protest restrictions

 

  • Bolivian government using law and force to cow civil society into silence

    Spanish

    CIVICUS speaks to Marco Antonio Gandarillas, Director of the Centre of Information and Documentation Bolivia (CEDIB), a human rights organisation founded in 1970 with the aim of providing information and consulting services with a critical eye on the social reality of Bolivia and Latin America. He speaks on the protests gripping the country in recent years, the response of state security forces and the dire situation of environmental activists.

    1. Since the beginning of 2017, there have been protests over water, mobilisations for and against the president’s re-election, violent protests against the coca Bill, and countless local protests. Are we seeing a peak in social mobilisation in Bolivia?
    Conflict is a part of this country’s political culture: as sociologist Fernando Calderón would put it, politics in Bolivia is “done in the streets”. We have government agencies and civil society organisations dedicated to counting social conflicts in Bolivia, because this is a country that is in permanent conflict.

    The current situation must be apprehended in historical perspective. When President Evo Morales attained power in 2006, it was initially a rather convulsive stage. Certain actors, notably centres of regional power, disputed power spaces with the state. Starting with the constitutional process in 2006-2008, disputes between regional power groups and the central state subsided, and some stability ensued. There were some violent incidents here and there, but generally speaking it was a phase of low levels of conflict that lasted several years.

    Around 2011 the situation changed again, with sustained increases in conflict, particularly fuelled by socio-economic factors. The turning point was the mobilisation of the indigenous peoples of TIPNIS (Territorio Indígena y Parque Nacional Isiboro-Secure), a highly biodiverse protected area. The people of TIPNIS mobilised to reject the construction of a highway that would cut through their territory. The conflict was particularly relevant because this was a sector that had been an ally of the government, and that by mobilising independently raised a national conflict with the state. They received numerous expressions of public support and this became one of the main topics of public debate.

    It should be noted that this process of de-alignment was important at the level of social leadership, but not so much at the grassroots level of indigenous organisations. Indigenous peoples actually live very far removed from conventional partisan politics and were not necessarily aligned with the government to begin with. In fact, many indigenous peoples – we are talking about more than thirty groups in the highlands, and about as many in the lowlands - never saw President Evo Morales as one of their own. President Morales represents the sector of the cocaleros, colonisers from the highlands who occupied the lowlands to grow coca in territories originally belonging to smaller and more vulnerable indigenous peoples. So there is actually not a single standpoint attributable to “the indigenous peoples”. Politically, indigenous organisations were a circumstantial ally of a government that at first advocated certain rights, promoted legal progress and proposed dialogue and social pacts. But the government also supported the expansion of agribusiness in the lowland territories of indigenous peoples, even allowing illegal activities such as coca cultivation for cocaine production.

    In short, since 2011, and more intensely on the eve of the latest presidential election (the third) that President Morales won in late 2014, we have had a number of conficts that is even higher than the number of conflicts that took place in 2003, a time of social upheaval leading to the fall and flight of then-President Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada. Although larger in number, however, the nature of conflicts has also changed. At present, there is a great proliferation of disaggregated conflicts, many of which are accompanied by high levels of violence.

    2. How has the state reacted to the protests?
    It has become commonplace for conflicts to be contained by heavy police intervention, often resulting in fatalities. The security forces, and particularly the police, enjoy total impunity: no cases of deaths caused by repression have been truly probed, and perpetrators have never even been prosecuted.

    For instance, last year the conflict involving mining cooperatives resulted in seven deaths, six on the side of the miners plus a high authority – the deputy Interior Minister – who was lynched. There are detainees, but there is no evidence of legal proceedings complying with due process guarantees having been initiated against the material and intellectual authors of these crimes. Five of those people were killed by police-issued weapons, but perpetrators have not been identified.

    This increase in conflict levels is the result of growing social unrest, which has surprisingly not expressed itself at the polls. From President Morales’ 2014 solid victory – he was re-elected with about 60% of the vote – the government deduced that society supported their economic model, regardless of the fact that according to the available data, the main reason for most conflicts was socio-economic in nature, revolving around wages, land, natural resources, public services and the allocation of public funds.

    Therefore, as he was inaugurated for the third time, President Morales embraced the deepening of the government’s model as his main objective. This triggered new conflicts and worsened existing ones. I think this is at the basis of the high levels of violence that now characterise social conflict, along with the impunity with which repressive agencies act.

    3. Was the repression of protests accompanied by legal changes that may have fueled police violence and increased impunity?
    Legal changes have indeed also taken place, as part of a regional trend. Under pressure from the United States of America, all countries in the Southern Cone have introduced repressive reforms into their criminal codes, typifying various forms of social protest as criminal offences. An ambiguous figure that almost all countries incorporated was that of “fight against terrorism”.

    In Bolivia, the government soon realised that it could not control society solely through the co-optation of social leadership – what I call “clientelistic social control” – and therefore began to deploy a strategy of repressive social control. The new tools it used went beyond police repression: they included for instance smear campaigns and “public lynching” of dissenting voices by government authorities. Any sector, institution or leader who appears as overly critical is accused by the president of being right-wing, destabilising or promoting coups. This in turn justifies the adoption of further measures such as the physical seizure of organisations’ headquarters, which has often occurred. Many grassroots organisations that were independent from the government, including large indigenous organisations such as CIDOB (Confederation of Indigenous Peoples of Bolivia) have been forcibly taken over by government-affiliated groups that had their legitimately elected authorities removed and replaced with activists from their own ranks or even with government officials. In general, they sought to make this look as if this had been the outcome of a confrontation between groups, when in fact the police intervened to remove legitimate leaders and replace them with impostors. A recent example of this was the attempted takeover of APDHB (Permanent Assembly of Human Rights of Bolivia) in February 2017.

    Once the government was engaged in media lynching, it was only natural for a conviction to develop regarding the need to regulate those situations in which protesting is not acceptable. Various laws – including the Investment Promotion Law and the Mining Law, both passed in 2014 –, along with a number of supreme decrees, for instance those about cooperatives, classified a variety of forms of legitimate social opposition as criminal offences, in many cases carrying prison sentences ranging from 4 to 8 years. I do not know of any specific case in which the Investment Law has been applied to someone for blocking a road; this legislation works rather as deterrence of mobilisation against state-promoted initiatives.

    4. Are there any specific issues or mobilised groups that are targeted with higher levels of violence?
    Mobilisations with a national ambition and involving political questioning of the government are most harshly repressed. Such was the case of the mobilisation by mining cooperatives. In the pre-electoral period in 2014, miners were promised many things that eventually found their way into a Mining Law (Law No. 535/2014) granting them unrestricted access to exploitation areas. Failure to comply with these provisions led to their mobilisation in 2016.

    At the same time, other sectors – particularly indigenous peoples – typically react when their territories and livelihoods are affected by extractive activities. 2011 was a turning point for them too. Until then, there were umbrella indigenous organisations at the regional and national levels. Since then, government action has focused on de-structuring indigenous organisation: most departmental, regional and national organisations have since been seized, or parallel organisations have been established. Indigenous communities’ capacity for national action against mining or hydrocarbon exploitation has therefore been greatly affected. These days, in the context of a large hydroelectric project north of La Paz, the government strategically avoids dealing with local actors, who are directly affected and therefore oppose the project, and deals instead with a regional leadership that no longer represents anybody but turns out to be their preferred political partner.

    In dozens of territories, still known as TCOs (tierras comunitarias de origen or “original community lands”), simultaneous processes of resistance are taking place against a number of extractive projects. But these resistances are taking place on a local scale that is often almost imperceptible to the media and public opinion.

    5. Have other fundamental civic space freedoms been affected?
    Restrictions have been introduced in all areas, but the freedom of association has been hit the worst. From 2011 onwards, the government has targeted not only the directly affected groups mobilised against extractive activities but also the organisations supporting them through research, advocacy and by shaping public opinion. Thus, many research centres and environmental, human rights and indigenous rights NGOs have become enemies to be defeated by the state. In addition to systematically smearing them in public, the government has passed legislation – notably Law No. 351 on Legal Personalities (2013) – in order to deplete the urban civil society that works in solidarity or campaigns on behalf of indigenous and other excluded groups. Law No. 351 replaces the entire previous legal framework of the Civil Code and requires civil society to align its objectives and activities with government policies. More than in the forcible shutting down of organisations, the new legal framework has resulted in “silent suicide”. In a context in which, since judicial authorities are now elected by popular vote, the judiciary has become subordinate to the executive and due process guarantees fail, civil society has felt intimidated. Many organisations have decided to either close their doors or change their goals and lower their profile so as not to disturb power. In so doing, civil society has lost strength and independence.

    Over the past few years, CEDIB has received countless inspections by various state agencies. Neither public offices nor private companies are subjected to the kind of controls that this small organisation has had to submit to. We have had audits of all kinds, including some that are blatantly illegal, as when we had to respond to a requirement to submit accounting documentation dating back more than twenty years, although the Commercial Code establishes an obligation to keep records going back just five years.

    However, CEDIB is a prestigious centre and has a certain specific weight. In fact, the state is one of the main users of our services and data. So our relationship with the state is complex and contradictory, as the authorities demand resources from us all the while wishing we were politically aligned with the government. This leads to some authorities, as the vice president did at some point, launching attacks against us, while at the same time others keep recognising that they need our information and advice. And in the eyes of society and even the media – including para-governmental outlets – we are still a serious and credible organisation whose existence is vital for democracy. That, in a way, is what has kept us going.

    6. How has civil society responded to the deterioration of its enabling environment?
    Unfortunately, historic NGO networks have not been able to curb authoritarian advances. Other governments in the past had tried to deprive civil society of its autonomy, but had failed to do so because NGO networks used to be stronger. Vis-à-vis our current government, however, civil society organisations have become weak and intimidated, partly because of the already mentioned administrative restrictions and reprisals used against them, and also as a result of reductions in development aid funding.

    Civil society has not just been attacked: it has also suffered divisions. In the face of reduced flows of international cooperation funds, many organisations were left without sources of external funding, which used to be prevalent in the sector, and therefore sought refuge in the state. Other organisations were co-opted not by means of state resources but by President Evo Morales’ developmentalist discourse, which accurately reflected their own ideals and trajectory. And for many others – I would say for the majority – what prevailed was the feeling of impotence vis-à-vis a government that proved itself capable of doing whatever they wanted with them, be it legally or extra-legally. In other words, fear prevailed given the credible threat of controls resulting in steep, impossible-to-pay fines and even in prison sentences for organisations’ staff.

    As a result, there is now a large set of NGOs that are actually para-governmental organisations and survive on contracts, consultancy work and other state resources. In addition, there are a number of NGOs that have been founded and are directed by high state authorities. All senior public officials, starting with President Evo Morales, manage NGOs that have been set up in order to run government programmes with international cooperation or public funds. It has been reported that, for instance, a foundation run by the president has its own television channel and handles large state advertising contracts.

    Still, along with three other organisations – the Permanent Assembly of Human Rights (APDHB), the Centre for Legal Studies and Social Research (CEJIS) and the Centre for Local Development Studies and Support (CEADL) – we did submit a petition to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights in defence of the freedoms of associacion and expression as a negative ruling was issued by the Constitutional Court. But it was just the four of us, out of a very vast group of NGOs that did not come together in defence of these freedoms. Fear semed to be the common denominator among them all.

    7. Have you missed out on international solidarity as a result of Latin American and global progressives’ sympathies for President Evo Morales? In which ways could the international community support civil society in Bolivia?
    We are currently facing a transition scenario. President Morales can no longer run for re-election, and there are several crises underway. One of those crises has derived from the fall in commodities’ prices, which has had a major impact on this ultra-extractivist country that has placed all its bets on primary exports. In other words, we will have not just a change of government but also a change in the state, as a result of impending public spending restrictions. Politically, the upcoming transision must involve the recovery of infringed rights, which requires the repeal or reform of various pieces of legislation and the abandonment of intimidatory practices. It is necessary to ensure a favourable environment for the activities of civil society and journalists, to make public management transparent, and to build an agenda for the strengthening of civil society.

    At the international level, the critical phase was overcome years ago. There was a period in which it was outrightly condemned to criticise, or even relativise, the very optimistic view that prevailed abroad about what was going on in Bolivia. We were told that criticism amounted to “play into the hands of the right” and in favour or international power centres. That ended even before TIPNIS: in 2010, the Mother Earth Summit (World Peoples’ Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth) held in Cochabamba exposed major contradictions between what the government said abroad and what they did domestically: between its environmental discourse, on the one hand, and the expansion of extractivism and the advances of deforestation, on the other.

    Another, more recent turning point was the Indigenous Communication Summit in November 2016. The Bolivian government acted as convenor of this annual summit of movements, and then tried to control it, bypassing the entire indigenous leadership from other countries. They did this so clumsily that even the groups that came in most convinced that in Bolivia there was an indigenous intercultural revolution underway, came out disillusioned. The government attempted to control them in the same way it has done with Bolivian indigenous organisations - they even accused them of having come to Bolivia to conspire to organise a coup, which made no sense.

    In this context, the first thing we need from the international community is that they condemn the regression we have experienced in terms of fundamental rights. The legal framework established by Law No. 351 is rather suited to a dictatorship: a government requiring civil society to organise along its own objectives is completely unacceptable.

    Second, we need a rapprochement with the civil societies of the countries in our region. In recent times, regional mafias have mobilised across borders, and we need common standards in order to fight them. Not only governments but also civil societies need to have an agenda beyond our own country’s borders, that is, with an international projection – regional to start with, and then global as well.

    • The Centre of Information and Documentation Bolivia is one of Bolivia’s most prestigious and socially rooted civil society institutions. CEDIB administers one of the most important archives containing documents of major historical importance, and its research has great impact on public opinion.
    • Get in touch with CEDIB through their Facebook page or website, or follow @cedib_com on Twitter
    • Civic space in Bolivia is rated as ‘narrowed’ in the CIVICUS Monitor

     

  • Continúa la persecución de los líderes de los movimientos de protesta rurales a medida que se profundiza la crisis en Nicaragua

    • Tres activistas ecologistas campesinos se encuentran detenidos y sufriendo malos tratos a la espera de juicio 
    • Un informe de las Naciones Unidas confirma que el gobierno sigue atacando a los líderes campesinos
    • Personal de Naciones Unidas ha sido expulsado de Nicaragua tras el informe realizado sobre las violaciones de los derechos de los manifestantes 
    • Más de 320 personas han muerto desde el inicio de la represión violenta de las protestas en abril
    • Grupos de derechos humanos instan a las autoridades a retirar todos los cargos y liberar a los líderes campesinos

     

  • Critical need to support right to protest, says new report

    Protest movements around the world are finding themselves on the frontlines of a global attack on democracy and human rights, according to a new report by CIVICUS, the global civil society alliance. In the face of acute restrictions on democratic dissent at the national level, there is worryingly little support for protest movements from international stakeholders, including other protest movements, foreign states, UN  bodies and international civil society organisations.   This study concludes that such support is important to uphold the international human rights framework, of which the right to peacefully express democratic dissent is a key component. 

    The report, Keeping up the Pressure: Enhancing the Sustainability of Protest Movements, explores factors that contribute to or undermine the sustainability of contemporary protest movements. The research examines these issues in three countries, Bahrain, Chile and Uganda, drawing from a series of surveys of and interviews with leaders of contemporary protest movements.

    “With formal spaces for participation closing across the globe, citizens are more likely to take to the streets to have their voices heard and press for change,” said Tor Hodenfield, Policy and Research Analyst at CIVICUS, and author of the report. “This study shows that the international community and national stakeholders must foster a safer and more enabling environment for people to engage in public protests.”

    Recent years have seen the world swept by new waves of citizen protest. In countries around the world, large numbers of people have marched, demonstrated, occupied and blockaded to call attention to governance failures, demand democracy, stand against autocracy, claim human rights and urge that their fundamental needs are met. While the triggers of protests vary, the new protest movements that have sprung to life in many parts of the globe in have much in common, including the imaginative and creative tactics they employ, their ability to connect local and immediate issues to larger and longer-term concerns, and their determination to sustain action over time.

    “Governments must recognise that protest movements play an essential role in shaping democratic life and addressing public concerns,” said Sebastián Vielmas, Chilean right to education activist, “We must forge broad alliances at home and abroad with international civil society and human rights bodies to ensure the sustainability of protest movements and enable the fundamental right to peaceful assembly.”

    This study concludes that such support is essential for enhancing the sustainability of national protest movements, across all three contexts. 

    Additional key findings include:

    •     The states covered by the research are failing to facilitate the right to peaceful assembly.
    •    The major ways in which states undermine the sustainability of protest movements are excessive use of force, arbitrary arrest of protesters and imposition of legal restrictions on the freedom of peaceful assembly.
    •    Civil society organisations at the national level need to play a larger role in mobilising support for protest movements through networking.
    •    The sustainability of protest movements would be enhanced if legal and extra-legal restrictions on the right to the freedom of assembly are removed or eased. 
    •    Protest movement leaders believe that they and their movements have capacity enhancement needs that are currently not being met.

    For more information, contact:

    CIVICUS Media 
     

    Tor Hodenfield 
    Policy & Advocacy Officer 

    Deborah Walter
    Communication Manager

    Editor’s Notes

    CIVICUS can organise interviews with research partners in Bahrain, Chile, and Uganda. 

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  • Egypt: international community must take a stand and demand an end to human rights violations

    • More than 2000 people arrested after peaceful protests
    • Widespread arrests include people not related to the protests but perceived by the authorities to have taken part in any demonstrations dating back to 2011
    • Global civil society alliance condemns the harsh repression of protests in Egypt and calls for international pressure

    The ongoing crackdown on people in Egypt, large scale arrests and heightened security in Cairo and other major cities signal another low moment for human rights in Egypt, global civil society alliance CIVICUS said today. The Egyptian authorities have arrested more than 2000 people in a massive sweep that followed peaceful protests calling for an end to widespread corruption and condemning the actions of the government of President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. On 26 September 2019, the Egyptian authorities deployed hundreds of military personnel across the country to pre-empt any planned anti-government protest, intimidate the population and force many to self-censor to avoid reprisals from the state. Many of those who have been arrested include representatives of civil society, academics, former politicians and others.  

    The recent crackdown and militarisation of cities across the country began during a rare protest on the weekend of 20 September when protesters expressed concerns over the government of President Sisi and condemned high levels of corruption. In response, security forces physically assaulted some protesters and used tear gas to disperse others, arrested thousands and detained them in different locations. The protests have been followed by a widespread crackdown on human rights defenders, members of the political opposition, activists and journalists—many of whom had not taken part in the protests at all and were instead arrested in raids on their homes. The Egyptian authorities embarked on a punitive campaign by using this protest to arrest many including those perceived to have been connected to protests in 2011.

    Many of those arrested have been ordered into pretrial detention and informed that they were under investigation for using social media to spread false news, aiding a terrorist group to achieve its objectives and for participating in unauthorised protests. Others remain forcibly disappeared today. Among those arrested is human rights defender and lawyer Mahienour el-Masry who was detained on 22 September 2019 as she exited the headquarters of the State Security Prosecution in Cairo where she represented some of the detained protesters. She was then interrogated by the Supreme State Security Prosecution (SSSP) on false allegations of spreading false news and aiding a terrorist group to achieve its objectives.

    More than five journalists have been arrested for sharing information and videos about the protests and the violent response by the police online. Families of those speaking from abroad to condemn the Sisi government have faced harassment and intimidation; for example, in the wake of videos recorded by Egyptian activist Wael Ghonim in which he criticised Sisi, Ghonim’s dentist brother Hazem was arrested and ordered into pretrial detention in retaliation.

    To pre-empt any further protests, some government officials threatened to decisively confront any attempts to “destabilise Egypt” and riot police, plain clothes security officials and other security personnel were deployed in major cities across Egypt.

    Over the last few years, President Sisi’s government has promulgated and amended laws that restrict the activities of civil society organisations and their ability to access funding, detained scores of human rights defenders and journalists and imposed travel bans on many. In its March 2019 submission to the UN Human Rights Council, CIVICUS and partners found that Egypt had not implemented any of the recommendations related to civic space. Instead, civic space in Egypt continues to deteriorate exponentially.

    Many civil society organisations have been forced to close down amidst this systemic crackdown on fundamental freedoms as the government has also imposed some of the worst restrictions on internet freedoms.

    “Amidst the ongoing human rights violations in Egypt exemplified by the forceful dispersal of peaceful protests and arrests of nearly 2,000 people, Egypt’s international partners and the United Nations Secretary General should call on him to put an end to all forms of restrictions on fundamental rights in Egypt,” said Dr. Nancy Okail, Executive Director of the Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy.

    CIVICUS calls on the international community to exert pressure on President Sisi to call on his security forces to immediately release all those detained in relation to the recent protests, respect the rights of Egyptians to assemble and express themselves in a peaceful manner.

    -----

    Egypt is rated as closed by the CIVICUS Monitor, a participatory platform that rates and measures the state of civic freedoms in 196 countries. Earlier this month, CIVICUS and 15 human rights organisations wrote a letter to the United Nations Human Rights Council with a call to use the Universal Periodic Review of Egypt to address the unprecedented levels of repression.

    For more information, please contact:

    Masana Ndinga-Kanga

    MENA Advocacy Lead, CIVICUS

    Email: :

     

  • Egypt: Stop the onslaught against civil society

    The undersigned civil society organisations express our serious concern over the recent escalation of restrictions on civil society and the public vilification of human rights defenders in Egypt. We call on the Egyptian authorities to uphold their international obligations and ensure that civil society and human rights defenders can work in a safe and enabling environment without fear of reprisals.

    On 24 May 2017, President Abdel Fatah El Sisi signed a highly restrictive law that provides the government with extraordinary powers over NGOs and stifles the activities of civil society. The bill was approved by Parliament in November 2016 but was put on hold after an outcry by local and international civil society organisations to prevent the President from passing it into law. Law 70 of 2017 severely limits the functioning of civil society organisations and unduly restricts the rights to freedom of expression and association. It introduces hefty fines and prison terms for civil society groups who publish a study or a report without prior approval by the government or engage in activities that do not have a developmental or social focus. These new restrictions make it practically impossible for human rights organisations to carry out their work.

    The law provides unprecedented authority to government bodies to interfere in the day-to-day operations of civil society organisations, including their cooperation with any entities outside of Egypt. Worryingly, the law includes overly broad and vague provisions that could lead to its arbitrary application and targeting legitimate activities. Article 13 of the law broadly prohibits civil society organisations from conducting activities that could be deemed harmful to national security, public order, public morality, or public health. The law further violates the right to freedom of association and criminalises activities considered to be of a “political nature” as well as legislative reform work thereby impeding the important work of independent civil society groups in Egypt.

    In addition, the government has imposed unwarranted restrictions on the right to freedom of expression online and the ability of individuals to communicate freely and seek and receive information. On 25 May, the government blocked 21 websites and accused them of spreading “terrorism and extremism” and “publishing lies". The block was carried out without any legal process or judicial oversight. These websites include Mada Masr - one of the few independent news outlets that carries out investigative journalism.

    On 25 May 2017, more than 10 media outlets published articles and reports as part of a smear campaign against human rights defenders who had travelled to Rome a few days before to participate in a meeting with civil society representatives from other countries. The articles labelled the human rights defenders “traitors,” and urged the Egyptian intelligence service to try them on criminal charges upon their return. This smear campaign is intended to discredit and delegitimise the work of peaceful activists by tarnishing their reputation.

    Human rights defenders continue to be intimidated and harassed by the authorities. On 24 May, human rights activist and Director of the Egypt Programme for the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS), Mohamed Zaree, was released on bail of 30,000 EGP (1,650 USD) after being interrogated for several hours by a judge. He was accused of receiving foreign funding for CIHRS, together with other civil society organisations, and for using the funds to promote activities that the authorities perceive to be against national security. He was also accused of tarnishing the reputation of Egypt by preparing human rights reports for the United Nations Human Rights Council.

    Over the past few years, Egyptian authorities banned 24 human rights defenders and NGO staff from traveling abroad, and froze the assets of seven human rights organizations and 10 human rights defenders. These punitive measures have been implemented by an investigative judicial panel appointed to investigate the activities of human rights organizations.

    What is also clear from recent events in Egypt, is that the Egyptian state seems determined to close down the civic space of feminists and women human rights defenders (WHRDs) in particular. The stifling of the activism of Egyptian feminists and WHRDs such as Azza Soliman and Mozn Hassan who work on critical issues of violence against women, the closure of the El Nadeem center, and the travel ban against WHRD, Aida Seif el-Dawla, etc, are typical of the tools normally used against WHRDs under repressive governments.

    We urge the Egyptian authorities to repeal Law 70 of 2017, close the ongoing criminal investigation into the work of human rights groups and ensure a safe and enabling environment in which civil society organisations and human rights defenders can carry out their work without fear of reprisals.

    Signatories

    Andalus Institute for Tolerance and Anti Violence Studies
    Amnesty International
    Article 19
    Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression
    CIVICUS
    EuroMed Rights
    Front Line Defenders
    International Women’s Health Coalition
    Nazra For Feminist Studies
    MENA Women Human Rights Defenders Coalition
    Muslims for Progressive Values, Nederland
    The Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy
    Transparency International
    Women Human Rights Defenders International Coalition

     

  • Ethiopia: Stop violence against protesters and lift internet restrictions

    (Johannesburg 2 July 2020) CIVICUS calls on the authorities in Ethiopia to stop using violence to disperse ongoing protests and to lift internet restrictions that have been imposed across the country.

    At least 80 people have been killed since protesters started demonstrating against the brutal assassination of prominent musician Hachalu Hundessa on 29 June 2020. Hachalu, whose songs reflected the challenges of the Oromia people during anti-government protests from 2014 to 2018, was killed by unidentified gunmen in Addis Ababa.

    “The Ethiopian authorities have a long history of using brutal force to quell protests, and the ongoing repression of protesters has once again opened divisions and provoked violence among the different ethnic groups. The shutting down of the internet and arrest of prominent political figures bring back memories of the human rights violations perpetrated by previous governments. The authorities should lift restrictions on the internet and implement UN guidelines on managing protests to avoid a further escalation of violence,” said Paul Mulindwa, Advocacy and Campaigns Officer, CIVICUS.

    Background

    More than 80 people have been killed as protesters condemn the killing of popular musician Hachalu Hundessa. The Ethiopian government has failed to provide assurances that those responsible have been identified and will be brought to justice. The number of deaths may be higher as internet restrictions imposed by the authorities in cities affected by the violence make it impossible to obtain credible information on the extent of the unrest. Prominent political figures, including former political prisoner and journalist Eskinder Nega, have also been arrested. CIVICUS is concerned that the government’s violent response may intensify this volatile situation.

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

    To arrange an interview with CIVICUS or activists in Ethiopia please contact:

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  • Global rights group condemns violent repression of peaceful protests in eSwatini (formerly Swaziland)

    • Global civil society alliance condemns ongoing violations of freedom of assembly
    • At least two protesters shot, several injured in police attacks on marches
    • Hundreds of thousands of workers staged three days of protests
    • Violent police action against peaceful protests comes on eve of controversial elections

    Global human rights groups have condemned the violent repression of peaceful protests in eSwatini (formerly Swaziland) as part of a long-running pattern of fundamental rights violations in the southern African kingdom.

    At least two protesters were shot on Wednesday and several reported injured after police attacked demonstrations by workers, who were protesting the autocracy of King Mswati III, ruler of sub-Saharan Africa’s last remaining absolute monarchy, and calling for improved wages and better working conditions. The workers were among hundreds of thousands of others who responded to a call by the Trade Union Congress of Swaziland (TUCOSWA) to stage three days of peaceful protests, beginning on September 18, in the cities of Manzini, Mbabane, Siteki and Nhlangano.

     The latest incidents in ongoing restrictions on freedom of assembly and expression have come just ahead of today’s highly controversial parliamentary elections. More than 500,000 registered voters are expected to cast ballots for representatives of the legislature – an institution under the firm control of the King. The elections will be held without the participation of political parties, which are banned in Swaziland. 

    Global civil society alliance, CIVICUS, said the brutal police action against protesters violated constitutionally-protected rights to freedom of assembly and highlights the continued actions by the authorities to repress fundamental rights in Africa’s last remaining absolute monarchy.

    “Swazis are unable to participate in political processes and with the tight controls exerted by the authorities over the media, constitutionally-guaranteed peaceful protests remain the only means through which they can raise concerns about issues affecting them,” said David Kode, CIVICUS Campaigns and Advocacy Lead.

    “By using violence against those who exercise this right, the authorities are revealing the true extent of the brutality of the regime,” Kode said.

    The current wave of repression of protesters is the latest in a trend observed since the start of the year to curtail the only means available to citizens to inform the government about issues affecting them. On June 29 for example, the police used brute force to disperse protesting workers as they made their way to deliver a petition to the Deputy Prime Minister’s office, calling for an introduction of a minimum wage and an end to the abuse of small-scale sugarcane workers. Four protesters were injured and hospitalised and one was detained and released after a while. 

    On September 8, police used force to repress demonstrations led by nurses to  express concerns over healthcare cuts and medicine shortages. The protesting healthcare workers were blocked as they tried to deliver a petition to government officials.  Violence was also used against hundreds of trade union members demonstrating against the King’s misuse of the state pension fund.

    King Mswati III unilaterally changed the country’s name from Swaziland to eSwatini in April, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of independence from Britain.

    CIVICUS calls on the authorities to respect the rights of citizens to assemble peacefully and hold to account security forces who targeted peaceful protesters. 

    The CIVICUS Monitor, an online platform that tracks threats to civil society in countries around the world, rates the space for civil society in Swaziland as ‘repressed’.   

    For more information, please contact:

    David Kode

     

  • 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)

     

  • Les manifestants se transforment en milliers de personnes qui battent la fermeture d'Internet

    Read the interview in English 

    CIVICUS parle avec KEPOMEY Koffi Dela Franck de l'organisation non gouvernementale Concertation Nationale de la Société Civile au Togo des récentes manifestations dans le pays sur les limites du mandat présidentiel.

    Q : L’accès à l’internet et aux réseaux sociaux était restreint au Togo entre le 5 et 12 Septembre. Est-ce que vous pourriez donner plus d’information sur les raisons de cette action ?

    Effectivement l'accès à internet et aux réseaux sociaux a été restreint au Togo à cette période. La raison évoquée par le parti au pouvoir est une panne technique. Ce qui n'est pas vrai. La restriction est faite juste pour que l'opposition et les citoyens ne puissent pas utiliser les réseaux sociaux pour informer l'opinion internationale de la situation au Togo (grande manifestation de l'opposition et répression des forces de sécurité à partir de 22 heures). Sources proches du parti au pouvoir indiquent qu’ils l’ont fait pour prévenir que les gens diffusent des images qui incitent à la violence.

    Cette décision viole l'article10 de la résolution NA/HCR/RES/32/13 du 1 juillet 2016 adopté par le conseil des droits humains des nations unies sur la promotion, la protection et l'exercice des droits humains sur internet.

    Q. Quel était l’impact de cette restriction ?

    Cette restriction n'a pas été sans impacts négatifs sur l'économie et la vie sociale du pays. Les activités de plusieurs opérateurs économiques sont restreintes et aussi la population est privée d'information.

    Q. Le samedi 19 août 2017 des manifestants ont été tuées lors d’une manifestation menée par l’opposition. Est-ce que vous pourriez donner plus d’information de ce qui s’est passé ce jour?

    Le samedi 19 août 2017, le Parti National Panafricain, PNP, a organisé à Lome et dans certaines localités du pays (Anié, Sokodé, Bafilo, Kara) une marche pour dénoncer le retour à la constitution de 1992 et réclamer le droit de vote de la population de la diaspora.

    Au cours de cette manifestation il y’a eu plusieurs morts (2 selon des sources officielles et 7 selon les organisateurs) et de nombreux blessés. En même temps 66 personnes ont été arrêtées.

    Q. Savez-vous pourquoi la police a réagi avec cette violence contre les manifestants?

    Les organisateurs et le pouvoir n’ont pas pu s’entendre sur les itinéraires de la manifestation. Le jeudi 17 août 2017, les ministres de l’administration territoriale et de la sécurité ont déclaré, dans une conférence de presse, qu’aucun rassemblement ne sera toléré le 19 aout 2017 sur toute l’étendue du territoire et que les manifestations seront dispersées à leur point de départ.

    Il s’agit d’une manifestation pacifique qui aurait dû être fait sous la direction des forces de police (gendarmerie et police) selon la loi n° 2011-010 du 16 mai relative aux conditions de manifestations publiques.

    Malheureusement on a retrouvé sur les lieux de manifestation des militaires qui dispersaient les protestations. Ce qui peut expliquer l’agressivité des manifestants.

    Q.Comment la société civile togolaise a-t-elle réagi à la brutalité de la police et aux meurtres?

    La Concertation Nationale de la Société Civile au Togo (CNSC-Togo) a publié une déclaration publique de condamnation de la violence sous toutes ses formes au lendemain des tueries et a appelé le gouvernement à prendre d'urgence des mesures pour apaiser le climat social, y compris la libération des détenus. En outre, CNSC-Togo a appelé les partis politiques à améliorer le mentorat de leurs activistes/membres, entre d’autres.

    Les Collectifs des associations contre l'impunité au Togo (CACIT) ont également condamné la répression de l'assemblée. Le 24 août 2017, un groupe de 32 associations et réseaux a publié une déclaration appelant le gouvernement et les autres acteurs publics à assurer l'exercice de la liberté de réunion afin d'assurer le professionnalisme des forces de sécurité dans le cadre des réunions et appelle les membres/partis politiques à respecter les biens publics et les infrastructures.

    Q. Comment décririez-vous l’état de la liberté de réunion pacifique au Togo?
    La liberté de réunion et d’association pacifique au Togo dépend de la tendance politique de ceux qui organisent la manifestation. Les militants et sympathisants du parti au pouvoir organisent des manifestations en toute quiétude même les jours ouvrables. Ce qui n’est toujours pas le cas des partis de l’opposition. Ils font souvent face à des restrictions sur les itinéraires et les points de départ des manifestations. Cela signifie que les réunions pacifiques peuvent facilement dégénérer en raison des exigences des forces de sécurité.

    Q. Comment décririez-vous l’état de la démocratie au Togo?

    La démocratie au Togo a traversé des moments difficiles depuis que les partis d'opposition sont revenus sur la mise en œuvre de réformes institutionnelles et constitutionnelles suite aux recommandations de la Commission Vérité, Justice et Réconciliation (CVJR) que le gouvernement prend du temps pour compléter. Les partis d'opposition soupçonnent que le gouvernement retarde la prise de décision pour éviter de traduire les réformes en réalité.

    Le lundi 30 juin 2014, le projet de réforme constitutionnelle présenté par le gouvernement au Parlement après le dialogue connu sous le nom de Togotélécom II de mai 2014 a été rejeté, car les membres du parlement du parti au pouvoir ont voté contre le projet de loi.

    Depuis, des voix discordantes se sont multipliées et la pression s'est accrue, même au sein des organisations de la société civile œuvrant dans le domaine de la promotion de la démocratie et de l'état de droit. Il y a souvent des pressions sur les partenaires financiers pour priver les organisations de ressources qui leur permettent d'être autonomes dans leurs actions.

    Q. Quel type de soutien peuvent offrir les groupes régionaux et internationaux à la CNSC-Togo et aux autres organisations de la société civile du pays dans la situation actuelle?

    En effet, le CCSN-Togo a des difficultés à réunir des fonds et est satisfait de certains microprojets et de l'allocation de fonds provenants des donateurs/partenaires gouvernementaux traditionnels, en particulier de l'Union européenne, et du PNUD à l’approche des élections. Ces partenaires reçoivent d'abord une autorisation gouvernementale avant d'accorder les ressources. Ce qui conduit souvent à l'autocensure dans nos déclarations et réunions publiques.

    Nous devons entrer en contact avec d'autres partenaires / donateurs qui peuvent nous fournir un soutien financier durable.

    • L'espace civique au Togo est considéré comme «obstrué» par leCIVICUS Monitor, un outil en direct qui retrace l'espace civique autour du monde.

    • Suivez la Concertation Nationale de la Société Civile au Togo à:http://www.cnsctogo.org/

     

  • Nicaragua: Cese de la violencia en contra de los manifestantes pacíficos

    Inglés

    La alianza global de la sociedad civil CIVICUS y la Coordinadora Civil de Nicaragua hacen un llamamiento al gobierno de Nicaragua para que detenga la violencia contra las personas que se manifiestan de manera pacífica y para que respete su derecho a manifestarse libremente y de forma pacífica. Después de 54 días de protesta, 135 personas han sido asesinadas, más de 1000 han resultado heridas y 400 detenidas. Mientras tanto, estas personas manifestantes piden al presidente Daniel Ortega que renuncie.

     

  • Nicaragua: Cese de la violencia en contra de los manifestantes pacíficos

    Inglés

    La alianza global de la sociedad civil CIVICUS y la Coordinadora Civil de Nicaragua hacen un llamamiento al gobierno de Nicaragua para que detenga la violencia contra las personas que se manifiestan de manera pacífica y para que respete su derecho a manifestarse libremente y de forma pacífica. Después de 54 días de protesta, 135 personas han sido asesinadas, más de 1000 han resultado heridas y 400 detenidas. Mientras tanto, estas personas manifestantes piden al presidente Daniel Ortega que renuncie.

     

  • Persecution of rural protest movement leaders continue as crisis deepens in Nicaragua

    • Three campesino environmental activists mistreated in detention, awaiting trial
    • UN report confirms continued targeting of campesino leaders by government
    • UN staff expelled from Nicaragua after UN report on protesters’ rights abuses
    • More than 320 people killed since violent crackdown on protests began in April
    • Global rights groups urge authorities to drop all charges, release campesinoleaders

       

    • Rights group condemns arbitrary detention of protesters in Pakistan and the police killing of activist

      • Global rights alliance condemns the prison detention of protesters of the ethnicPashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM) in Pakistan and killing of one of their leaders
      • More than 80 PTM activists were arrested on 5 February for protesting the death of Arman Loni in police custody three days earlier.
      • The PTM is a social movement demanding equality for Pakistan’s Pashtun community, which has suffered systemic discrimination and human rights violations

         

      • State of civil society in Equatorial Guinea: An interview with CEID

        Spanish

        CIVICUS speaks to Alfredo Okenve, board member in charge of the International Cooperation and Good Governance Programmes of the Centre for Development Studies and Initiatives (CEID). Since 2012 Okenve coordinates the network of national CSOs in Equatorial Guinea. Trained as a physicist, he is a human rights defender and social activist with more than 20 years’ experience in consulting and management of development and civil society projects in Equatorial Guinea. He has worked as a professor of Mathematics and Physics and held a managerial position at the National University of Equatorial Guinea.

        1. The government of Equatorial Guinea is among the worst human rights abusers in the world. How would you describe the environment for civil society activity in the country?
        Civil society is still fledgling in Equatorial Guinea. It dates back to the nineties, and it faces internal difficulties such as a lack of tradition and experience in development and human rights work. It does not have much institutional support either - neither external nor domestic. However, the greatest among its current challenges lies with Equatorial Guinea’s government system. The ruling regime does not uphold any fundamental right, including the right to freedom of association enshrined in our Constitution. The environment is unfavourable, even hostile, to civil society work in every respect (the law, actual practices, lack of respect for human rights, funding, etc.). And it is particularly so for independent groups such as our NGO. There is a long list of legally recognised organisations in the country, but this basically serves the government to show that it respects the right to free association. In practice, however, the Ministry of the Interior stigmatises those organisations that want to work for the country’s development without following its orders, by arbitrarily attributing them uncivil actions. It has even suspended by decree the activities of NGOs like CEID, our organisation, or AGECDEA, another organisation dedicated to the “dangerous” task of providing solidary support to the elderly.
        The situation has not improved in spite of the many civil society initiatives directed at the government to foster dialogue, improve the environment for civil society and promote human rights and the fight against poverty. On the contrary, in recent years Equatorial Guinea has been increasingly militarised, as if we were living under a state of siege.

        2. What are the obstacles limiting the freedom of association in Equatorial Guinea? How have they affected you and your organisation?
        Domestic laws and administrative practices are very restrictive. On one hand, the process for the legalisation of an organisation is long and full of obstacles. For example, it requires the organisation’s promoters to submit to the Ministry of the Interior an affidavit certifying that it will submit to its control on a quarterly basis, plus a favourable report from the Ministry of the area in which the organisation wishes to work, and another report from the governor or provincial government delegate. It also requires them to formalise the constitution of the entity before a notary public, who in turn must obtain an authorisation from the Ministry of the Interior to validate this act. No legally constituted association is allowed to receive any donation, whether local or foreign, private or public, above a hundred US dollars without prior authorisation from the Interior Minister. Another example: no legally constituted organisation, that is, no organisation that has been allowed by the government to function, can deal directly with a beneficiary community without an additional authorisation or credential; this is not what the law says, but it is “customary”.

        Additionally the government routinely threatens the members of those organisations that are considered to be “enemies of the fatherland”, that is, those that are not aligned politically with the government. Last December, the governor of the Litoral province, where our headquarters are located, gathered all regional and provincial authorities and urged them not to interact with our NGO since their Ministry is in charge of the third sector, and the Minister had decreed our suspension.
        Personally, as a professor and staff of the National University, I have not received my salary and have been arbitrarily and illegally banned from doing my job since June 2010, despite a shortage of teachers –all because of my condition as a social leader, human rights defender and good governance activist. What they are trying to do is condemn me to social exclusion and thereby send a warning to forcefully discourage civil society.
        From 2015 on, the country’s CSOs have submitted to the government joint proposals to reform the laws of associations, indicating the limitations that the current law imposes on our social work; we have also raised the need for a national forum or conference on the role of civil society in the country. We have not yet received any official response.

        3. Equatorial Guinea has one of the lowest Internet penetration rates in Africa, and online censorship is routine. How do you manage to get your work done when the freedom of expression and information is so restricted?
        Internet access remains a problem for us, either because of the low technology level or the lack of telematics capabilities of the country, or because of blockages imposed on critical websites or social networks such as Facebook or Twitter –coupled with electricity supply problems in most of the country.
        Internally, we have no choice other than try to bypass and endure these obstacles, but it is indeed difficult and it restricts our work capacity. At the organisational level, we have adopted the strategy of opening spaces for information and coordination among our country’s civil society organisations, notably the National Coordination of CSOs, a platform and meeting point for the solidarity action of civil society.

        4. Are protests allowed in Equatorial Guinea? How are citizens treated when the try to protest?
        Our Constitution recognises the right to strike and demonstrate. The written rules state that a notification to the government authorities would suffice to exercise this right. In practice, however, the only demonstrations that are allowed and that are actually taking place in our country are those of support and praise to the President of the Republic and his policies –that is to say, those that are summoned by the government or the PDGE (Democratic Party of Equatorial Guinea), the ruling party. Anyone promoting a demonstration against the government policies or any other form of expression, even the mere distribution of information leaflets in the streets, generally ends up under interrogation, tortured, imprisoned and/or dismissed from their jobs. Any claim or remedy that is filed with the competent authority in this regard is either denied or ignored. I think the situation is similar to that of closed regimes such as North Korea’s.

        5. What are CEID’s aims? How does the organisation do its work within this context?
        CEID is a not-for-profit, non-denominational and independent organisation. It began to form in 1996, at a time when our country was, despite its plentiful resources, among the most underdeveloped countries in Africa. It originated out of the concerns of a group of young graduates from several European universities (mostly Spanish and Russian), coming from fields as diverse as International Cooperation, Journalism, Economics, Engineering and Medicine. All of us wanted to contribute from civil society to improve the living conditions and the prospects for development of their fellow citizens, and were convinced that fostering a responsible, conscious, participative and enabled citizenry was of the utmost importance. And we shared the idea that the only real form of development is human, inclusive, sustainable and integral development. We wanted to dedicate our time to volunteer but professional work to fight against poverty and marginalisation through research and cooperation. The NGO was set up in Malabo in April 1997, and only by the end of 1998 did we obtain the authorisation to operate in the country.

        We started working to identify the development problems of our country, analysing possible solutions from civil society. As a result, we set out at the grassroots level with two important programmes: the Civil Society Strengthening Programme and the Local Community Development Programme. A large part of our interventions were designed around these programmes. But we found out that international funding was in retreat because Guinea had become, thanks to its fossil fuel production, a middle-income country –even though our government had no intention or will to use any of that income to fund development through non-governmental entities. The ruling regime, which is totalitarian and based on monolithic thinking, never liked the sight of actors out of its orbit venturing on the national stage. There were plenty of attempts to co-opt our leaders, with diverse degrees of success. For all of these reasons, two years after we were granted legal personality we went through a crisis that led us to total hibernation lasting for about six years. We resumed our activities in 2007-2008, and now our priorities include human rights and good governance, issues that were prohibited to us by law until 2006. We also found some timid international support.
        In sum, our work has focused on the introduction of new information technologies in education, local community and rural development, good governance and, above all, the strengthening of civil society. Since its inception five years ago, CEID leads the National Coordinating Network of Civil Society Organisations. We have also done consultancy work with international development and cooperation organisations and programmes.

        We have a Board of Directors that is renewed every three years, and we gather in members’ assemblies every 18 months. Our headquarters are located in Bata, the country’s second capital. We cover our operating expenses and minor projects with the fees paid by our members-partners and the odd consultancy job; for development projects of a certain magnitude, of which we have already executed (or are in the process of implementing) fourteen, we seek external funds. So far all of these funds have come from the few international cooperation agencies that are still active in the country, or from occasional consortia with extractive industries fulfilling their commitment to corporate social responsibility. We have never received a single dollar from the State of Guinea.

        Most CEID members are public servants and our dedication to NGO work is voluntary. This leaves us in a situation of great vulnerability, as we appear as easy prey for harassment, threats and blackmail. Nevertheless, we try to find courage in the conviction that we are doing something that is very necessary and, generally speaking, unprecedented. So far we have managed not to deviate from our ideas.
        Unfortunately, we don’t have any self-protection strategy in place. The constant restrictions we face, plus the challenge of overcoming them while working on the ground in order to fulfil our commitments have left us no time or capacity to establish much-needed contingency policies. We therefore just try to always work within the legal framework and to appeal to the legality of all our actions.

        As we lack the capacity to directly execute many of our initiatives, we usually submit them as suggestions to the institutions that are in a position or whose job it is to implement them. That is why we are always encouraging meetings and advocacy with government institutions such as those in the good governance sector (human rights, transparency) and in social sectors such as education, health and children’s care. We take a similar stance towards other NGOs that we have been providing training to. In 2011 we founded the Coordinating Network along with sectorial sub-networks to join efforts and promote collective initiatives. CEID plays a very active part in the tripartite EITI (Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative) National Commission, created in 2007, in representation of civil society. It is a challenge for Guinean civil society to have its own space recognised and for NGOs to be treated as development actors in their own right.

        6. What can domestic actors do to promote respect for human rights and a healthy civic space in Equatorial Guinea?
        We believe that the steps that we are already taking are the right ones and we need to work to improve them, because they are based on participatory strategies. Despite the obstacles and restrictions faced by Guinean civil society, we struggle to conquer spaces. Lobbying, advocacy and perseverance are as necessary as increased cohesion and solidarity. An example of the steps we have taken is the creation, within the Coordinating Network, of sectorial groups and specifically one for Human Rights and Transparency. On the same line of action, through the national information media CEID has been able to keep over the past four years a one-hour weekly radio space from which to promote respect for human rights, social involvement and public spiritedness. Likewise, we have proposed to the Ministry of Education the introduction of the subject of civic and social education within the national school curriculum.

        7. How can external actors, including regional organisations and international solidarity movements, support civil society in Equatorial Guinea?
        Civil society organisations in Equatorial Guinea need not just financial but also human, technical and institutional support from regional and international organisations. We need management tools and training on issues related to the development of civic spaces in restrictive environments, and to the role of civil society in the struggle for the rule of law and against poverty. We need to be wrapped up in solidarity and not be left alone; we need international actors to integrate us into their sub-regional, regional and global networks and to advocate for us with their governments, which maintain relations with Equatorial Guinea, so they put pressure on ours to provide a favourable environment for civil society.

        Civic space in Equatorial Guinea is rated as ‘closed’ by the CIVICUS Monitor.
        Get in touch with CEID through their website or visit their Facebook page.

         

      • Venezuela: ‘Ante la profundización de la crisis económica y social, el descontento solo puede ser acallado mediante maniobras político-electorales y represión’

        English

        Al final de un año en que Venezuela ha pasado por crisis económica, desorden político y protestas masivas, CIVICUS conversa con Nizar El Fakih, abogado de derechos humanos y director de Proiuris. Proiuris es una organización de la sociedad civil venezolana centrada en el estudio y la defensa del estado de derecho y en la denuncia de sus violaciones.

        1. ¿Qué fue lo que condujo a la fundación de Proiuris en 2015, y qué objetivos persigue la organización?

        Proiuris se constituyó formalmente en 2015, luego de la oleada de detenciones arbitrarias masivas de manifestantes que tuvo lugar durante el año 2014. El objetivo original de su constitución fue sumar voluntades para ayudar legalmente a personas detenidas arbitrariamente por ejercer legítimamente sus derechos, entre ellos el derecho a la protesta. Posteriormente Proiuris fue ampliando su ámbito de trabajo para abarcar la investigación, la documentación y la divulgación tanto de violaciones de derechos civiles y políticos como de violaciones de derechos económicos y sociales, obligado por las circunstancias de un país donde la problemática de derechos humanos es seria, sistemática y transversal.

        1. ¿Cuáles han sido las causas principales del descontento y las protestas de abril-junio de 2017 en Venezuela?

        Las protestas han tenido su causa principal en una enorme crisis económica y social, que tiene su expresión más dramática en la escasez de alimentos y medicinas que afecta con mayor fuerza a los sectores más empobrecidos de la población venezolana. Hombres, mujeres, ancianos, niños, niñas y adolescentes hurgan en la basura en busca de comida, y el desabastecimiento de medicinas alcanza el 85% (y 95% para los tratamientos de enfermedades crónicas) según cálculos de los representantes de la industria farmacéutica en el país. Los pacientes de enfermedades crónicas mueren de mengua, pues los fármacos que requieren son de muy alto costo y el Estado no se los suministra oportunamente. La escasez de antirretrovirales para personas que viven con VIH/Sida, por ejemplo, es la peor en 20 años. Esta es una crisis que no tiene precedentes en el país y ante la cual el gobierno presenta como excusa una supuesta “guerra económica” promovida desde el exterior.

        La tragedia social y económica se ha profundizado por la ineficiencia del gobierno para dar respuestas a las contingencias. Pero más allá de la coyuntura, la crisis humanitaria compleja que atraviesa el país tiene causas estructurales, pues es el resultado de la progresiva destrucción del aparato productivo del país y la creciente dependencia de las importaciones, las cuales a su vez han disminuido sustancialmente a causa la caída de los precios internacionales del petróleo.

        En definitiva, el Estado venezolano actualmente no es capaz de garantizar el derecho a la alimentación. En materia de salud, asimismo, la situación es sumamente grave. Por ejemplo, epidemias como el paludismo y la difteria, que habían sido erradicadas en el país hace 50 años, han regresado y causado muertes que solo se conocen de manera extraoficial, porque las autoridades, de manera ilegal, insisten en ocultar los informes epidemiológicos que demuestran la gravedad de la situación.

        El progresivo deterioro en la prestación de servicios básicos alimentó el deseo de un cambio en la conducción política del país. Entre marzo y junio de 2017 miles de personas tomaron las calles de ciudades y pueblos de Venezuela para expresar su descontento.

        1. ¿Cómo ha reaccionado el gobierno ante las protestas? ¿Ha seguido movilizándose la ciudadanía venezolana?

        Lejos de atender las legítimas demandas de la población, el gobierno venezolano reaccionó con violencia extrema, una violencia mucho mayor que la empleada durante las protestas de 2014. El reporte oficial del Ministerio Público indica que hubo 121 muertos, muchos de ellos a manos de funcionarios de los cuerpos de seguridad del Estado y de grupos violentos y en algunos casos armados autodenominados “colectivos”, los cuales operan con el apoyo o la aquiescencia estatal. Extraoficialmente se registraron más de 7000 detenidos, muchos de los cuales fueron sometidos a la jurisdicción militar a pesar de ser civiles.

        Las manifestaciones de marzo-junio de 2017 fueron claramente protestas contra el gobierno. De más está decir que el gobierno ha hecho todo lo posible por desvirtuarlas, por ejemplo calificándolas de actos terroristas y tipificando lo ocurrido en ellas como delitos militares. En un auténtico sistema democrático habría contrapesos institucionales que evitarían que esta clase de excesos presidenciales, pero en Venezuela la cooptación oficialista de todas las instituciones y el empeño en censurar cualquier forma de disidencia ha sido un componente determinante de la crisis.

        El derecho a la manifestación pacífica y sin armas está consagrado en el artículo 68 de la Constitución de Venezuela, que establece la obligación del Estado en garantizar que las manifestaciones se desarrollen sin desbordar los límites establecidos. Sin embargo, el Tribunal Supremo de Justicia, a través de su Sala Constitucional, ha desdibujado las garantías de este derecho a través de una interpretación regresiva de la referida norma, al extremo de condicionar el derecho a manifestar a una previa autorización de la primera autoridad civil de la jurisdicción correspondiente. Ello, en la práctica, ha hecho del centro de Caracas, donde se encuentran las sedes de los principales organismos públicos, territorio vedado para manifestaciones antigubernamentales, ya que está ubicado en el municipio Libertador, cuyo alcalde es oficialista.

        La represión brutal del gobierno, junto con la falta de un liderazgo que canalice el malestar ciudadano, acabaron debilitando las protestas. Sin embargo, la crisis económica y social se ha profundizado y las razones del descontento y la disidencia no han podido ser acalladas sino mediante maniobras políticas y electorales. Entre esas maniobras, una especial referencia merece la instalación de una autodenominada “Asamblea Nacional Constituyente” plenipotenciaria, convocada, elegida e instalada al margen de la Constitución, que ha vaciado de competencias a la Asamblea Nacional, el único órgano del poder público controlado por la oposición.

        1. ¿Experimentaron los medios independientes y las organizaciones de la sociedad civil restricciones a la hora de documentar lo ocurrido en las protestas?

        Periodistas y medios, nacionales e internacionales, han sido víctimas de la censura y de las represalias gubernamentales por informar sobre la conflictividad social en Venezuela. El 25 de junio de 2017, el Sindicato Nacional de Trabajadores de la Prensa reportó que desde el 31 de marzo hasta el 24 de junio, 376 trabajadores de los medios de comunicación fueron agredidos, y que en el 60% de los casos los responsables fueron funcionarios militares adscritos a la Guardia Nacional Bolivariana.

        El asedio a la prensa durante las protestas de 2017 constituye una evidencia adicional de la política sistemática de represión ejecutada por el gobierno, mediante el uso desproporcionado de la fuerza en el control de las manifestaciones.

        Pero la libertad de expresión es un derecho humano y, por lo tanto, todos los ciudadanos deben tener garantías para ejercerla. En el contexto de las protestas, muchos ciudadanos fueron brutalmente reprimidos por el hecho de registrar y difundir lo que ocurría en las calles de Venezuela. Y no solamente fueron detenidos, sino que también padecieron agresiones físicas y el robo de sus cámaras y teléfonos celulares.

        1. ¿Cómo ha respondido la sociedad civil antes estas violaciones de derechos?

        La sociedad civil organizada y con visión de incidencia reaccionó de diversas formas: desde formalizar las denuncias, a pesar de ser conscientes de los mecanismos de impunidad que operan en un sistema de administración de justicia genuflexo ante el gobierno, hasta el desarrollo de formas de expresión creativas, entre ellas el “Muro de la Vergüenza”, en el cual se identificó públicamente a los personeros del gobierno responsables de la represión y la violación de derechos humanos. Diversas formas de expresión artística - canto, danza, teatro - también se incorporaron a las protestas y se desplegaron en lugares públicos tales como plazas y centros comerciales.

        Otras reacciones importantes fueron la formación de alianzas con los medios de comunicación para divulgar los atropellos y la organización de protestas de grupos de vecinos focalizadas cerca de sus sitios de residencia.

        1. ¿Considera que las respuestas de la comunidad internacional ante la situación de Venezuela han sido adecuadas? ¿Qué apoyo necesita hoy la sociedad civil venezolana de sus contrapartes extranjeras, regionales y globales?

        Ante la indiferencia del gobierno, los sectores de oposición que promueven un cambio político han dedicado esfuerzos a llamar la atención de la comunidad internacional sobre lo que sucede en Venezuela. Por su parte, el movimiento de derechos humanos venezolano ha desarrollado una labor valiosísima a efectos de documentar las violaciones y denunciarlas ante los organismos internacionales. Sin embargo, no ha sido fácil competir con el aparato de propaganda oficialista que se esfuerza por mostrar que en Venezuela hay una democracia vigorosa y que el caos que resuena en la prensa internacional es parte de la supuesta “guerra” contra Venezuela orquestada desde centros imperiales.

        Lo prioritario, en este momento, es lograr que los organismos internacionales admitan que en Venezuela hay en curso una crisis humanitaria compleja que el Estado no puede o no quiere resolver. En ese sentido es auspicioso, por ejemplo, que la Organización Mundial de la Salud haya reconocido, por primera vez y con todas las letras, que en el país hay una crisis humanitaria, a propósito de su Informe Mundial sobre el Paludismo 2017. Y más allá del reconocimiento de la crisis humanitaria, es vital que allí donde sea necesario los organismos internacionales flexibilicen sus protocolos para hacerle frente, de modo de brindar a los venezolanos la ayuda que necesitan, sobre todo en lo que se refiere a alimentos y medicamentos.

        Venezuela no es el primer país del mundo que padece un gobierno autoritario que pretende perpetuarse en el poder. La sociedad civil venezolana agradecería que sus pares en América Latina y en el mundo compartan su experiencia organizativa acumulada para luchar contra el sistema que nos oprime y que contribuyan a denunciar y visibilizar los atropellos sistemáticos que se cometen en Venezuela. Los venezolanos sabríamos agradecer que desde el exterior se examine la crisis humanitaria compleja que nos afecta con un enfoque de derechos humanos, es decir, a partir de la reivindicación de la dignidad humana mediante un efectivo ejercicio de solidaridad. Estamos seguros de que los auténticos promotores y defensores de derechos humanos en cualquier parte del mundo no serán indiferentes ante el hecho incontrovertible de que en Venezuela hay niños que están muriendo de hambre.

        • El espacio cívico en Venezuela es clasificado como ‘represivo’ en elCIVICUS Monitor, lo cual indica la presencia de restricciones serias de las libertades de asociación, reunión pacífica y expresión.
        • Visite elsitio web o el perfil deFacebook de Proiuris, o siga en Twitter a @Proiuris_Ve y a @nizarUCAB

         

      • Zimbabwe government must respect the right to protest and investigate abduction and torture of activists

        The government of Zimbabwe must respect the right of its citizens to peacefully protest and must allow demonstrations, planned for Friday, August 16, to go ahead without violence from security forces.

        Global civil society alliance, CIVICUS, has called on Zimbabwean authorities to uphold fundamental freedoms, including the right to protest. The government has banned public rallies called to protest its handling of the country’s economic crisis.

        CIVICUS has also strongly condemned the abduction and torture of human rights defenders, including Tatenda Mombeyarara, earlier this week.

        Mombeyara was one of at least six rights activists who were abducted by suspected state agents on August 13 and 14 from his home this week, brutally assaulted, tortured and left for dead at a stone quarry in the capital, Harare. The unidentified men accused him of being involved in organizing today’s planned protest marches. Mombeyara, who is recovering from injuries including broken bones, damaged kidneys and chemical burns, is one of seven activists arrested in May on their return from peacebuilding workshops in the Maldives and charged with plotting to overthrow the government of President Emmerson Mnangagwa.

        “We are also deeply concerned about a continued repression of fundamental freedoms in Zimbabwe and what appears to be a culture of impunity and a general lack of investigations into human rights violations,”, said Paul Mulindwa, Advocacy and Campaigns Officer at CIVICUS.

        “The abduction and torture of activists comes amid an ongoing military operation and restrictive environment for human rights defenders in the country,” Mulindwa said.

        The human rights situation in Zimbabwe continues to deteriorate, despite earlier promises from the Mnangagwa administration of an end to Mugabe-era repression tactics. Civic freedoms, including freedoms of association, peaceful assembly, and expression, are routinely and violently repressed by Zimbabwean authorities. The CIVICUS Monitor, an online platform that tracks threats to civil society around the globe, rates civic space – the space for civil society – in Zimbabwe as “repressed”. State authorities continue to harass, and arbitrarily arrest those exercising their rights to assemble and voice dissent. Human rights defenders have been subjected to assaults, arbitrary arrest, and enforced disappearance.

        "The occurrences are deeply hurting,” said Nyaradzo Mashayamombe, with Zimbabwean rights NGO, Tag a Life International (TaLI).

        “The security forces does not need to beat and dehumanise people but to monitor and guide peaceful activities of citizens.,” said Mashayamombe.

        CIVICUS has called on the Zimbabwean security forces to avoid using excessive force against protesters as well as for a quick, fair, and independent investigation into the cases of abduction and torture of Mombeyarara and other activists.

        ENDS.

        For more information, please contact:

        Paul Mulindwa