freedom of association

 

  • Alert: Continued deterioration of democratic institutions in Venezuela

    Spanish

    Global civil society alliance, CIVICUS and the International Service for Human Rights (ISHR) are deeply concerned about the continuing deterioration of democratic institutions in Venezuela. On 28 and 29 March 2017, the Constitutional Chamber of Venezuela’s Supreme Court (TSJ) issued rulings No. 155 and 156 by which it declared the National Assembly in contempt of court, stripped legislators of parliamentary immunity, and assumed congressional powers as well as the prerogative to delegate them to whoever it decided, namely the Office of the President.

    In practice, many civil society organisations in Venezuela have expressed an opinion that these rulings amounted to an attempted coup against the legislative branch of government, a fundamental pillar of democratic institutions and the embodiment of the people’s right to be represented in the arena where key decisions concerning their lives and rights are made. Similarly, the Venezuelan Attorney General considered these decisions represent a rupture of the Constitutional order.

    The latest developments are the culmination of a several years’ long process of erosion of congressional authority which has plunged the country into a deep social crisis. Through the past year and a half, the TSJ issued more than 50 rulings that undermined the functions of the National Assembly and conferred unlimited powers onto the executive branch of the state. This is the reason why the backing down by the TSJ on its latest rulings did not amount to a restoration of the separation of powers and the rule of law. The fact that this reversal was executed at the executive’s request further emphasised the judiciary’s lack of independence and the on-going degradation of Venezuelan republican institutions.

    Over the years, the erosion of constitutional checks and balances and the resulting political polarisation have progressed hand in hand with increasing restrictions on civic freedoms, namely the rights to freedom of association, expression and peaceful assembly without which an empowered and enabled civil society cannot exist.

    In turn, the increasing concentration of decision-making powers in the executive leadership has led to serious policy-making failures, thereby intensifying rather than resolving the social crisis facing the country, including acute shortages of food and other basic goods, challenges with the public health system and a spike in street violence which disproportionately affects impoverished communities. We are also concerned about state repression against individuals and civil society groups when they speak up, organise and protest about their troubles.

    In the face of this multidimensional crisis, we call on Venezuelan Government to:

    • Restore the constitutionally defined functions and resources of the National Assembly as well as the prerogatives of its members, devolve the extraordinary powers conferred onto the executive by subsequent TSJ rulings, and introduce measures to guarantee the independence of the judiciary.
    • Repeal the current state of exception, established through an executive decree, and comply with human rights commitments under international law to guarantee basic enabling conditions for human rights defenders and civil society organisations. 
    • Guarantee the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and association, and of expression. Security forces must refrain from the use of force against, or the arbitrary arrest of peaceful protestors.
    • Engage in dialogue with relevant national actors, including civil society, to resolve the current crisis; and ensure access to food and medicine for the entire population.

    We also urge the international community and in particular, the Organization of American States and its members to assist in resolution of the social and political crisis facing Venezuela.

    Contact:
    Eleanor Openshaw, ISHR NY Office: +1 212 490 2199,
    Inés Pousadela, CIVICUS Policy and Research: +598 2901 1646,

     

  • Amid COVID-19, what is the health of civic freedoms?

    By Marianna Belalba Barreto, Civic Space Research Lead at CIVICUS and Aarti Narsee, Civic Space Research Officer

    More than half a year after the World Health Organization declared the COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic, governments are continuing to waste precious time and energy restricting human rights rather than focusing on fighting the virus. Civic freedoms, including the freedom to associate, express views and peacefully assemble, are under threat, with states using broad and restrictive legislation to snuff out dissent. But people are organising and mobilising to demand rights. In the face of restrictions, civil society continues to fight back, often taking to the streets to do so.

    Read onInter Press Service News Agency

     

  • Belarusian authorities must end suppression of citizens, says CIVICUS

    Johannesburg. 19 May 2011. The recent detention of 14 Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) activists in Minsk is just one more incident in an on-going crackdown on civil society in Belarus, said CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation today. The arrests came as local LGBT groups were gathering in Minsk to commemorate the International Day of Anti-Homophobia on 17 May.

    According to one organiser, Sergei Androsenko, head of the organisation Gay Belarus, the protestors were planning to gather peacefully with the goal of spreading tolerance and understanding, but were detained pre-emptively by police before they could assemble. The fourteen detainees, including Androsenko, were taken to a local police precinct, where they were finger-printed, harassed with slurs and had some of their personal effects confiscated, including a thousand flyers advertising the campaign to ‘legalise love’, before being released.

     

  • CIVICUS calls on Nicaraguan authorities to withdraw new bill threatening freedom of association

    A new bill introduced in Congress by lawmakers from Nicaragua’s governing party would severely restrict freedoms of association and expression if passed into law, global civil society alliance CIVICUS said today. Introduced on 22 September, The Foreign Agents Law (“Ley de Regulación de Agentes Extranjeros”) would require individuals and organisations that receive overseas funding  to register as “foreign agents”. Those registered as such would be banned from participating in activities relating to domestic politics.

    This legislation would give government ample discretionary powers to control and muzzle civil society, including the power to freeze assets of organisations and people classified as “foreign agents” who fail to register within 60 days. It would also ban anonymous donations, require individuals and organisations to submit detailed monthly reports on funding and use of resources, and allow the government to cancel the registration of organisations not meeting requirements.

    Similar legislation implemented in other countries, including Russia, has had a chilling effect on civic space, leading to the closure of many organisations and the discrediting of civil society activists. CIVICUS calls on the Nicaraguan Congress to reject the proposed bill and guarantee an enabling environment for civil society organisations and human rights defenders.

    “This law would significantly obstruct the operation of civil society organisations in Nicaragua and contribute to the stigmatisation of activists and human rights defenders. Nicaraguan authorities have repressed peaceful protests, sought to silence critical voices and are now attempting to take away people’s right to freely associate,” said Natalia Gomez, CIVICUS Advocacy and Campaigns Officer.


    Background

    In April 2018, widespread protests for social rights set off a crisis in Nicaragua which persists to date. Violations during this crisis have left over 300 protesters dead and more than 100,000 people forcibly displaced. While mass mobilisations have abated, the persecution and criminalisation of political dissidence has continued. Opposition politicians, independent journalists and human rights defenders have faced systematic harassment from security agents and from civilian pro-regime groups. 

    For more information on civic space violations, visit the Nicaragua country page on theCIVICUS Monitor 


    ABOUT CIVICUS

    CIVICUS is a global alliance of civil society organisations dedicated to strengthening citizen action and civil society around the world. CIVICUS has more than 10,000 members worldwide.

    The CIVICUS Monitor is an online participatory platform that monitors civic freedoms, including the freedoms of expression, association and assembly, in 196 countries across the world.

     

  • CIVICUS condemns crackdown on Civil Society in Bahrain

    Johannesburg. 10 December 2010. CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation is deeply concerned about the deteriorating operating environment for civil society in the Kingdom of Bahrain. The past few months have been marred by growing intolerance towards dissenters, which began in the run up to the October elections and continues in the post election phase.

    Authorities in Bahrain are waging a relentless campaign against activists whose views are not in line with the official position. Currently, 24 prominent human rights defenders are facing trial under Bahrain's anti-terrorism laws. They have been charged with collaborating with foreign organisations and circulating false information. They have also been accused of forming terrorist networks, destruction of public and private property and defaming the authorities.

    The arrested activists have complained about torture and abuse meted out to them by the National Security Agency. They have so far appeared in court on four occasions and the next hearing has been scheduled for 23 December. During their first appearance in court on 27 October, detainees informed the court that while in detention they were beaten, electrocuted, verbally and physically assaulted and denied adequate sleep. Those detained were not allowed access to legal representation during interrogation and some family members did not know where they were being detained for two weeks after their arrest. It has also been reported that prior to, during and after the elections about 350 other activists have been arrested.

    "In a worrying trend, it has become commonplace in Bahrain to arrest activists for writing articles and delivering speeches which are critical of the government's discriminatory policies and official corruption,"  said Netsanet Belay, CIVICUS' Director of Policy and Research. "Persecution and torture of public-spirited individuals offering legitimate criticism against official policies and the clampdown on their organisations amounts to a repudiation of Bahrain's accession to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Convention Against Torture."

    The Bahrain Human Rights Society (BHRS), a CIVICUS partner for the Civil Society Index and one of the few remaining independent groups striving for the protection of civil and political freedoms in the country, has been targeted in the recent crackdown. On 6 September, the Ministry of Social Development issued an order to dissolve the Board of the BHRS and went ahead to appoint an administrator 'an employee from the Ministry' to lead the BHRS. The BHRS has had to go to court in response to these arbitrary actions and its fate currently depends on the court's response. The first hearing of the case scheduled for 26 October has been postponed to 4 January 2011.

    According to Abdullah Aldorazi of BHRS, "The unfair order issued by the Ministry of Social Development to dissolve the Board of the BHRS is a security strategy aimed at preventing the documentation of atrocities carried out by the authorities during the crackdown and preventing families of the detainees from using the society as a safe haven."

    CIVICUS urges the authorities of the Kingdom of Bahrain to live up to their commitments under international law and guarantee civil society the space to freely express, associate and assemble.

    CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation is a global movement of civil society with members and partners in over a hundred countries. The Civil Society Watch (CSW) Project of CIVICUS tracks threats to civil society freedoms of expression, association and assembly across the world.


    For more information please contact CIVICUS:


    Jessica Hume ( , +27 82 768 0250), Communications Manager

    or

    David Kode ( , +27 73 775 8649), Policy Officer
    Office Tel: +27 11 833 5959

    CIVICUS House, 24 Gwigwi Mrwebi Street, Newtown 2001, Johannesburg, South Africa
    PO Box 933, Southdale 2135, Johannesburg, South Africa
    tel: +27-11-833-5959 | fax: +27-11-833-7997 | email:
    web: www.civicus.org

     

  • CIVICUS expresses solidarity with embattled Swazi Civil Society

    Johannesburg. 17 November 2010.The Swazi Trade Union Movement is undertaking Global Days of Action on 16 and 17 November to raise awareness and demand for human rights and justice for the people of Swaziland. CIVICUS extends its whole-hearted support to Swazi civil society in this endeavour and remains deeply concerned about the freedom of civil society in the country.

    “Swaziland is Africa’s last absolute monarchy and the government’s tight control and frequent crackdowns on opposition parties and pro-democracy movements are unacceptable in today’s world,” said Ingrid Srinath, Secretary General of CIVICUS. “It is high time the government accepts the legitimate aspirations of the people of Swaziland to enjoy democratic rights.”

    The space for civil society to freely express, associate and assemble remains constrained in Swaziland.  Statements in the press on 19 October by Swazi Prime MinisterBarnabas Sibusiso Dlamini outlined his intentions to propose legislation to force columnists to request prior permission before publishing comments that criticise the government. The Prime Minister stated that columnists write pieces that are harmful to the image of the country and that they receive compensation from foreign sources with interests in Swaziland. The Prime Minister’s statement insinuates that newspaper pieces which are critical of the government will be censored before they are published.

    Enactment of such a law will breach freedom of expression guarantees in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the country’s own Constitution. Moreover, it would repudiate the aims and objectives of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the Commonwealth, of which Swaziland is a member.

    “CIVICUS remains deeply concerned about the censorship of the press in Swaziland and the frequent government crackdowns on pro-democracy demonstrations organised by civil society groups,” says David Kode, Policy Officer at CIVICUS. “The Swazi security forces have used the Suppression of Terrorism Act, enacted in November 2008, to justify the use of force and intimidation in suppressing dissent, including demonstrations.”

    In September 2010, security forces disrupted pro-democracy demonstrations, detaining and releasing some activists without charge and deporting foreign human rights activists and trade unionists in the country to show solidarity with Swazi civil society. The government approved these actions, claiming that intimidation and torture are tools for government use to suppress opposition to the state and those acting on behalf of foreign forces.

    CIVICUS urges the Swazi government to respect the rights of the people of Swaziland to express democratic dissent and demand the reform of authoritarian institutions.

    CIVICUS:  World Alliance for Citizen Participation is a global movement of civil society with members and partners in over a hundred countries.  The Civil Society Watch (CSW) Project of CIVICUS tracks threats to civil society freedoms of expression, association and assembly across the world.  In 2009, CSW tracked threats to civil society in over 75 countries around the globe.


    For more information please contact CIVICUS:

    Jessica Hume ( , +27 82 768 0250), Communications Manager

    or

    David Kode (david.kode@civicus,org, +27 73 775 8649), Policy Officer
    Office Tel: +27 11 833 5959

     

  • CIVICUS Monitor: a new effort to study civic space

    After two years of deep thinking and hard work, the global civil society alliance CIVICUS has launched the beta version of the CIVICUS Monitor – the first ever online tool specifically designed to track and rate respect for civic space, in as close to real-time as possible.

     

  • CIVICUS urges Iran to stop persecuting human rights defenders and implement Universal Periodic Review recommendations

    Johannesburg. 22 June 2010. Earlier this month, CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation and a number of civil society groups censured Iran at the UN Human Rights Council for outright refusal to accept key recommendations made during its Universal Periodic Review (UPR). 

    Iran rejected 45 of the 188 recommendations made to it by diplomatic delegations of different states and took back 20 recommendations to Tehran for further review. Notably, the rejected recommendations included "end to severe restrictions on the rights to free expression, association and assembly" (United States) and the "end to the detention and trials of writers solely for the practice of their right to freedom of expression" (Slovenia).

     

  • Civil society in Latin America and the Caribbean under threat

    Restrictions on civic space rising despite prevalence of democracy

    Click hereto read a Spanish language version of this release

    Civil society in Latin America and the Caribbean is coming under increasing pressure despite the prevalence of electoral democracy in the region, says a new reportreleased today by CIVICUS, the global civil society alliance.

    While the core civil society freedoms of association, assembly and expression are constitutionally recognised in most countries, legal, administrative and de facto barriers to the exercise of these freedoms have risen throughout the continent. These restrictions are appearing after an upsurge of citizens’ protests over entrenched issues of inequality, corruption and abuses of political power.

     

  • Government shuts down civil society organisations as part of ongoing campaign of repression in Nicaragua

    •  Parliament has cancelled the legal registration of nine civil society organisations (CSOs)
    • The move comes after some of the CSOs participated in hearings into human rights violations at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights
    • The shutdown of CSOs comes at a time of serious attacks on fundamental freedoms in Nicaragua
    • Global civil society groups express concern that more Nicaraguan CSOs may be targeted

    Global civil society alliance, CIVICUS, has condemned the cancellation of the legal registration status of nine civil society organisations in Nicaragua as an affront to the right to freedom of association. The move to shut down the groups is seen to be in retaliation for their participation in hearings on Nicaragua’s deteriorating human rights situation at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.

    On December 12, Nicaragua’s parliament voted to cancel the legal registration of the human rights organisation, Centro Nicaraguense de Derechos Humanos (CENIDH). The following day they voted again to cancel the registration of five more organisations including Instituto de liderazgo las Segovias (ILLS), Instituto para el Desarrollo de la Democracia (IPADE), Fundación del Rio, Centro de Investigación de la Comunicación (CINCO) and Fundación Popol Na.

    Just a week prior, CENIDH has been part of a delegation of rights groups who provided a hearing before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights with information on the social impact of ongoing human rights violations. They called on the government to stop violently repressing peaceful protests and attacking critical voices.

    “After using violence to target peaceful protesters, the government of Nicaragua now extends its repression to civil society organisations because of its perception that they have publicly criticized human rights violations committed since the start of protests in April 2018.” said CIVICUS’ Natalia Gomez.

    Restrictions on fundamental freedoms in Nicaragua increased substantively in April when the government violently dispersed demonstrations against changes to the country’s social security system. Since then, more than 300 people have been killed and more than 600 remain detained. The government is now targeting CSOs that denounce these human rights violations. Ana Quiroz, the head of one of the organisations and a Costa Rican by birth who had lived and worked in Nicaragua for more than 40 years, was stripped of Nicaraguan nationality and deported.  

    Shortly before CENIDH’s registration was cancelled, police rejected their request to conduct a peaceful march in commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. CENIDH cancelled the march and only said, they would go to the judicial authorities to ask for the protection of their rights.

    “Freedom of association is guaranteed in the constitution of Nicaragua and must be respected at all times. Instead of targeting civil society groups, the government of Nicaragua should rather create an enabling environment for civil society and seek ways to address the needs of its citizens.” Gomez continued.

    CIVICUS has called on the Nicaraguan authorities to reverse the cancellation of the registration of all civil society organisations, to respect the right to freedom of association and assembly and release all those in detention for participating in peaceful protests.

    In September, the CIVICUS Monitor, an online platform that tracks threats to civil society in countries across the globe, downgraded its rating of civic space – the space for civil society – in Nicaragua from “narrowed” to “repressed”. Nicaragua is also on the platform’s watchlist of countries that have seen an sudden, alarming spike in restrictions on civil space.

    For more information please contact:

    Natalia Gomez:

    The CIVICUS media team:

    To request interviews, you can also contact the CIVICUS Press Centre here.

     

  • Groundbreaking tool tracking civic freedoms worldwide to launch 24.10.2016

    French | Spanish

    The CIVICUS Monitor is a new global platform tracking violations of freedoms of assembly, association and expression in real-time.

    Johannesburg, 18 October 2016 - In light of widespread global restrictions on civil society, CIVICUS is launching a new tool to measure the freedoms that people around the world have to protest, organise and speak out. The tool will go online at 00.01 Central Africa Time (CAT) on 24 October 2016 (UN World Development Information Day).

    The CIVICUS Monitor will rate country respect for civic space in five broad categories from Closed to Open, based on how well they uphold the three fundamental rights that allow citizens to come together and demand change: freedom of association, freedom of peaceful assembly, and freedom of expression. In addition to the 104 country ratings available on launch day, the latest updates on civic space will be available for most countries in the world.

    CIVICUS will also be releasing numbers on which types of violations were most common and the driving forces behind them, based on analysis of more than 200 national-level updates on civic freedoms gathered over the past four months (June – October 2016).

    By signing up to the Sustainable Development Goals last year, world leaders agreed that people must be able to take part in making the decisions that affect their lives, and to ensure access to information (Goal 16). The CIVICUS Monitor will show how the key civic freedoms that should allow for this are coming under sustained assault.

    Ratings are based on a combination of inputs from local civil society advocates, regionally-based research partners and civil society experts, existing assessments, user-generated input and media-monitoring. Local views are prioritised and all users are invited to contribute information on the situation in their countries. The number of countries rated by the CIVICUS Monitor will increase over time and news updates will be added each weekday.

    CIVICUS Monitor

    Launching online at https://monitor.civicus.org/

    00.01 Central Africa Time (CAT), 24 October 2016

    Notes to editors: 

    For advance access to the CIVICUS Monitor web platform under embargo or to set up an interview, please contact CIVICUS’ global press office on . Interviews can be arranged in advance with CIVICUS Secretary General Danny Sriskandarajah and CIVICUS Monitor Researcher Cathal Gilbert, as well as regional researchers.

    A one-minute video explainer on civic space and the CIVICUS Monitor is available here.

    CIVICUS is a global alliance of civil society organisations and activists dedicated to strengthening citizen action and civil society around the world.

    www.civicus.org 

    www.twitter.com/CIVICUSalliance 

    www.facebook.com/CIVICUS 

     

     

  • Joint Statement: Dozens killed in Nicaragua by state repression of protests

    Spanish

    We hereby condemn the violent repression of the demonstrations held in Nicaragua against the Social Security reforms, and we demand respect for the legitimate right to protest of Nicaraguan women and men

    Daniel Ortega, President of the Republic of Nicaragua.

    Rosario Murillo, Vice President of the Republic of Nicaragua.

    We, 323 undersigned national, diverse regional and international organizations and networks, hereby condemn the violent repression of the demonstrations held in Nicaragua against the Social Security reforms, and we demand respect for the legitimate right to protest of Nicaraguan women and men.

    Since Wednesday the 18th April, organizations, networks and human rights defenders in Nicaragua have been documenting and denouncing multiple violations of the right to hold peaceful protests, that include: murders, disappearances, arbitrary detentions, physical aggressions; the use of stones, sticks, rubber bullets, and tear gas; threats, acts of intimidation and the infringement of the right to information; in the context of the demonstrations that were organised in response to the Government’s imposition of the Social Security reforms that involve cuts of 5% in pensions, as well as other measures that affect the fundamental rights of Nicaraguan women and men.

    As has been verified, these attacks are being perpetrated by State security forces that repress the population with excessive use of force, and by groups of civilians linked to the Juventud Sandinista (Sandinista Youth Movement) who are acting with total impunity, and with the complicity and consent of the police, causing outbreaks of violence that have already claimed the lives of at least 40 people.1

    Another matter of grave concern are the violations of the right to freedom of expression, manifested in the theft of journalists' professional equipment, assaults and acts of intimidation during repressive actions and the shutting down of the transmission, through digital cable service, of 100% Noticias, channel 12 and channel 23 that were covering the protests.

    These attacks violate the right to freedom of assembly and to peaceful association, the right to freedom of opinion and expression of the Nicaraguan people, and their right to defend the social rights that are threatened by the Social Security reforms that the Government seeks to impose.

    This situation is not an isolated case; in recent times, numerous acts have been documented that infringe the right to social protest - by restricting people’s freedom of movement, through campaigns of criminalization, threats and harassment against organizations and human rights’ defenders, or through the closure of communication spaces, and many other actions that threaten democracy and the human rights of Nicaraguan women and men.

    In the light of the above, we, the organizations and individual signatories to this letter, demand the following actions from the Nicaraguan State:

    • The immediate cease of repression and violence carried out by armed forces, the police and groups of civilians linked to the government. The authorities must fulfil their duty to guarantee Nicaraguan women’s and men’s right to social protest
    • The release of detainees in different parts of the country. Guarantees must be provided that no criminal action will be taken against them.
    • An inclusive national dialogue process, securing the participation and involvement of different sectors that have movilized, victims, networks and civil society organizations, as well as representatives from diverse social movements
    • Respect for the work carried out by human rights defenders, journalists and the media.

    Sincerely yours,

    1. Abogadas y Abogados para la Justicia y los Derechos Humanos

    2. Abriendo Camino A.C.

    3. Académicas en Acción Critica

    4. Acción Solidaria

    5. ACCSI Acción Ciudadana Contra el SIDA

    6. Agrupación Ciudadana por la Despenalización del aborto - El Salvador

    7. AIETI Asociacion de Investigación y Especialización sobrecTemas Iberoamericanos

    8. Aireana, grupo por los derechos de las lesbianas. Asunción. PARAGUAY

    9. Akahata A.C.

    10. Alianza Latinoamericana y Caribeña de Juventudes

    11. Alianza Regional por la Libre Expresión e Información

    12. American Jewish World Service

    13. Americas Program, Center for International Policy

    14. Amigas en Consejos de Desarrollo AMICODE

    15. AMUMRA - Asociación Civil de Derechos Humanos Mujeres Unidas Migrantes y Refugiadas en Argentina

    16. ANC- Peru

    17. Andrea Kraybill Art

    18. APADEIM

    19. APRODEH

    20. Arte para Sanar

    21. Articulação de Mulheres Brasileiras

    22. Asamblea Feminista de Madrid

    23. Asistencia Legal por Derechos Humanos A.C.

    24. Asociación Andaluza por la Solidaridad y la Paz (ASPA)

    25. Asociación Bolivarianos Diversos

    26. Asociación Cepres

    27. Asociación Ciudadana ACCEDER

    28. Asociación Ciudadana por los Derechos Humanos de Argentina

    29. Asociacion Civil De Mujeres Resilientes

    30. Asociación Civil Magdalenas Puerto Madryn

    31. Asociacion de Mujeres Salvadoreñas en Accion del Barrio San Jacinto AMSAB-SJ

    32. Asociación de jóvenes feministas Ameyalli, El Salvador

    33. Asociación Educativa Barbiana

    34. Asociación Entre Amigos LGBTI de El Salvador

    35. Asociación Interamericana para la Defensa del Ambiente, AIDA (Regional)

    36. Asociacion Interpueblos-Cantabria-España

    37. Asociación para una sociedad más justa

    38. Asociación para una vida mejor (Apuvimeh)

    39. Asociación Paz y Esperanza

    40. ASOCIACIÓN PRO DEFENSA DE LA CUENCA DEL RÍO JUAN DÍAZ

    41. Asociación Pro Derechos Humanos de España

    42. Associação brasileira de defesa da mulher da infância e da juventude

    43. ATTAC Roanne

    44. AvanzaFem AC

    45. Balance Promoción para el Desarrollo y Juventud, México

    46. Beso Diverso

    47. Bilboko Bilgune Feminista

    48. BILGUNE FEMINISTA (Euskal Herria-Pais Vasco)

    49. Bordamos Feminicidios (México)

    50. Both ENDS

    51. Brigada UNE

    52. Calala Fondo de Mujeres

    53. Campaña 28 de Septiembre - Guatemala

    54. Campaña Convención DSYDR Peru

    55. Campo A.C.

    56. Canas Dignas

    57. Capital Humano y Social Alternativo - CHS Alternativo

    58. CASACIDN

    59. Católicas por el Derecho a Decidir - España

    60. Católicas por el Derecho a Decidir – México

    61. CENDEROS

    62. Centro de Acción y Defensa por los Derechos Humanos - Cadef

    63. Centro de análisis, formación e iniciativa social, CAFIS A.C.

    64. Centro de Derechos de Mujeres CDM

    65. Centro de Derechos Humanos de la Montaña Tlachinollan

    66. Centro de Derechos Humanos de la Universidad Católica Andrés Bello (CDH-UCAB)

    67. Centro de Derechos Humanos de la Universidad Metropolitana (CDH-UNIMET)

    68. Centro de Derechos Humanos Fray Francisco de Vitoria OP, A.C. (México)

    69. Centro de Derechos Humanos Fray Matías de Córdova (Chiapas, México)

    70. Centro de Documentación en Derechos Humanos "Segundo Montes Mozo S.J." (CSMM)

    71. Centro de Estudios e Investigación sobre Mujeres

    72. CENTRO DE ESTUDIOS HUMANISTAS - Costa Rica

    73. Centro de estudios y capacitación familiar. Cefa

    74. Centro de Iniciativas para la Cooperación Batá (CIC Batá)

    75. Centro de Investigación para la Prevención de la Violencia en Centroamérica – CIPREVICA

    76. Centro de Investigaciones para la Equidad Política Pública y Desarrollo, CIPE.

    77. Centro de Sanación, Formación e Investigación Transpersonal Q'anil

    78. Centro Documentación e Información Bolivia-CEDIB-

    79. Centro Hermanas Mirabal de Derechos Humanos A.C.

    80. Centro Para el Desarrollo Integral de la Mujer

    81. Centro para la Paz y los DDHH de la Universidad Central de Venezuela

    82. Centro por la Justicia y el Derecho Internacional (CEJIL)

    83. Cepaz - Centro de Justicia y Paz

    84. CEPROSAF

    85. CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation

    86. Civilis Derechos Humanos

    87. CLADEM ARGENTINA (Comité de América Latina y el Caribe para la Defensa de los Derechos de las Mujeres)

    88. CLADEM Bolivia

    89. Cladem Nicaragua

    90. Coalicion Todas

    91. Codhez

    92. Codice, Jalisco

    93. Colectiva Actoras de Cambio

    94. Colectiva Amorales

    95. Colectiva Ciudad y Género AC

    96. Colectiva con Letra F (México)

    97. Colectiva Chancha Negra

    98. Colectiva de Mujeres de Masaya

    99. Colectiva Femimista

    100. Colectiva Sororidad Glocal

    101. Colectivas lesbicas

    102. Colectivo de Abogados "José Alvear Restrepo" (Ccajar), Colombia

    103. Colectivo de Mujeres de Matagalpa Nicaragua

    104. Colectivo de Mujeres Sobrevivientes Siempre Resistentes – Chile

    105. Colectivo de Trabajadoras y Trabajadores Sociales de Honduras (CTS-H)

    106. Colectivo de Trabajadores y Trabajadoras de Honduras

    107. Colectivo Estudiantil Pro Derechos Humanos del Centro de Investigación y Docencia Económicas

    108. Colectivo Josefa Lastiri

    109. Colectivo para la Participación de la Infancia y Juventud

    110. Colectivo PSG

    111. Colectivo Trans del Uruguay

    112. Colectivo Utopía Puebla

    113. Collectif Guatemala

    114. Comisión de Derechos Humanos de Ica

    115. Comisión Nacional de Derechos Humanos del Estado Monagas de la Federación de Colegios de Abogados de Venezuela

    116. Comité Ambiental en Defensa de la Vida (Colombia).

    117. Comité de América Latina y el Caribe para la Defensa de los Derechos de las Mujeres (CLADEM)

    118. Comité de America Latina y el Caribe para la Defensa de los Derechos Humanos de las Mujeres (CLADEM- Mexico)

    119. Comité por los derechos humanos en América latina (CDHAL)

    120. Comunidad de familiares y amigos por los Derechos Humanos de la Diversidad Sexual COFADHIS

    121.Comunidad Xinka

    122.Concertación Interamericana de Derechos Humanos de las Mujeres

    123.Consejo de Mujeres Cristianas

    124. Consejo tiyat tlali

    125. Consorcio para el Diálogo Parlamentario MX

    126. Consorcio para el Diálogo Parlamentario y la Equidad Oaxaca AC

    127. ControlaTuGobierno, A.C.

    128. CONVERGENCIA DE LAS CULTURAS - Costa Rica

    129. Convite A.C.

    130. Cooperacció

    131. Coordinación de Mujeres del Paraguay

    132. Coordinadora 28 de Mayo - Guatemala

    133. Coordinadora Estatal de Organizaciones Feministas

    134. Coordinadora Nacional de Derechos Humanos - Perú

    135. Coordinadora Norte Tierra y Libertad - Costa Rica

    136. Córdoba Solidaria

    137. Count Me In! Consortium

    138. Cuerpas Creando Comunidad

    139. Cuerpas Sin Reglas

    140. CuidaTuEspcio 

    141. Defiende Venezuela

    142. Derechos Humanos

    143. Ditsö- Costa Rica

    144. Ecologistas en Acción (España)

    145. Elige Red de Jóvenes por los Derechos Sexuales y Reproductivos AC

    146. Ellas por la igualdad AC

    147. Epistemologías del Sur: Red de pensamiento crítico, respecto de los derechos humanos, la dinámica educativa y el territorio

    148. Equidad de Género, Ciudadanía, Trabajo y Familia

    149. Equipo de Reflexión, Investigación y Comunicación de la Compañía de Jesús en Honduras

    150. Escritorio Juridico Gutierrez Ceballos

    151. Espacio DESCA

    152. Espacio Público - Venezuela

    153. Espiral hacia la Igualdad

    154. Estancia del Migrante González y Martínez, A.C. (Querétaro, México)

    155. Estudiantes por una Política Sensata de Drogas, Costa Rica.

    156. EXCUBITUS derechos humanos en educacion.

    157. Existir al caminar A.C.

    158. Feministas en Marcha - Puerto Rico

    159. Feministas Independientes

    160. FIA capitulo Venezuela Seccional Anzoategui

    161. Fondo Apthapi Jopueti Bolivia

    162. Fondo CAMY

    163. Fondo de Acción Urgente para América Latina y el Caribe FAU-AL

    164. FONDO LUNARIA MUJER COLOMBIA

    165. Foro de Jóvenes con Liderazgo AC

    166. Free Press Unlimited

    167. FRENTE COOPERATIVO Y DE ECONOMÍA SOCIAL - Costa Rica

    168. Frente por los Derechos Igualitarios

    169. FRIDA | The Young Feminist Fund

    170. FRONT LINE DEFENDERS

    171. Fronteras

    172. FUNBIDE

    173. Fundación Acceso

    174. Fundación Arcoiris por el respeto a la diversidad sexual.

    175. Fundación CAUCE, Cultura Ambiental - Causa Ecologista. Paraná. Argentina

    176. Fundación Colectivo Hombres XX, A. C.

    177.  Fundacion PANIAMOR

    178.  Fundación para el Debido Proceso (DPLF)

    179. Fundacion para el Desarrollo Comunitario-FUNDECOM

    180. Fundación para el Desarrollo de la Libertad Ciudadana

    181. Fundación salvadoreña por la diversidad sexual de la Mano Contigo

    182. FUNDECOM

    183. Global Fund for Women

    184. Grupo de Accion Comunitaria. Madrid. Estado Español

    185. Grupo de Educación Popular con Mujeres A.C.

    186. Grupo Visión Nocturna Uruguay

    187. Guatemala citizen

    188. Guatemaltecas por la Defensa del Estado Laico (GDEL)

    189.Hivos

    190. Iacta Sociojuridica SCCLP

    191.ILGALAC

    192. IMDEC AC

    193. INCIDIR, A.C.

    194. Ingeniería Sin Fronteras Aragón

    195. Iniciativas de Cooperación Internacional para el Desarrollo

    196. Institute on Race, Equality and Human Rights

    197. Instituto Caribeño de Derechos Humanos (ICADH)

    198. Instituto de Enseñanza para el Desarrollo Sostenible

    199. Instituto Sur Andino de Investigación y Acción Solidaria-ISAIAS

    200. IRC WASH

    201. JAKILU

    202. JASS-JUST ASSOCIATES/ASOCIADAS POR LO JUSTO

    203. Jóvenes Voceras y Voceros en DSDR, El Salvador.

    204. Juntos por la Vida

    205. Justice and Peace Netherlands 206.Kallpachay Suyu. Ambiente y cultura.

    207. Kentucky Interfaith Taskforce on Latin America and the Caribbean

    208. La Cabaretiza AC

    209. La Casa Mandarina AC

    210. LA COMUNIDAD PARA EL DESARROLLO HUMANO - Costa Rica

    211. Laboratorio de la Máscara

    212. Las Reinas Chulas cabaret y derechos humanos A.C.

    213.Lesbocolectivo las Resueltas

    214. LeSVOZ, AC

    215. Los siempre sospechosos de todo

    216. Mama Cash

    217. Maquila Solidarity Network

    218. MARCHA CENTROAMERICANA POR LA PAZ Y LA NO VIOLENCIA

    219. Margens Clínicas - São Paulo/ Brasil

    220. Marxa Mundial de Dones

    221. Memoria de mujeres

    222. Momundh

    223. Movimiento Autónomo de Mujeres de Nicaragua

    224. Movimiento de Mujeres de Chinandega

    225. Movimiento de Mujeres de Santo Tomás

    226. Movimiento de Mujeres Visitación Padilla

    227. Movimiento Migrante Mesoamericano

    228. Movimiento Vinotinto

    229. Mujer Ideas Desarrollo e Investigación

    230. Mujer y salud en Uruguay MYSU

    231. Mujeres Ambientalistas, El Salvador.

    232. Mujeres de Izabal

    233. Mujeres de Negro Rosario – Argentina

    234. Mujeres Integradas en el Oeste de Rosario Argentina

    235.Mujeres Trabajadoras Unidas, A.C

    236. MUNDO SIN GUERRAS Y SIN VIOLENCIA - Costa Rica

    237. Ni Una Menos

    238. NIMD

    239. Observatorio Etico Caribe y América Central – Obetica

    240. Observatorio Ético Internacional – OBETI

    241. Observatorio Venezolano de Conflictividad Social (OVCS)

    242. ODASA

    243. OFICINA JURIDICA PARA LA MUJER

    244. OMCT - Organización Mundial Contra la Tortura

    245. Organización de Mujeres Tierra Viva

    246. OTRANS ARGENTINA

    247. Otros Mundos A.C./Amigos de la Tierra México

    248. Paro Internaciónal se Mujeres, Polonia

    249. Partido Feminista de España

    250. PARTIDO HUMANISTA - Costa Rica

    251. Perifèries del Món

    252. Pikara Magazine (País Vasco-España)

    253. Plataforma Interamericana de Derechos Humanos, Democracia y Desarrollo PIDHDD

    254. Plataforma Internacional contra la Impunidad

    255. Plataforma Salvadoreña de juventudes

    256. Plazandreok

    257. Please remove signature of Kentucky Interfaith Taskforce

    258. Presencia y Palabra: Mujeres Afroperuanas

    259. Pro-Búsqueda

    260. Profesionales católicos - Piura - Perú

    261. Proiuris

    262. PROMEDEHUM (Venezuela)

    263. Radio Stereo Vos

    264.Radioexpresion

    265. Reacción Climática - Bolivia

    266. Red Con Las Amigas Y En La Casa

    267. Red de Activistas Ciudadanos por los DDHH

    268. Red de Ambientalistas Comunitarios de El Salvador RACDES

    269. Red de la No Violencia contra las Mujeres - REDNOVI

    270. Red de mujeres contra la violencia

    271. Red de salud de las Mujeres Latinoamericanas y del Caribe

    272. Red Internacional de Migración y Desarrollo

    273. Red Latinoamericana y Caribeña de Jóvenes por los Derechos Sexuales RedLAC

    274. Red Nacional Coincidir

    275. Red Nacional de Defensoras de Derechos Humanos en Honduras

    276. Red Para la Infancia y la Adolescencia de El Salvador (RIA)

    277. Red Solidaria de Derechos Humanos A.C. (Michoacán, México)

    278. REDLAMYC Red latinoamericana y caribeña que lucha por los derechos de niñas niños y adolescentes

    279. REDMUCH

    280. Refugee and Immigrant Fund (RIF)

    281. Resonar

    282. RESURJ Realizando la Justicia Sexual

    283. Revista SIC del Centro Gumilla

    284. Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights

    285. Roma National Center from Moldova

    286. Schone Kleren Campagne

    287. Schumacher College

    288. Sector de Mujeres

    289. Seguridad en Democracia (SEDEM)

    290. Semillas de Nuestra Tierra, AC

    291. Sol de primavera

    292. Sombrilla Costa Rica

    293. SOS Corpo- Instituto Feminista para a Democracia - Recife/ Pernambuco -Brasil

    294. Spatium Libertas AC

    295. SPW

    296. St Williams church

    297. Stichting Lleca (Holanda)

    298. Strajk Kobiet Polonia

    299. SURKUNA - Centro de apoyo y protección de derechos humanos

    300. Sursiendo, Comunicación y Cultura Digital AC

    301. Swefor Guatemala

    302. Tequio jurídico

    303. Todas Mx

    304. Trabajadora del retail

    305. Transparencia Venezuela

    306. Uganda Youth Alliance For Family Planning And Adolescents Health -UYAFPAH

    307. Unidad de Protección a Defensoras y Defensores de Derechos Humanos - Guatemala (UDEFEGUA)

    308. Unidas Somos Tendencia

    309. Union global por la democracia

    310. Unión Latinoamericana de Mujeres ULAM

    311. Unitierra

    312. Universidad de la Tierra en Puebla

    313. Urgent Action Fund- Latin America and the Caribbean

    314. UXU EMAKUMEEN TALDEA

    315. Vecinas Feministas por la Justicia Sexual y Reproductiva en América Latina y el Caribe

    316. Voces de mujeres, historias que transforman

    317. Voces Mesoamericanas, Acción con Pueblos Migrantes A.C.

    318. WECF International

    319. Witness for Peace

    320. WO=MEN Dutch Gender Platform

    321. WOLA (Washington Office on Latin America)

    322. Women Advocacy and Development Initiative (WADI)

    323. Women Strike Polonia

    1 Source: Nicaraguan Initiative of Women Human Rights Defenders (IN-Defensoras)

     

  • La disolución de la Unión Nacional de Educadores del Ecuador, parte de una estrategia coordinada para silenciar el disenso

    English

    CIVICUS conversa con Rosana Palacios Barriga (foto), presidenta de la Unión Nacional de Educadores (UNE) del Ecuador. La UNE, la organización de maestros más grande del país, fue disuelta por resolución del Ministerio de Educación en agosto de 2016 por presuntos incumplimientos de sus propios estatutos y de la normativa vigente para el funcionamiento de las organizaciones sociales.

    1. ¿Cuáles fueron las circunstancias que condujeron a la disolución de la Unión Nacional de Educadores, el sindicato más grande del país?
    La Unión Nacional de Educadores (UNE) del Ecuador tiene dos líneas de acción. Por un lado, es una organización defensora de derechos humanos, de la educación y de la profesión docente en sus aspectos laborales, de salud y de mejoramiento profesional, económico y social. Por el otro lado, investiga la situación del país y del magisterio; presenta propuestas para que sean trasformadas en políticas públicas; y trabaja en propuestas pedagógicas tales como la de “Educación para la Emancipación” y en estrategias para implantar tecnologías de la información y la comunicación en el aula. En ese sentido, enfrenta la corrupción, la prepotencia y el autoritarismo.

    Cuando inició su gestión en 2006, el Presidente Rafael Correa contaba con el respaldo de los sectores de izquierda, los movimientos sociales, sindicales y populares. Ese mismo año, el pueblo ecuatoriano aprobó mediante consulta popular el Plan Decenal, que incluía ocho políticas para la educación. La propuesta que se sometió a consulta popular había sido presentada por la UNE a Rafael Correa, por entonces candidato a presidente, para que fuera elevada a política de Estado. La UNE apoyó su candidatura porqué él dio su apoyo a nuestra propuesta.

    El conflicto entre el gobierno y la UNE se inició cuando, una vez comenzada la gestión, la UNE exigió el cumplimiento del Plan Decenal. Ya en el año 2008, la UNE se enfrentó con el Ministro de Educación, Raúl Vallejo, porque éste buscaba implantar una evaluación punitiva destinada a destituir a docentes sin brindarles ninguna opción para que pudieran volver a ejercer su profesión, al tiempo que liberaba al Estado de sus obligaciones laborales para casos de despido. En ese contexto, la UNE exigió el respeto de los derechos laborales y defendió la educación bilingüe, en riesgo ante el cierre de 6000 instituciones escolares.

    En el marco de la construcción de la nueva Ley Orgánica de Educación Intercultural (LOEI), la UNE exigió el reconocimiento de los derechos laborales alcanzados por el magisterio y la incorporación de sectores de profesores a la carrera docente de tal manera sean protegidos por la seguridad social y la LOEI. Denunció la precarización y la flexibilización laboral –actualmente son 40 mil los profesores bajo régimen de contrato-, la inestabilidad laboral, el congelamiento de salarios, los chantajes y los despidos. Cabe señalar que al trabajo docente se ha sumado el requisito de cumplimiento de trabajo administrativo, lo cual modifica el rol docente y genera temor, ya que se crea un ambiente de total indefensión.

    2. ¿Cuáles cree Ud. que fueron las motivaciones del gobierno para tomar la decisión de disolver la UNE?
    El Presidente Correa tiene una política de desintegración de las organizaciones sociales como estrategia de concentración de poder. Cuando la UNE mantuvo sus exigencias, Correa tomó la decisión de destruir esta organización sindical, gremial y popular.

    El proceso se inició con una exhibición de poder por parte del presidente, por dos vías: por un lado, el debilitamiento del sindicato ante la opinión pública, mediante campañas persecutorias para las que hizo uso de cadenas nacionales de radio, prensa y TV, en las que condenó sus acciones gremiales; por el otro, la implementación, en 2009, de la evaluación punitiva del magisterio nacional.

    En aras del cumplimiento de los objetivos del Plan Decenal, la UNE entregó al gobierno una contrapropuesta de evaluación elaborada sobre bases científicas y pedagógicas. Ante la negativa del régimen de dialogar, la organización declaró un paro nacional que se extendió desde el 15 de septiembre hasta el 7 de octubre de 2009. El paro terminó con un acuerdo entre UNE y el Ejecutivo, cuyos artículos luego fueron incorporados a la nueva Ley de Educación. En suma: lo que el correísmo nunca le perdonó a la UNE fue que desafiara su poder y le ganara.

    En su afán por eliminar a nuestra organización, y más en general a todas aquellas que no siguieran sus mandatos, así como de dominar a las restantes, el gobierno emitió el Decreto Ejecutivo No. 16 del 4 de junio de 2013 (Reglamento para el funcionamiento del Sistema Unificado de Información de las Organizaciones Sociales y Ciudadanas). Este decreto recibió el rechazo unánime de la sociedad civil independiente, ya que era violatorio de la libertad de asociación. El decreto estableció nuevos procedimientos y requisitos para el reconocimiento legal de organizaciones de la sociedad civil e introdujo un proceso de evaluación para autorizar a ONGs internacionales para operara en el país. También exigió que las ONGs ecuatorianas se volvieran a registrar, impuso requisitos excesivos de información que podrían ser utilizados contra las propias organizaciones, y otorgó al gobierno amplia discrecionalidad para rechazar peticiones de reconocimiento jurídico o disolver organizaciones con argumentos vagos vinculados con el desvío de sus objetivos declarados, el involucramiento en actividad político-partidaria, la interferencia con las políticas públicas o la afectación de la seguridad del Estado o la paz pública.

    Gracias al apoyo de la sociedad civil, organizaciones sindicales, organizaciones de servidores públicos y organismos internacionales como la Federación Sindical Mundial y la Internacional de la Educación, logramos llegar hasta la Organización Internacional del Trabajo (OIT) y las Naciones Unidas para denunciar el Decreto Ejecutivo No. 16. En Ecuador, además, se interpuso una demanda de inconstitucionalidad del decreto ante la Corte de Justicia. La primera víctima de disolución a partir de la aplicación del Decreto No. 16, a fines de 2013, fue la Fundación Pachamama, una organización ambientalista.

    Entretanto, el gobierno utilizó una táctica de desgaste mediante criminalización contra los dirigentes de la UNE. Mery Zamora, presidenta de la UNE entre 2007 y 2010, fue acusada de sabotaje y terrorismo por supuestamente haber incitado a los alumnos de un colegio a salir a las calles durante la revuelta policial de 2010. Se le siguió un juicio, fue hallada culpable gracias a la presentación de pruebas falsas y finalmente condenada a 8 años de prisión. Si bien en instancia de apelación fue eventualmente declarada inocente y no debió cumplir pena, la Fiscalía de la Nación enseguida volvió a presentar nuevas acusaciones contra ella, por supuestamente haber atentado contra los derechos del Estado.

    Otros dirigentes nacionales, como Xaver Cajilema, Paúl Jácome y Edwin Lasluisa, fueron encarcelados durante un año. Decenas de dirigentes provinciales y cantonales – entre ellos Francisco Rojas, Juan Cervantes, Luis Chancay, Sisa Bacacela y Pilar Paredes – fueron destituidos. Hubo cantidades de sumarios administrativos contra maestros que declararan pertenecer a UNE, y muchos fueron removidos de sus funciones o de sus sitios de trabajo.

    Los nuevos dirigentes de la UNE, elegidos para el período 2013-2016, incluida yo misma, no fuimos reconocidos. El Ministerio de Educación esgrimió varios pretextos para ello, por ejemplo el incumplimiento del Decreto No. 16, que sin embargo había sido dictado meses después de las elecciones de la UNE, celebradas con voto universal y secreto y con la veeduría del Consejo Nacional Electoral. El Comité Electoral de UNE argumentó la ilegalidad de esta actuación, pero durante casi un año enfrentó el silencio administrativo, y por último recibió la respuesta de que la documentación requerida no había sido entregada. Presumimos que los documentos entregados fueron deliberadamente extraviados.

    Por último, en 2015 el Ministerio de Educación creó una organización paralela, llamada “Red de Maestros por la Revolución Educativa” que, dicho sea de paso, no cumplía con ninguno de los parámetros que le eran exigidos a la UNE. De más está decir que esta iniciativa viola los estándares internacionales, empezando por el Convenio 98 de la OIT sobre el derecho de sindicación y negociación colectiva.

    La Red de Maestros no es más que un instrumento para la ejecución de la política autoritaria del gobierno en cada institución educativa del país. Dentro de cada escuela, es el brazo político del gobierno y el instrumento persecutorio de los docentes. Así, por ejemplo, la Red de Maestros tiene coordinadores zonales a los que se concede el tiempo para realizar visitas institucionales y se les otorga el respaldo de las autoridades educativas para que cumplan con el rol asignado.

    Las autoridades educativas intervinieron para obligar a los maestros, mediante mecanismos ilegales, a afiliarse a la nueva organización. Al mismo tiempo impedían el acceso de la dirigencia de la UNE a los planteles educativos con el objetivo de acelerar el desgaste de nuestra organización. De hecho se emitieron oficios circulares bajo pena de sanción para las autoridades que dejaran ingresar a los establecimientos a dirigentes de UNE, permitieran a los maestros reunirse en asambleas, asistieran a las instalaciones de su gremio o permitieran la diseminación de información sobre la situación del magisterio. Por último, la autoridades se apropiaron del Fondo de Cesantía del Magisterio ecuatoriano, la entidad financiera de la UNE, con una caja de 405 millones de dólares. Para esto último se debió reformar la Ley de Seguridad Social.

    3. ¿Qué impacto tuvo la disolución de la UNE? ¿Cómo caracterizaría Ud. la situación resultante?
    La disolución de la organización fue el punto culminante de un proceso de acoso que se extendió durante diez años. En el curso de ese período la dirigencia de UNE se dividió en tres sectores: los que decidieron resistir, los que se replegaron, y los (muy pocos) que abandonaron la organización. Este mismo fenómeno se replicó en las bases, con el predominio de los que siguieron la resolución de la dirigencia nacional, plasmada en la consigna “La UNE vive, la lucha continúa”, más tarde reformulada como “La UNE vive, Correa se va” y “La UNE es una organización, no un edificio”.

    La dirigencia de UNE resistió y se dedicó a desenmascarar la política correísta que profundizaba la violación de los derechos laborales del docente y de los trabajadores en general. Se unió para ello a las centrales sindicales y a otras organizaciones sociales.

    La disolución de la UNE era necesaria para que el gobierno pudiera continuar con el desmantelamiento de la educación pública y el irrespeto a los docentes. A pesar de lo que afirma la propaganda gubernamental, la educación ha sufrido un retroceso. Se han implantado evaluaciones de ingreso a las universidades y puntajes para la elección de carreras fijados desde la Secretaría Nacional de Educación Superior, Ciencia y Tecnología, lo cual trajo aparejada la privatización de la educación superior.

    4. ¿Es la disolución de la UNE parte de un patrón más amplio de restricciones sobre la sociedad civil en Ecuador? En caso afirmativo, ¿cuáles han sido las principales restricciones del espacio cívico?
    La disolución de la UNE es parte de una fórmula que responde al objetivo central del régimen de eliminar toda forma de organización y participación de la sociedad civil en la formulación de las políticas públicas, la defensa de derechos humanos y la promoción de las libertades públicas. O sea, es parte de una estrategia para mantenerse en el poder.

    De hecho, en todos los sectores el gobierno ha creado organizaciones paralelas como el FUE (Frente de Estudiantes Universitarios del Ecuador), el FESE (Frente de Estudiantes Secundarios del Ecuador) y Seguro Campesino. Para enfrentar a las centrales sindicales tradicionales se creó en 2014 la CUT (Central Unitaria de Trabajadores), afín al gobierno, y lo mismo en el terreno de los movimientos de mujeres, los movimientos ecologistas y las organizaciones defensoras de la tierra. Al mismo tiempo que estas nuevas organizaciones eran movilizadas, se instituyeron leyes anti obreras para criminalizar la lucha social y se utilizaron los aparatos represivos del Estado contra las organizaciones genuinamente representativas.

    Las violaciones de las libertades fundamentales han aumentado bajo la forma de persecución judicial, insultos, linchamiento mediático y agresiones físicas. Sin embargo, el 65% de la población rechaza actualmente estos atropellos, aunque por temor no se ha movilizado en defensa de las organizaciones que enfrentaron procesos de disolución. Pese a ello, hemos podido generar un debate sobre la defensa de los derechos. Y, en el caso específico de los maestros, está presente en la sociedad la necesidad de la existencia de nuestra organización como elemento de defensa, orientación y organización.

    5. ¿Ha recibido la UNE solidaridad y apoyo desde el exterior? ¿De qué modo podría la comunidad internacional apoyar a la sociedad civil en Ecuador?
    Pienso que tenemos una relación mejorada con nuestros pares en otras partes del mundo. Frente al proceso de disolución y el asalto que hemos sufrido, hemos recibido toda clase de muestras de solidaridad nacional e internacional. Los sindicatos de docentes en Canadá y en España, en particular, han sido claves en esta lucha de resistencia, de defensa de nuestra personería jurídica y recuperación del patrimonio. Sin embargo, en el terreno de la acción de masas no tenemos respuesta. Ello se debe a que existe un debate ideológico y una polarización muy fuerte, ya que fuera del Ecuador el discurso de izquierda de Rafael Correa, unido a la propaganda que despliega el gobierno, sigue sosteniendo la creencia errónea de que el Ecuador aún vive una revolución. Para disipar ese malentendido seguimos necesitando apoyo.

    El espacio cívico en Ecuador es clasificado en el CIVICUS Monitor en la categoría “obstrui-do”.
    Visite el sitio web o el perfil de Facebook de la Unión Nacional de Educadores, o siga en Twitter a @UNENACIONAL y a @ROSANAPALACIOS4.

     

  • LGBTQI+ RIGHTS IN UGANDA: ‘Intolerance is fuelled by anti-rights groups and leaders’

    Following our 2019special report on anti-rights groups and civil society responses, we are interviewing civil society activists and leaders about their experiences of backlash from anti-rights groups and their strategies to strengthen progressive narratives and civil society responses. CIVICUS speaks with Pepe Julian Onziema, Programme Director at Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG). Formed in 2004, SMUG is a civil society umbrella organisation focused on advancing LGBTQI+ rights and supporting and protecting LGBTQI+ people in Uganda. SMUG advocates for policy reform and helps to coordinate the efforts of 18 LGBTQI+ organisations in the country. These organisations provide a variety of services to the LGBTQI+ community, including medical attention, counselling, guidance and economic empowerment programmes. SMUG works closely with local, regional and international human rights organisations and activists to end discrimination and ensure equal treatment of and respect for all LGBTQI+ people in Uganda.

    pepe Onziema

    What is the situation of LGBTQI+ rights in Uganda?

    I would say it’s very unpredictable, but also not okay. At some level everything is mixed up; you can’t just look at one thing and say, okay, we are making this progress, because somehow when you make progress you also move backwards on another front. So generally speaking, I would say the situation is confusing and unpredictable. The only aspect in which we have made consistent progress is in the area of HIV/AIDS, working through the Ministry of Health.

    The situation of LGBTQI+ people is difficult, and I wouldn’t be able to say whether it’s because of social attitudes or discriminatory laws. People’s social attitudes towards LGBTQI+ people are affected by the law, but on the other hand the law is what it is because of people’s religious views and the influence of religion over politics. But if I had to say which the biggest problem is, I’d say it’s social attitudes and widespread lack of acceptance. If this changes, I am sure the law would follow.

    In Uganda, LGBTQI+ people experience all kinds of attacks and violence, but this depends much on where you live. In popular areas trans women and gay people, or people thought to be gay, both male and female, are attacked from motorbikes or taxis. In the suburbs and expensive urban areas there is a bit more safety. However, a lot of new apartments have been built and many people are moving in, and then if your neighbour finds out or suspects that you are an LGBTQI+ person, then they can go tell the landlord, who will usually feel the pressure to throw you out without even paying back your rent. Everything is based on suspicion, spying and resentment. There is no need for any evidence of someone being gay, so people panic. There is a lot of gay panic because if anyone just mentions that someone else is LGBTQI+, it is to be expected that action will be taken, including physical violence. They can beat up the accused person or use extortion and blackmail. This is especially common with trans people, who are accused of impersonating someone else, adopting a fake identity.

    We’ve worked a lot to raise awareness, informing people that even under our regressive laws, being gay is actually not a crime. It’s subtle, but the law talks about acts that are not permitted, rather than about identities that are not allowed to exist. There is more awareness of this now, but this awareness has made intolerant people more clever: they know they cannot denounce someone just for being gay, so they go on and invent stories. They tell the police false stories about things that gay people have done, so the police have to come and arrest them.

    Although the law does not ban the existence of gay people, there is certainly no law that protects the rights of gay people. While laws guarantee the right to life, to the freedom of association, and so on, when it comes to LGBTQI+ people those do not fully apply. We don't have access to all those rights as anyone else.

    Are LGBTQI+ civil society organisations allowed to function, or do you face restrictions? How do you manage to get your work done?

    LGBTQI+ organisations are not allowed to register. They are denied formal recognition as civil society organisations (CSOs). That is the case with my organisation, Sexual Minorities Uganda, which was founded in 2004, so it will soon be turning 16 years old, and is still unregistered. Our right to associate is limited in several ways, but we’ve been persistent and consistent in challenging the government. We take advantage of legal loopholes and organise ourselves as a loose group. We have sued the government on the basis that the constitution grants us the right to the freedom of association. We’ve found the court system is not terribly fair, but still, it does not always work against us, and we have won several cases.

    In the past few years, the High Court has issued several progressive rulings, stating that the fundamental rights recognised in the constitution, such as the right to personal liberty, the right not to be subjected to torture or cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment, and the right to privacy, apply to all citizens. As a result of a High Court ruling on discrimination, it is now possible for LGBTQI+ people to file cases against employers who have fired or harassed them, or landlords who have evicted them. So we’ve seen some progress within the justice system, and this has given us the courage to continue going to the courts to fight when the government wants to impose further restrictions.

    As well as the lack of legal recognition, we face restrictions in our daily work. For instance, when we hold a workshop or some formal function for the community, we are usually raided by the police. The Minister of Ethics and Integrity has been particularly notorious and shameless in shutting down our meetings. He has gone on radio and other media to say that he would never allow LGBTQI+ organisations. So we try to keep up our work by doing it through collaborations with other CSOs, but there’s only so much we can do, because when they learn that we are working with us then somehow they also become targets by association.

    Who is behind these restrictions? Is discrimination and violence against LGBTQI+ people fuelled by political or religious leaders?

    Absolutely. The intolerance enshrined in the law and expressed in social attitudes is fuelled by anti-rights groups and leaders. This backlash was particularly intense around 2009, when right-wing evangelical groups from the USA came to Uganda and helped our government draft a law, the Uganda Anti-Homosexuality Act, that would have criminalised same-sex relationships and introduced the death penalty for serial offenders, HIV-positive people who engage in sexual activity with people of the same sex, and people who engage in same-sex sexual acts with minors. The law also sought to punish the promotion of LGBTQI+ rights with fines, imprisonment, or both.

    We fought this bill for years. The proponents of the law said that we are after children, that we were recruiting them and needed to be stopped. They wanted to turn people into spies – our own neighbours, our parents, teachers, doctors and priests. Anyone who knew a gay person had to report this fact to the authorities or they would also become a criminal.

    A modified version of the bill was passed in 2013, and it punished ‘aggravated homosexuality’ with life in prison instead of the death penalty. In reaction, the US State Department announced several sanctions against Uganda, and in 2014 the Constitutional Court annulled the law on a technicality. But its effects are still there, in the form of ingrained discrimination against LGBTQI+ people. And the root causes of such laws being proposed in the first place are also still there. It all comes down to the idea of turning people’s religious belief into law.

    So the most homophobic piece of legislation that Uganda has ever seen was actually a foreign import. Do you see an international anti-LGBTQI+ rights coalition at work here?

    Absolutely, and curiously enough – because anti-LGBTQI+ rights groups keep saying things like homosexuality is a foreign custom, and that it runs counter to national culture and morals, while in fact it is homophobia who is most foreign. Homosexuality was accepted and quite common in pre-colonial Ugandan society; we even had a king who was gay. Laws punishing homosexuality were first introduced in colonial times, under British rule, and they stayed in place after we gained independence. Something similar happened with Christianity, which was an import but took deep roots.

    And the churches that were brought from the USA and started proliferating are of the most intolerant kind. You can find these evangelical churches every 500 meters in Uganda, and people preaching all over the place, even outside the churches, on every street corner. The evangelical movement is huge and has spread fast across the country. In most cases, they focus their preaching on sexuality, abortion, how women dress, things like that. They deliberately use their Bible to discriminate against LGBTQI+ people and women.

    Have you seen any change, for better or worse, over the past year?

    It is difficult to tell. For instance, in 2018 we thought we were making a bit of progress, but then we started seeing more murders, at least three or four, so we felt in danger and we panicked because we thought, we’ve made progress in dialogue with governmental officials, we have done training the police, and it really shocked us – the idea that we were trying to educate people, we are trying to have a conversation, and this is the kind of response that we get. This cast doubt on the progress we were making.

    Still, I would say that the fact that we are able to have some form of dialogue with the government is a proof of progress. The fact that when people are arrested we are able to negotiate the release of some is something that we wouldn’t have seen even three or four years ago, so there is some progress.

    How do you account for the differences between Uganda and, say, Botswana, which is currently experiencing significant positive change?

    I think we are not experiencing the same kind of progress because religion is so deeply rooted in Uganda. If you speak to Ugandans, the first thing that they will tell you, even before introducing themselves, is that they are Christians. And our president has been able to turn religion into law. Ugandan politicians have manipulated religion to divert attention from corruption and mismanagement, so they focus on homosexuality instead. This political use of religion, and the fact that religious beliefs have been made into law, that’s what sets us apart from Botswana.

    What are LGBTQI+ organisations in general, and SMUG in particular, doing to change both legislation and public attitudes?

    SMUG focuses on four areas: advocacy for reform, capacity strengthening, research and safety and protection. The four areas are connected: in the area of safety and protection, for example, we take care of victims and survivors of violence, but we also document, collect and analyse data and use it as evidence in our advocacy work. We also make sure that police officers are trained so they know how to treat LGBTQI+ person in case they are arrested, so they change their attitudes and the ways they handle them. We work with magistrates and the judiciary services institute and try to educate them on LGBTQI+ issues, because otherwise when a gay person is arrested, most of the time cases are based on hearsay and they don’t even ask for evidence; they make decisions based on prejudice. We do a lot of campaigning and awareness-raising across Uganda. We have regional focus groups where we train people on how to deal with safety and security.

    We also do international work at the United Nations human rights bodies, in Geneva, as well as at the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights as well: we have a document that came out of there, Resolution 275, that we did with activists and organisations from across Africa, which prohibits any country from violent attacks towards LGBTQI+ people. Of course we are trying to get that implemented in our own countries so our human rights bodies can take on that Resolution as guidance on the protection of LGBTQI+ people.

    Is there any evidence that people’s attitudes might be changing?

    We put most of our work on social media, and about 10 years ago, we would find out on Facebook that 98 or and 99 per cent of Ugandans were against homosexuality. Ninety-nine per cent – it’s crazy, because it would mean that even gay people – who are definitely more than one per cent of the population - rejected homosexuality.

    But now we’ve come to the point where both sides appear to be more balanced. We post something on our website or our social media platforms, and find reactions are split approximately in half. So I think there has been a change of attitudes, especially among young people, because there are a lot of young people on social media who really don’t care about this whole debate over sexuality. They are just trying to live their lives.

    To what extent is Ugandan civil society as a whole standing with LGBTQI+ civil society?

    There definitely are divisions within civil society. You have to remember that we all come from the same society and have the same background, which is religious, and we are talking about a society and a religion that consider homosexuality as an abomination. However, there are a few – fewer than 10 – CSOs that stand with us. Most of our allies are organisations working on health, and a couple of them do legal work. They have all come from a long way educating themselves about LGBTQI+ issues, and when they do not know something, they ask.

    You mentioned that anti-right groups have international connections and support. Do LGBTQI+ rights organisations enjoy similar connections? What kind of support would you need from international civil society?

    If you had asked me this question five years ago I would have told you to please give human rights organisations money because we are able to work with them. But now I would respond differently: what we need most urgently is to empower more LGBTQI+ people to occupy positions of influence. We’ve experienced violence and discrimination from within the movement, from our own allies, so we need to start having more honest conversations and better accountability for the work that human rights organisations do on LGBTQI+ issues, and see if they really understand what they are doing. To me, it’s about power coming back to the LGBTQI+ community, and the LGBTQI+ community being able to use those positions of power to speak up and negotiate for our own freedom. So my main advice would be, don’t fund other people to speak for us, because we can speak for ourselves.

    It is important that you consult us. There certainly are organisations that are good to us. So if you want to support us, talk to us and we’ll tell who work we best with us, and use this as guidance rather than deciding according to what works best for you as an international organisation.

    Civic space in Uganda is rated as ‘repressed’ by theCIVICUS Monitor.
    Get in touch with Pepe throughFacebook,LinkedIn orInstagram, contact SMUG through itswebsite andFacebook page, and follow@Opimva and@SMUG2004 on Twitter.

     

  • Media Statement: New UN Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association

    ARTICLE 19, CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation, the International Center for Not-for-Profit Law (ICNL), and the World Movement for Democracy (the Civic Space Initiative) welcome Dr. Annalisa Ciampi as the new mandate holder of UN Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of assembly and association, and congratulate her on her appointment.

     

  • Open Letter to president of Venezuela regarding the proposed International Cooperation Bill

    Presidente de la República
    S.E. Hugo Chávez Frías
    Palacio de Miraflores, Caracas,
    Venezuela
    Fax:+58.212.806 3698
    E-mail: 
     
    Your Excellency,
     
    Re: Proposed International Cooperation Bill
     
    I write as the Secretary General of CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation, an international alliance of civil society with members and partners in over a hundred countries. CIVICUS works to strengthen civil society and citizen action throughout the world.
     
    We at CIVICUS, our members and partners, are deeply concerned about your recent comments urging National Assembly members to adopt a "severe" law to effectively stop international funding for NGOs. We would like to emphasise that Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) play an extremely important role in national life. Their constructive criticism and quest for greater accountability in public life are important assets for the nation. We therefore urge your government to respect expressions of legitimate dissent and unequivocally uphold civil society's rights to express, associate and assemble freely.

     

  • Pakistan shuts down and kicks out 18 International NGOs, with 20 others facing expulsion

    •  Pakistan has expelled 18 international non-governmental organisations (INGOs)
    • Another 20 organisations are also at risk of expulsion
    • Pakistan’s policy on INGOs effectively hampers the registration and functioning of international humanitarian and human rights groups

    Global human rights groups have expressed grave concern over the expulsion of 18 international non-governmental organisations (INGOs) from Pakistan.

    The Pakistani authorities ordered the INGOs to leave the country after rejecting their final appeals to remain. According to reports, all 18 expelled organisations, with the exception of two that are still trying to overturn their ouster in court, have closed their operations in Pakistan. Another 20 groups are reportedly also at risk of expulsion following the authorities’ singling out of a total of 38 international aid groups for closure a few months ago.  

    Global civil society alliance, CIVICUS, said this was a regressive move that will have a negative impact on thousands of ordinary Pakistani families that have been assisted by these organisations to claim their rights and build a better life.

    “The Pakistani government's closure of international organisations is a clear violation of the fundamental right to freedom of association,” said David Kode, CIVICUS’s Advocacy and Campaigns Lead.

    “It shows a disturbing disregard for the well-being of ordinary Pakistanis who rely on and benefit from the assistance and support provided by these groups," said Kode.

    On October 3, Pakistan’s Interior Ministry ordered 18 INGOs, including Action Aid, Plan International, International Alert and Safer World, to wind up their operations within 60 days. This followed the Ministry’s rejection of their applications for re-registration, without offering reasons, in November 2017.

    Pakistan has the world’s sixth largest population, a fifth of which live in poverty. In 2017 alone, the INGO sector reached an estimated 34 million people with humanitarian relief and development assistance. The INGOs affected by the closure order are engaged in supporting access to healthcare, education and good governance.

    These expulsions come three years after the previous government ordered all INGOs operating in Pakistan to re-register with the Interior Ministry, under a new policy that worked to hamper the registration and functioning of international humanitarian and human rights groups.

    The new policy and registration process required the submission of detailed accounts of INGOs’ current and past project funding. Even more concerning, all INGOs working in the country are required to sign a new Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), which prohibits any participation in ‘political activity,’ such as campaigning and advocacy activities, as well as distribution of materials deemed to negatively affect social, cultural and religious sentiments. The MoU also prevents INGOs from appealing the government’s decisions in court.

    CIVICUS said the removal of these INGOs violates the right to freedom of association enshrined in Article 17 of Pakistan’s Constitution and guaranteed by Article 22 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which Pakistan is a party to. Any restriction on the right to freedom of association must be in strict compliance with international human rights law. In particular, any restriction shall be prescribed by law and must have a legitimate aim. Furthermore, the law concerned must be precise, certain and foreseeable. It shall also be adopted through a democratic process that ensures public participation and review. The recent actions fulfill none of these criteria.

    “The Pakistani government must reconsider its decision to expel these groups and halt any further plans to shut down other civil society organisations.” Said Kode.

    “Instead, as part of its reform agenda, it should take steps to revise its policy on INGOs to avoid contravening the rights to freedom of expression and association and ensure the policy cannot be misused to restrict organisations’ legitimate work.” said Kode.

    CIVICUS has urged the government to create an enabling environment for civil society and human rights defenders to operate, in accordance with the rights enshrined in the Constitution of Pakistan, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, among others.

    The CIVICUS Monitor, an online platform that tracks threats to civil society in countries across the globe, rates civic space – the space for civil society – in Pakistan as repressed.

    ENDS

    For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact:

    David Kode - email:

    CIVICUS Media –

     

  • People power under attack: just 3% of people live in countries where fundamental civic freedoms are fully respected

    • Almost six billion people live in 106 countries where there are serious violations of freedoms of expression, assembly, and association
    • This first ever global dataset on civic space shows that countries with fewer fundamental civic rights restrictions have less inequality

    Johannesburg, 4 April 2017 –Just three percent of people live in countries where the rights to protest, organise and speak out are respected, protected and fulfilled. This is according to the CIVICUS Monitor, which today releases the first-ever global dataset on civic space, a concept central to any open and democratic society which means that states have a duty to protect people's’  fundamental rights to associate, assemble peacefully and express views and opinions. CIVICUS also finds that serious violations of these rights are taking place in 106 countries - well over half of all UN Member States.

    The CIVICUS Monitor rates how open civic space is in countries based on how well they uphold the three fundamental civic freedoms that enable people to act collectively and make change: freedom of association, freedom of peaceful assembly, and freedom of expression.

    Of the 195 rated, it finds that civic space in 20 countries - Bahrain, Burundi, Cuba, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Iran, Laos, Libya, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria, Turkmenistan, United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan and Vietnam -  is closed, a rating characterised by an atmosphere of fear and violence, and severe punishment for those who dare to disagree with authorities.

    A further 35 countries are rated repressed. Fifty-one countries are rated obstructed and 63 narrowed. Just 26 countries are rated as open, meaning the state safeguards space for people in the country to share their views, participate in public life and influence political and social change.

    Click here for responsive visualisations of all of our findings: https://monitor.civicus.org/findings

    In order to highlight countries of immediate concern to us, today CIVICUS is also launching our new Watch List. This advocacy tool enables us to highlight up to five countries on the CIVICUS Monitor where there is a serious and rapid decline in the ability of people to actively engage in a country’s social and political processes, and have their voices heard. Countries on the first iteration of this Watch List include: Cameroon, Macedonia, Myanmar, the USA, and Turkey.

    “Our research shows that restrictions on fundamental civic freedoms are truly a worrying global phenomenon affecting almost 6 billion people,” said CIVICUS Secretary General and CEO Danny Sriskandarajah. “They cut across established democracies and repressive states, undermining participatory democracy, sustainable development and efforts to reduce inequality.”

    The CIVICUS Monitor provides updates on attacks against civil society organisations and activists every weekday.  Analysis of almost 500 updates published on the CIVICUS Monitor over the past four months has found:

    • Detention of activists, use of excessive force against protesters, and attacks on journalists were the three most common violations of civic freedoms.
    • Activists were most likely to be detained over criticism of authorities, human rights monitoring or demands for social or economic needs to be met.
    • Excessive force was most likely to be used against protesters who criticise government decisions or corruption, call for action on human rights abuses or call for basic social or economic needs to be met.
    • Journalists were most likely to be attacked for political reporting, covering protests or conflicts, or because of their ethnicity, religious or political affiliation.
    • In the majority of cases, the state is the perpetrator of violations, although non-state actors also frequently attack journalists, with many of these crimes going unpunished.

    “Swift action should be taken by authorities and the international community to address the rapid decline in respect for civic space in the five countries on our Watch List,” said CIVICUS Monitor lead researcher Cathal Gilbert. “Escalating attacks on protest rights in the United States, the repression of activists in Anglophone areas of Cameroon and Turkey’s all-out assault on dissent must end without delay.”

    CIVICUS Monitor ratings and daily updates are based on a combination of inputs from local activists, regional civil society experts and research partners, existing assessments by national and international civil society organisations, user-generated input and media-monitoring. The CIVICUS Monitor now provides ratings for all UN Member States and regular updates from a network of twenty research partners around the world.

    ****

    Annex I – CIVICUS Monitor ratings, 4th April 2017

    Closed (20 countries): Bahrain, Burundi, Cuba, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Iran, Laos, Libya, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria, Turkmenistan, United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan and Vietnam.

    Repressed (35 countries): Afghanistan, Algeria, Angola, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Belarus, Cambodia, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, China, Colombia, Djibouti, Egypt, Gambia, Iraq, Liberia, Mauritania, Mexico, Myanmar, Oman, Pakistan, Palestine, Qatar, Republic of the Congo, Russia, Rwanda, Swaziland, Tajikistan, Thailand, Turkey, Uganda, Venezuela, Yemen and Zimbabwe.

    Obstructed (51 countries): Armenia, Bhutan, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Burkina Faso, Côte d'Ivoire
    Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Fiji, Gabón, Guatemala, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Haiti, Honduras, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Israel, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Moldova, Mongolia, Morocco, Mozambique, Nauru, Nepal, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Tanzania,
    Timor-Leste, Togo, Tunisia, Ukraine and Zambia.

    Narrowed (63 countries): Albania, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bahamas, Belize, Benin, Bolivia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Botswana, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Comoros, Costa Rica, Croatia, Dominica, El Salvador, France, Georgia, Ghana, Greece, Grenada, Guyana, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Kiribati, Kosovo, Lithuania, Macedonia, Malawi, Marshall Islands, Mauritius, Micronesia, Montenegro, Namibia, Palau, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Poland, Romania, Saint Lucia, Samoa, Senegal, Serbia, Seychelles, Slovakia, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, St Kitts and Nevis, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, United Kingdom, United States of America, Uruguay and Vanuatu.

    Open (26 countries): Andorra, Barbados, Belgium, Cape Verde, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, San Marino, Sao Tome and Principe, Sweden, Switzerland and Tuvalu.

    Regional breakdown

     

    Africa

    Americas

    Asia

    Europe

    Oceania

    Closed

    9

    1

    10

    0

    0

    Repressed

    15

    3

    14

    3

    0

    Obstructed

    18

    9

    19

    3

    2

    Narrowed

    10

    21

    3

    19

    10

    Open

    2

    1

    0

    21

    2

    ****

    Notes to editors:

    The CIVICUS Monitor is available at https://monitor.civicus.org. If you have a question about the CIVICUS Monitor - see our FAQ page here.

    For more information or to set up interviews with CIVICUS staff and research partners, please contact Deborah Walter, Communication Manager, CIVICUS on or . Tel: +27 - 11 - 8335959

    CIVICUS is a global alliance of over 3,600 civil society organisations and activists dedicated to strengthening citizen action and civil society around the world.

    www.civicus.org

    www.twitter.com/CIVICUSalliance

    www.facebook.com/CIVICUS

    #CIVICUSMonitor 

     

  • Re: Proposed International Cooperation Bill

    Presidente de la República
    S.E. Hugo Chávez Frías
    Palacio de Miraflores, Caracas,
    Venezuela
    Fax:+58.212.806 3698
    E-mail:
     

    Your Excellency,

     
     

    Re: Proposed International Cooperation Bill

     
     
     
    I write as the Secretary General of CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation, an international alliance of civil society with members and partners in over a hundred countries. CIVICUS works to strengthen civil society and citizen action throughout the world.
     
     
    We at CIVICUS, our members and partners, are deeply concerned about your recent comments urging National Assembly members to adopt a "severe" law to effectively stop international funding for NGOs. We would like to emphasise that Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) play an extremely important role in national life. Their constructive criticism and quest for greater accountability in public life are important assets for the nation. We therefore urge your government to respect expressions of legitimate dissent and unequivocally uphold civil society's rights to express, associate and assemble freely.
     
     

    We would like to draw your attention to the International Cooperation Bill, currently being discussed by law makers. We believe that the bill has been drawn up without adequate consultation with civil society. Moreover, we are deeply apprehensive that that passage of the Bill in its current form will severely curtail civil society space in the following ways:

    1. Subjecting CSOs to additional layers of bureaucracy by requiring them to register with the government in order to receive funds from international sources could increase the possibility of subjective denial of registration to CSOs who have been critical of official actions.
    2. The creation of an official fund for International Cooperation and Assistance for the collection of monetary grants from overseas and their subsequent disbursement by the government is likely to impede international cooperation activities between Venezuelan CSOs and their counterparts abroad. Moreover, it will lead to government ownership and prioritisation of international cooperation funds rather than democratic ownership by CSOs and local communities.
    3. By increasing executive discretion to monitor CSO affairs through the creation of an Agency for International Cooperation, limits of whose powers and have not been clearly defined, raising apprehension of increased restrictions on CSO affairs. 

    We believe that the registration and funding requirements of the Bill, given their ambiguity, have the potential to breach the right to freedom of association embodied in the Venezuelan Constitution, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the American Convention on Human Rights and the UN Human Rights Defenders Declaration. 

    We urge you to use your executive powers and influence to carry out consultations with civil society with regard to the need for an international cooperation law as well as the principles that should underpin any regulatory mechanism for civil society.

    Sincerely,

    Ingrid Srinath
    Secretary General
    CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation

     

  • Sri Lanka: Civil society subjected to intensified military surveillance and other restrictions

    Joint Statement at the 44th session of the Human Rights Council

    Interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association


    Thank you, Madam President.

    As the Special Rapporteur’s report demonstrates, the space for Sri Lankan civil society is rapidly shrinking. For several months now, civil society organisations have been subject to intensified military surveillance and questioning by different government authorities.

    Worryingly, the COVID-19 pandemic has been exploited by the Sri Lankan government to impose restrictions on the rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly, resulting in the arrest and detention of social media commentators like Ramzy Razeek. Senior lawyer and minority and civic rights activist, Hejaaz Hizbullah, who was arrested and detained on suspicion of offences under the draconian Prevention of Terrorism Act, has now been detained for close to three months without being produced before a judge, after having been misled to believe that the authorities were visiting his house to discuss his potential exposure to COVID-19.

    Since January 2020, the Government of Sri Lanka has established multiple Presidential Task Forces. Decisions have been taken with no oversight by Parliament. The Presidential Task Force to build a “Secure Country, Disciplined, Virtuous and Lawful Society” is fully comprised of security sector personnel and given an ambiguous mandate. Sri Lankan civil society has raised a serious concern that the task force can extend military control over civilian life. Its power can be abused to curtail dissenting voices which are deemed to be “harmful to the free and peaceful existence of society”. The increased deployment of military personnel along with the police, and the disproportionate use of force against peaceful protesters, as observed recently, are also alarming.

    Considering growing concerns over shrinking space for dissent domestically, the Council remains effectively the only forum where Sri Lankan civil society has the possibility to engage openly in dialogue with the Government and other States on human rights concerns in Sri Lanka, and even this space is increasingly under threat due to deepening risks of reprisals against Sri Lankan civil society actors who speak at the Council. Those human right defenders are increasingly vilified as “traitors” in both mainstream and social media.

    Given Sri Lanka’s announced withdrawal from its commitments to the implementation of resolution 30/1, and the clear and consistent recommendations by the OHCHR that the Council should monitor progress towards accountability, the Council needs to take a more robust approach on Sri Lanka. Against this backdrop, we encourage the Special Rapporteur to continue to follow up on the situation and urge the Human Rights Council to enhance its monitoring of Sri Lanka’s compliance with international human rights law, including to ensure that human rights are protected throughout the forthcoming general elections.

    Amnesty International
    CIVICUS
    Forum Asia
    Franciscans International
    Human Rights Watch
    International Movement Against All Forms of Discrimination and Racism
    ISHR
    Minority rights group international


    Civic space in Sri Lanka is currently rated as Obstructed by the CIVICUS Monitor

    Current council members:

    Afghanistan, Angola, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chile, Czech Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Denmark, Eritrea, Fiji, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Libya, Marshall Islands, Mauritania, Mexico, Namibia, Nepal, Netherlands, Nigeria, Poland, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Senegal, Slovakia, SomaliaSudan, Spain, Togo, Ukraine, Uruguay, Venezuela

    Civic space ratings from the CIVICUS Monitor

    OPEN NARROWED OBSTRUCTED  REPRESSED CLOSED

     

     

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