bureaucratic restriction

Civil society groups forced to disband as activists and critics prosecuted in Hong Kong

Since July 2021, civil society groups, protest movements and unions have been forced to disband for fear of being targeted under the national security law. Around 150 people have been arrested under the law, with the first two convictions in July and October 2021. The archaic sedition law has been deployed against activists and critics, while journalists continue to face judicial harassment as well the denial of visas. Activists have been sentenced for their involvement in 2020 protests. Read more

Civil society groups forced to disband as activists and critics prosecuted in Hong Kong

International Criminal Court opens investigation on crimes against humanity in Venezuela

On 4th November 2021, the International Criminal Court (ICC) announced the opening of a formal investigation into allegations of torture and extrajudicial killings committed by Venezuelan security forces under President Nicolás Maduro. Read more  |  Read in Spanish

International Criminal Court opens investigation on crimes against humanity in Venezuela

Summary: Opposition activists face pressure ahead of presidential elections, bloggers targeted

According to official information, incumbent President Shavkat Mirziyoyev won the presidential elections held in Uzbekistan on 24th October 2021 by more than 80 percent of the vote. As highlighted by international observers, the elections were characterised by the lack of meaningful competition, as no genuine opposition parties have succeeded in obtaining registration in the country and were therefore unable to nominate candidates for the elections. At the same time, opposition activists were harassed and intimidated in the run-up to the presidential elections. Separately, the process of registering new NGOs remains fraught with difficulties, and several independent NGOs have repeatedly been denied registration on grounds that appear to be politically motivated. The climate for free speech remains restrictive both on- and offline- with bloggers being targeted and several websites being blocked throughout the presidential election campaign. Read more

Summary: Opposition activists face pressure ahead of presidential elections, bloggers targeted

Increasing number of arrests of protesters reported

In September 2021, Botswana saw an increasing number of arrests of citizens who held peaceful demonstrations; In July 2021, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) published an article that revealed that the Botswana government was using Cellebrite Technology, software sold by an Israeli-based company, which allows government officials to break into digital devices and siphon off data. Read more

Increasing number of arrests of protesters reported

USA: Pro-choice rally sizzles, pro-Trump rally fizzles

On 2nd October 2021, tens of thousands of women and their supporters marched in multiple cities to protest against state restrictions on abortion and to advocate for a constitutional right to the procedure. Read more

USA: Pro-choice rally sizzles, pro-Trump rally fizzles

Media protest controversial bills; five activists prosecuted for wearing #BuhariMustGo T-shirts

On 12th July 2021, several major newspapers, including Premium Times, Vanguard, the Guardian, The Punch, the Daily Sun, covered their front page with an image of a man with a sealed mouth, captioned "Information Blackout", as protest against attempts by the government to regulate social media and censor the media. Read more

Media protest controversial bills; five activists prosecuted for wearing #BuhariMustGo T-shirts

Investigation into police conduct at opposition party protest; several other protests staged

Several protests were staged by numerous citizens and activists demanding justice for a 13-year old homeless girl who was raped and an end to gender based violence. The Tax Administration of Kosovo workers went on general strike from 26th July to 2nd August 2021, preceded by three-hour strikes held by TAK workers for a week in a row. Student healthcare specialists have also continued with their protests and warned that they will pursue legal remedies available to enforce their rights if the silence of institutions continues. An action staged by the Social Democratic Party (SDP) against the government’s decision (later suspended) for an additional 5 EUR taxation on car registration, resulted in the detention of eight activists after the latter damaged official cars with spray and stickers. Several cases of threats and obstructions toward media outlets and journalists were also documented. Read more

Investigation into police conduct at opposition party protest; several other protests staged

Amendment to Public Law and Order act threatens fundamental rights, last paycheck for STA staff

On 1st September 2021 the Slovenian government proposed an amendment to the Act on Public Law and Order introducing fines for indecent behaviour towards officials. The amendments raise concerns for freedom of speech in the country, amid ongoing anti-government protests which have been staged for over 70 weeks. Meanwhile, public broadcasting agency STA has gone without funding for more than 235 days following the government’s decision to block their funding at the beginning of 2021. This is part of Prime Minister Janez Janša’s ongoing systematic attack against media and journalists in the country, with the STA’s survival relying on public crowdfunding. While the STA continues to operate, it reported that September 2021 will be the last month in which they will be able to pay staff salaries. In a continued crackdown on media freedom in Slovenia, Director of Programmes at RTV Slovenija, Natalija Gorščak, was dismissed on 20th August 2021 by newly-appointed Director General Andrej Grah Whatmough. Read more

Amendment to Public Law and Order act threatens fundamental rights, last paycheck for STA staff

Government attempts to muzzle independent media by controversial anti-TVN law

Several concerning developments occurred during this period. The founders of The Atlas of Hate, a website that maps local municipalities that passed anti-LGBTI resolutions or adopted a charter written by the ultra-conservative Catholic organisation Ordo Iuris Institute, are being sued by the so-called “LGBT-free” municipalities. Related to the right to peaceful assembly, in early July 2021, the Supreme Court ruled that the government’s ban on public assemblies introduced on 9th October 2020 was illegal and contrary to Article 57 and Article 31 (3) of the Constitution. On 9th July 2021, an indictment against Marta Lempart, Klementyna Suchanow and Agnieszka Czerederecka was announced by the spokesman of the District Prosecutor’s Office in Warsaw. The three activists from the Polish Women’s Strike (StrajkKobiet) are accused of causing an epidemiological threat for organising protests during the pandemic in October, November and December 2020 against the government’s near-total abortion ban. In a concerning development for media independence, a highly controversial draft amendment to the Broadcasting Act was adopted in the Sejm on 11th August 2020. The amendment limits media ownership of organisations from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) to no more than a 49% stake in any Polish media firm. Known as the ‘Lex TVN’ bill, the amendment will directly affect private broadcaster TVN from the Discovery: American media group, which is extremely critical of the government. Read more

Government attempts to muzzle independent media by controversial anti-TVN law

More than 200 days without funding for Slovenian Press Agency; attempts to block funds for NGOs

Slovenia took over the EU Council rotating presidency on 1st July 2021. The start of the Presidency also coincided with Slovenia being placed on the CIVICUS Monitor Watchlist, marking a rapid decline in civic space. The latest concerns include attempts to curtail access to funding for NGOs and the ongoing blockage of funds to Slovenia’s public press agency, STA, threatening its survival. Read more  |  Read in Slovenian

More than 200 days without funding for Slovenian Press Agency; attempts to block funds for NGOs