public vilification

Military forced to admit that journalist Samuel Wazizi died in custody, 10 months after his death

Under pressure from civil society groups following a news story by private television station Équinoxe Télévision, the Cameroonian military admitted in a statement read on the radio on 5th June 2020 that journalist Samuel Abuwe Ajieka, also known as Samuel Wazizi, had died on 17th August 2019 while he was in custody. Wazizi was arrested on 2nd August 2019, was never presented before a court, nor were his relatives or his lawyer informed of his whereabouts during the ten months since his arrest. The circumstances of Wazizi's death are unclear and disputed. Read more

Military forced to admit that journalist Samuel Wazizi died in custody, 10 months after his death

PM condemned for negative rhetoric against media, attempts to shut down TV station

Although the citizens and activists of Tirana called on the authorities to halt the plan to demolish a cultural heritage site of the city, their attempts were unsuccessful. Many people from different backgrounds took to the streets to protest the decision to demolish the National Theatre. They furthermore accused the authorities of starting the demolition while some of the protesters were in the building, thus endangering their lives. Police also used force to push back masses of protesters. A journalist was also detained during the protest. In a separate development, Prime Minister Edi Rama has been criticised for his negative rhetoric towards reporters and journalists in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic. The State Health Inspectorate has requested the closure of the RTV Ora Television station for violating the instructions by the Ministry of Health to allow only two people in television studios at a time. This is viewed as an attempt to silence critical journalism under the guise of the pandemic. Read more

PM condemned for negative rhetoric against media, attempts to shut down TV station

Chilean police forces repress protests with COVID-19 regulations

On 18th March 2020, the Chilean government issued a decree that established an exceptional “state of catastrophe” for three months due to the coronavirus (COVID-19). The legislation also allowed the president to take further measures such as restrictions on gatherings in public spaces and individuals’ movement, quarantines or curfews. Read more

Chilean police forces repress protests with COVID-19 regulations

Attempts to ban CSOs; activists and journalists come under attack

The Balternativa movement launched a petition to ban NGOs in Serbia. According to the petition, "it aims to ban the work of non-governmental organisations that posed a risk in the past for the national security of the Republic of Serbia”. The Serbian Radical Party of convicted war criminal Vojislav Seselj also advocates for banning the work of certain CSOs in his election campaign. They are proposing a law to ban state funding for NGOs. Activists have also faced attacks and threats during the reporting period. The Civic Front announced that an activist of the United Movement of Free Tenants from Nis, Jana Krstić, was verbally attacked by unknown young men who stopped her and threatened her because of a T-shirt she was wearing with the logo of the initiative ‘Don’t let Belgrade d(r)own’. Similarly, after an apperance on N1 Television, sociologist and researcher of the Bureau for Social Research (BIRODI), Zoran Gavrilović, was the target of threats and insults on Twitter. Journalists also faced physical and verbal attacks during the reporting period. Read more

Attempts to ban CSOs; activists and journalists come under attack

Attacks on the press and critics persist as UN report on the Philippines finds widespread violations

Over the last two months, amid the COVID-19 pandemic, top broadcaster ABS-CBN was forced off the air while prominent journalist Maria Ressa and her former colleague were convicted for ‘cyber-libel’ in another blow for press freedom. The authorities have also pursued journalists and social media users for criticism of the handling of the pandemic. Civil society is seriously concerned that the new anti-terror bill will facilitate abuse of power and erode democracy, while a new UN report details widespread human rights violations and persistent impunity. Human rights defender Teresita Naul remains in prison on trumped up charges while the red-tagging of activists has continued. Read more

Attacks on the press and critics persist as UN report on the Philippines finds widespread violations

Countrywide protests to end police brutality in the United States met by militarised law enforcement

Massive protests erupted in cities across the United States following the death of George Floyd, a Black man, by a Minneapolis police officer on 25th May 2020. A harrowing video filmed by witnesses shows the officer pressing his knee into the handcuffed man's neck for almost nine minutes while Floyd repeatedly said, “I can’t breathe.” Outrage brimmed over, bringing hundreds of thousands to the streets to protest entrenched racism and the US’s long history of killings of Black and Brown people by law enforcement agents. Read more

Countrywide protests to end police brutality in the United States met by militarised law enforcement

El Salvador’s disproportionate measures to curb COVID-19 affect fundamental freedoms

On 15th April 2020, El Salvador’s President Nayib Bukele openly vowed to defy a ruling by the Supreme Court’s Constitutional Chamber that found no legal basis for state of emergency decrees ordering the arrest of those accused of failing to comply with curfew orders imposed as part of the state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Read more  |  Read in Spanish

El Salvador’s disproportionate measures to curb COVID-19 affect fundamental freedoms

Declining health of convicted HRD concerns family members and human rights organisations

On 30th April 2020, Karla Vanessa Escobar and Wilfredo Brenes Domínguez, two former political prisoners, were detained and charged with alleged drug and arms possession. Read more

Declining health of convicted HRD concerns family members and human rights organisations

Journalists denounce Guatemala government hostility towards the press

On 12th April 2020, more than a hundred journalists from Guatemala published a public complaint denouncing repeated hostile behaviour from president Alejandro Giammattei and other public officials, through acts to intimidate, discredit and censor the press. Read more  |  Read in Spanish

Journalists denounce Guatemala government hostility towards the press

Poor resilience to misinformation sparks concern amid COVID-19

According to the Media Literacy Index 2019, Albania has one of the “lowest resilience potential to deal with misinformation and its effects as they are trailing behind with problems in media freedom”. Low level of media literacy raises concerns especially after the declaration of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and misinformation surrounding the spread of the virus. Read more

Poor resilience to misinformation sparks concern amid COVID-19