minority groups

Canada Day marked by vigils and protests following discovery of Indigenous children’s unmarked grave

This year’s Canada Day on 1st July 2021 was marked by vigils and protests following the recent discovery of more than 1,000 unmarked graves of Indigenous children at former residential schools. At least 150,000 Indigenous children were taken from their families to attend the schools over a century as part of the campaign to assimilate the children into Canadian society. Read more

Canada Day marked by vigils and protests following discovery of Indigenous children’s unmarked grave

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

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

Unrelenting assault on the media and other civic freedoms in Pakistan

In recent months attacks on civic space have persisted in Pakistan which is rated as ‘repressed’ by the CIVICUS Monitor. The has been an unrelenting assault on the media, with journalists being attacked, criminalised and taken off the air. A stringent new media law is being proposed that will undermine press freedom and legal amendments have been proposed to criminalise criticism of the military. Leaders of the ethnic Pashtun movement continue to face judicial harassment while the authorities are deliberately stalling the functioning of the national human rights body Read more

Unrelenting assault on the media and other civic freedoms in Pakistan

Canada: Police restricts press access to environmental protests

On 30th April 2021, Canada’s federal government passed back-to-work legislation that essentially ended a strike by Montreal dockworkers, who had been protesting changes to their work schedules which they describe as unfair. Read more

Canada: Police restricts press access to environmental protests

Sofia pride a success and calls for realization of freedom of press

Sofia Pride was organized on June 12 in the Bulgarian capital. The event aimed to draw attention to the rights of people in the LGBTI community. Last year, the event was organized online due to new legal provisions that limited freedom of assembly due to Covid-19, which means pandemic constraints. According to the organizers around 10000 people joined the event. Read more

Sofia pride a success and calls for realization of freedom of press

USA: Assaults, harassment and arrests of journalists covering protests

Lawmakers in California are considering a bill introduced in January 2021 that would protect restaurant workers from abuses and labour violations by their employers. Read more

USA: Assaults, harassment and arrests of journalists covering protests

Eritrean government releases Christian protestors

The humanitarian situation in Eritrea remains dire. On 17 April 2021, the Eritrean government acknowledged the involvement of its troops in the Tigray conflict. Its Ambassador to the United Nations posted a letter online, admitting that Eritrean forces were taking part in the conflict and vowing to withdraw them. This move was in response to mounting international pressure. The Ethiopian Prime Minister, Dr. Abiy Ahmed, earlier promised the withdrawal of Eritrean troops from Tigray. However, there has been no sign of withdrawal. On 15 April 2021, the US Ambassador to the United Nations expressed concerns about the conflict, stating that Eritrea must “withdraw their troops from Ethiopia immediately.” Read more

Eritrean government releases Christian protestors

Systematic persecution of activists, journalists and critics in mainland China and Hong Kong

The assault on civic space has continued in China into 2021. Over the last few months civil society has reported the harassment, arrest, prosecution, torture and even death in custody of human rights defenders and journalists in mainland China. Serious crimes continue to be reported against the Uyghurs in Xinjiang, including an escalation of baseless prosecutions. In Hong Kong, the authorities have continued their persecution of pro-democracy activists with arrests and convictions for peaceful protests under the draconian national security law as well as targeting of journalists for their reporting.
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Systematic persecution of activists, journalists and critics in mainland China and Hong Kong

Arbitrary detentions and attacks on Hmong in Laos as rubber-stamp elections held

In recent months, the UN has raised concerns on the ongoing arbitrary detention of three human rights defenders and the continued failure of the Laos authorities to investigate the whereabouts of human rights defender Sombath Somphone. A Christian pastor was released after being arbitrarily detained for a year and there have been escalating attacks against the Hmong community living near the Phou Bia mountain. Read more

Arbitrary detentions and attacks on Hmong in Laos as rubber-stamp elections held