religious groups

Thousands gather for Black Lives Matter protest; Facebook bans images of Zwarte Piet

Several protests took place during the reporting period. On 5th July 2020, about a thousand Brussels students staged a protest under the name of #HijabisFightBack, at Mont des Arts over a headscarf (Hijab) ban at Brussels university college. In June 2020, thousands of protesters took to the streets of Brussels to express their support for the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement. According to local police, an estimated 10,000 people gathered outside the Palace of Justice. The protest was peaceful for the most part, however, a confrontation between the demonstrators and police erupted towards the end of the event. At least a 150 people were arrested. In August 2020, Facebook updated its hate speech policy and introduced a ban on images of blackface and anti-Semitic tropes. Blackface is a controversial subject in Belgium (and the Netherlands) because of the “Zwarte Piet” (Black Pete) practice, a Christmas tradition of donning blackface. The ban has sparked debates on racisms in the country.
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Thousands gather for Black Lives Matter protest; Facebook bans images of Zwarte Piet

New law seeks to threaten media freedom as journalists face attacks

Post-election celebrations in Montenegro, following the victory of three opposition coalitions, have caused several incidents in Budva, Niksic, Herceg Novi, Podgorica, Pljevlja and Bar. According to the police, during the celebrations there were cases of attacks on police officers, physical attacks on other persons, insults on nationalistic grounds and mass fights. Just before the elections, hundreds of people staged the largest protest so far against the proposed controversial Law on Religion which makes provision for a list of religious sites in the country. However following a ban on religious gatherings due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Serbian Orthodox Church found new ways to mobilise its supporters, through online or “automobile gatherings” on the streets. In a concerning development for media freedom, in late July 2020, the Parliament of Montenegro adopted a new Media Law which states that a journalist must reveal their sources at the request of the Prosecutor's Office if it is "necessary to protect the interests of national security, territorial integrity and health". Read more

New law seeks to threaten media freedom as journalists face attacks

Government bans open-air religious gatherings, interrupting protests by Serbian Orthodox church

Amid the first wave of the COVID-19 outbreak in Montenegro, the names of citizens who were ordered to self-isolate had been disclosed by the government. In reaction to this, NGO Civil Alliance brought an appeal against this decision, stating that this violated these citizens constitutional right to privacy. In mid-June 2020, after a three-month break due to the COVID-19 outbreak, a protest liturgy of the Serbian Orthodox Church (SOC) was held in Podgorica. The gathering, which was attended by thousands of citizens, was peaceful. However, 10 days later, the National Coordination Body for Infectious Diseases announced that open-air religious gatherings would be prohibited. On a positive note, Parliament has voted to legalise same-sex civil partnerships in Montenegro Read more

Government bans open-air religious gatherings, interrupting protests by Serbian Orthodox church

Protests over Serbian Orthodox bishops’ detention; worst rating for press freedom in Western Balkans

In the wake of the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis, there was no coordination between CSOs and the government, which is reflected in the fact that CSO representatives were not included in any of the established crisis bodies. During the pandemic, police detained a priest of the Serbian Orthodox Church for holding a prayer gathering in a monastery and thus defying the ban on social gatherings. In reaction to the arrest of the Serbian Orthodox bishop, several hundred citizens held protests in several Montenegrin towns. The protests became violent, with police using tear gas and shock bombs to disperse the crowds and some protesters were detained. Reporters Without Borders’ (RSF) 2020 World Press Freedom Index finds that Montenegro's press freedom is in decline as it is the worst rated county in the Western Balkan region. Read more

Protests over Serbian Orthodox bishops’ detention; worst rating for press freedom in Western Balkans

Peaceful Assembly affected by COVID-19 restrictions

Gatherings restricted due to Covid-19; Individual fined for establishing religious association; New report documents incidents of attack against journalists; MPs prepare to vote on new media Bill Read more

Peaceful Assembly affected by COVID-19 restrictions

Clampdown on expression online persists as Laos slips further down the press freedom rankings

There have been reports of human rights violations occurring during the lockdown in Laos. Individuals circulating a video of a land grab were detained and there were arrests for ‘fake news’ or ‘spreading rumours aimed at causing public panic’ related to COVID-19. Laos press freedom rankings dropped further, while concerns were raised around the lack of information on another proposed dam, amid a near-total lack of space for free speech. Read more

Clampdown on expression online persists as Laos slips further down the press freedom rankings

Spread of coronavirus and emergency safety measures put pressure on civic freedoms

Across the country, workers deemed essential during the coronavirus emergency staged walk-outs and other protests over insufficient personal protection equipment and to demand benefits such as paid sick leave or healthcare. Read more

Spread of coronavirus and emergency safety measures put pressure on civic freedoms

Attacks on journalists on the rise as religious groups clash with police

As previously reported on the CIVICUS Monitor, there have been persistent concerns over media freedom in Montenegro. On 23rd January 2020 for Journalist's Day, Montenegrin media workers reminded authorities that there are still many unresolved cases of violence against journalists. This period was marked by protests over the “Church-state confrontation” where supporters of the Serbian Orthodox Church continued protesting against the controversial new Law on Freedom of Religion. Read more

Attacks on journalists on the rise as religious groups clash with police

Peru: Awajun leader killed as community resists mining in their territory

On 10th and 11th February 2020, members of Peru’s Awajun and Wampis communities protested outside the main offices of the Amazonas regional government to denounce alleged action by the government to enable mining in their territories. Read more  |  Read in Spanish

Peru: Awajun leader killed as community resists mining in their territory

Activists, journalists and protesters facing continued restrictions by parties to the conflict

Newspaper distribution suspended in the wake of COVID-19; Death sentence upheld for prisoner of conscience; HRDs and journalists detained; Journalist temporarily barred from travelling; Protesters facing arbitrary arrests Read more

Activists, journalists and protesters facing continued restrictions by parties to the conflict