WE EXIST TO STRENGTHEN CIVIL SOCIETY AND CITIZEN ACTION
AROUND THE WORLD
25 June 2014 - Global civil society alliance, CIVICUS is shocked at the ongoing media and civil society crackdown in Nigeria. A number of legal and extra-legal tactics are being employed by Nigeria’s government to prevent the spread of information and the exercise of democratic freedoms.
“Once hailed for its progress on democratic indicators, Nigeria is fast becoming a hostile place for independent media and civil society groups, said David Kode, Policy and Research Officer at CIVICUS. “In moves reminiscent of the days of military dictatorship in Nigeria, the media and civil society are being blamed for threatening state security.”
Civil society organisations (CSOs) in Nigeria are extremely concerned by legislative moves to control their funding from international sources through the restrictive Foreign Donations (Regulation) Bill. The Bill gives the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission broad discretionary powers to deny foreign funding to CSOs on vague grounds such as `likely to affect’ the sovereignty and integrity of Nigeria, adverse diplomatic relations with foreign countries and religious harmony. Many believe this is a direct consequence of increasing civil society criticism of Nigeria’s government for its handling of the law and order situation in the country.
In advance of the 21st Session of the UN Universal Periodic Review (UPR) which examines the human rights records of a country every 4.5 years, CIVICUS has made three submissions on unwarranted restrictions on the rights of freedom of expression, association and assembly and human rights defenders in Kenya, Kuwait and Turkey. The submissions provide substantive recommendations to the States under Review (SuR) to create an enabling environment for civil society and ensure greater protections for human rights defenders.
In Kenya , CIVICUS, National Coalition of Human Rights Defenders-Kenya and the North Rift Human Rights Network raise concerns about threats faced by civil society activists, human rights defenders and journalists working on sensitive issues including land rights and gender rights from state security agents, government representatives and non-state actors. The submission further examines restrictions on freedom of assembly including the use of excessive force to disperse peaceful protests and legislation to target civil society organisations.
In Kuwait, CIVICUS and the Gulf Center for Human Rights examine the escalating criminalization of online activism, including judicial harassment of individuals and human rights defenders who utilize social media to express dissenting views. The submission further highlights the government’s continued attempts to undermine the free exercise of the rights to freedom of assembly and association of Kuwait’s stateless Bedoun community.
In Turkey, CIVICUS’ joint submission with the Helsinki Citizen’s Assembly (hCa) discusses the legislative and extra-legal measures taken by the government to curb civil society activism and freedom of association. The submission highlights threats to freedom of expression and assembly including arbitrary restrictions on media freedoms and access to information and the unwarranted judicial persecution of peaceful protestors and journalists in the country.