WE EXIST TO STRENGTHEN CIVIL SOCIETY AND CITIZEN ACTION
AROUND THE WORLD
CIVICUS and the World Movement for Democracy (WMD) have submitted a written statement to the 25th Session of the UN Human Rights Council (3 – 28 March 2014). The statement examines the rising restrictions on the activities of civil society across the world, including: i) worsening policy and legal environment for civil society; ii) dissolution of civil society groups without justification; and iii) judicial persecution of civil society members. The statement further provides a number of key recommendations to be considered by the UNHRC to ensure the creation of a safe and enabling environment for civil society.
February 14, 2014
Ethiopia’s renewed push for admission to the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) should be closely scrutinized due to the limited role Ethiopia has granted to civil society and a hostile legal environment that minimizes meaningful debate, Freedom House and Civicus World Alliance for Citizen Participation said.
Freedom House and Civicus urge the government of Ethiopia to live up to the commitment made in its 2013 EITI application to “improve the legal environment” for the citizen-based watchdog role in the process. We also call on the EITI International board to ensure that Ethiopian civil society organizations are granted free, full and effective participation, as required by the EITI standard.
“Free, meaningful participation by Ethiopia’s civil society is impossible in the current environment,” said Vukasin Petrovic, director of Africa Programs at Freedom House. ‘The Ethiopian government should use the EITI application process to identify and complete concrete action toward making substantive changes to the tightly restricted role of citizens’ groups.”
As part of our regular interview series, CIVICUS speaks to Mauricio Alarcón-Salvador about threats to human rights activists and NGOs in Ecuador. Mauricio is a lawyer and human rights defender who focuses on citizen participation and the rights of people with disabilities. He is the Programme Director of Fundamedios, a position he has held since 2009. Fundamedios or the Andean Foundation for the observation and study of the media is a civil society organisation which works to defend and promote freedom of the press, speech and association in Ecuador.
Lately, a lot of media attention has been focused on restrictions on democratic freedoms in Ecuador. Can you tell us more about the situation there?
In the recent years, there has been a consistent deterioration in the respect of fundamental freedoms in Ecuador. Freedom of expression is mostly affected because of increasing threats to and attacks on journalists, media agencies and ordinary citizens who are critical of the government. Journalists are increasingly persecuted, radio and TV Stations have been shut down and citizens arrested for allegedly “offending the President.” The government is equally trampling on the rights of association and the right to protest. Civil society activists and human rights defenders have been subjected to judicial persecution and jailed for simply participating in public protests. As we speak, there are more than 200 leaders of social movements and activists who are being persecuted for simply expressing their rights to protest and associate. Most of those who are persecuted are charged with threatening state security.