political interference

Venezuela stifles dissent with political interference in opposition parties and detentions

At the 44th session of the Human Rights Council, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, presented a new report on the situation in Venezuela between June 2019 and May 2020. Read more

Venezuela stifles dissent with political interference in opposition parties and detentions

New hope for Malawi after sustained protests

Following the court’s nullification of the May 2019 election results on 3rd March 2020, authorities under president Peter Mutharika’s regime embarked on a crackdown of dissenters, critics and the judiciary as the rerun, slated for 23rd June 2020 approached. , the NGO Board in collaboration with the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs began developing reporting regulations for NGOs. Read more

New hope for Malawi after sustained protests

Opposition candidates and supporters persecuted, detained ahead of elections

Presidential candidates and opposition protesters arrested and detained, Journalists attacked an arrested while covering protests Read more

Opposition candidates and supporters persecuted, detained ahead of elections

Draft law seeks to reduce funding to CSOs; PM attacks CSOs during pandemic

The Communist Party (KSČM) proposed an amendment to a law, which seeks to dramatically reduce the financing of associations and civic initiatives from the state budget. According to the bill, only beneficiaries that contribute to the fulfillment of state policy objectives will be provided with subsidies. In addition, Czech NGOs have also come under fire by Prime Minister Babiš, who has directly attacked civil society organisations (CSOs) as incompetent and inactive during the pandemic. The Million Moments for Democracy-led demonstrations against the Babiš government have continued. A resolution by the European Parliament, issued in June 2020, which called on the Czech Prime Minister to step down or to remove all activities that pose a conflict of interest, was widely supported by citizens.

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Draft law seeks to reduce funding to CSOs; PM attacks CSOs during pandemic

Bolivian Ombudsperson accused of political bias by government

On 13th July 2020, Bolivia’s interim government published a statement claiming Ombudsperson Nadia Cruz was occupying this office illegally and that, as a result, they would not recognise any actions undertaken by her after April 2019. Read more

Bolivian Ombudsperson accused of political bias by government

Critics detained for COVID-19 related remarks

Civic activists, opposition leaders and journalist under attack amid COVID-19 pandemic, Azerbaijani journalist Afgan Mukhtarli released from detention, Azeri activist detained for a Facebook post one day after release from psychiatric clinic , Azeri activist detained for demonstrating police brutality on social media, March for women rights ends with police violence, Student protest ends with arrests, Protesters, journalists beaten during protest in Baku, Civil society publishes report highlighting challenges faced by NGOs and issues recommendations, Read more

Critics detained for COVID-19 related remarks

Military forced to admit that journalist Samuel Wazizi died in custody, 10 months after his death

Under pressure from civil society groups following a news story by private television station Équinoxe Télévision, the Cameroonian military admitted in a statement read on the radio on 5th June 2020 that journalist Samuel Abuwe Ajieka, also known as Samuel Wazizi, had died on 17th August 2019 while he was in custody. Wazizi was arrested on 2nd August 2019, was never presented before a court, nor were his relatives or his lawyer informed of his whereabouts during the ten months since his arrest. The circumstances of Wazizi's death are unclear and disputed. Read more

Military forced to admit that journalist Samuel Wazizi died in custody, 10 months after his death

EU court finds that NGO foreign funding law violates EU law, independent media under threat

On 17th June 2020 government announced an end to the “state of danger”, but immediately declared a “state of medical crisis”, which will continue to allow the government to issue a wide range of decrees and restrict certain rights. This declaration cannot be lifted by parliament and human rights organisations are concerned that this will only lead to further powers for the Orbán government. In a positive development, the Court of Justice of the European Union ruled that a Hungarian law concerning foreign funding of non-governmental organisations “does not comply with the Union law”. The court found that the law imposed "discriminatory and unjustified restrictions" on those organisations affected. Freedom of expression is increasingly under threat, with the biggest and most-read independent news site, Index.hu, reporting that it is currently under threat from external pressures. Read more

EU court finds that NGO foreign funding law violates EU law, independent media under threat

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

Government uses the COVID-19 pandemic as a pretext to curtail civic freedoms

On 13th March 2020, a new right-wing coalition government was constituted, with Janez Janša being appointed as the new PM. Janša, who is the leader of the Slovenian Democratic Party (SDS) is known for being one of the biggest allies of Hungary's Prime Minister, Viktor Orbán. In its first week the government took many concerning decisions regarding COVID-19. For instance, the Intervention Measures Act was introduced to provide support measures for different spheres in Slovenia. However there were unsuccessful attempts to pass articles which broaden police powers and surveillance. Freedom of expression also came under attack during the pandemic. For example, under the pretence of public health safety, the government’s press conferences were closed to the press. A compromise was later reached by journalist unions and the government. Critical journalists have also been harassed on social media and through SDS Party channels. Read more

Government uses the COVID-19 pandemic as a pretext to curtail civic freedoms