HRD threatened

Attempts to ban CSOs; activists and journalists come under attack

The Balternativa movement launched a petition to ban NGOs in Serbia. According to the petition, "it aims to ban the work of non-governmental organisations that posed a risk in the past for the national security of the Republic of Serbia”. The Serbian Radical Party of convicted war criminal Vojislav Seselj also advocates for banning the work of certain CSOs in his election campaign. They are proposing a law to ban state funding for NGOs. Activists have also faced attacks and threats during the reporting period. The Civic Front announced that an activist of the United Movement of Free Tenants from Nis, Jana Krstić, was verbally attacked by unknown young men who stopped her and threatened her because of a T-shirt she was wearing with the logo of the initiative ‘Don’t let Belgrade d(r)own’. Similarly, after an apperance on N1 Television, sociologist and researcher of the Bureau for Social Research (BIRODI), Zoran Gavrilović, was the target of threats and insults on Twitter. Journalists also faced physical and verbal attacks during the reporting period. Read more

Attempts to ban CSOs; activists and journalists come under attack

Attacks on the press and critics persist as UN report on the Philippines finds widespread violations

Over the last two months, amid the COVID-19 pandemic, top broadcaster ABS-CBN was forced off the air while prominent journalist Maria Ressa and her former colleague were convicted for ‘cyber-libel’ in another blow for press freedom. The authorities have also pursued journalists and social media users for criticism of the handling of the pandemic. Civil society is seriously concerned that the new anti-terror bill will facilitate abuse of power and erode democracy, while a new UN report details widespread human rights violations and persistent impunity. Human rights defender Teresita Naul remains in prison on trumped up charges while the red-tagging of activists has continued. Read more

Attacks on the press and critics persist as UN report on the Philippines finds widespread violations

COVID-19, a pretext to further suppress freedom of expression and association

Since April 2017, Egypt has been under a state of emergency. The state of emergency has been constantly extended since then, with the latest extension on 8th May 2020 where the new amendments were ratified. These amendments were introduced as a response to the COVID-19 outbreak under health emergencies. However, human rights groups in Egypt have raised concerns, as they fear these amendments exploit COVID-19 in order to undermine judicial independence, expand the Military Prosecution’s jurisdiction to investigate civilians and give the President the power to authorise the Military Prosecution to investigate crimes that violate the Emergency Law (Article 4). In a separate development, the family of exiled civil society activist and Deputy Director of HuMENA for Human Rights and Civic Engagement, Mostafa Fouad, was continuously threatened. The arbitrary detention of journalists continued during the reporting period. In addition, a Guardian and New York Times reporter were censored by State Information Services for their reporting on the pandemic.

Read more

COVID-19, a pretext to further suppress freedom of expression and association

Cuba cracking down on dissent using internet regulation and COVID-19 pretence

Cuban news media, social movements and human rights organisations have denounced that the government has continued to crackdown on dissent, repress freedoms and silence critical voices during the COVID-19 pandemic. Since March 2020, there have been several reports of activists and journalists being detained or harassed, particularly through police citations, summons and interrogations. At least 30 people have been subjected to harassment from state actors under Decree 370, which has been used to supress freedom of expression in the country. Read more

Cuba cracking down on dissent using internet regulation and COVID-19 pretence

Social leaders and journalists at increased risk during COVID-19

In response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, Colombia’s government declared a sanitary emergency and banned public gatherings on 12th March 2020. On 22nd March 2020, a new decree established a nationwide mandatory quarantine which was subsequently extended into May 2020. Despite the obligatory isolation measures, several protests have taken place since the beginning of the public emergency – often mobilised by people denouncing the lack of food, financial aid and access to medical services. Read more  |  Read in Spanish

Social leaders and journalists at increased risk during COVID-19

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

Journalists denounce Guatemala government hostility towards the press

On 12th April 2020, more than a hundred journalists from Guatemala published a public complaint denouncing repeated hostile behaviour from president Alejandro Giammattei and other public officials, through acts to intimidate, discredit and censor the press. Read more  |  Read in Spanish

Journalists denounce Guatemala government hostility towards the press

Indigenous defenders of Costa Rica face increasing threats and harassment

To deal with the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, Costa Rica’s government banned mass gatherings on 9th March 2020 and declared a state of emergency on 16th March 2020. The measures adopted by the country included the closure of schools and all non-essential businesses, mass testing and a shutdown of the country’s borders. Read more  |  Read in Spanish

Indigenous defenders of Costa Rica face increasing threats and harassment

Journalist killed in Paraguay’s border with Brazil

In March 2020, Paraguay’s government enacted laws to restrict large public gatherings and establish a nationwide state of emergency due to the corona virus (COVID-19) pandemic. In this period, there have been reports of security forces humiliating non-complying civilians while enforcing the country’s quarantine measures. Read more

Journalist killed in Paraguay’s border with Brazil

Tanzania: Dissidents and critics bear heavy brunt of increasing restrictions on expression

Exiled opposition leader comments on upcoming elections; restrictions on expression continue amid Coronavirus outbreak; Journalist Eric Kabendera released from detention after plea bargain; Rights commission warns against use of hate speech; Court application against draconian online content regulations quashed; Plans to block unregistered sim cards cause concern; Opposition party member Zitto Kabwe receives death threats for criticising government policy; Human Rights Watch report documents systematic attacks on LGBTIQ community; Government official Paul Makonda banned from travel to the US for targeting LGBTIQ community; Groups call for release of detained activist Tito Magoti; eight senior members and one former senior leader of Tanzania’s main opposition party, CHADEMA sentenced in court for 2018 demonstration Read more

Tanzania: Dissidents and critics bear heavy brunt of increasing restrictions on expression