13 April 2015 - We in the Bahrain and international human rights NGO community condemn the
arrest and detention of Nabeel Rajab, a prominent human rights defender in the Kingdom of
Bahrain. On 4 April, the Bahrain Public Prosecution Office renewed Mr. Rajab’s pretrial detention
for a further 15 days. We call on the Bahraini authorities to immediately and unconditionally
release Mr. Rajab and to drop all charges against him.
9 APRIL 2015. The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is experiencing brutal suppression of dissent and fundamental freedoms linked to presidential elections next year. With intensifying pressure on President Joseph Kabila to not seek another term after 14 years in power, DRC authorities are targeting civil society activists and journalists.
At least 30 individuals, including members of the media and civil society, were arrested on 15 March following a press conference in the capital, Kinshasa. The press conference was preceded by a workshop on youth engagement and political processes organised by Filimbi, an organisation working to strengthen civic action. At least 5 human rights activists remain in secret detention.
The latest arrests send a message that authorities do not tolerate dissent, and will not allow an open debate on issues related to elections and civic engagement. Freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly are now firmly at stake in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
30 March - Global civil society alliance, CIVICUS, and the Asian Legal Resource Centre (ALRC) express grave concern over the unabated incursions on fundamental human rights and democratic freedoms in Bangladesh amid the on-going political violence in the country.
ARTICLE 19, CIVICUS and Publish What You Pay have submitted a joint letter to the steering committee of the Open Government Partnership (OGP) calling on them to ensure that civil society organisations can participate in and influence Azerbaijan’s OGP action plan.
Civicus in partnership with 25+ organisations have produced a joint press statement (see below) on the detention and hunger strike of the Bahraini human rights activist, Abdulhadi Al Khawaja.
JOINT PRESS STATEMENT
18 March - After several unsuccessful appeals to prison administration officials for adequate medical assistance, leading Bahraini human rights defender Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja has publically announced that he has gone on hunger strike in protest of his continued arbitrary detention and mistreatment while in prison. Al-Khawaja, who began the water-only hunger strike on 2 March 2015, is suffering from serious health issues and is at severe risk of further health complications.
“He sounded weak and exhausted on the phone to an extent that we could tell how sick he was, but this won’t stop him from battling for his freedom and the freedom of all human rights defenders in Bahrain,” said his daughter Maryam Al-Khawaja, Co-Director of at the Gulf Center for Human Rights (GCHR).
Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja, the Co-founder of the Gulf Center for Human Rights (GCHR) and the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR), was sentenced to life in prison in June 2011 for peaceful human rights activities. The undersigned organizations and individuals express their grave concern about the continued mistreatment of Al-Khawaja while in detention and call on the Government of Bahrain to immediately and unconditionally address Al-Khawaja’s legitimate demands.
International civil society is raising the alarm over attacks on independent civil society groups and critical voices in advance of Sudan’s general elections scheduled for April 2015.
27 January 2015 - International civil society is calling on Sri Lanka’s newly elected President Maithripala Sirisena to put civic freedoms and civil society participation at the heart of his 100 day plan.
Global civil society alliance, CIVICUS, and the International Movement Against All Forms of Discrimination and Racism (IMADR) are urging the new president to start afresh in his country’s treatment and dealings with civil society and minority groups.
20 January 2015 - Civil society in Pakistan, which already faces severe restrictions, is facing further threats to its freedom, following the horrific terrorist attack on a school in Peshawar last December.
CIVICUS, a global alliance of civil society organisations, Pakhtunkhwa Civil Society Network (PCSN) and the Tribal NGOs Consortium (TNC) are dismayed at attempts to silence independent civil society groups who have been at the forefront of condemning religious extremism in Pakistan over the last decade. Despite civil society’s important role in promoting peace and tolerance, the government is planning to introduce a controversial foreign funding law, which will vest officials with excessive powers to control and suspend the activities of NGOs that rely on funds from international sources. It is expected that a draft bill (the Foreign Contributions Regulation Act 2015) will be submitted for government approval later this month.
10 December 2014. Global civil society alliance, CIVICUS, is deeply concerned by the systematic attacks against land and indigenous people’s rights activists in Mindanao, the second largest and southernmost major island in the Philippines.
The highly populated island (over 21 million people) is rich in mineral deposits of copper, gold, silver and nickel, and is host to more than 30 multinational mining companies from 13 countries, including the United States, Australia, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom. Local civil society groups are alarmed at the complicity of corporate conglomerates in the forceful evictions and displacement of indigenous communities, and land rights and indigenous people’s rights activists operate under extreme threat.
11 November, 2014 - Global civil society alliance, CIVICUS is deeply concerned with the proposed “Security Package” before the Turkish Parliament, which if approved will warrant abusive policing practices, such as the ability to disperse public assemblies with physical force and to use firearms against protesters. In addition, the security package will grant courts broad powers to persecute and detain political dissidents.
Hundreds of activists and prominent members of civil society from more than 100 countries will gather in Johannesburg for International Civil Society Week (ICSW) from 19-25 November.
Representatives from civil society will use the weeklong series of events to discuss and debate some of the most urgent problems facing people around the world.
“The week offers a unique opportunity for civil society organisations and activists from all over to gather in one place to connect, share experiences and best practice, and to inspire each other,” said Dr Danny Sriskandarajah, Secretary-General of CIVICUS.
The week, to be held at Wits University, will feature events that touch on a wide range of issues: advocacy, campaigns, data for development, global governance, human rights, labour movements, media, protests, and youth — to mention just a few.
CIVICUS: WORLD ALLIANCE FOR CITIZEN PARTICIPATION
EAST AND HORN OF AFRICA HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS PROJECT
ETHIOPIA HUMAN RIGHTS PROJECT
31 October 2014. Ethiopia’s already limited space for civil society and human rights defenders is undergoing further contraction, warns CIVICUS, The East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project, and the Ethiopia Human Rights Project (EHRP). Throughout 2014, Ethiopian authorities have orchestrated an unprecedented legislative assault on journalists, and independent voices within civil society, undermining fundamental human rights and restricting the operating environment for civil society and human rights defenders.
24 October 2014. Global civil society alliance, CIVICUS, and the Center for National and International Studies (CNIS) are gravely concerned at the unprecedented crackdown on civil society and democratic freedoms in Azerbaijan. This is particularly worrying given Azerbaijan’s recent appointment as chair of the Council of Europe, which serves as the region’s preeminent human rights body.
“Azerbaijan’s government is using a number of repressive tactics to silence dissent and destroy independent civil society in Azerbaijan in violation of Europe’s professed values,” said Leila Alieva, President of CNIS. “Since May 2014, the government has opened criminal investigations and frozen the assets of over 20 national and international groups including the Center for National and International Studies, Transparency International and Oxfam. As a result of the investigations, the vast majority of the organisations have ceased their operations or left the country, while the leaders of many of the national groups have been forced into exile.”
15 October 2014. The global civil society alliance, CIVICUS, urges Egypt’s authorities to end the judicial persecution of seven women human rights activists who are on trial for peacefully protesting a controversial assembly law that effectively bans public gatherings without police permission.
The current state of civil society in Egypt is dire. The military-backed government has introduced a number of measures to restrict freedom of speech and the right to assemble. It is also considering a law to restrict the ability of NGOs to receive funds from international sources with a view to stopping their human rights monitoring activities. Moreover, it has become common practice for judges to imprison non-violent youth campaigners that support basic democratic reforms. “The seven women that are on trial are not dangerous vandals as alleged by security forces, instead they are victims of a heavy-handed judicial system which arbitrarily punishes its most engaged and socially conscious citizens,” said Semanur Karaman, Policy and Research Officer at CIVICUS. “It is a travesty of justice to see these human rights defenders being subjected to these oppressive sanctions that are in violation of universal principles of international law,” said Karaman.
10 October 2014: Set against a background of endemic corruption, unsustainably low wages and impoverishing confiscations of land, Cambodia is considering a series of laws that will severely restrict human rights and the activities of civil society organisations working on these issues, according to a team of international experts visiting the country.
6 October 2014 - Civil society organisations are calling on South Sudanese authorities to stop the adoption of a restrictive NGO bill amidst fears that it could severely hinder civil society activities and undermine efforts to address the continuing humanitarian crisis in the country.
Global civil society alliance, CIVICUS and the South Sudan based Community Empowerment for Progress Organization (CEPO) have urged the National Legislative Assembly of South Sudan to stop the bill that is currently under parliamentary consideration.
Of critical concern are vague provisions of the proposed 2013 NGO Bill which gives the government excessive discretionary powers to control the operations of civil society groups. According to the bill, all NGOs in the country must register with the government and align their work with the government’s national development plan. Moreover, organisations are forced to adhere to ill-defined requirements to “respect (for) the sovereignty of the Republic of South Sudan, its institution and laws.”
Update: 19 September 2014: We are happy to let you know that detained Bahraini activist, Maryam Al-Khawaja is no longer in custody. She was released on 18 September by Bahraini authorities although the politically motivated charges against her still stand.
We are overwhelmed by the groundswell of support we received from around the world on Maryam’s plight. Over 150 civil society organisations in over 60 countries joined us in endorsing a letter to Bahrain’s government urging the release of Maryam and an end to persecution of human rights defenders in the country.
9 September 2014. Punitive action taken by elements of the Hungarian police and state prosecutors against key civil society bodies has been strongly condemned by global civil society alliance, CIVICUS.
“The latest events in Hungary highlight a major set-back for due process and lead to serious questions about Hungarian democracy. The incoming European Commission must act to ensure that the core democratic principles of the Union are upheld,” said Dr Danny Sriskandarajah, Secretary-General of CIVICUS.
In the latest developments to restrict the activity of legitimate NGOs that receive funds from the Norwegian NGO Fund, police have raided offices of two key organisations: the Okotars Foundation and the Foundation for Development of Democratic Rights (DemNet). They are reported to have prevented staff from communicating or leaving the premises while the raids took place and to have searched the whole premises, ransacked files and taken laptops and servers.
4 September 2014. Global civil society alliance, CIVICUS urges Bangladesh’s government to unconditionally withdraw politically motivated criminal charges against Bangladeshi activists Adilur Rahman Khan and Mr ASM Nasiruddin Elan. They were charged one year ago today under the draconian Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Act for documenting human rights violations.
“Mr Khan and Mr Elan are highly respected civil society activists who have made an immense contribution to support good governance and accountability in Bangladesh”, said Tor Hodenfield, Policy and Advocacy Officer at CIVICUS. “Their rights monitoring and advocacy work through their organisation, Odhikar, is crucial for Bangladesh’s democracy and to meet the country’s human obligations.”
The charges against Mr Khan and Mr Elan stem from the publication of a fact finding report by Odhikar on the alleged killing of 61 people by Bangladeshi security forces during a rally held by Hefazat-e-Islam activists in Dhaka from 5-6 May 2013. Bangladeshi authorities demanded that Odhikar release details of individuals who had submitted testimonials and evidence about the killings, which was rejected by the organization to protect them from reprisals.
3 September 2014. We have watched with horror, the death and destruction wreaked on the people of Gaza by the State of Israel over the past two months. We have watched the targeting of civilian areas by Israeli forces which has resulted in over 2000 deaths, including approximately 500 children. Notably, the UN has said that roughly 70% of the Palestinians killed were civilians. Equally, we condemn the actions of Hamas militants who let loose a barrage of rockets on Israeli civilian areas causing fear and the death of seven civilians.
We believe that what has taken place in Gaza represents a monumental failure of the global governance system, highlighting many of the weaknesses that we have outlined in our State of Civil Society Report 2014. The report points out that international institutions provide a battleground where the strategic imperatives of states are asserted and contested. This is evident from the lack of response by the UN Security Council whose primary responsibility is to maintain international peace and security. Although, we are heartened that the UN Human Rights Council was able to pass a resolution on the establishment of a commission of inquiry to investigate violations by both sides, we remain concerned whether perpetrators of what we believe are war crimes will be brought to justice. Sadly, many powerful and democratic states did not vote in support of the resolution.
28 August 2014 - Global civil society alliance, CIVICUS, has expressed solidarity with 127 community health workers and members of the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) who will be appearing in court on 1 September in Bloemfontein, South Africa. They are facing charges in relation to their arrest following a peaceful night vigil on 10 July and a peaceful demonstration on 11 July. The community health workers and activists sought to highlight challenges plaguing the public health sector and demand dignified working conditions in South Africa’s Free State province.
“For over a year we have released alerts, stating our concern over a slowly collapsing public health system, the evidence of which is borne out of the many stories we receive on a frequent basis from those who are dependent on this crumbling health system,” said Sello Mokhaliphi, TAC Free State Provincial Chairperson. “We as the TAC, community health care workers and the government need to work together to improve it instead of fighting one another.”
13 August 2014. Former Minister in the Mandela Cabinet, co-founder of COSATU and lifetime activist, Jay Naidoo, will be playing a new role as an advisor to CIVICUS, the global civil society alliance.
“We are delighted to be able to draw on Jay’s vast experience in helping civil society navigate the confluence of crises humanity faces at the moment,” said Dr Danny Sriskandarajah, Secretary-General of CIVICUS.
As a global alliance with a mission to strengthen civil society, the CIVCUS Board asked Jay Naidoo to form and chair an advisory council to help it think through some of the challenges facing civil society. So far, together with the CIVICUS Secretary-General, he has had numerous conversations with civil society actors – from grassroots activists to the CEOs of some of the biggest NGOs in the world.
26 June 2014 - Independent civil society groups and journalists exposing human rights violations are coming under increasing pressure by Bangladeshi authorities warns CIVICUS, the global civil society alliance. Individuals and organisations speaking out against the volatile political climate in Bangladesh which has taken a turn for the worse following the flawed January 2014 elections – boycotted by the opposition - are being subjected to various forms of persecution by state institutions.
“In recent months, Bangladesh’s government has been extremely hostile towards human rights defenders subjecting them to various forms of unwarranted surveillance and malicious prosecution,” said Mandeep Tiwana, Head of Policy and Research at CIVICUS. “Many critical voices have already been silenced while those who continue to expose violations remain severely threatened.”
Human rights advocacy organisation, Odhikar is facing serious threats to its existence. Its Secretary, Adilur Rahman Khan and Director Nasiruddin Elan are currently facing several politically motivated criminal charges for their work in documenting human rights violations. The organisation has also been subjected to various forms of intimidation including persistent surveillance of its staff and repeated inspection of its records by Bangladeshi authorities.
2 July 2014 - Global civil society alliance, CIVICUS, is urging the international community to isolate Egypt’s repressive regime as it escalates its campaign against democratic dissent and the rights of its people.
“The past few months have marked a concerted assault on fundamental freedoms by Egypt’s totalitarian state,” said Mandeep Tiwana, Head of Policy and Research at CIVICUS. “President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi heads an illegitimate regime that has no respect for international norms and basic human rights. When global leaders, regional and international institutions continue routine diplomatic engagements with Egypt’s regime, they make themselves complicit in the suppression of the rights of Egyptians.”
On 23 June, three Al-Jazeera journalists were handed lengthy prison terms of 7-10 years through a sham trial on the basis of made up charges of supporting the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood. Earlier, this month on 11 June 2014, well respected activist Alaa Abdel Fattah and 24 others were convicted for holding illegal demonstrations and sentenced to 15 years in prison for protesting against the routine practice of using military courts to try civilians for political offences.
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.
13 June 2014: The UN Human Rights Council (HRC) must act to address the shrinking space for civil society across the globe, urged member organisations of the Civic Space Initiative* (CSI) at a side event in Geneva on 12 June.
In September 2013, the HRC adopted by consensus a landmark resolution urging States to create a safe and enabling environment for civil society to operate and carry out their essential work.
The side event sought to identify how States must address the “implementation gap” between international standards and domestic law and practice, in particular for marginalised groups.
“Freedom of association is a fundamental right, yet its core is being chipped away. Perhaps it’s time to shape the contours of this right more clearly: the existence of an independent civil society is a prerequisite for a legitimate democracy,” said Maina Kiai, UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of peaceful assembly and association. “It is the primary vehicle for people to organize and make their voices heard. States have no business interfering with that process – rather, they should encourage it.”
4 June 2014 - More than 20 countries around the world will participate in the first ever 'Global Day of Citizen Action’ on Saturday 7 June as part of a campaign to raise awareness about threats to freedom of expression, association and assembly.
“The 'Global Day of Citizen Action’ will allow people all around the world to tell us what they think about their rights to speak out, organise and take action,” said Zubair Sayed, Head of Communication at CIVICUS, the global civil society alliance.
“At the moment we have around 40 events in more than 20 countries and many people are still signing up. The events will engage thousands of people and will have a strong visual and social media element, so we’re quite excited about them. For those who haven’t already, there’s still time to host events or sign up to attend, and on the day people will also be able to participate online,” Sayed said.
02 Junho 2014- Protestos públicos em massa têm ocupado as manchetes ao redor do mundo durante os últimos anos, refletindo uma falha de governança a nível nacional e internacional, diz o novo relatório da aliança global de sociedade civil, CIVICUS.
"Em muitos países ao redor do mundo, inclusive no Brasil, as pessoas vêem que os processos democráticos formais assim como os partidos políticos estão falhando a abordar as questões realmente importantes. Em vez disso, esses sistemas são vistos servindo os interesses das elites políticas e económicas, "disse Danny Sriskandarajah, o secretário-geral da CIVICUS no lançamento do relatório 2014 sobre o estado da sociedade Civil.
"Seria de esperar que aqueles sendo reprimidos, marginalizados ou excluídos a nível nacional fossem ouvidos e protegidos pelas instituições a nível internacional – mas também a governança global não está funcionando. Muitos dos nossos processos e instituições internacionais estão desatualizados, não têm mecanismos de prestação de contas e são incapazes de enfrentar os desafios atuais eficazmente. As Instituições de governança internacional com um âmbito limitado de participação popular correm o risco de se tornar irrelevantes.
02 Haziran 2014 - Küresel sivil toplum ittifakı CIVICUS tarafından yayınlanan yeni rapor, geçtiğimiz birkaç senede dünya genelinde manşetleri yakalayan kitlesel protestoların, ulusal ve uluslararası seviyede gerçekleşen yönetişim hatalarını yansıttığına dikkat çekiyor.
CIVICUS Genel Sekreteri Dr. Danny Sriskandarajah, 2014 Sivil Toplumun Durumu Raporu’nun duyurusunda “Dünya genelinde pek çok ülkede insanlar, resmi demokratik süreçleri ve parti politikalarını değer verdikleri meseleleri ele almakta başarısız buluyor. Aksine insanlar bu sistemlerin politik ve ekonomik elitlerin çıkarlarına hizmet ettiğini düşünüyor.” dedi.
Rapor, Türkiye’de kitlesel protestolara katılan kişilerin elitist olmakla itham edildiğine dikkat çekiyor. Ayrıca protestocuların demokratik yollarla seçilmiş ve arkasında geniş halk desteği olan bir lidere karşı çıkmakla suçlandığını belirtiyor. Ancak küçük barışçıl gösterilerin kitlesel hareketlere dönüşmesine, devletin göstericilere orantısız ve şiddet dolu tepki vermesi sebep oldu. Protestoculara saldıran polislerin fotoğrafları
ülkedeki geleneksel ve sosyal medya kanalları aracılığıyla yaygınlaştırıldı. Görüntüler tepkinin büyümesine ve hızlı bir şekilde protestocuların sayısının artmasına neden oldu. Ayrıca protestoya katılan insan profili çeşitlendi ve dile getirilen taleplerin kapsamı genişledi. Protestoların kapsamı ilk günlerde dile getirilen meseleleri aştı ve protestolar halkın derinlerde yatan memnuniyetsizliklerini meydana çıkardı.
Mass public protests that have grabbed headlines around the world during the last few years reflect a failure of governance at the national and international level, says a new report by the global civil society alliance, CIVICUS.
“In many countries around the world people see formal democratic processes and party politics as failing to address the issues they care about. Instead these systems are seen to serve the interests of political and economic elites,” said Dr Danny Sriskandarajah, the CIVICUS Secretary-General on launching the organisation’s 2014 State of Civil Society Report.
19 May 2014. Torture and enforced disappearances of activists by state security agents and private militias have severely escalated in recent months in the Philippines, say global civil society alliance, CIVICUS, and Karapatan Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights.
“We are alarmed at attacks on activists and members of the political opposition in the Philippines.
Since taking office in June 2010, the administration of President Benigno Aquino has done little to address serious violations of human rights in the country despite promises made during his election campaign,” said Cristina Palabay, Secretary General of Karapatan.
From July 2010 to March 2014, Karapatan has documented cases of 192 victims of extrajudicial killings, 21 cases of enforced disappearance, 94 of torture and 631 of illegal arrests and detention. 26 journalists have also been reportedly murdered since President Benigno Aquino took office, making the Philippines an extremely dangerous environment for the media.
14 May 2014. Johannesburg. Azerbaijan has been urged to stop the intimidation and judicial harassment of human rights defenders as it assumes the chair of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe on 14 May.
The call, by global civil society alliance, CIVICUS and Azerbaijan-based Center for National and International Studies (CNIS), comes in the face of persecution by the government of leaders of several prominent civil society organisations (CSOs) in apparent reprisals for critically analysing the presidential elections. Other activists are being held on different charges to discredit their credibility.
“Azerbaijani authorities have severely escalated repression since the re-election of President Ilham Aliyev in October 2013. Numerous activists have been arrested and detained merely for speaking out against the government’s poor human rights record,” said Leila Alieva, President of CNIS. “These actions are a matter of serious concern as the European system is underpinned by a commitment to uphold human rights standards.”
6 May 2014 – The global civil society alliance, CIVICUS, and several NGO networks are calling for the release of the imprisoned Palestinian civil society leader, Ameer Makhoul, on the 4th anniversary of his arrest.
“Ameer Makhoul has unjustly spent years in prison as a result of his legitimate and peaceful activities as a human rights defender,” said Mandeep Tiwana, Head of Policy and Research at CIVICUS. “His trial and conviction were marred by a number of flaws and inconsistencies and we are calling on the Israeli government to release him immediately.”
On 6 May 2010, Ameer Makhoul, Director of the Palestinian NGO, Ittijah: Union of Arab Community-Based Associations, was arrested by Israeli Shin Bet security forces in Haifa, Israel. Following his arrest, Mr Makhoul was denied access to legal counsel and his family for nearly two weeks, during which he was reportedly forced to make a confession under severe duress.
4 MAY 2014 - Global civil society alliance, CIVICUS and the US-based Defending Dissent Foundation are alarmed at proposed legislation in the United States to reduce official funding to academic institutions that support the boycott of Israel.
“Israel remains one of most serious violators of human rights on the planet,” said Mandeep Tiwana, Head of Policy and Research at CIVICUS. “It is indeed ironic that legislation would be proposed in the United States to limit freedom of expression when a fundamental pillar of US foreign policy is supposed to be support for human and democratic rights.”
The “Anti- Boycott Bill” (number A 08392A) introduced in the New York State Assembly on 6 February 2014 prohibits the use of state funds by any college to provide assistance to any ‘academic entity’ that supports a boycott of a country or its academic institutions either through an official statement or public resolution. The bill covers support to any university, college or professor including through financing of travel to meetings or membership of organisations that support boycotts.
In December of last year, we came together as human rights, social and environmental justice and trade union organizations worldwide to lay out a roadmap for embedding all human rights into the core of the post-2015 sustainable development agenda. We’ve monitored developments very carefully since then.
As the Open Working Group (OWG) on sustainable development now moves from principles to the specific content of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), we are compelled to assess how well the full realization of human rights is reflected in the Co-Chairs’ Working Document in advance of the 5-9 May session of the OWG.
20 March 2014 – The release of Sri Lankan Human Rights Defenders Ruki Fernando and Father Praveen Mahesan must be met with substantive reform to advance human rights say CIVICUS, the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) and the Sri Lanka Campaign for Peace and Justice (SLCPJ).
“While we welcome the release of Fernando and Father Praveen following an outpouring of international condemnation, numerous activists and dissidents remain in detention for trying to advance human rights,” says Danny Sriskandarajah, CIVICUS Secretary-General. “The Sri Lankan Government must further heed the appeals of national and international civil society groups to remove all unwarranted restrictions on peaceful dissent and ensure a sustainable transition to democracy and rule of law,” continued Sriskandarajah.
Global civil society alliance, CIVICUS, and the Pakistan Development Alliance (PDA) express strong reservations about the proposed Foreign Contributions Bill to regulate international funding for civil society activities in Pakistan.
"The overall environment in the country is already punitive to the working of NGOs and civil society voices,” said Zia ur Rehman, National Representative of the Pakistan Development Alliance. “The proposed legislation would further instigate the undesirable bureaucratic actions against civil society organisations. When five different laws already exist to control and regulate the sector, we must ask ourselves whether we need another one.”
05 February 2014. Ukraine’s passing of an amnesty law signed by President Viktor Yanukovich on 31 January 2014 is a meaningless gesture, says Ukrainian CSO GURT Resource Centre, and global civil society alliance CIVICUS. They urge the Ukrainian Parliament to amend the recently passed amnesty law by withdrawing conditions placed on amnesty for protestors.
Law No. 4021-3 signed by the Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich, came into force on 2 February 2014. According to this law, amnesty will be granted to protesters charged with the commission of offences from 26 December last year if they vacate government buildings and unblock Grushevskogo Street in downtown Kiev and other streets and squares across the country within 15 days.
“The law puts conditions on protestors without any requisite assurance that the demand of the protestors to hold an early election will be met,” said Bohdan Maslych, Executive Director of GURT. “Ukrainian authorities need to address the underlying causes of public discontent in the country.”
According to a report released by the Ukrainian Prosecutor General's Office on 30 January, nearly 250 protesters have been detained or arrested since anti-government demonstrations began in late November 2013.
Global civil society alliance, CIVICUS, has released a revised version of what is probably the world’s most comprehensive compilation of commitments made by governments on civil society rights.
“The compendium is the result of years of painstaking research on public documents that promise respect for civil society freedoms and is an invaluable tool for citizens and organisations around the world. It is arguably the most comprehensive document of its kind in the world,” said Mandeep Tiwana, Head of Policy and Research at CIVICUS.
Zambia’s government and its international development partners must support not undermine the country’s harassed NGOs say global civil society alliance, CIVICUS and the Zambia Council for Social Development (ZCSD). Zambian NGOs resisting government deadlines to register under the restrictive NGO Act have expressed concern about the actions of a number of donor governments.
“We have been credibly informed that despite the all-round international criticism of the NGO Act, a number of governments are refusing to provide financial assistance to Zambian NGOs unless they register under the law,” said Tor Hodenfield from CIVICUS. “This reveals a glaring discrepancy between donor priorities and those of national NGOs. Such requirements are undermining the national NGOs’ campaign to repeal this unjust law.”
Global Civil Society Alliance CIVICUS joins other international, national and Syrian CSOs in condemning the gunpoint kidnapping of four Syrian human rights defenders including internationally acclaimed activist Razan Zaitouneh, the General Coordinator of the Violations Documentation Centre.
"The woman who has documented violations against humanity for three years in Syria, and defended human rights for more than a decade is now a victim of kidnapping, in a clear attempt to extinguish the reporting of truths from Syria" said Bassam Al-Ahmad, Spokesperson of the Violations Documentation "but we will continue carrying the candle she has lit."
Ironically, they were abducted on Tuesday, 10 December 2013, International Human Rights Day, from the Violations Documentation Centre in the Damascus suburb of Douma.
The Arab NGO Network for Development (ANND), CIVICUS, the global civil society alliance, and SOLIDAR, join in strongly condemning attacks on fundamental freedoms in Egypt. Rising restrictions on public debate have imperiled the aspirations for justice and freedom which underpinned the Egyptian revolution.
We are deeply concerned about the enactment of the "Law on the Right to Public Meetings, Processions and Peaceful Demonstrations (Law 107 of 2013)" which was approved by Interim President Adly Mansour on November 24. This highly restrictive law violates well established international human rights law standards and places arbitrary limitations on the right to peaceful assembly. Its provisions give security officials excessive and discretionary powers to clamp down on public demonstrations and on the right to protest peacefully under the garb of protecting "security and peace".
CIVICUS, the global civil society alliance, joins hundreds of millions of people around the world in extending its deepest condolences to the family, friends and loved ones of former South African president Nelson Mandela and to the people of South Africa and all those inspired and touched by his humanity.
"On behalf of our members across more than 100 countries, CIVICUS mourns the passing of Nelson Mandela, a global icon and an inspiration to all those fighting for human rights and justice around the world," says Dr Danny Sriskandarajah, Secretary-General of CIVICUS.
Global civil society alliance, CIVICUS urges the international community and South Sudan's trading and development partners in particular to question official moves to push through a repressive civil society draft law in Parliament.
"The Voluntary and Non-Governmental Humanitarian Organizations Bill narrowly defines the scope of civil society organisations' (CSO) activities to exclude key areas such as tackling corruption, promoting good governance and advocating against human rights violations," said CIVICUS Head of Policy and Research, Mandeep Tiwana. "Following repeated failed attempts by South Sudanese civil society to engage in constructive dialogue with the government over this repressive Bill, we are urging the international community to speak with renewed urgency in support of South Sudanese civil society."
11 November 2013 – A new report finds shocking threats to civil society in Sri Lanka, amidst growing protests about the Commonwealth's decision to host its Summit there despite strong criticism of the country's human rights abuses.
Based on interviews with a diverse range of civil society leaders and research on the conditions affecting citizen participation, CIVICUS and the Centre for Policy Alternatives, Sri Lanka (CPA), document a litany of threats to civil society in Sri Lanka.
The report - Sri Lanka's Harassed Civil Society - finds:
112 civil society organizations based in over 46 countries have endorsed a letter calling on the Zambian President to refrain from implementing the restrictive 2009 NGO Act.
“Hundreds of Zambian civil society groups are taking a principled stand at the risk of criminal sanctions by refusing to abide by the official directive to register under this unjust law by the November 11 deadline,” said Lewis Mwape, Executive Secretary of the Zambia Council for Social Development. “Submission to this law will severely mar the independence of NGOs in Zambia,” said Mwape.
A new report released today by the global civil society alliance, CIVICUS, reveals a pattern of sustained attacks on civil society organisations (CSOs) around the world.
CIVICUS has tracked 413 threats to civil society in 87 countries since the beginning of 2012. Worryingly the report shows that several governments are attempting to weaken civil society organisations by enacting laws which prevent them from accessing the funding they need to survive and prevent them from conducting legitimate activities involving expressions of democratic dissent.
“We are hugely concerned about the killings of land rights and environmental activists in Latin America and Southeast Asia due to collusion between politicians and big businesses. Equally, defenders of rights of women and the gay community are facing severe threats in the Middle East and Africa respectively,” said Danny Sriskandarajah, CIVICUS Secretary-General.
10 October 2013 - Global civil society alliance, CIVICUS, denounces the South Korean government’s unjustified arrest and detention of eleven environmental and civil society activists for exercising their right to freedom of assembly.
“The repressive and unwarranted response to the peaceful demonstrations is representative of the government’s persistent intolerance of environmental activism in the country,” said Tor Hodenfield, Policy and Advocacy Officer at CIVICUS. “The government must immediately drop all charges against the peaceful protestors and initiate a dialogue with Miryang villagers to find a mutually-agreeable solution to the dispute.”
On 3 October 2013, 11 human rights defenders were arrested and detained by members of the National Police Agency in response to peaceful demonstrations against the construction of large-scale power transmission towers, in Miryang, Republic of Korea. While a number of the activists were released without charge within 48 hours of being detained, criminal charges were filed against four of the detainees.
8 October 2013 - Global civil so ciety alliance, CIVICUS strongly condemns the government of Sudan’s brutal response to on-going protests in the country.
“The government’s violent repression of demonstrations represents the most severe crackdown on independent dissent since the protest movement began in 2011,” said Tor Hodenfield, Policy and Advocacy Officer at CIVICUS. “The international community, especially the African Union, must not wait passively for the situation to further deteriorate before taking action,” said Hodenfield.
According to the Sudanese authorities, 34 people have died and 700 others have been arrested during the most recent wave of protests which began on 22 September in the greater Khartoum area. However, Sudanese civil society groups and diplomats have put the death toll at at least 200, citing the government’s indiscriminate and excessive use of excessive force, including live ammunition, to disperse protestors.
In partnership with Saudi civil society, global civil society alliance, CIVICUS, is urging the Saudi Arabian government to draft an NGO law that will guarantee legal status and protection for civil society organisations (CSOs).
“The association law needs to be passed with great haste,” said Sadek Al-Ramadan from the Saudi-based Adala Centre for Human Rights, “because until there is a code to protect and guide our functions, we are placed in a legal limbo and cannot achieve our goals, fundraise, or organise our affairs legally. Human rights concepts and understanding cannot be rooted in our country without serious work by civil society who should be given legal protection.”
Currently, the Saudi Basic Law of Governance governs the operation of charities. A number of civil society groups including those engaged in the protection and promotion of human rights are unable to obtain legal status under the narrow definition of charity under the law. The Adala Centre for Human Rights had its appeal to register rejected in August by an administrative court. The Ministry of Social Affairs (MOSA) stated that its decision to refuse the license was on the grounds that it is only permitted to license charities. As a result, MOSA stated that the Adala Centre’s remit was not covered by the definition of a charity.