labour rights

Austerity measures during COVID-19 lead to protests in Ecuador

On 16th March 2020, Ecuador’s government published a decree declaring a "state of exception" in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. This suspended some individual rights related to freedom of association and assembly, and provided government with authority to use digital tools to monitor individuals under mandatory isolation or quarantine. Read more

Austerity measures during COVID-19 lead to protests in Ecuador

Government emergency measures increase policing powers

The Irish government introduced emergency powers to deal with the global pandemic. The legislation banned mass gatherings and made provision for the detention of people who are possible sources of COVID-19 who refuse to self-isolate. According to the Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL), the legislation contains a sunset clause and a ‘measure approach’ was adopted. However concerns were raised about the extended powers given to the police during the pandemic. In a letter to the police Commissioner, organisations raised several issues that had been reported to their office or in the media concerning policing during the pandemic. This included the deployment of armed police officers at checkpoints - in a country where historically police are unarmed - and ‘discrepancies’ related to the treatment of peaceful assemblies and strikes. In one protest, police began recording names of participants, which led to protesters feeling intimidated. Read more

Government emergency measures increase policing powers

Authorities intimidate protesters and silence critics using restrictive laws in Fiji

Over the last month, there were protests at the University of the South Pacific after the vice-chancellor was suspended because of his role in exposing mismanagement of funds and cronyism at the university. This was met by restrictions and intimidation by the authorities. Further, the judicial harassment of union activist Felix Anthony continues; a military commander justified restriction on freedom of expression during the pandemic; two people have been charged for misinformation and the office of two opposition parties were raided. Read more

Authorities intimidate protesters and silence critics using restrictive laws  in Fiji

Panama: coronavirus restrictions lifted and reimplemented

According to news media, Panama’s Ministry of Public Security counted at least 57 demonstrations during the pandemic. These protests were mainly organised by people demanding emergency government aid. Read more

Panama: coronavirus restrictions lifted and reimplemented

Decree prohibits the spread of fake news about COVID-19, raising concerns of media censorship

As a response to the COVID-19 crisis, the government drafted a Law on Mitigation of Economic Consequences, which did not include CSOs (civil society organisations) as beneficiaries of the economic assistance measures. Despite the ban on public gatherings, a few protests took place during the reporting period. A group of 20 people in Foča blocked the construction of small hydroelectric power plants Bjelava and Mala Bjelava, which they claim will pose ecological damage to their locality. Several members of "Justice for David" gathered at Krajina Square to symbolically mark the victory over fascism. They were warned that public gatherings without approval would not be tolerated by the police in the future. The government of Republika Srpska enacted a decree which prohibits the spread of panic and disorder during a state of emergency. The Bosnian Journalists Association says that the decree promotes media censorship.

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Decree prohibits the spread of fake news about COVID-19, raising concerns of media censorship

Journalists face lawsuits and attacks; media outlets face possibility of closure due to pandemic

Due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, government introduced some economic assistance measures. However, there have not been any specific measures intended to help CSOs during the pandemic. Despite restrictions on movement, citizens have used alternative ways of protesting during the pandemic. There were concerning developments around freedom of expression during the reporting period. The Croatian Journalists' Association (HND) conducted a survey which found that there were 905 lawsuits against journalists and media outlets in Croatia. There were several cases involving physical or verbal attacks against journalists during the reporting period. In addition, media outlets face economic challenges, with the threat of closures and layoffs due to the pandemic.
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Journalists face lawsuits and attacks; media outlets face possibility of closure due to pandemic

Dock workers adversely impacted by state of emergency during pandemic

A state of emergency was announced on 20th March 2020 due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. It remained in place until 3rd May 2020, before shifting into a state of “calamity” until 17th May 2020. During the state of emergency the President suspended the right to strike and right to resistance (article 21) which are essential rights in the Constitution. However, dock workers who were striking prior to the emergency were adversely affected. In April 2020, the state of emergency was renewed with a new disposition. In article 4C of the updated declaration, workers’ unions were not allowed to take part in labour negotiations and in specific negotiations of measures affecting workers’ rights and state support. Only the representatives of the owners of companies were included. Read more

Dock workers adversely impacted by state of emergency during pandemic

Concerns over democratic decline, with transgender rights and freedom of speech under attack

In early May 2020, US-based rights watchdog Freedom House in their "Nations in Transit" report said that Hungary experienced "the most precipitous" democratic decline ever tracked by the organisation. The so-called Authorisation Act was adopted on 30th March 2020 and introduced excessively wide powers without a sunset clause. The act has further exacerbated the deterioration of the rule of law and the state of democracy in Hungary.
 In addition, the Hungarian parliament passed an amendment to the omnibus bill changing the Registry act to only recognise “sex at birth”, which was later signed into law by President Janos Ader. The new law makes the legal recognition of transgender and intersex persons impossible and will lead to further discrimination of these groups.
Attacks on freedom of expression continue as police detained two people for spreading pandemic-related fake news. While the prosecutors decided to drop their cases against the two individuals, it is likely that such developments will have a chilling effect on freedom of expression. Read more

Concerns over democratic decline, with transgender rights and freedom of speech under attack

Police brutality a continuing crisis in Kenya

Report by Human Rights Watch shows that Kenyan police continue to kill crime suspects and protesters in cold blood; High Court dismisses petition by the Bloggers Association of Kenya (BAKE) which challenged the Computer Misuse and Cybercrimes Act 2018; Kenyan National Assembly’s Labour and Social Welfare Committee rejected a bill that sought to restrict to five days the right to strike for workers who provide essential services; at least one person was killed and dozens injured when demonstrators clashed with police in Kasarani district, north-east of Nairobi in January Read more

Police brutality a continuing crisis in Kenya

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