environmental rights

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

Continued concerns about privacy and freedoms in Australia, following civic space rating downgrade

The Australian government has continued to introduce bills that could undermine fundamental freedoms. These include the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation Amendment Bill 2020 that expands counter-terrorism powers and the Telecommunications Legislation Amendment (International Production Orders) Bill 2020 which raises privacy concerns. Further, the coronavirus contact tracing app has raised human rights concerns while Australia’s press freedom ranking has dropped. Read more

Continued concerns about privacy and freedoms in Australia, following civic space rating downgrade

Protests over COVID-19 lockdown; court denies access to abortion medication via mail during pandemic

On 5th May 2020 people took to the streets in several Dutch cities to protest the confinement measures that the government has put in place to limit the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) . In doing so, they defied the temporary ban on public gatherings of more than two people. The largest demonstration took place in The Hague. However, failing to adhere to social distancing rules, police arrested 80 protesters. During April 2020, the district court in the Hague dismissed a case brought by a womens rights organisation on behalf of a mother who requested to receive medication for inducing an abortion via post. The single mother, who has a daughter displaying coronavirus symptoms, was unable to leave her house to go to an abortion clinic. On a positive note, climate activists staged a creative and symbolic protest outside The Hague, while adhering to the limitation on public gatherings. Read more

Protests over COVID-19 lockdown; court denies access to abortion medication via mail during pandemic

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

Far-right protest against lockdown restrictions; activists protest in creative ways during COVID-19

Due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic there is a ban in place for gatherings of over 20 people. Despite this, a number of demonstrations have been held. Far-right groups gathered to protest governments confinement measures. Meanwhile, far- left groups gathered for May Day protests and called for solidarity towards refugees. In a worrying development, there have been two seperate incidents where media crews were attacked during protests. Read more

Far-right protest against lockdown restrictions; activists protest in creative ways during COVID-19

Police violence against protesters and journalists under spotlight

Police violence towards protesters and journalists has come under the spotlight during the G7 summit. In addition, the police disciplinary body is investigating cases of excessive force used against protesters who marched against the governments pension reforms. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, France has enacted a “State of Health Emergency” law. However, human rights organisations have raised concerns due to the Constitutional Council suspending its activities during this period. There have also been several reports of police abusing emergency laws. Read more  |  Read in French

Police violence against protesters and journalists under spotlight

Anti-Olympics activist’s house raided while group urges games facilities be opened up to homeless

The home of anti-Olympics activists was raided in Tokyo in February 2020 while groups are calling for the Olympics facilities be opened up to homeless during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. In the Ibaraki Prefecture students are protesting the reopening of school amid the pandemic while the Mizuko Funding Group is halting the funding of coal after pressure from activists. There has been a small improvement in Japan’s press freedom index in 2019 Read more

Anti-Olympics activist’s house raided while group urges games facilities be opened up to homeless

Myanmar authorities prosecuting activists and critics despite the COVID-19 pandemic

In recent months the assault on civic freedoms has persisted. A Karen environmental activist has been charged for raising concerns about a cement factory, while students and activists have been charged under the Peaceful Assembly and Peaceful Procession Law for protesting. Further, three activists are facing prison terms for calling for constitutional reforms, two journalists were detained and ill-treated at the Myawady border and street artists have been arrested for a mural on the coronavirus (COVID-19). There has also been a fourth conviction against satirical performance group the Peacock Generation while there continues to be low COVID-19 awareness in Rakhine due to an internet blackout. Read more

Myanmar authorities prosecuting activists and critics despite the COVID-19 pandemic

Trade unions see spike in membership amid COVID-19 pandemic, climate activism goes online

Since the start of the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, Swedish trade unions have seen a surge in their membership. Meanwhile protests have come to a halt in light of the limit on public gatherings. Due to the pandemic, climate protests are now being hosted online through webinars. Read more

Trade unions see spike in membership amid COVID-19 pandemic, climate activism goes online