censorship

Journalist detained, newspaper ordered to cease its operations

On 29th December 2020, armed security forces detained journalist and editor of the newspaper l’Indépendant Express Carlos Ketohou at his residence in Lomé and he was summoned to appear before the Criminal Investigations Central Service on 30th December 2020. The journalist was held for 4 nights on accusations of defamation and was released on 2nd January 2021 Read more

Journalist detained, newspaper ordered to cease its operations

Serious abuses in North Korean camps documented by NGOs while radio broadcasts jammed

In recent months abuses continue to be documented including the jamming of radio broadcasts by a South Korean non-profit human rights organisation and a new detention camp for violators of COVID-19 quarantine rules. Human rights groups also reported satellite evidence of North Korean death camps located just 30 miles south of the capital Pyongyang and systematic torture, dangerous and unhygienic conditions and unpaid forced labour in pretrial detention Read more

Serious abuses in North Korean camps documented by NGOs while radio broadcasts jammed

Censoring critical voices: Social media giants fined; journalists, women HRDs behind bars

On 2nd October 2020, the Ministry of Interior announced as part of COVID-19 measures that activities held by NGOs, unions and cooperatives were required to be postponed until 1st December 2020. The Turkish President ordered the Turkish Medical Association (TTB) to be outlawed and its leadership prosecuted, accusing the association of terrorism after it criticised governments response to COVID-19. Several protests were staged by the association over this. In a separate development, after three waves of operations against it, eight women affiliated with Rosa Women’s Association were arrested while eight others were released on probation due to their work on womens rights. The imprisonment of journalist remains a concern with four journalists being detained following their repeated reports on an incident where two Kurdish villagers were allegedly tortured and thrown from a helicopter. In addition, journalist Ayşegül Doğan was convicted for "establishing an armed organisation" and sentenced to six years and three months in prison due to her reporting. In another act of censorship, Turkish authorities imposed fines of 10 million Turkish lira (one million Euros) to social media giants, including Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, for failing to comply with the new social media law. Read more

Censoring critical voices: Social media giants fined; journalists, women HRDs behind bars

Academic freedom at risk, barriers for transgender women as NGOs submit reports to UN on Japan

In recent months, there have been attempts by Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga to suppress academic freedom while Japan’s legal gender recognition law creates significant discriminatory barriers for transgender women to enroll in all public women’s universities in the country. There have also been ongoing protests against the Olympics and abuses in China. Read more

Academic freedom at risk, barriers for transgender women as NGOs submit reports to UN on Japan

Journalists continue to face attacks, death threats during protests against COVID-19 measures

On 18th November 2020, about 5,000 people gathered outside the Bundestag in Berlin to protest against stricter COVID-19 measures. The protest was broken up by the police and 31 protesters were detained. The demonstration fits within a larger wave of protests which have taken place all over the country over the past few months, which includes a protest of more than 20,000 in the eastern city of Leipzig against COVID-19 measures. Journalists continue to face physical attacks, harassment and death threats during coverage of protests against COVID-19 measures. Read more

Journalists continue to face attacks, death threats during protests against COVID-19 measures

While insisting it’s COVID-19 free, Turkmenistan renews efforts to clamp down on dissent

Turkmenistan’s government continued its policy of COVID-19 denial, claiming that the global pandemic had not reached the country, although independent Turkmenistan-covering outlets reported about a growing number of coronavirus infections. The authorities continued to use national, state-controlled media for propaganda purposes, while restricting access to foreign sources of information. Amid growing criticism of Turkmenistan’s government both on- and offline in recent months, the authorities continued to put pressure on outspoken activists living abroad, their relatives in Turkmenistan, and local residents suspected of ties with such activists. The reporting period also saw several new spontaneous protests initiated by residents of Turkmenistan who expressed their resentment at the shortages of basic food items sold at state-subsidised prices, and the shortages of cash at ATMs. Read more

While insisting it’s COVID-19 free, Turkmenistan renews efforts to clamp down on dissent

Closing civic space in Brazil: censorship, harassment and attacks on journalists and activists

In November 2020, Brazil held countrywide local elections to elect city councillors and mayors. Politically-motivated attacks and assassinations increased by nearly 200 percent in 2020 in comparison to previous years. Read more

Closing civic space in Brazil: censorship, harassment and attacks on journalists and activists

Contested legislative elections in Venezuela amid pandemic

On 7th December 2020, Nicolas Maduro’s United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) and allied parties won 67 percent of the seats in the National Assembly, in legislative elections boycotted by most of the opposition. Read more

Contested legislative elections in Venezuela amid pandemic

Laws on Foreign Agents and Cybercrimes restrict civic space further in Nicaragua

On 15th October 2020, Nicaragua’s lawmakers approved the “Foreign Agents Law” which expands government powers to control and muzzle civil society. Read more

Laws on Foreign Agents and Cybercrimes restrict civic space further in Nicaragua

Criminal sanctions for organising gatherings remain, critical social media posts surveilled

The Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL) had continuously questioned the necessity and proportionality of the use of criminal sanctions to enforce public health guidelines on restricting gatherings, especially given the high levels of public compliance, and the lack of evidence that criminalisation and prosecution are justified or likely to be effective. It has opposed the extension of the Emergency Health Legislation without substantial review and debate, which was due to expire in November. In a concerning development, organisers of the Black Lives Matter protest which took place on 6th June 2020 were being investigated under COVID-19 regulations. Anti-mask protests
which took place from August 2020 to October 2020, in which counter-protesters were attacked, have also been a matter of concern. It emerged that the Department of Justice has been carrying out extensive social media monitoring on posts commenting on issues concerning the department during the crisis, such as on the impact of COVID-19 on those living in the direct provision system.

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Criminal sanctions for organising gatherings remain, critical social media posts surveilled