Journalists are facing attacks for their reporting as well as being criminalised under the draconian Digital Security Act. Ruling party supporters were mobilised to disrupt an event by Drik Gallery around extrajudicial killings in Dhaka in early September 2020. The family of human rights defender in exile Asad Noor is facing harassment while some activists are facing attacks or forcible disappearances. Read more

Suppression of journalists and activists by Bangladesh ruling party and supporters intensifying

Authorities embark on major crackdown on expression amid COVID-19 and ahead of elections

Opposition members power-through as elections approach; and HRDs stifled by overly stringent laws, raids and prosecution; Targeting of LGBTIQ+ community continues; Journalists, critics face backlash for reporting and speaking out about COVID-19 measures in the country; Journalists, media outlets and artists targeted for criticising president, politicians Read more

Authorities embark on major crackdown on expression amid COVID-19 and ahead of elections

Continued rights violations reported throughout COVID-19 lockdown and run up to national elections

Reports have continued to emerge from Uganda concerning rights violations as a result of the measures imposed to prevent the spread of COVID-19., and as the country gears up for the next general elections. Protesters have been forcefully dispersed while demonstrating over loss of livelihood during the lockdown. Opposition members arrested and attacked for mobilising food assistance in light of COVID-19, while journalists, comedians and musicians have been charged for content touching on politicians. Read more

Continued rights violations reported throughout COVID-19 lockdown and run up to national elections

HRD Azimjan Askarov dies in prison amid growing pressure on civil society and media

A development that has attracted much attention was the tragic passing of human rights defender Azimjan Askarov in prison on 25th July 2020. He was confirmed to have died of pneumonia, known as a serious complication of COVID-19. The news about Askarov’s passing was met with shock and dismay by civil society and the international community, who blamed the Kyrgyzstani authorities for failing to grant him access to appropriate medical assistance and to release him due to his worsening condition. Askarov had spent ten years behind bars, after being given a life sentence for his alleged involvement in the inter-ethnic violence that rocked southern Kyrgyzstan in June 2010. Despite the COVID-19 emergency, a widely criticised draft law on NGOs advanced, with parliament passing it on second reading on 18th June 2020. At a public hearing held prior to this, NGO representatives critical of the law had little opportunity to make their voices heard as participation was seriously limited. Authorities have initiated measures that are problematic for freedom of expression. Following a speedy process, parliament adopted new legislation on “manipulation of information” in June 2020, despite serious objections being raised by media watchdogs. Read more

HRD Azimjan Askarov dies in prison amid growing pressure on civil society and media

Pandemic in Brazil aggravates democratic backslide

Even as coronavirus cases increased in Brazil, President Bolsonaro and government authorities encouraged and attended pro-government demonstrations between April and July 2020. In many cases, protests by government supporters turned anti-democratic, with signs calling for a military coup, the closure of the National Congress and the dissolution of the Federal Supreme Court. Read more

Pandemic in Brazil aggravates democratic backslide

Activists and journalists facing harassment, being forcibly disappeared or killed in Pakistan

Pakistan remains a dangerous place for activists and journalists. Over the last few months, a number of individuals have been victims of enforced disappearances including journalist Matiullah Jan, political activist Mohammad Amin and human rights defenders Idris Khattak and Sarang Joyo. No one has been held accountable for these crimes. Editor-in-chief of the Jang group, Shakilur Rehman and family are facing judicial harassment while anti-corruption journalist from Balochistan, Anwar Jan Kethran was killed. Academics have also been accused of blasphemy or sedition. Read more

Activists and journalists facing harassment, being forcibly disappeared or killed in Pakistan

Calls for political accountability after Beirut explosion: protesters, journalists face violence

On 4th August 2020, a huge explosion took place in Lebanon’s capital, Beirut, causing more than 220 deaths. Reports indicate that 7,000 people were injured, dozens are missing, at least 300,000 people have been left homeless and these numbers continue to rise. The massive explosion was caused by ammonium nitrate which had been stored since 2014 despite warnings that it was dangerous. It destroyed Beirut’s harbour (in a country whose economy relies heavily on imports) and its neighbouring areas. Human rights experts have called for an independant investigation. Following the explosion, thousands took to the streets to demand political accountability and to protest against the worsening economic situation that the country is now facing. Protesters were met with excessive force as police fired tear gas and shot them with rubber bullets and live ammunition. Over 700 people were injured. What is particularly concerning is that security forces fired from close range, indicating that they were shooting to harm. In addition, 14 journalists covering protests were also met with excessive force, thus resulting in injury and hospitalisation for some.
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Calls for political accountability after Beirut explosion: protesters, journalists face violence

Papuan activists prosecuted while critics face judicial harassment and digital attacks

Attacks on civic freedoms has persisted around the pandemic in Indonesia with the arrests and prosecution of political activists, particularly those from Papua and Maluku, for their peaceful political activism. According to human rights groups, more than 50 political prisoners remain in detention in Indonesia and activists have called for them to be released to minimise the risk of infection with COVID-19. Activists and government critics have also faced digital attacks, smear campaigns and surveillance. Land and environmental activists have also been targeted with one death in custody reported. Read more

Papuan activists prosecuted while critics face judicial harassment and digital attacks