censorship

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

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

Enforced disappearances and arbitrary detentions increase in Venezuela during pandemic

On 8th May 2020, civil society organisation Foro Penal reported that arbitrary detentions and enforced disappearances increased in Venezuela since the beginning of COVID-19 containment measures in March 2020. Read more

Enforced disappearances and arbitrary detentions increase in Venezuela during pandemic

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

EU court finds that NGO foreign funding law violates EU law, independent media under threat

On 17th June 2020 government announced an end to the “state of danger”, but immediately declared a “state of medical crisis”, which will continue to allow the government to issue a wide range of decrees and restrict certain rights. This declaration cannot be lifted by parliament and human rights organisations are concerned that this will only lead to further powers for the Orbán government. In a positive development, the Court of Justice of the European Union ruled that a Hungarian law concerning foreign funding of non-governmental organisations “does not comply with the Union law”. The court found that the law imposed "discriminatory and unjustified restrictions" on those organisations affected. Freedom of expression is increasingly under threat, with the biggest and most-read independent news site, Index.hu, reporting that it is currently under threat from external pressures. Read more

EU court finds that NGO foreign funding law violates EU law, independent media under threat

Authorities accused of abusing COVID-19 restrictions to stifle expression despite improved ranking

RSF reports that press freedom violations had declined under president Mokgweetsi Masisi’s regime;
President Masisi was accused of using the covid-19 pandemic to crack down on media and government critics; journalist's house raided on 17th July 2019 by officials from the Directorate of Security Services (DIS) agents Read more

Authorities accused of abusing COVID-19 restrictions to stifle expression despite improved ranking

Concern as government punishes free expression

Government targets critics and those expressing opinion including John Sangwa a prominent lawyer disbarred after openly criticising government, media station Prime TV's licence cancelled Read more

Concern as government punishes free expression

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

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

COVID-19 used to curtail freedom of expression further

As in many parts of the world, in early 2020 Morocco adopted a state of health emergency to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. However, with the state of emergency came restrictions on freedom of expression, including imprisonment and fines for anyone who contravenes the health emergency decree, incites others to contravene the decree through speech or threats uttered in a public space or in meetings, written or printed materials, photos, posters, audiovisual or electronic communications, or any other means. In addition, the publication and distribution of print newspapers was suspended during the pandemic. The Council of Government also approved Bill 22-20 which aims to censor expression on social media, in particular, criminalising calls to boycott commercial products. During the pandemic, 110 citizens were detained for legitimately expressing their views. Police also arrested 450 individuals for breaking the public health emergency law and 56 for publishing false information on COVID-19.
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COVID-19 used to curtail freedom of expression further