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COVID-19 restrictions affect peaceful assembly, expression

Commemorative march cancelled due to COVID-19, Residents protest demolition of cultural building, Police arrest 252 people during a politically motivated protest in Yerevan, Concerns over media censorship in guise of COVID-19 restrictions , Civil Society raises concern over draft law on freedom of information, Armenia ranked 61st in the 2020 World Press Freedom Index, Read more

COVID-19 restrictions affect peaceful assembly, expression

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

Indigenous defender killed and others threatened and attacked in Guatemala

On 15th June 2020, Indigenous land defender Medardo Alonzo Lucero was found dead with signs of torture in Olopa, Chiquimula department. Read more

Indigenous defender killed and others threatened and attacked in Guatemala

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

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

Judicial harassment and arrests of activists continues unabated

On 9th April 2020, Ali Idrissa, national coordinator of the anti-corruption organisations Réseau des Organisations pour la Transparence et l'Analyse Budgétaire (ROTAB; Network of Organisations for Transparency and the Budgetary Analysis) and Publish What You Pay Niger was summoned by the judiciary police following a complaint by a former Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces. The latter accuses Ali Idrissa of defamation in relation to the case of alleged embezzlement and irregularities in the purchase of military material. Read more  |  Read in French

Judicial harassment and arrests of activists continues unabated

Funding cuts and no economic assistance for CSOs during COVID-19

Amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) induced economic crisis, the government decided to exclude CSOs from its economic assistance measures. In a separate development, on 18th May 2020 activists expressed outrage after the Constitutional Court struck down the Anti-Discrimination Law which was passed last year, citing procedural omission as a reason. During the pandemic the government made provision for media workers to have special permits to do field work even during the curfew hours, during which there is limited movement for the general public. The Association of Journalists of Macedonia (AJM) called for better communication and transparency from government institutions and health centres during the pandemic.
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Funding cuts and no economic assistance for CSOs during COVID-19

Oman: Artistic censorship and harassment of online activists continues

Rights groups call on the government of Oman to permanently lift the ban on all Voice Over IP (VoIP) platforms; CSOs criticise widespread censorship at the Muscat Bookfair; Government continues to restrict freedom of expression online by targeting broadcasters and human rights defenders for their posts on Twitter and other social media platforms. Read more

Oman: Artistic censorship and harassment of online activists continues

Further attempts to curtail freedom of expression during COVID-19

As part of the coronavirus (COVID-19) emergency measures, the Turkish government enacted strong general restrictions on assembly that especially relate to the work of CSOs. With a total ban on public gatherings, citizens have turned to online spaces for creative means of protest. During COVID-19 pandemic there was an increase in journalists being jailed on charges of “causing people to panic and publishing reports on coronavirus outside the knowledge of authorities”. Moreover, the Turkish government discriminated against journalists when it announced the release of approximately 90,000 prisoners in order to relieve overcrowded prisons during the pandemic, but excluded journalists, human rights defenders and all political prisoners. Read more

Further attempts to curtail freedom of expression during COVID-19