civic space

 

  • Reclaiming civic space: global challenges, local responses

    By Danny Sriskandarajah and Mandeep Tiwana 

    From attacks on human rights defenders to limits on civil society’s work, we are facing an emergency on civic space. As evidence from the CIVICUS Monitor suggests, threats to civic freedoms are no longer just happening in fragile states and autocracies, but also in more mature democracies. While there has been growing attention on how to respond to this phenomenon, we believe there needs to be more attention on underlying drivers and on supporting local responses. Civic space can’t be “saved” from the outside.  

    Read on: Open Global Rights

     

  • Repression in Paradise: Assault on fundamental freedoms in the Maldives

    The Maldives, an archipelago of islands in the Indian Ocean, was thrown into a political crisis on 1 February 2018 when the country's Supreme Court ordered the release and retrial of a group of opposition politicians, including exiled former president Mohamed Nasheed. President Yameen Abdul Gayoom refused to comply with the ruling, leading to mass protests in the capital, Malé.In response, the President declared a state of emergency, provided the security forces with sweeping powers and suspended constitutional rights. He also removed and arrested two Supreme Court judges.

     

  • Repression in Paradise: Rule of Law and Fundamental Freedoms Under Attack in The Maldives, says new report

    Media Release

    The Government of the Indian Ocean island nation of The Maldives is undermining the rule of law and intensifying a brutal crackdown on its critics.

    That’s the finding of a new report released today by global civil society alliance CIVICUS and Voice of Women (VoW), in a deepening crisis that has drawn international condemnation.  

    The Republic of Maldives is a nation made up of 26 coral atolls and 1,192 individual islands.

    The report marks exactly three months since the country’s Supreme Court ordered the release of scores of arrested opposition politicians and activists. 

    The government of Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom responded to the ruling by imposing a state of emergency and arresting two Supreme Court judges. 

    The report, entitled Repression in Paradise, highlights how the judiciary has been undermined through the judges’ arbitrary arrest, while scores of opposition politicians and activists face a variety of trumped up charges, ranging from bribery to terrorism. Local human rights groups have also documented the ill-treatment of these detainees in custody. 

    Over the last two months, the authorities have repressed all forms of dissent including violently breaking up peaceful demonstrations, arbitrarily arresting and detaining protesters, attacking journalists and threatening news organisations with closure.

    CIVICUS and VoW have condemned the acts of repression and called for an end to the crackdown and the immediate release of detainees.

    Said Josef Benedict, CIVICUS Asia-Pacific Research Officer: “The Maldives authorities must drop the baseless and politically-motivated criminal charges against the two Supreme court judges and release them, as well as all those who have been arbitrarily detained under the state of emergency, solely for exercising their democratic, human rights.”

    “Steps must also be taken to ensure that the judiciary can operate in an independent and transparent manner without interference,” said Benedict.

    During this crackdown, police have used unnecessary force to disperse peaceful demonstrations, in some case indiscriminately, using pepper spray and tear gas. At least a dozen journalists have been injured while covering protests, with reporters being arrested and ill-treated. The police also used unnecessary force to disperse peaceful demonstrations, in some case indiscriminately using pepper spray and tear gas.

    Said Mohamed Visham, a journalist at Avas News: “It is appalling that journalists and demonstrators have suffered violence from the police, simply for exercising the fundamental right to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly.”

    “The safety of journalists must be ensured at all times and authorities must launch prompt, impartial and independent investigations into all reports of unnecessary or excessive use of force by the police,” said Visham.

    Despite the hostile environment, human rights defenders and civil society organisations (CSOs) in the Maldives have bravely spoken out against these restrictions. CSOs have documented human rights violations and sought to expose them nationally and internationally. However, many Maldivians are seriously concerned that repression will prevent elections, due to be held later this year, from being free, fair and inclusive.

    “The international community cannot stand idly by and watch this onslaught on fundamental freedoms in the Maldives. In the lead up to the elections, key countries and international allies must call on the government to halt their attacks on the opposition and civil society and ensure that all institutions in the Maldives respect the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and freedom of expression,” said Aazima Rasheed, President of the Voice of Women (VoW).

    The space for civil society in The Maldives is rated as obstructed by the CIVICUS Monitor, an online platform that tracks threats to civic space in every country. An obstructed rating indicates that power holders contest civic space, undermine CSOs and constrain the fundamental civil society rights to freedom of association, peaceful assembly and expression.

    Note to Editors:
    Background on the crisis

    The Republic of Maldives, an archipelago of islands in the Indian Ocean, was thrown into a political crisis on 1st February, 2018 when the country's Supreme Court ordered the release and retrial of a group of opposition politicians, including exiled former president Mohamed Nasheed. President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom refused to comply with the ruling, leading to mass protests in the capital, Male. In response, President Yameen declared a state of emergency on 5th February, which gave the security forces sweeping powers and suspended constitutional rights. 

    While the state of emergency was lifted on 22nd March 2018, arrests of government critics have persisted. Maldives is due to hold its presidential elections later in 2018.

    In February, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein condemned the declaration of the state of emergency and raised concerns that the resulting suspension of constitutional guarantees would lead to a greater number of violations of the rights of people in the Maldives.

    On 16th April 2018, the UN Human Rights Committee found that restrictions on former President Nasheed’s right to stand for office violated his rights to political participation under Article 25 of the ICCPR and called on Maldives to restore this right. The government however has rejected this call.

    CIVICUS
    CIVICUS is an international alliance dedicated to strengthening citizen action and civil society around the world. In order to do so, we focus on protecting the rights of civil society, strengthening civil society good practices and increasing civil society’s influence.
    www.civicus.org 
    https://monitor.civicus.org/country/maldives/ 
    Twitter: @CIVICUSAlliance

    Voice of Women
    Voice of Women (VoW) is an non-governmental organisation officially registered in the Maldives since 2011. VoW focuses on empowering women; generating opportunities to effect change; promoting awareness on sustainable development, environment, and climate change; building respect for human rights and democracy in the Maldives; as well as documenting human rights violations, domestic violence, and sexual abuse in the Maldives.
    www.voiceofwomen.org 
    Twitter: @VofW

    For more information, or to arrange interviews, please contact:
    Josef Benedict
    josef.benedictATcivicus.org

    Grant Clark
    grant.clarkATcivicus.org
    +27 63 567 9719
     

     

  • Response to DFID Civil Society Partnership Review

    Many in civil society will mourn the loss of the PPA. DFID core funding helped build capable and confident organisations that were able to plan long-term and holistic interventions. Any new system will introduce new uncertainties and administrative burdens that will hamper the effectiveness of civil society.
     
    We do welcome DFID’s commitment to supporting a diverse range of civil society actors, especially smaller and Southern organisations, and to doing more to support civic space. The focus on feedback loops and new forms of accountability has the potential to yield some exciting and transformative change.

    - Dr Dhananjayan Sriskandarajah, Secretary General, CIVICUS, the global civil society alliance

    For further information and to request interviews, please contact .

     

  • Restrictions on Civic Space: A Global Emergency

    The world is facing a democratic crisis through unprecedented restrictions on the freedoms of expression, association and peaceful assembly which constitute a global emergency says global civil society alliance, CIVICUS’ 2017 report.

    The 2017 State of Civil Society Report highlights that around the world it is becoming increasingly dangerous to challenge power, and to do so risks reprisals. In several countries, right-wing populist and neo-fascist leaders have gained prominence by winning elections or commanding enough support to push their ideas into the mainstream. Their politics and worldview are fundamentally opposed to civil society seeking to promote human rights, social cohesion and progressive internationalism.

    Key points from the report, include:

    • Increasing attacks on civil society activists and organisations from repressive state apparatuses, extremist forces and criminal elements linked to businesses;
    • Just 3% of the world’s population lives in countries with ‘open’ civic space;
    • Recent political shifts indicate genuine anger from citizens about the impact of globalisation on their lives that have been harnessed by right wing populists; and
    • The challenge for civil society is not to dismiss that anger and but to build an alternative movement of hope, not fear that is respectful of human rights.

    The report notes that to the new right-wing populists, the international sphere is a dangerous source of progressive values that challenges their narrow notions of sovereignty. International institutions and the human rights values they represent are deemed intrusive. The Paris Agreement on climate change, for example, has been painted as obstructive to economic growth and put at risk by the current attitude of the US government. The leaders of Israel, the Philippines and the US have attacked the UN.  The governments of Burundi and South Africa have in the last year threatened to pull out of the International Criminal Court. Nowhere is the failure of multilateralism more apparent as in the Syrian crisis which has cost half a million lives and displaced half the country’s population, raising the spectre of impunity for war crimes being normalised.

    UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres characterized the current disregard for human rights, fuelled by rising populism and extremism, as a “disease that is spreading”. In the Philippines over 7000 people have been killed as a result of violence encouraged by President Rodrigo Duterte.  In Turkey, following an attempted coup, there are now sweeping restrictions on fundamental freedoms and civil society – some 195 media outlets have been shut down, 80 journalists have been imprisoned along with thousands of academics and others deemed as dissidents.

    CIVIC SPACE UNDER ATTACK

    A consistent pattern is emerging of attacks on civil society organisations (CSOs) and activists engaged in defending human rights and fundamental freedoms. Restrictive measures range from detentions, arrests and extrajudicial killings of activists to disenabling legislation to squeeze the funding and the functioning of CSOs as being experienced in Egypt. In Ethiopia,  more than 600 people have died in violent suppression of protests against economic and political marginalisation. Ethiopia’s civic space is rated as closed by the  CIVICUS Monitor, a new online platform that tracks civic space in every country.

    Some states, including in parts of Latin America and Eastern Europe, are now introducing laws to make it harder to hold protests. An example is Poland’s anti-terrorism law, passed in June 2016. It gives the state enhanced powers to ban public assemblies, along with increased surveillance and internet control powers. In Venezuela, protests are being met with brute force by government forces.

    Another significant trend has emerged over the past year: freedom of expression is being applied selectively. Dissent that serves right-wing populist agendas is encouraged; that which does not is to be dismissed or repressed. Increasingly, dissent is seen as a political act rather than a normal part of a functioning democracy. Methods range from attacks on journalists and activists to the shutting down of entire Internet or mobile phone networks, as experienced in Cameroon’s Anglophone region in the first quarter of 2017. These restrictive measures often increase during politically sensitive times, such as elections. The CIVICUS Monitor records 101 attacks on journalists, between June 2016 and March 2017. In some countries, such as Bangladesh and Pakistan, both extremist forces and an authoritarian state present a threat to freedom of expression.

    The report notes that the right to express democratic dissent needs to be asserted in many countries.

    A MOVEMENT OF HOPE NOT FEAR

    But the democracy of the street is alive and well. Around the world, whenever new leaders have come to power on polarizing right-wing populist platforms they have been met with major demonstrations - none have been bigger than those that mobilised as Sister Marches in the USA and around the world, against the politics of President Donald Trump. In South Korea, protests were intrinsic to the campaign that forced former president Park Guen-hye from office on corruption charges. From Romania to Brazil and South Africa, protests have been a key method for citizens to express dissatisfaction with governance dysfunction and corruption.

    The report calls on civil society to make the case for a new, progressive internationalism that has human rights at its heart, challenges exclusion and injustice while supporting an active citizenry.

    Civil society must also mount a new challenge to current practices of economic globalisation which further privileges elites, and the failures of political systems to give ordinary citizens voice. The response needs to understand the anger that people feel about their lives and livelihoods while being careful not to appease racism, sexism and xenophobia.  A positive message of hope rather than fear is needed. This requires building broad-based alliances that connect classic CSOs with protest movements, journalists, trade unions, youth groups, social enterprises and artists.

    ENDS

    Notes to Editors

    The full State of Civil Society Report 2017 can be found here.

    About CIVICUS’ 2017 State of Civil Society Report

    Each year the CIVICUS State of Civil Society Report examines the major events that involve and affect civil society around the world. Part one of our report reviews the past year, focusing on the space for civil society and the impact of a resurgence of right-wing populist politics; the right to express dissent; protest movements; and civil society’s international-level actions. Part two of the report has the special theme of ‘civil society and the private sector’.

    Our report is of, from and for civil society, drawing from a wide range of interviews with people close to the major stories of the day, a survey of members of our network of national and regional civil society coordination and membership bodies - the Affinity Group of National Associations (AGNA) - and 27 specially-commissioned guest articles on different aspects of the theme of civil society and the private sector. Most of our inputs come from civil society, but we also sought the views of people working in government and the private sector.

    Our report also draws from CIVICUS’ ongoing programme of research and analysis into the conditions for civil society. In particular, it presents findings from the CIVICUS Monitor, our new online platform that tracks the space for civil society - civic space - in every country, and the Enabling Environment National Assessments(EENA), a civil society-led analysis of legal, regulatory and policy environments.

    For further information or to request interviews with CIVICUS staff or contributors please contact

     

     

  • Rising Attacks on Environmental Defenders Threaten Human Rights Goals Globally

    By Inés Pousadela 

    “I have been told that my name is on a hit list…but I haven’t been killed yet.” These were the chilling words of Mzama Dlamini, a South African community activist, to a gathering of environmental defenders from all over the world. Many in the audience could personally relate.

    Read on: Diplomatic Courier

     

  • Russia’s presidential election: a decline in citizen rights

    By Natalia Taubina and Bobbie Jo Traut

    The re-election of Vladimir Putin has been preceded by a significant crackdown on freedom of assembly and rule of law. The CIVICUS Monitor, which tracks and rates civil society conditions across all UN member states in close to real-time, has found that civic space in Russia has closed dramatically as civil society groups have been publicly vilified and marginalised.

    Read on: Open Democracy 

     

     

  • Seis de cada diez países reprimen duramente las libertades cívicas

    Estos resultados se basan en los datos publicados hoy por el Monitor CIVICUS, un proyecto global de investigación colaborativo cuyo objetivo es la evaluación y el seguimiento del respeto de las libertades fundamentales en 196 países.

    CIVICUS acaba de publicar hoy People Power Under Attack 2018, un nuevo informe que pone de manifiesto que casi seis de cada diez países están restringiendo gravemente las libertades fundamentales de asociación, reunión pacífica y expresión de las personas. Esta proporción refleja la crisis continua a la que se enfrentan las organizaciones de la sociedad civil y los activistas de todo el mundo y, además, pone en relieve el hecho de que el espacio para el activismo cívico se ve con frecuencia socavado a través de la censura, los ataques contra periodistas y el acoso a defensores y defensoras de los derechos humanos.

    «Estos datos constituyen una señal de alerta. Dada la magnitud del problema, los líderes mundiales, incluido el G20 que se reúne esta semana, deben tomarse mucho más en serio la protección de las libertades cívicas», declaró Cathal Gilbert, director de investigación sobre el espacio cívico de CIVICUS. «En 2018 la sociedad civil fue testigo de la aplicación de varias innovaciones por parte de los Estados con el objetivo de erradicar y acallar las críticas de aquellos que se atreven a desafiar al poder».

    El informe se basa en datos del Monitor CIVICUS – un proyecto de investigación colaborativo – y muestra que la sociedad civil es objeto de graves ataques en 111 de los 196 países analizados, es decir, casi seis de cada diez países de todo el mundo. Esta cifra es superior a la de nuestra última actualización de marzo de 2018 en la cual se contabilizaban 109 países. En la práctica, esto significa que la represión del activismo cívico pacífico sigue teniendo nefastas consecuencias para la sociedad civil en todas partes del mundo, ya que sólo el 4 % de la población mundial vive en países donde los gobiernos respetan debidamente las libertades de asociación, reunión pacífica y expresión.

    La clasificación del espacio cívico de nueve países ha empeorado en esta última actualización mientras que ha mejorado la de otros siete. La situación se ha degradado en Austria, Azerbaiyán, Gabón, Kuwait, Italia, Nauru, Papúa Nueva Guinea, Tanzania y Senegal, y ha mejorado en Canadá, Ecuador, Etiopía, Gambia, Liberia, Lituania y Somalia.

    El informe People Power Under Attack 2018 también ofrece un análisis sobre los tipos de violaciones más frecuentes registradas en el Monitor CIVICUS durante los últimos dos años. A nivel mundial, los ataques contra periodistas y la censura representan los dos tipos de violaciones más comunes, lo que indica que los que tienen el poder están haciendo todo lo posible por controlar el discurso colectivo y reprimir la libertad de expresión. El hostigamiento de activistas y el uso excesivo de la fuerza por parte de las fuerzas de seguridad durante las manifestaciones son el tercero y cuarto tipo de violación más común registrada en el Monitor CIVICUS desde octubre de 2016.

    «Aunque existe una gran preocupación por la proliferación de leyes restrictivas y no sin razón, nuestros datos muestran que no son más que la punta del iceberg. Las medidas extrajudiciales, como los ataques contra periodistas o manifestantes, son mucho más comunes», declaró Gilbert. «Estas tácticas han sido concebidas de forma cínica y pretenden crear un efecto disuasivo y evitar que los demás se expresen o se conviertan en ciudadanos activos».

    Los datos publicados hoy por CIVICUS también traen buenas noticias. Tanto en los siete países en los que mejoró la clasificación del espacio cívico como en otros lugares, vemos pruebas claras de que el activismo pacífico puede obligar a los gobiernos represivos a seguir un camino diferente. En Etiopía, por ejemplo, tras años de disturbios y una fuerte represión de todas las formas de disidencia, el 2018 supuso un giro notable. El nuevo primer ministro, Abiy Ahmed, ha liberado a presos políticos, ha suavizado las restricciones impuestas sobre las comunicaciones electrónicas y ha logrado importantes avances en la reforma de algunas de las leyes más represivas del país. Los cambios en el liderazgo político en Gambia y el Ecuador también han conducido a un mejor entorno para el ejercicio de las libertades fundamentales.

    «Las recientes mejoras en Etiopía muestran lo que se puede lograr cuando existe voluntad política y cuando los líderes toman decisiones valientes para responder a los llamamientos de la sociedad civil», afirmó Gilbert. «Este debería ser un ejemplo para los países represivos de todo el mundo. Al eliminar las restricciones y proteger el espacio cívico, los países pueden aprovechar el verdadero potencial de la sociedad civil y acelerar su progreso en una gran cantidad de frentes».

    Más de veinte organizaciones colaboran en el Monitor CIVICUS con el objetivo de proporcionar una base empírica para llevar a cabo acciones destinadas a mejorar el espacio cívico en todos los continentes. El Monitor ha publicado más de 1 400 actualizaciones sobre el espacio cívico en los últimos dos años y dichos datos son analizados en el informe People Power Under Attack 2018. El espacio cívico de 196 países queda clasificado en una de las cinco categorías disponibles – cerrado, reprimido, obstruido, estrecho o abierto – siguiendo una metodología que combina varias fuentes de datos sobre las libertades de asociación, reunión pacífica y expresión.

     

  • Seis de cada diez países reprimen duramente las libertades cívicas

     

    Estos resultados se basan en los datos publicados hoy por el Monitor CIVICUS, un proyecto global de investigación colaborativo cuyo objetivo es la evaluación y el seguimiento del respeto de las libertades fundamentales en 196 países. 

    CIVICUS acaba de publicar hoy El Poder Ciudadano Bajo Ataque, un nuevo informe que pone de manifiesto que casi seis de cada diez países están restringiendo gravemente las libertades fundamentales de asociación, reunión pacífica y expresión de las personas. Esta proporción refleja la crisis continua a la que se enfrentan las organizaciones de la sociedad civil y los activistas de todo el mundo y, además, pone en relieve el hecho de que el espacio para el activismo cívico se ve con frecuencia socavado a través de la censura, los ataques contra periodistas y el acoso a defensores y defensoras de los derechos humanos. 

    centered image

    Estos resultados se basan en los datos publicados hoy por el Monitor CIVICUS, un proyecto global de investigación colaborativo cuyo objetivo es la evaluación y el seguimiento del respeto de las libertades fundamentales en 196 países. 

    CIVICUS acaba de publicar hoy El Poder Ciudadano Bajo Ataque, un nuevo informe que pone de manifiesto que casi seis de cada diez países están restringiendo gravemente las libertades fundamentales de asociación, reunión pacífica y expresión de las personas. Esta proporción refleja la crisis continua a la que se enfrentan las organizaciones de la sociedad civil y los activistas de todo el mundo y, además, pone en relieve el hecho de que el espacio para el activismo cívico se ve con frecuencia socavado a través de la censura, los ataques contra periodistas y el acoso a defensores y defensoras de los derechos humanos. 

    El informe se basa en datos del Monitor CIVICUS – un proyecto de investigación colaborativo – y muestra que la sociedad civil es objeto de graves ataques en 111 de los 196 países analizados, es decir, casi seis de cada diez países de todo el mundo. Esta cifra es superior a la de nuestra última actualización de marzo de 2018 en la cual se contabilizaban 109 países. En la práctica, esto significa que la represión del activismo cívico pacífico sigue teniendo nefastas consecuencias para la sociedad civil en todas partes del mundo, ya que sólo el 4 % de la población mundial vive en países donde los gobiernos respetan debidamente las libertades de asociación, reunión pacífica y expresión.

    La clasificación del espacio cívico de nueve países ha empeorado en esta última actualización mientras que ha mejorado la de otros siete. La situación se ha degradado en Austria, Azerbaiyán, Gabón, Kuwait, Italia, Nauru, Papúa Nueva Guinea, Tanzania y Senegal, y ha mejorado en Canadá, Ecuador, Etiopía, Gambia, Liberia, Lituania y Somalia. 

    El informe El Poder Ciudadano Bajo Ataque, también ofrece un análisis sobre los tipos de violaciones más frecuentes registradas en el Monitor CIVICUS durante los últimos dos años. A nivel mundial, los ataques contra periodistas y la censura representan los dos tipos de violaciones más comunes, lo que indica que los que tienen el poder están haciendo todo lo posible por controlar el discurso colectivo y reprimir la libertad de expresión. El hostigamiento de activistas y el uso excesivo de la fuerza por parte de las fuerzas de seguridad durante las manifestaciones son el tercero y cuarto tipo de violación más común registrada en el Monitor CIVICUS desde octubre de 2016.

    «Aunque existe una gran preocupación por la proliferación de leyes restrictivas y no sin razón, nuestros datos muestran que no son más que la punta del iceberg. Las medidas extrajudiciales, como los ataques contra periodistas o manifestantes, son mucho más comunes», declaró Belalba.. «Estas tácticas han sido concebidas de forma cínica y pretenden crear un efecto disuasivo y evitar que los demás se expresen o se conviertan en ciudadanos activos».

    Los datos publicados hoy por CIVICUS también traen buenas noticias. Tanto en los siete países en los que mejoró la clasificación del espacio cívico como en otros lugares, vemos pruebas claras de que el activismo pacífico puede obligar a los gobiernos represivos a seguir un camino diferente. En Etiopía, por ejemplo, tras años de disturbios y una fuerte represión de todas las formas de disidencia, el 2018 supuso un giro notable. El nuevo primer ministro, Abiy Ahmed, ha liberado a presos políticos, ha suavizado las restricciones impuestas sobre las comunicaciones electrónicas y ha logrado importantes avances en la reforma de algunas de las leyes más represivas del país. Los cambios en el liderazgo político en Gambia y el Ecuador también han conducido a un mejor entorno para el ejercicio de las libertades fundamentales. 

    «Las recientes mejoras en Etiopía muestran lo que se puede lograr cuando existe voluntad política y cuando los líderes toman decisiones valientes para responder a los llamamientos de la sociedad civil», afirmó Belalba. «Este debería ser un ejemplo para los países represivos de todo el mundo. Al eliminar las restricciones y proteger el espacio cívico, los países pueden aprovechar el verdadero potencial de la sociedad civil y acelerar su progreso en una gran cantidad de frentes».

    Más de veinte organizaciones colaboran en el Monitor CIVICUS con el objetivo de proporcionar una base empírica para llevar a cabo acciones destinadas a mejorar el espacio cívico en todos los continentes. El Monitor ha publicado más de 1,400 actualizaciones sobre el espacio cívico en los últimos dos años y dichos datos son analizados en el informe El Poder Ciudadano Bajo Ataque. El espacio cívico de 196 países queda clasificado en una de las cinco categorías disponibles – cerradoreprimido,obstruido ,estrecho orabierto – siguiendo una metodología que combina varias fuentes de datos sobre las libertades de asociación, reunión pacífica y expresión. 

     

  • Serbia’s Civic Space Downgraded

    The downgrade is based on an assessment of conditions for the exercise of the freedoms of association, peaceful assembly and expression on the CIVICUS Monitor.

    CIVICUS has today downgraded Serbia’s civic space rating from Narrowed to Obstructed. The decision was taken following a thorough assessment of the state of civic freedoms in the country as protected by international law. The downgrade follows CIVICUS’ regular monitoring of the situation with our members and partners, after the government has taken a number of steps to restrict the work of independent journalists and civil society groups. The decision comes after over two years of rule by the Serbian Progressive Party (SNS), during which the space for civil society has come under concerted attack. The cumulative impact of threats, smears and the threat of physical attacks against civil society have led to the Serbia’s downgrade in the CIVICUS Monitor. An Obstructed rating indicates a situation where the state imposes a variety of legal and extra-legal restrictions on civil society through demeaning statements and bureaucratic restrictions.

    “The Serbian government appears intent on turning its back on civic freedoms, by allowing and enabling numerous abuses against civil society to go unpunished,” said Dominic Perera, Civic Space Research Advisor at CIVICUS. “Serbia has witnessed a steady decline in civic space through smear campaigns and threats directed at critics of the government coupled with a worryingly sharp increase in attacks against journalists.”

    The downgrade takes place against the backdrop of widespread protests which took place across Serbia for much of 2019. In this environment, the government has ramped up tactics designed to intimidate those who question power holders, especially on contentious issues such as corruption. Instead of conducting thorough and impartial investigations into abuses of power, public officials have doubled down on their efforts to publicly discredit journalists and organisations working to promote social justice. This includes several prominent members of the SNS party openly accusing anti-corruption activists of working to promote foreign interests for acting as government watchdogs.

    Freedom of expression has also experienced a rapid decline, with the number of attacks against journalists doubling since 2016, rising to 77 separate incidents in 2018 alone. This is further compounded by the government’s appropriation of media outlets, which has led to a situation where investigative journalists and news programmes have been mysteriously taken off air or fired. This alarming combination of tactics signals a closure of spaces for independent dissent.

    Meanwhile, the number of government-affiliated NGOs has soared. These state sponsored organisations often orchestrate smear campaigns against independent organisations and activists which criticise the government.

    “CIVICUS calls on the Serbian authorities to halt the erosion of spaces for dissent”, said Perera. “We call on the government to engage in a meaningful dialogue with civil society and to heed the calls of civil society and the EU to promote an enabling environment for civil society.”

    Serbia is now rated Obstructed on the CIVICUS Monitor. Visit Serbia’s homepage for more information and check back regularly for the latest updates. In December 2019, CIVICUS will release People Power Under Attack 2019 - a global analysis on the threats and trends facing civil society in 196 countries.

     

  • SINGAPORE: ‘Opposition parties were given unfavourable coverage by the state media and had difficulty accessing voters’

    CIVICUS speaks to human rights defender Jolovan Wham about the recent elections in Singapore, which were held in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. TheCIVICUS Monitor has documented the use of restrictive laws in Singapore against civil society activists, human rights defenders, lawyers, independent online media outlets and members of the political opposition, who face prosecution, including through defamation suits and contempt of court charges.

    Jolovan Wham

     

    Has there been any disagreement around whether elections should be held, when, or how?

    Yes. Opposition parties were largely against it as the COVID-19 pandemic had not abated and holding the elections might pose a public health threat. They were also concerned that physical rallies and door-to-door visits would be disallowed, which would hinder their campaign efforts.

    And indeed, it was more difficult to connect face to face with voters when a one-metre distance had to be maintained during walkabouts and door-to-door visits. Everyone had to give their speeches and connect with voters online.

    Some changes were introduced so elections would proceed in the context of the pandemic. Voting time was extended by two hours to take the longer queues caused by social distancing into consideration. But the possibility of online voting was not discussed. And older people and those who were frail may have not participated for fear of getting infected with COVID-19.

    What was the state of civic freedoms ahead of the elections?

    The ruling People’s Action Party’s (PAP) control of all public institutions is a major civic freedom issue. It means it gets to shape the political discourse according to its agenda and set the rules of the game to its advantage. For example, the elections department, which draws electoral boundaries, reports to the prime minister himself. Most civil society groups are afraid of engaging in the elections in a meaningful way for fear of being seen as ‘partisan’. If a civil society association is associated with an opposition party, it may lose funding, support and patronage for its work.

    A recent report by the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) Parliamentarians for Human Rights documented structural flaws that prevented the election from being fair, including the prime minister’s broad powers over the entire electoral process without any effective oversight. The environment in which the Singaporean people were able to exercise their right to participate in public life was heavily restricted. Key opposition candidates had been targeted with lawsuits by members of the PAP, and voters in opposition-led constituencies fear reprisals for not voting for the PAP. Fundamental freedoms, which are intrinsically linked to free elections, are limited as the government controls the media and uses restrictive laws against dissenting and critical voices.

    How did this affect the chances of the opposition?

    Opposition candidates and parties had to rely solely on social media to get their message out, because of unfavourable coverage by state media. They also had difficulty accessing voters because of the PAP’s monopoly, manipulation and control of national grassroots groups, unions and organisations, on top of the difficulties involved in holding physical rallies in the context of the pandemic.

    The elections were held on 10 July. The PAP secured 83 parliamentary seats but faced a setback as the opposition made minor but historic gains. The Workers’ party, the only opposition party in parliament, increased its seats from six to 10 – the biggest result for the opposition since independence. The PAP popular vote dipped to 61 per cent.

    What were the main issues the campaign revolved around?

    For the PAP, the campaign revolved around smearing opposition candidates, accusing them of peddling falsehoods and of having nefarious agendas and engaging in character assassination. Scaremongering tactics were also used: the electorate were told that only the PAP could get Singaporeans out of the COVID-19 pandemic and that having more opposition members in parliament would thwart these efforts.

    Opposition parties, on the other hand, focused on telling the electorate that they were in danger of being wiped out of parliament as they held fewer than 10 elected seats out of almost 90. Issues such as the high cost of living and immigration were other key issues raised by the opposition.

    Civic space in Singapore is rated as ‘obstructed’ by theCIVICUS Monitor.

     

  • Six countries added to watchlist of countries where civic freedoms are under serious threat

    • Bangladesh, Maldives, Cameroon, DRC, Guatemala, Nicaragua join global watchlist
    • Escalating rights violations include killings, attacks on protesters, media, opposition
    • Neighbours, international community must pressure governments to end repression

    Six countries in Asia, Latin America and Africa have been added to a watchlist of countries which have seen an escalation in serious threats to fundamental freedoms in recent weeks and months.

    The new watchlist released by the CIVICUS Monitor, an online platform that tracks threats to civil society across the globe, identifies growing concerns in Bangladesh,  Maldives, CameroonDemocratic Republic of the Congo (DRC)Guatemala, and Nicaragua. Activists and civil society organisations in these countries are currently experiencing a severe infringement of civic freedoms, as protected by international law.

    Violations include brutal attacks by police on peaceful protests in Nicaragua and Bangladesh; the murder of human rights defenders in Guatemala; the killing of protesters and a brutal state campaign against activists and the political opposition in the DRC; and the prosecution of human rights defenders and journalists on fabricated charges in Cameroon, amidst an escalating civil conflict.

    “It is deeply concerning to see escalated threats to basic rights in these countries,” said Cathal Gilbert, CIVICUS Civic Space Research Lead.

    “It is crucial that these six governments wake up to their failure to respect international law and take swift action to respect their citizens’ most basic freedoms in a democratic society,” Gilbert said.

    “We also call upon neighbouring states and international bodies to do put pressure on these countries to end the repression.”

    Over the past year, authorities in Bangladesh have used repressive laws to target and harass journalists and human rights defenders, restrict freedom of assembly and carry out the enforced disappearances of opposition supporters. The human rights situation has deteriorated further ahead of national elections scheduled for late 2018. Members of the Bangladesh Chhatra League (BCL), the student wing of the ruling party Bangladesh Awami League (BAL), have attacked student activists, academics and journalists with impunity.

    In Nicaragua, at least 300 people have been killed since protests began in April 2018, with hundreds more kidnapped or missing. The demonstrations were initially sparked by regressive changes to the social security system but grew to include calls for President Daniel Ortega to resign in the wake of his brutal repression of peaceful protests. While large-scale marches have subsided in recent days, some continue amid a tense political situation as the Ortega government continues to silence critics despite agreements struck with international bodies, and an undertaking to allow an IACHR investigation into the violence. Attacks on protestors are perpetrated both by state forces and armed groups aligned with the government.

    This year, between January and July alone, at least 18 human rights defenders (HRDs) were killed in Guatemala. There were also two assassination attempts and 135 other attacks, with 32 of those aimed at women HRDs. In early August, United Nations Special Rapporteurs issued a statement raising the alarm at the spike in killings in 2018. Reports from Guatemala indicate that the space for civil society has worsened due to land disputes and actions by corporate interests, the source of targeted violence against specific groups of activists.

    Despite the announcement that Congolese president Joseph Kabila will not run for a third term, tensions are still high in the DRC, ahead of scheduled elections in December.  In recent months, protestors, youth movements, human rights defenders, journalists and the political opposition have all faced widespread state repression, including arrests. In June this year, CSOs and UN Special Rapporteurs expressed serious concerns about a planned new law that would give authorities power to dissolve non-governmental organisations (NGOs) over public order or national security concerns.

    In Maldives, a widespread crackdown on dissent began in February 2018 when a court ordered the release of opposition leaders. This decision led to the arbitrary arrest of judges, scores of opposition politicians and activists as well as the use of unnecessary force by police to disperse peaceful demonstrations. There are also documented cases of people being ill-treated in detention. With elections due on 23rd September 2018, civic space is likely to become increasingly contested. Already in May 2018, the Electoral Commission moved to bar four opposition leaders from running in the upcoming presidential elections.

    In Cameroon, an escalating conflict in the country’s Anglophone regions between armed separatists and the government has sparked a mounting humanitarian crisis. It began as protests in 2016, resulting in state repression of protests and the arrest and prosecution of protest leaders. The conflict intensified in recent months with killings and human rights violations committed by both sides. At least 100 civilians, 43 security officers and an unknown number of armed separatists have reportedly been killed, according to an International Crisis Group report. NGOs and human rights defenders have also been targeted.

    In the coming weeks, the CIVICUS Monitor will closely track developments in each of these countries as part of efforts to ensure greater pressure is brought to bear on governments. CIVICUS calls upon these governments to do everything in their power to immediately end the ongoing crackdowns and ensure that perpetrators are held to account.

    ENDS.

    For more information, please contact:

    Cathal Gilbert

    Grant Clark

     

  • SPAIN: ‘Democratic rules are being used to promote an anti-rights ideology’

    CIVICUS speaks about the recent election in Spain with Núria Valls, president of the Ibero-American League of Civil Society Organisations (Liga Iberoamericana), a platform that brings together 29 civil society organisations from 17 Ibero-American countries, specialising in human, social and community development. Legally incorporated in Spain, the Ibero-American League has worked on childhood, youth, education and labour issues from a human rights perspective for 20 years, by providing advice to governments, monitoring and evaluating programmes and building networks and doing public policy advocacy at the local, domestic and international levels.

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    What were the causes of the political instability that required Spain to hold two elections in 2019?

    The widespread rejection of the political system that was established following the transition from dictatorship to democracy in the 1970s led to a significant deterioration of the two traditional parties: the Spanish Socialist Workers Party (PSOE) and the Popular Party (PP). These political parties were very used to bipartisanship and ruling with the support of large majorities. When other parties appeared on stage, pacts and coalitions became necessary, which until then had only been a feature of local politics. It became necessary to include more minority parties and nationalist parties from the country’s periphery, which does not always pay electorally.

    In addition, the political conflict in Catalonia had radicalised the positions of parties present at the state level, which entered into a sort of competition to show who was the most Spanish. Even leftist parties do not dare to speak in recognition of Spain’s national plurality because the media, and particularly those from the capital, Madrid, criticise them aggressively.

    In the first elections of 2019, held in May, the PSOE felt uncomfortable when negotiating with the leftist and independent parties that had supported the motion of censure leading to the replacement of the conservative government led by the PP. On top of this, the personal ambitions of the leaders of both the PSOE and Unidas Podemos, the left-wing coalition formed in 2016 by the Podemos political movement and several other political forces, made a pact impossible at that time.

    The PSOE misread the polls and believed that a second election would give them the majority, and therefore the possibility of governing alone. But ahead of the November elections, people were angry because, as they saw it, due to their leaders’ personal egos parties had not done their job, and instead had made us waste time and money. All of this further deepened dissatisfaction with politics.

    Would you say that the extreme right party Vox benefited from this?

    Vox was one of the parties that benefited the most from the second election. It doubled its number of votes and became the third most represented party, with 52 seats, right behind the two major parties.

    Traditionally in Spain it was considered that there was no extreme right because the PP encompassed the entire right wing. But Vox emerged with great force and with a Francoist, aggressive anti-human rights discourse, presenting itself as the guarantor of the unity of Spain against separatism. In fact, the way the situation in Catalonia has been handled has been a breeding ground for the acceptance of increasingly right-wing discourse, justified in the need to preserve the unity of Spain.

    Another electoral result worth mentioning is that of Ciudadanos, a seemingly liberal party, which not long ago thought it would soon be in government, but which practically disappeared given its meagre results. Ciudadanos had focused its discourse on territorial conflict and on the unity of Spain. Voters who prioritised this issue preferred Vox, which has a more radical stance.

    Despite the good results obtained by Vox, however, it was the left that won the elections and this time they worked fast. In just 24 hours a pact between the PSOE and Unidas Podemos was forged, which had previously been impossible to achieve. Citizens found it hard to understand why what a few months ago had been impossible was now possible. But what is important is that the formation of a government was prioritised against the feeling of instability and paralysis that has prevailed in recent years. Faced with this broad pact among leftist parties, the right wing reacted with a very aggressive discourse, strongly rooted in the Francoist tradition.

    Finally, due to the abstention of Catalan pro-independence parties, it was possible to form a government. Governing will not be easy, but it promises to be a very interesting experience, which offers the possibility of creating change. It will be a very broad government, with 22 ministerial portfolios, notably characterised by gender parity.

    How would you characterise Vox as a political force and ideological trend?

    Vox is a far-right party that does not hide its xenophobic anti-human rights discourse. It prioritises two major issues: the unity and centralisation of Spain, and the elimination of gender policies.

    This is a worrying phenomenon that is not only happening in Spain. Extreme right parties arise in times of citizen frustration in the face of economic and social inequalities in a globalised world. There is an international movement – which spans Brazil, France, Italy, Norway, the USA and many other countries – that focuses on stigmatising and criminalising migration and so-called ‘gender ideology’. The support for these speeches by some religious congregations should also be analysed.

    These parties use democracy’s rules to promote an anti-human rights ideology. It is paradoxical that democracy, which was born under the values ​​of participation and respect for rights, is currently being used to strengthen and foster an ideology that is totally opposed to those values.

    How did this right turn take place just a few years after so many people had taken part in protests for economic and social justice?

    An element of this turn has to do with the anger that a section of the population feels toward politics. Corruption of political parties has had a great impact on society, as people think that politicians are in politics only to enrich themselves. There is no idea of politics in the broader sense as linked to the common good.

    In particular, there is a bloc of young people who see a very difficult future for themselves. They have very low expectations and view a vote for Vox is an anti-system choice. This is the vote of those who think that migration will deprive them of jobs and state resources, and that gender policies are an exaggeration. Vox is very apt at using social media with direct messages often based on falsehoods but that are reaching the population.

    The territorial conflict between Spain and Catalonia has also functioned as a catalyst for this anger. The message of ‘we’ll go after them (‘A por ellos’) used to despatch police units from the rest of Spain towards Catalonia to try to prevent the referendum on 1 October 2017, later reinforced by a message from the King, aroused an anti-Catalan sentiment. The right bloc, and especially Vox, appropriated the defence of the monarchy against republican leftist parties.

    How is this process being experienced by civil society? Do you think that the space for civil society is being degraded in Spain?

    Organised civil society was caught a little off guard. On the one hand, we did not believe that electoral support for Vox would be so strong, and on the other hand, we had a debate about whether we should respond to them, and therefore give them more media coverage, or whether it was best to ignore them. The second option prevailed, among political parties as well. And the strategy of ignoring them contributed to the increase in votes for Vox. There was nobody left to respond to their expressions bluntly and with clear arguments.

    Now civil society debate revolves around the need to defend human rights clearly and forcefully and respond to any expression that hurts or stigmatises any population group.

    In the territories where it is governing together with the PP and Ciudadanos, such as Andalusia, Madrid and Murcia, one of Vox's first actions has been to press for the end of aid to organisations working with women or vulnerable groups.

    We are experiencing a risk of regression in freedoms and therefore it is necessary for us to work in a more united way than ever as civil society. A clear communication strategy must be developed to reach all people. Often we in civil society remain locked in our own spheres and find it hard to take our message beyond our circles.

    Another strategy used by the right wing, and especially by Vox and the PP, is to use the justice system to settle political disagreements. Much of the judiciary in Spain is still very ideological, since many conservative judges remain as heirs of the Franco regime. As a result, sentences have abounded against the freedom of expression on social media, including censorship of songs. And many people have also been convicted for protesting publicly, especially in Catalonia.

    How has the situation in Catalonia evolved since the 2017 referendum?

    The referendum of 1 October 2017 was an act of empowerment by a section of the Catalan population that participated very actively, with a collective sentiment of civil disobedience, to achieve a better future against a state that did all it could to prevent it from happening. The violent state repression unleashed during the referendum and afterwards increased the collective feeling of a big section of the population in favour of independence, and especially in favour of the right to decide through elections.

    After the referendum, repression against Catalan pro-independence groups increased, and the state put all its police and judicial machinery in motion. In addition, it launched article 155 of the Constitution, which provides the state with a coercive mechanism to bind the autonomous communities that breach constitutional or legal obligations or seriously undermine Spain’s ‘general interest’. Article 155 suspended the autonomy of Catalonia from 27 October 2017 until 2 June 2018, when new regional elections were held. It amounted to almost a year of political, financial and administrative paralysis in Catalonia.

    Previously, on 16 October 2017, the leaders of the two most representative Catalan pro-independence groups, Jordi Cuixart and Jordi Sánchez, had been imprisoned for mediating in a spontaneous and peaceful demonstration in front of a building of the Generalitat, the Catalan government, where the police were conducting a search. They were imprisoned preventively, with no possibility of release before their trial.

    Following these arrests, judicial repression against the government of Catalonia increased, culminating in the detention of the vice president and five government ministers plus the president of the parliament of Catalonia, all of whom were placed in pre-trial detention. For his part, the president of the Generalitat went into exile in Belgium along with four more ministers, and two other politicians went into exile in Switzerland. The government of Spain made statements affirming that it had decapitated the pro-independence movement.

    This entire judicial and repressive process further complicated the political situation in Catalonia. The ruling issued on 14 October 2019, which sentenced independence leaders to prison terms of between nine and 13 years, amounting to a total of 100 years, caused new street protests to break out.

    Unlike all previous pro-independence demonstrations since 2012, the latest protests caused many riots and faced police repression. In addition, young people were the protagonists and adopted a more radical attitude towards repression. In that context, the anonymous Democratic Tsunami movement emerged. Inspired by the Hong Kong protests, this movement uses social media to call for large peaceful mobilisations in various locations, such as the border or the airport. The police have tried to discover who is behind this movement, but it really is just an instance of collective empowerment by pro-independence civil society.

    At present, following the latest Spanish elections in which the PSOE and Unidas Podemos required the abstention of the pro-independence party Republican Left of Catalonia to be able to form a government, the picture has changed. The government has pledged to initiate a dialogue with the government of Catalonia and to bring any agreements reached through dialogue to a citizen vote. This will not be easy because right-wing parties, using any judicial remedy at their disposal, are trying to boycott the process. An effort must be made to find a solution for the situation of pro-independence prisoners that facilitates a peaceful and political way out and allows a process of real dialogue to begin.

    Civic space in Spain is rated as ‘narrowed’ by theCIVICUS Monitor.
    Get in touch with La Liga Iberoamericana through itswebsite andFacebook page, or follow@LigaIberoamOSC on Twitter.

     

     

  • Squeezing civil society hurts India’s economy and democracy

    By Mandeep Tiwana

    India played a key moral role in international affairs during the anti-colonial struggles and as a founding member of the Non-Aligned Movement during the cold war. What happened then?

    Read on: Open Democracy

     

     

  • Sri Lanka government must respect the rule of law and protect civic space

    CIVICUS, the global civil society alliance and The Innovation for Change South Asia Hub are extremely concerned about the political crisis in Sri Lanka and its impact on the rule of law and civic space in the country.

    We are gravely concerned that President Maithripala Sirisena has undermined the rule of law by unconstitutionally removing the sitting Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and replacing him with former President and current Member of Parliament Mahinda Rajapaksa overnight. Rajapaksa’s administration was implicated in serious violations during the final stages of Sri Lanka’s civil war and the suppression of freedoms of the media, expression, and association.

    This was followed by a decision to undemocratically suspend Parliament denying Members of Parliament, who exercise sovereignty on the peoples’ behalf, the ability to assemble at this crucial time. We demand that the Parliament be reconvened immediately allowing representatives of the people to decide the way forward and to prevent the nation from plunging into a state of political instability and impunity.

    Our organisations are also alarmed by reports of the forcible take-over of state media institutions and intimidation of journalists disrupting the free flow of information to the public. We condemn such actions and call on the authorities to ensure that press freedom, a crucial component of a democracy is respected.

    We are also concerned that these political developments may put the civic freedom of Sri Lankans at risk. Citizens must be allowed to exercise their rights to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association.

    We hope that Sri Lanka’s democratic gains of the past several years will not be lost and we stand in solidarity with civil society and human rights defenders from Sri Lanka at this difficult time.

    Contact:

    Omid Salman (I4C South Asia Communications Specialist):

    Josef Benedict (CIVICUS Research officer):

     

  • Statement at the UN Human Rights Council: Global trends on civic space

    37th Session of the Human Rights Council
    Oral statement

    Across the globe, CIVICUS has observed a pattern of judicial persecution, smear campaigns, threats, intimidation, physical assaults and killings targeting human rights defenders.

    We remain deeply concerned by the relentless and unwarranted restrictions on fundamental freedoms and attacks on civil society leaders, members of unions and members of the political opposition that have expressed criticism of government policies and practices.

    These attacks are particularly prevalent before, during and after politically charged periods like elections as recently observed in Gabon, where the movements of members of the political opposition and threats to human rights defenders have continued after the violence that followed the 2016 elections. Sadly, this is a trend we observe in many countries.

    We are alarmed by the growing tendency of states to use restrictive legislation and policies to pre-empt peaceful protests by citizens and civil society under the pretext of national security.

    Many states deploy armed security forces who use violence and live ammunition to disperse demonstrations. Protesters are killed and some are injured. As observed in Benin, these actions are often followed by arrests and detention of protesters, some of whom have reported being tortured.

    We call on states to uphold and protect the rights of citizens to freely assemble and express themselves in line with national and international human rights standards.

     

  • Statement to the UN High Commissioner on Human Rights: Countries on the civic space watchlist

    37th Session of the Human Rights Council
    Oral statement at Interactive Dialogue with UN High Commissioner on Human Rights

    CIVICUS commends the High Commissioner for his report, and for his commitment to standing alongside victims of the world's most egregious human rights violations by continuously bringing attention of their plight to this Council.

    Mr President, CIVICUS shares the High Commissioner's grave concern over growing restrictions on civic space in Cambodia, Cameroon, Poland, Tanzania and Honduras. We note that these five countries have been placed on the CIVICUS Monitor's Watch List, which draws attention to countries where there are serious and ongoing threats to civic space.

    In Cameroon, reports of renewed violence against protesters have emerged as the authorities have shut down internet access in Anglophone regions of the country. The government has also taken sharp measures to control and limit freedom of expression by suspending journalists’ activities and radio and television stations’ operations.

    In the run-up to Cambodia’s 2018 general elections, the government has attempted to silence the opposition and suppress civic space, shutting down independent media and arresting activists. Repression of dissenting voices makes it highly unlikely that elections will take place in a transparent and democratic manner.

    Poland’s current trajectory has caused grave concern as the government seeks to restrict civil and political freedoms and control the judiciary and civil society organisations. Worringly, a new body closely related to the office of the president has been created to control the flow of funding to civil society organisations, which could result in only pro-government groups being funded.

    Peaceful protests following Honduras´ recent elections, which were criticised by the opposition and international observers, were met by security forces using excessive force. Several protesters were killed and many others injured and arbitrarily detained.

    Tanzania has remained on the Monitor Watch List and CIVICUS echoes the High Commissioner’s concern over the authorities’ unrelenting attacks on the media, civil society and the LGBTI community in particular.

    Mr President, restrictions on civic space are often a bellwether for further violations of human rights and allow states to act with impunity. CIVICUS asks the High Commissioner how his office intends to support local civil society fighting for human rights on the ground to respond to this global crackdown.

     

  • Strict legal restrictions on foreign funding hit India’s NGOs

    CIVICUS interviews Mathew Jacob on the restrictions on freedom of association and attacks on civil society in India including laws on foreign funding. Jacob is the National Coordinator of Human Rights Defenders Alert – India (HRDA). HRDA is a national platform of human rights defenders for human rights defenders. Mathew is also a PhD scholar at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai. 

     

  • Tanzania, Kenya, Angola Join Watch List of Countries of Concern

    Attacks by the authorities on protesters, critics, NGOs and the media in Angola, Kenya and Tanzania have led global civil alliance, CIVICUS, to add the nations to its Watch List of countries where there are serious and ongoing threats to civic space.

    The updated Watch List, which is regularly reviewed in response to current events, was released today.

     

  • Tanzania: upsurge in restrictions on fundamental freedoms

    Tanzania has been placed on a watch list of countries in which there are growing and worrying threats to civic space. The country is rated as obstructed on the CIVICUS Monitor, a global platform tracking civic violations around the world, who issue a quarterly watch list to highlight ongoing concerns in countries demonstrating worrying trends.