public vilification

Harassment and intimidation of journalists continue unabated

The Center for Ecology and Sustainable Development- CEKOR" is a target of a smear campaign on the phantom portal "Prismotra.net". The text accuses the association and its activists of being informers of foreign services, tasked to work against the interests of Chinese investments in Serbia. The text labels CEKOR as “the economic killers of Serbia”. In addition, during the reporting period journalist faced several verbal threats and insults, including from President Aleksandar Vučić and other ministerial officials. There is a noticeable trend of an increasing number of threats towards journalists. In just one week during August 2020 as many as five cases of attacks on journalists were recorded.
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Harassment and intimidation of journalists continue unabated

Protesters gather in support of President Hashim Thaci, who is accused of war crimes

Several protests took place during the reporting period, including a protest organised by veterans of the Kosovo Liberation Army, who gathered to protest against the Special Court, which was founded in 2015 to investigate and prosecute alleged war crimes instigated by members of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA). The protests were organised after the court released indictments against President Hashim Thaçi and the chairman of PDK (Democratic Party of Kosovo), Kadri Veseli for war crimes. Protesters believe that these accusations are biased and politically motivated. In addition, a large gathering was organised between the borders of Albania and Kosovo to welcome back President Thaçi after his four day stay in The Hague where he was questioned by prosecutors of the Special Court over his alleged participation in war crimes during and after the Kosovo War. Several attacks against journalists also took place during the reporting period.

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Protesters gather in support of President Hashim Thaci, who is accused of war crimes

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

COVID-19: civil society protest banned; news anchor sidelined after interview

In a statement on 16th July 2020, several human rights organisations, including the Observatoire Congolais des Droits de l'Homme (Congolese Human Rights Observatory) and social movement Ras-le-Bol, said they decided to cancel a planned protestthat day to support the request for a medical evacuation of imprisoned opposition leader Jean-Marie Michel Mokoko after the prefect of Brazzaville banned the protest, stating grounds of curbing the spread of COVID-19. Read more

COVID-19: civil society protest banned; news anchor sidelined after interview

Public vilification of Indigenous peoples and criminalisation of environmental defenders

On 16th July 2020, Maya Q’eqchi Indigenous leader Bernardo Caal Xol was declared a prisoner of conscience by human rights organisation Amnesty International. Bernardo Caal Xol has defended the rights of communities in Santa María de Cahabón, department of Alta Verapáz, which have resisted the construction of a hydroelectric dam in the region. Read more

Public vilification of Indigenous peoples and criminalisation of environmental defenders

Venezuela stifles dissent with political interference in opposition parties and detentions

At the 44th session of the Human Rights Council, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, presented a new report on the situation in Venezuela between June 2019 and May 2020. Read more

Venezuela stifles dissent with political interference in opposition parties and detentions

Bolivian Ombudsperson accused of political bias by government

On 13th July 2020, Bolivia’s interim government published a statement claiming Ombudsperson Nadia Cruz was occupying this office illegally and that, as a result, they would not recognise any actions undertaken by her after April 2019. Read more

Bolivian Ombudsperson accused of political bias by government

Activists, journalists face smear campaigns, harassment and censorship during COVID-19

Restrictions on the movement of citizens have greatly hindered the normal functioning of CSOs engaged in activities of general interest, especially the ones which provide citizens with certain services that can help them during the COVID-19 crisis. Furthermore, CSOs were not eligible for permits which allow for movement during curfew hours. The Belgrade Centre for Security Policy (BCSP) has been the constant target of individual smear campaigns for many years. The most recent attacks, from GONGO association National Avant-Garde, aim to discredit the BCSP’s work through public statements, announcements and videos. The introduction of the state of emergency has raised concerns of censorship. For example, the government adopted a conclusion authorising only Crisis Staff to inform the public about the COVID-19 outbreak. Furthermore, it adopted a measure that prevents journalists from attending Crisis Staff press conferences. In addition, journalists were harassed, detained for their reporting or subject to smear campaigns during the reporting period.
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Activists, journalists face smear campaigns, harassment and censorship during COVID-19

Police watchdog raises concerns over abusive policing practices at Black Lives Matter protests

Despite restrictions on public gatherings due to the pandemic, people gathered during May and June 2020 in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter mass protests in the US over the death of George Floyd, a Black man, by a Minneapolis police officer. Protesters were arrested on several occasions and charged with breaching regulation 7 of the coronavirus regulations, but it remains unclear how these individuals were detained while hundreds of others were not. Police watchdog, Netpol and other organisations wrote a letter to the Met Police to express their concerns on policing protests under regulation 7. Netpol campaigners also reported abusive police practices, such as the use of the controversial containment tactic called “kettling” on four separate occasions during protests in the month of June. Netpol also reports that protesters face masks were pulled down by the police to make sure faces were captured and names and addresses of the protestors were demanded, using section 50 of the Police Reform Act. Press freedom has also come under serious threat from UK officials during the reporting period. Read more

Police watchdog raises concerns over abusive policing practices at Black Lives Matter protests

Civil society group’s funds seized in the Maldives while women’s rights organisation smeared online

In the last few months the authorities have seized funds from a leading human rights organisation which the government dissolved in late 2019. A women’s rights group has faced a smear campaign online for its reporting. Protesters were dispersed for holding a protest outside parliament, while an individual was terminated for ‘defaming’ the President and parliamentary speaker. Read more

Civil society group’s funds seized in the Maldives while women’s rights organisation smeared online