harassment

Indigenous defender killed and others threatened and attacked in Guatemala

On 15th June 2020, Indigenous land defender Medardo Alonzo Lucero was found dead with signs of torture in Olopa, Chiquimula department. Read more

Indigenous defender killed and others threatened and attacked in Guatemala

Military forced to admit that journalist Samuel Wazizi died in custody, 10 months after his death

Under pressure from civil society groups following a news story by private television station Équinoxe Télévision, the Cameroonian military admitted in a statement read on the radio on 5th June 2020 that journalist Samuel Abuwe Ajieka, also known as Samuel Wazizi, had died on 17th August 2019 while he was in custody. Wazizi was arrested on 2nd August 2019, was never presented before a court, nor were his relatives or his lawyer informed of his whereabouts during the ten months since his arrest. The circumstances of Wazizi's death are unclear and disputed. Read more

Military forced to admit that journalist Samuel Wazizi died in custody, 10 months after his death

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

Concern as government punishes free expression

Government targets critics and those expressing opinion including John Sangwa a prominent lawyer disbarred after openly criticising government, media station Prime TV's licence cancelled Read more

Concern as government punishes free expression

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

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 used to curtail freedom of expression further

As in many parts of the world, in early 2020 Morocco adopted a state of health emergency to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. However, with the state of emergency came restrictions on freedom of expression, including imprisonment and fines for anyone who contravenes the health emergency decree, incites others to contravene the decree through speech or threats uttered in a public space or in meetings, written or printed materials, photos, posters, audiovisual or electronic communications, or any other means. In addition, the publication and distribution of print newspapers was suspended during the pandemic. The Council of Government also approved Bill 22-20 which aims to censor expression on social media, in particular, criminalising calls to boycott commercial products. During the pandemic, 110 citizens were detained for legitimately expressing their views. Police also arrested 450 individuals for breaking the public health emergency law and 56 for publishing false information on COVID-19.
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COVID-19 used to curtail freedom of expression further

Civic space restrictions continue unabated in Singapore despite COVID-19 pandemic, as election looms

In the past few months, Singapore has continued to crack down on lone protesters, sustained its use of the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act (POFMA) to restrict freedom of expression online and harassed individuals under Singapore’s contempt of court law Read more

Civic space restrictions continue unabated in Singapore despite COVID-19 pandemic, as election looms

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

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.

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