refugees and migrants

Organisers take legal action after municipality prevents LGBTI march from going ahead

On 9th June 2021, Belarusian activists in Lithuania organised a rally at a border crossing in Medininkai to block traffic to and from Belarus. The aim of the protest was to put pressure on Belarus and call for stricter EU sanctions. The protest was not authorised by Lithuanian authorities and protesters attempting to block roads were threatened by police and the Lithuanian Border Guard Service (VSAT) with detention and fines. In a separate development, organisers of the first LGBTI Pride march in the city of Kaunas are suing the municipality over its refusal to issue a permit for the event, which is planned to take place on 4th September 2021. Even though the organisers proposed three different routes through the city, they were all rejected due to infrastructure renovation works and the “disproportionate inconvenience” due to traffic disruptions that the protest may cause. Related to LGBTI rights, on 4th June 2021, the National Association of Families and Parents sent a letter to the Lithuanian Radio and Television Council (LRT) complaining that there is too much LGBTI representation and that this “propaganda can no longer be tolerated.” Read more

Organisers take legal action after municipality prevents LGBTI march from going ahead

Protests against immigration policies and new environmental regulations in New Zealand

In recent months, hundreds have participated in protests across New Zealand against government policies. Protesters including migrant workers have mobilised against immigration policies that they say are ‘broken’ while farmers have protested against a swathe of new environmental regulations. Read more

Protests against immigration policies and new environmental regulations in New Zealand

Flawed elections and deterioration of media freedom

On 11th June 2021, ahead of the HRC47, a group of NGOs led by DefendDefenders wrote a letter urging the UN Human Rights Council to adopt a resolution on the ongoing human rights crisis in Tigray, Ethiopia. The letter urged the HRC to “take urgent action to address the crisis and fulfil its mandate to address and prevent violations of human rights, including gross and systematic violations and abuses, and to respond promptly to emergencies.”. On 21st June 2021, Ethiopia held its general elections amidst the conflict in Tigray and other regions including the Benishangul-Gumuz region. Officials announced that Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed had won 410 out of 436 seats on 10th July 2021. International observers and political opposition groups claimed the elections were undemocratic and unfair. On 26th June 2021, five opposition parties that took part in the election alleged that the ruling party had interfered with the general elections. The European Union did not send observers, and the United States criticised the electoral process, claiming it had too many obstacles for it to be perceived as credible. Multiple opposition parties boycotted the elections, as previously reported by the Monitor, and 18 percent of parliamentary seats from the Tigray, Somali, Harari, Afar,and Benishangul-Gumuz regions did not vote. Read more

Flawed elections and deterioration of media freedom

US Supreme Court issues rulings on freedom of expression and association

On 1st July 2021, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down California’s law requiring non-profits to identify their large donors with the state. By a vote of 6-3, the court ruled that the law subjected donors to potential harassment, chilling their speech in violation of the First Amendment. Read more

US Supreme Court issues rulings on freedom of expression and association

Chile: Constitutional Convention begins its work

On 15th and 16th May 2021, over 6 million people in Chile voted in the election of 155 members of the Constitutional Convention, the body responsible for drafting a new Constitution for the country. Read more  |  Read in Spanish

Chile: Constitutional Convention begins its work

Support for LGBTI rights grows; COVID-19 regulations tighten

The Estonian Human Rights Centre reported a marked increase in support for LGBTI rights in Estonia, based on a recent public opinion survey conducted by Turu-uuringute AS. The study is the largest on LGBTI rights in Estonia in 2021. The results show that 64 per cent of Estonians supported the Registered Partnership Act. The survey results coincide with the Greens’ presentation of a petition to the Riigikogu (parliament of Estonia) calling for an amendment to the Family Law Act which would define marriage as a union of two adults, regardless of gender. In a separate development, on 11th April 2021, around 100 protesters gathered in Tallinn's Vabaduse väljak (Freedom Square) to protest against the further tightening of COVID-19 restrictions. Policing of the protest was criticised, with a disproportionate number of police and armed police deployed to curb the protest, resulting in several arrests and fines. In May 2021, the Riigikogu passed a bill to “simplify and speed up the involvement of law enforcement agencies” in a move to further tighten compliance with COVID-19 regulations. Questions have been raised how far the government will go in restricting civic freedoms, including the right to peaceful assembly. Read more

 Support for LGBTI rights grows; COVID-19 regulations tighten

Conviction of perpetrators in the killings of journalists Miroslava Breach and Javier Valdez

On 8th June 2021, a federal judge in Culiacán, Sinaloa, convicted Juan Francisco Picos Barrueta, known as “El Quillo,” for his role in the murder of journalist Javier Valdez Cárdenas in 2017. Read more

Conviction of perpetrators in the killings of journalists Miroslava Breach and Javier Valdez

Release of IWACU four journalists, refugees experience human rights violations

On 9th March 2021, 5,225 Burundian prisoners were pardoned pursuant to a presidential decree dated 5th March 2021, in an attempt to decongest the prisons. The decree is likely to benefit prisoners convicted of minor crimes, pregnant women or those with children, minors, prisoners with chronic diseases, prisoners aged 70 and above, and inmates with mental disorders. The presidential decree also resulted in the release of four journalists who were convicted of threatening the country's security being released. The four journalists were arrested in October 2019 while reporting in Bubanza province on the insecurity that befell the region. They were accused of attempts of conspiracy that undermined the country’s internal security which the four journalists refuted, arguing that they were only doing their work. In June 2020, the court dismissed their appeal and they were sent to Bubanza Prison to serve their sentences, but they were granted a presidential pardon later in the year. Read more

Release of IWACU four journalists, refugees experience human rights violations

Migrant Rights Defenders, Lawyers, Bloggers and Online Activists Under Threat in Qatar

On 2nd June 2021, defender of migrant workers’ rights and blogger Malcolm Bidali was released after almost a month in detention in an unknown location, reports the Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR). On the night of 4th to 5th May 2021, officials from Qatar’s State Security Bureau arrested and arbitrarily detained Bidali. They did not disclose any information about his fate until 12th May 2021 when his detention was confirmed, but no information was divulged as to his whereabouts. On 29 May 2021, the Qatari Government Communication Office stated that Bidali had been charged with receiving funds from a foreign party for the purpose of spreading misleading information. In a call with his mother on 20th May 2021, he confirmed that he had been placed in solitary confinement since his arrest and did not have access to a lawyer. Read more

Migrant Rights Defenders, Lawyers, Bloggers and Online Activists Under Threat in Qatar

Opposition against proposals for lithium mines continues; journalist racially attacked on live TV

Local communities in Portugal are coming to terms with the prospect of an open-air mine interrupting their village life. A recent example of this is found in the remote village of Covas do Barroso in Northern Portugal, where one of the largest estimated deposits of lithium in Western Europe was found. Residents, with the support of major Portuguese environmental organisations, have launched a campaign entitled “Não à Mina, Sim à Vida” (No to the mine, yes to life) to stop the development of the mine while it is still in its initial phase. Instances such as these are becoming more common across Northern Portugal and have led civil society to reflect on the potential impact that decarbonisation plans could have on local communities across the EU. During this period, protests by trade unions were staged on 1st May 2021. In a concerning development, journalist Conceição Queiroz, an active voice in fighting racism in Portugal, was attacked live on TVI24.

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Opposition against proposals for lithium mines continues; journalist racially attacked on live TV