political interference

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

Election period sees clampdown on freedoms; Outgoing president Nkurunziza dies suddenly

Ahead of the May 2020 elections,United Nations Commission of Inquiry on Burundi launches an appeal to the international community to join forces to encourage the Burundian Government to reopen the democratic, civil and political space in the country; Opposition face hurdles and attacks ahead of elections; internet restrictions experienced on election day; while journalists and HRDs face prosecution for peacefully exercising their freedom of expression Read more  |  Read in French

Election period sees clampdown on freedoms; Outgoing president Nkurunziza dies suddenly

Denialism of COVID-19 pandemic and continuous threats to freedom of expression

The reporting period was marked by the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. However, this was denied by the Tajikistani authorities despite the alarming increase in deaths of patients with symptoms consistent with COVID-19 throughout March and April 2020. Doctors faced harassment and intimidation as officials urged them not to refer patients for testing. The first cases of COVID-19 were only officially announced on 30th April 2020, when a World Health Organisation (WHO) delegation travelled to the country to investigate the health crisis. Attacks on freedom of expression continued with independent journalist Daler Sharipov sentenced to one year’s imprisonment on what is widely regarded as politically motivated charges. The blocking and disabling of websites, social media platforms and internet messages and the temporary blocking of internet access continued to be part of the authorities’ strategy to silence critical voices. By the end of April 2020, the websites of Asia Plus, Akhbor.com and Radio Ozodi were blocked.
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Denialism of COVID-19 pandemic and continuous threats to freedom of expression

Critical voices silenced in the Solomon Islands amid the pandemic

Since the pandemic began, the authorities have attempted to silence criticism by officials, removed a top doctor for his online comments and has sought to muzzle an outspoken provincial leader Read more

Critical voices silenced in the Solomon Islands amid the pandemic

HRD arrested, three-year prison sentence for journalist overturned on appeal

On 5th May 2020, the Appeal Court of N'Djamena overturned the ruling by the Court of First Instance that sentenced journalist Martin Inoua Doulguet to a prison sentence of three years and to high fines and damages on 23rd September 2019. The Appeal Court concluded that there were 'procedural flaws' and reproached the court for prosecuting the journalist under the Penal Code in violation of the law that regulates the press, according to Inoua Doulguet's lawyers. Read more  |  Read in French

HRD arrested, three-year prison sentence for journalist overturned on appeal

Concern over crackdown on opposition and dissenters ahead of 2020 elections

Dozens of opposition supporters arrested, detained, New anti terrorrism law passes, government announces restoration of phone and internet services in parts of Oromia region after shut down in January 2020, protesters injured, one killed during protest by university students at Bule Hora University in Oromia Read more

Concern over crackdown on opposition and dissenters ahead of 2020 elections

Systematic persecution of CSO activists; attacks on freedom of expression and assembly continue

The first three months of 2020 saw ongoing and systematic persecution of civil society activists, journalists, bloggers and other citizens exercising their right to freely express themselves. The situation is currently deteriorating, particularly in connection with the state of emergency, which was declared in the country on 16th March 2020 due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Citizens who spoke up about the status of the pandemic in Kazakhstan and the authorities’ handling of it have on numerous occasions been criminally prosecuted. Political activists associated with two unregistered political parties – the new Democratic Party and the new movement “Street Party” - have faced persecution, administrative prosecution and significant harassment, both from the authorities and from unidentified persons. Read more

Systematic persecution of CSO activists; attacks on freedom of expression and assembly continue

Pashtun activists targeted amid pandemic while press increasingly muzzled in Pakistan

In recent months, Pashtun activists continue to be targeted while women’s rights activists continue to face risk and attacks. There has been a lack of accountability over the enforced disappearance of Idris Khattak, activist Muhammad Ismail continues to face judicial harassment, while the state has continued to silence critical media and block online content. Healthcare workers were also arrested for protesting against the lack of protective equipment amid the coronavirus pandemic. Read more

Pashtun activists targeted amid pandemic while press increasingly muzzled in Pakistan