protest disruption

Court finds German mass surveillance law disregards press freedom, large turnout at BLM protests

German CSOs report that they were not consulted when the first confinement measures were introduced during to the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, warnings about the effects that the lockdown might have on domestic violence were not heard in time. They state that government prioritised corporate interests over social interests and that CSOs cannot count on financial support from the government. During May 2020 several protests were staged by far-right groups in various cities against lockdown measures. Black Lives Matter protests took place in several German cities with large turnouts. In Berlin which drew one of the largest numbers, police and protesters clashed and several protesters were arrested. In a win for press freedom, the German Federal Constitutional Court ruled that Germany’s foreign intelligence service Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND) law, which enables mass surveillance, disregards both the freedom of the press and the freedom of telecommunications as it does not recognise that foreign surveillance must be conducted in conformity with the Basic Law. The ruling makes clear that journalists must be granted special protection.

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Court finds German mass surveillance law disregards press freedom, large turnout at BLM 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

Afghan human rights and media workers face attacks while new NGO law threatens civil society

Over the last few months, human rights workers and journalists have been attacked and killed. 24 were killed when a group of heavily armed militants stormed a Médecins Sans Frontiéres run maternity wing in Kabul. A new NGO law could lead to undue regulations, oversight and interference for civil society while government backtracks on proposed amendments to a media law. Protests in Afghanistan have been met with deadly force from the authorities. Read more

Afghan human rights and media workers face attacks while new NGO law threatens civil society

Critics detained for COVID-19 related remarks

Civic activists, opposition leaders and journalist under attack amid COVID-19 pandemic, Azerbaijani journalist Afgan Mukhtarli released from detention, Azeri activist detained for a Facebook post one day after release from psychiatric clinic , Azeri activist detained for demonstrating police brutality on social media, March for women rights ends with police violence, Student protest ends with arrests, Protesters, journalists beaten during protest in Baku, Civil society publishes report highlighting challenges faced by NGOs and issues recommendations, Read more

Critics detained for COVID-19 related remarks

Swedes take protests online as freedom of assembly is further restricted due to pandemic

Following mass protests against racism in the US, after the death of George Floyd, a Black man, by a Minneapolis police officer, Black Lives Matter protests have spread across the globe, including in Sweden. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Swedish government has temporarily banned gatherings of more than 50 people, which includes public protests and demonstrations. Several Black Lives Matter demonstrations which intended to stay within this limit of 50, attracted vastly more people. A demonstration of 8,000 people in Stockholm was eventually broken up by the police.
As a result, Swedish police have issued a statement saying that they will be stricter in granting permits for demonstrations. In the meantime people have also taken their protests against racism online. In a separate development, Swedish cartoonist Mahmoud Abbas received hate messages on social media after posting a cartoon on Facebook during April 2020 which commented on the collapse of oil prices. Read more

Swedes take protests online as freedom of assembly is further restricted due to pandemic

Protests in Nepal around COVID-19 met with excessive force while journalists face attacks

Protests expressing discontent with the COVID-19 response have been met with excessive force and arrests. There have also been ongoing threats and attacks against journalists in Nepal for their reporting on the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Online critics have also been targeted for defamation using the Electronic Transaction Act. A proposed Intelligence Bill gives the national intelligence agency unlimited surveillance and search powers. Read more

Protests in Nepal around COVID-19 met with excessive force while journalists face attacks

Austerity measures during COVID-19 lead to protests in Ecuador

On 16th March 2020, Ecuador’s government published a decree declaring a "state of exception" in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. This suspended some individual rights related to freedom of association and assembly, and provided government with authority to use digital tools to monitor individuals under mandatory isolation or quarantine. Read more

Austerity measures during COVID-19 lead to protests in Ecuador

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

Protests repressed and disinformation legislation revoked in Bolivia

At the beginning of June 2020, Bolivia began easing quarantine measures and lifting some restrictions on movement. Local governments were allowed to establish additional measures according to the public health situation in their regions. Read more

Protests repressed and disinformation legislation revoked in Bolivia

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