refugees and migrants

Canada: protests against COVID-19 restrictions as country struggles with new wave of infections

On 7th November 2020, about 2,000 people demonstrated in Aylmer, Ontario, to express their opposition to facial coverings and social distancing rules implemented by the provincial and federal governments in response to COVID-19. Read more

Canada: protests against COVID-19 restrictions as country struggles with new wave of infections

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

Protests over COVID-19 measures amid a second wave; red flag raised over social media proposal

During the second wave of the pandemic, several protests broke out throughout Europe against COVID-19 measures introduced. Following the announcement of tougher measures, protests occurred in several big cities such as Madrid, Barcelona and Valencia. These protests have turned violent and, in some cases, have led to the arrest of protesters. In a separate development, journalists have reported that the Ministry of Interior is preventing them from taking photos of the arrival of refugees in the Canary Islands and thereby making it challenging to inform the public about current developments. In a concerning development, the Interior Committee of the Congress approved Podemos’ proposal to ban hate speech on social media. The initiative has been met with reluctance among opposition parties, jurists and freedom of expression experts. The proposal obliges digital platforms to police hate speech and invites them to censor online content.
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Protests over COVID-19 measures amid a second wave; red flag raised over social media proposal

Canada: Local and global concerns move people to rally and call on government to take action

On 18th October 2020, hundreds of people rallied in Halifax to express support for Mi'kmaw fishers who are pushing back against commercial fishers’ claims on local lobster fisheries. Read more

Canada: Local and global concerns move people to rally and call on government to take action

Tensions continue over migrant crisis while media face restrictions

In the past few months the refugee crisis has remained one of the biggest political and social challenges facing Greece. Refugee camps are still unbearably overcrowded, the hygiene conditions are dangerously poor and the future of the people living in those camps is uncertain. As Greece began its second wave of COVID-19 infections, new restrictions were announced. It is reported that the Greek government wants to put in place further restrictions, by pressing for permanently closed centres. Rights groups argue that it is unjustified to permanently restrict the freedom of movement of asylum-seekers. On 12th September 2020, clashes between riot police and asylum seekers occurred on the Greek Island Lesbos during a protest, following a fire at the Moria refugee camp. In addition, journalists continue to face restrictons when reporting on the migrant crisis.
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Tensions continue over migrant crisis while media face restrictions

Inconsistent police responses to protests; female journalist receives death threats

Police have shown inconsistency in their reactions towards protests. For example, LGBTI activists report that significant additional costs of securing the 2019 Pride parade were imposed on the organisers but were not sought from other similar gatherings in 2019 and 2020. In addition, activists, journalists and lawyers expressed concerns about the inconsistent actions of the police towards the citizens of Banja Luka because of the different attitude towards unannounced rallies and the reasons for the gatherings. For example, police officers lay misdemeanor charges against "Justice for David" organisers, while it seems that the organisers of several other unreported rallies have not been punished. Read more

Inconsistent police responses to protests; female journalist receives death threats

Protests against systemic racism continue despite flagrant attacks on civil liberties

At the end of August 2020, the shooting of a Black man, Jacob Blake, by a white police officer sparked further outrage and led to several nights of protests in Kenosha, where the shooting took place, and other cities. Read more

Protests against systemic racism continue despite flagrant attacks on civil liberties

Unjustified ban on protests during pandemic; Charlie Hebdo faces attack again

The governments ban on peaceful assembly was criticised due to its selective nature where shopping malls, bars, restaurants and an amusement park were authorised to open again, bringing together hundreds of people in small spaces, while protests were reprimanded by law enforcement. As a result, some demonstrations planned in June 2020 were prohibited in France. Despite this thousands gathered for Black Lives Matter protests and in memory of Adama Traoré, a 24-year-old black Frenchman who died in a 2016 police operation. The Council of State declared that the ban on demonstrations is not justified by the current health situation when the “barrier measures” can be respected or when the event is unlikely to bring together more than 5,000 people. Despite this, many bans were issued against demonstrations on the basis of disturbing public order and the state of health emergency and police detained protesters. In a separate development, French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, faced attacks yet again.
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Unjustified ban on protests during pandemic; Charlie Hebdo faces attack again

Migrant rights in the spotlight; protest calls for an end to COVID-19 measures

In a much welcomed move, on 2nd September 2020, after almost two weeks of waiting, Italy has given permission to NGO rescue ship Sea-Watch 4 to bring 353 migrants to the port of Palermo. Sea-Watch states that the support from civil society groups, Germany’s Protestant Church and British street artist Banksy had contributed to Palermo’s decision to let the ship moor by creating "significantly more attention for sea rescue missions". In a separate development, thousands gathered in Rome to protest against the government’s COVID-19 measures and the “dictatorship of the healthcare system”.
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Migrant rights in the spotlight; protest calls for an end to COVID-19 measures