surveillance

Violent protest against LGBTIQ+ ends in anti-government protests

Protesters denounce new law pardoning violent dispersal of 2019 protests; Violent protest against LGBTIQ+ ends in anti-government protests ; Azerbaijani blogger killed in Georgia under unclear circumstances; State Security Service condemned for surveillance activities

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Violent protest against LGBTIQ+ ends in anti-government protests

Indian government snooping row sparks outrage as restrictions on civic freedoms persist

Calls for the authorities to release human rights defenders and activists detained under the draconian Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) have escalated following an exposé by online news portal The Wire and 16 other media organisations which revealed the names of people who were either persons of interest or forensically identified as having been targeted by clients of the Israel-based NSO Group’s Pegasus spyware. Farmers have continued protests against the new farm laws despite restriction, arbitrary arrests and excessive force by the authorities. There have also been new reports on restrictions on civic freedoms in Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir
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Indian government snooping row sparks outrage as restrictions on civic freedoms persist

Prominent union leader convicted, as activists and journalists continue to be silenced in Cambodia

In recent months, the government has escalated its judicial harassment and attacks against human rights defenders, journalists, members of the dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) and peaceful protesters. Prominent union leader Rong Chhun received the maximum sentence for incitement, while additional charges were piled on Mother Nature Cambodia activists. Amidst continuing reprisals against journalists, the government formed a new committee with the power to ‘discipline’ journalists. This crackdown against fundamental freedoms has continued despite concerns and condemnations by UN bodies, the international community and civil society. Read more

Prominent union leader convicted, as activists and journalists continue to be silenced in Cambodia

Heavy-handed policing as hundreds arrested at Extinction Rebellion protests

There have been several concerning developments during this period. At the beginning of July 2021, the government introduced a new Elections Bill. However, concerns have been raised about the chilling effect this bill will have on charities campaigning. In other developments, several employees were arrested at the arts and architecture charity Antepavilion in Hackney, London. Two of the charity’s staff and one tenant were detained as part of a “proactive” raid intended to target Extinction Rebellion activists prior to a planned protest. Related to XR, the group launched a two-week series of protests in London, beginning on 23rd August 2021, ahead of COP26. By the fourth day of action, police arrests surpassed 200 with reports of heavy-handed policing. These policing tactics set a dangerous precedent, should the controversial Police, Crime, Courts and Sentencing bill pass its second reading on 14th September, proposing to grant police even greater powers to crack down on protests and an increase in penalties for protesters. Related to freedom of expresssiona and privacy, Privacy International and 30 organisations have criticised the Home Office for “bypassing” Parliament on the use of facial recognition technology, calling for its immediate ban. The surveillance tool actively takes ‘faceprints’ of millions of people, often without them knowing. In addition, it was revealed that councils are conducting mass profiling and citizen scoring of welfare and social care recipients, via the use of hidden algorithms, to predict fraud, rent non-payments and major life events. Read more

Heavy-handed policing as hundreds arrested at Extinction Rebellion protests

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

CSOs reveal the extent of the Bahraini Government's repressive surveillance operations

Following news of the surveillance of nine Bahraini human rights defenders, activists, a blogger and a photojournalist, CSOs call for an immediate halt to the use, sale and transfer of surveillance technology to autocratic and oppressive governments across the Middle East and North Africa; imprisoned human rights defender Dr. Abduljalil Al-Singace, an academic and blogger, goes on hunger strike in protest against ill-treatment and harassment in Jau Prison Read more

CSOs reveal the extent of the Bahraini Government's repressive surveillance operations

National Assembly approves controversial ‘Separatism Bill’, massive protests opposing #PassSanitaire

On 23rd July 2021, France’s National Assembly approved the controversial ‘Separatism Bill’ (also known as ‘projet de loi confortant le respect des principes de la République’), by 49 votes to 19, with 5 abstentions. The bill has serious consequences on the right to freedom of association. Following the passing of the bill, , La Coalition pour les libertés associatives coordinated the submission of an ‘external contribution’ to the Constitutional Council, which gave the bill the green light. In another development, which cracks down on environmental activists, a new bill appears to respond to growing acts of civil disobedience related to consequences of air traffic on the climate. In the fourth week of successive protests against France’s new “health pass”, almost a quarter of a million people took to the streets across 180 cities to oppose the latest extension of the controversial pass. During these protests, journalists and media outlets were “targeted, harassed, intimidated and insulted". Related to freedom of expression, two journalists from Mediapart, Lénaïg Bredoux and Edwy Plenel, were spied on via NSO software installed on their smartphones. Read more  |  Read in French

National Assembly approves controversial ‘Separatism Bill’, massive protests opposing #PassSanitaire

Cuba: New legislation enables further control over online content, restricting freedom of expression

Cuban and international civil society organisations reiterated their concern over increased repression in the country one month after the anti-government demonstrations of 11th July 2021 (11J). In addition, on 17th August 2021, Cuba’s official diary Gaceta Oficial published the Decree-Law 35/2021 on Telecommunications, Information and Communication Technologies, and the Use of the Radio Spectrum. Read more  |  Read in Spanish

Cuba: New legislation enables further control over online content, restricting freedom of expression

Singapore PM listed as press freedom ‘predator’ as journalists continue to be targeted

In recent months, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong was included in a list of violators of press freedom. Journalists have continued to face defamation and other charges for their reporting, there are reports of increasing surveillance and an individual has been charged under the Official Secrets Act. Read more

Singapore PM listed as press freedom ‘predator’ as journalists continue to be targeted

Orbán government alleged to have used Pegasus spyware on investigative journalists

As its next step in a long trail of attacks against independent civil society, the Hungarian government banned anonymous donations to NGOs from 1st July 2021. However, this rule was overturned two weeks later. A few weeks later, the Hungarian government gave up 2,3 billion Norwegian kroner (€220 million) which it was set to receive from the European Economic Area (EEA) and Norway Grants Scheme due to failure to reach an agreement over who should distribute funds to civil society. On 24th July 2021, thousands of Hungarians joined the Pride Parade in Budapest to protest the government's anti-LGBTI rhetoric and legislation. On 30th July 2021, Hungary’s National Election Committee approved the government's request for a referendum, which is meant to protect the new anti-LGBTI legislation from “the attacks of Brussels”. Meanwhile, French NGO Forbidden Stories published their investigation into Israeli surveillance company NSO’s hacking spyware, revealing that amongst other countries Hungary used the spyware to spy on investigative journalists. Read more

Orbán government alleged to have used Pegasus spyware on investigative journalists