positive CS development

Press freedom a grave concern during pandemic; attempts to ban gender studies in education

Despite recent political changes, press freedom remains a grave concern in Romania, even more so during COVID-19. As an attempt to counter the spread of coronavirus-related “fake news” online, articles and even entire websites were taken down. Media freedom in the country has declined since the introduction of the state of emergency in mid-March 2020 in the following ways: First, the response time for freedom of information (FOI) requests doubled from a maximum of 30 days to 60 days. Second, it was decided that all official COVID-19-related information would be released from the capital and thus limiting local journalists’ ability to verify any information outside of Bucharest. Third, the government threatened doctors and public servants with criminal charges for releasing any information on the pandemic to the media. However, after press watchdog bodies raised concerns, more information on COVID-19 has been released since. In a separate development a new law has been approved by both houses of the Romanian parliament banning gender identity studies—or “gender ideology”, as termed by right-wing populists—in schools and universities.


Read more

Press freedom a grave concern during pandemic; attempts to ban gender studies in education

Peru legislation enables disproportionate use of force by police

On 15th March 2020, Peru’s government issued a decree declaring a state of emergency on account of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The decree suspended individual constitutional rights, including rights to peaceful assembly and freedom of movement, and the requirement that the government must have a warrant before conducting arrests. Read more

Peru legislation enables disproportionate use of force by police

Group protests against ‘false pandemic’ and 5G, while other protests are called off

Since the civil society sector was also affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, the government has reconsidered its previous decision to cut state budget funding to CSOs and decided to include CSOs for economic assistance measures. While one protest against government’s restrictions to fight the COVID-19 pandemic was cancelled, another was held against what they consider to be “a false pandemic”. In a concerning development which may undermine freedom of speech in the country, government has decided to cut seven million euros of funding from Macedonian Radio Television. Meanwhile, Professor Katica Kulavkova, a member of the Macedonian Academy of Sciences and Arts, has been condemned for a hateful tweet which is said to promote intolerance among ethnic communities during the COVID-19 outbreak. NGOs expressed concern that in the upcoming pre-election period, there would be an increase in hate speech which needs to be addressed adequately by the authorities. Read more

Group protests against ‘false pandemic’ and 5G, while other protests are called off

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

Militarised police continue to use excessive force against protesters

Massive protests to condemn police brutality, overwhelmingly peaceful, have continued across the U.S. Enduring pressure from demonstrations has brought important results, including charges brought against officers involved in George Floyd’s killing and commitment to reforming police practices from some authorities. Read more

Militarised police continue to use excessive force against protesters

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

Authorities accused of abusing COVID-19 restrictions to stifle expression despite improved ranking

RSF reports that press freedom violations had declined under president Mokgweetsi Masisi’s regime;
President Masisi was accused of using the covid-19 pandemic to crack down on media and government critics; journalist's house raided on 17th July 2019 by officials from the Directorate of Security Services (DIS) agents Read more

Authorities accused of abusing COVID-19 restrictions to stifle expression despite improved ranking

Protests repressed and disinformation legislation revoked in Bolivia

At the beginning of June 2020, Bolivia began easing quarantine measures and lifting some restrictions on movement. Local governments were allowed to establish additional measures according to the public health situation in their regions. Read more

Protests repressed and disinformation legislation revoked in Bolivia

CSOs included in governments COVID-19 emergency fund

The Austrian government implemented strict measures aimed at slowing the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19). The new government has adopted a much more moderate tone and course than the previous government. CSOs have asked the government to support the sector economically, which could also be a potential opportunity to restructure the dialogue. On 15th March 2020, a law (Covid-19 Gesetz) was passed by parliament, which for the first time in Austrian history mentions "Non-Profit Organisations" and says that they are eligible for the same emergency fund as small entrepreneurs. Read more

CSOs included in governments COVID-19 emergency fund

Progress on human rights defender’s bill in Mongolia but defamation laws put media at risk

In May 2020, a new law on the protection of human rights defenders was submitted to parliament. Civil society groups have raised concern about new criminal defamation provisions in the criminal code and the harassment of a journalist. The government has put on hold a proposed law on NGOs that could be used to severely constrain their activities. Read more

Progress on human rights defender’s bill in Mongolia but defamation laws put media at risk