intimidation

Swedes take protests online as freedom of assembly is further restricted due to pandemic

Following mass protests against racism in the US, after the death of George Floyd, a Black man, by a Minneapolis police officer, Black Lives Matter protests have spread across the globe, including in Sweden. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Swedish government has temporarily banned gatherings of more than 50 people, which includes public protests and demonstrations. Several Black Lives Matter demonstrations which intended to stay within this limit of 50, attracted vastly more people. A demonstration of 8,000 people in Stockholm was eventually broken up by the police.
As a result, Swedish police have issued a statement saying that they will be stricter in granting permits for demonstrations. In the meantime people have also taken their protests against racism online. In a separate development, Swedish cartoonist Mahmoud Abbas received hate messages on social media after posting a cartoon on Facebook during April 2020 which commented on the collapse of oil prices. Read more

Swedes take protests online as freedom of assembly is further restricted due to pandemic

Protests in Nepal around COVID-19 met with excessive force while journalists face attacks

Protests expressing discontent with the COVID-19 response have been met with excessive force and arrests. There have also been ongoing threats and attacks against journalists in Nepal for their reporting on the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Online critics have also been targeted for defamation using the Electronic Transaction Act. A proposed Intelligence Bill gives the national intelligence agency unlimited surveillance and search powers. Read more

Protests in Nepal around COVID-19 met with excessive force while journalists face attacks

Austerity measures during COVID-19 lead to protests in Ecuador

On 16th March 2020, Ecuador’s government published a decree declaring a "state of exception" in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. This suspended some individual rights related to freedom of association and assembly, and provided government with authority to use digital tools to monitor individuals under mandatory isolation or quarantine. Read more

Austerity measures during COVID-19 lead to protests in Ecuador

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

Authorities accused of abusing COVID-19 restrictions to stifle expression despite improved ranking

RSF reports that press freedom violations had declined under president Mokgweetsi Masisi’s regime;
President Masisi was accused of using the covid-19 pandemic to crack down on media and government critics; journalist's house raided on 17th July 2019 by officials from the Directorate of Security Services (DIS) agents Read more

Authorities accused of abusing COVID-19 restrictions to stifle expression despite improved ranking

Journalists continue to face physical and verbal attacks

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on the daily work of civil society organisations (CSOs), government has taken measures to assist the sector. Namely, the Ministry of Finance included CSOs as a separate group in the list of entities eligible for the economic measures under the Emergency Fiscal Package. During the reporting period, the Association of Journalists of Kosovo (AJK) documented several cases of physical and verbal attacks against journalists. Read more

Journalists continue to face physical and verbal attacks

Chilean police forces repress protests with COVID-19 regulations

On 18th March 2020, the Chilean government issued a decree that established an exceptional “state of catastrophe” for three months due to the coronavirus (COVID-19). The legislation also allowed the president to take further measures such as restrictions on gatherings in public spaces and individuals’ movement, quarantines or curfews. Read more

Chilean police forces repress protests with COVID-19 regulations

Government emergency measures increase policing powers

The Irish government introduced emergency powers to deal with the global pandemic. The legislation banned mass gatherings and made provision for the detention of people who are possible sources of COVID-19 who refuse to self-isolate. According to the Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL), the legislation contains a sunset clause and a ‘measure approach’ was adopted. However concerns were raised about the extended powers given to the police during the pandemic. In a letter to the police Commissioner, organisations raised several issues that had been reported to their office or in the media concerning policing during the pandemic. This included the deployment of armed police officers at checkpoints - in a country where historically police are unarmed - and ‘discrepancies’ related to the treatment of peaceful assemblies and strikes. In one protest, police began recording names of participants, which led to protesters feeling intimidated. Read more

Government emergency measures increase policing powers

Authorities intimidate protesters and silence critics using restrictive laws in Fiji

Over the last month, there were protests at the University of the South Pacific after the vice-chancellor was suspended because of his role in exposing mismanagement of funds and cronyism at the university. This was met by restrictions and intimidation by the authorities. Further, the judicial harassment of union activist Felix Anthony continues; a military commander justified restriction on freedom of expression during the pandemic; two people have been charged for misinformation and the office of two opposition parties were raided. Read more

Authorities intimidate protesters and silence critics using restrictive laws  in Fiji

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