intimidation

Amendment to Public Law and Order act threatens fundamental rights, last paycheck for STA staff

On 1st September 2021 the Slovenian government proposed an amendment to the Act on Public Law and Order introducing fines for indecent behaviour towards officials. The amendments raise concerns for freedom of speech in the country, amid ongoing anti-government protests which have been staged for over 70 weeks. Meanwhile, public broadcasting agency STA has gone without funding for more than 235 days following the government’s decision to block their funding at the beginning of 2021. This is part of Prime Minister Janez Janša’s ongoing systematic attack against media and journalists in the country, with the STA’s survival relying on public crowdfunding. While the STA continues to operate, it reported that September 2021 will be the last month in which they will be able to pay staff salaries. In a continued crackdown on media freedom in Slovenia, Director of Programmes at RTV Slovenija, Natalija Gorščak, was dismissed on 20th August 2021 by newly-appointed Director General Andrej Grah Whatmough. Read more

Amendment to Public Law and Order act threatens fundamental rights, last paycheck for STA staff

Heavy-handed policing as hundreds arrested at Extinction Rebellion protests

There have been several concerning developments during this period. At the beginning of July 2021, the government introduced a new Elections Bill. However, concerns have been raised about the chilling effect this bill will have on charities campaigning. In other developments, several employees were arrested at the arts and architecture charity Antepavilion in Hackney, London. Two of the charity’s staff and one tenant were detained as part of a “proactive” raid intended to target Extinction Rebellion activists prior to a planned protest. Related to XR, the group launched a two-week series of protests in London, beginning on 23rd August 2021, ahead of COP26. By the fourth day of action, police arrests surpassed 200 with reports of heavy-handed policing. These policing tactics set a dangerous precedent, should the controversial Police, Crime, Courts and Sentencing bill pass its second reading on 14th September, proposing to grant police even greater powers to crack down on protests and an increase in penalties for protesters. Related to freedom of expresssiona and privacy, Privacy International and 30 organisations have criticised the Home Office for “bypassing” Parliament on the use of facial recognition technology, calling for its immediate ban. The surveillance tool actively takes ‘faceprints’ of millions of people, often without them knowing. In addition, it was revealed that councils are conducting mass profiling and citizen scoring of welfare and social care recipients, via the use of hidden algorithms, to predict fraud, rent non-payments and major life events. Read more

Heavy-handed policing as hundreds arrested at Extinction Rebellion protests

Stigmatisation of opposition continues in Bolivia

The Observatory of Human Rights Defenders of civil society organisation UNITAS warned about criminalisation and stigmatisation of political opposition in Bolivia. Read more  |  Read in Spanish

Stigmatisation of opposition continues in Bolivia

National Assembly approves controversial ‘Separatism Bill’, massive protests opposing #PassSanitaire

On 23rd July 2021, France’s National Assembly approved the controversial ‘Separatism Bill’ (also known as ‘projet de loi confortant le respect des principes de la République’), by 49 votes to 19, with 5 abstentions. The bill has serious consequences on the right to freedom of association. Following the passing of the bill, , La Coalition pour les libertés associatives coordinated the submission of an ‘external contribution’ to the Constitutional Council, which gave the bill the green light. In another development, which cracks down on environmental activists, a new bill appears to respond to growing acts of civil disobedience related to consequences of air traffic on the climate. In the fourth week of successive protests against France’s new “health pass”, almost a quarter of a million people took to the streets across 180 cities to oppose the latest extension of the controversial pass. During these protests, journalists and media outlets were “targeted, harassed, intimidated and insulted". Related to freedom of expression, two journalists from Mediapart, Lénaïg Bredoux and Edwy Plenel, were spied on via NSO software installed on their smartphones. Read more  |  Read in French

National Assembly approves controversial ‘Separatism Bill’, massive protests opposing #PassSanitaire

Cuba: New legislation enables further control over online content, restricting freedom of expression

Cuban and international civil society organisations reiterated their concern over increased repression in the country one month after the anti-government demonstrations of 11th July 2021 (11J). In addition, on 17th August 2021, Cuba’s official diary Gaceta Oficial published the Decree-Law 35/2021 on Telecommunications, Information and Communication Technologies, and the Use of the Radio Spectrum. Read more  |  Read in Spanish

Cuba: New legislation enables further control over online content, restricting freedom of expression

Protests against mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations; right to protest under threat during pandemic

On 14th July 2021, over 5,000 people gathered in Athens to protest Greece’s vaccination programme, after the government ordered mandatory vaccinations for health care workers and nursing home staff In addition to Athens, people gathered in other cities including Thessaloniki, Ioanninia and Heraklion. Police officers used tear gas and water cannon to disperse the crowd in Athens. Human rights watchdog organisation Amnesty International issued a statement, stating that Greek authorities have used the COVID-19 pandemic as a pretext to violate the right to peaceful protest. Read more

Protests against mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations; right to protest under threat during pandemic

Brazil’s civic space in dispute amid democratic backsliding

Brazil’s institutional crisis has expanded as President Jair Bolsonaro seeks to undermine trust in the electoral system and embarks on disputes with the Federal Supreme Court. Read more

Brazil’s civic space in dispute amid democratic backsliding

Extinction Rebellion protest over fossil fuels investments; investigative journalist killed

On 5th July 2021, environmental group Extinction Rebellion occupied the offices of the government pension provider ABP. The group were protesting against the pension provider's investments in fossil fuels, which currently accounts for 60 per cent of its total investments. Earlier, on 17th June 2021, a group of pension participants affiliated with XR occupied the ABP head office in Heerlen. However, eight protesters were arrested. Dutch farmers also organised a demonstration in The Hague to protest the government’s measures aimed at reducing nitrogen emissions caused by agriculture. In a concerning development, on 15th July 2021, investigative journalist Peter de Vries, 64, died in hospital after he was shot at least five times on 6th July 2021. De Vries worked as an adviser and confidant to the key witness in the prosecution’s case against Ridouan Taghi, the most wanted criminal in the Netherlands. He had recently refused police protection after accepting it in the past due to the death threats he had received. Read more

Extinction Rebellion protest over fossil fuels investments; investigative journalist killed

Journalists come under attack during environmental rights protests and other protests

During 12th to 17th July 2021, the Alliance, Gemeinsam gegen die Tierindustrie (Together against the Animal Industry), organised a protest with around 150 to 200 people against the PHW group, one of the largest meat producers in Germany. On 5th June 2021, protests against the expansion of the A100 freeway in Berlin took place. Police arrested the protesters, who are being investigated for trespassing, while others were reportedly carried way. During these protests, journalists were also obstructed from doing their jobs. Other attacks against journalists were also documented during this period. Read more

Journalists come under attack during environmental rights protests and other protests

Bolivia: Criminalisation of environmental defenders and attacks on journalists

Civil society organisation Centro de Documentación e Información de Bolivia (Bolivian Centre of Documentation and Information - CEDIB) published a report on human rights in the country between April and June 2021. Read more  |  Read in Spanish

Bolivia: Criminalisation of environmental defenders and attacks on journalists