CIVICUS and its partners have submitted joint and stand-alone UN Universal Periodic Review (UPR) submissions on 9 countries in advance of the 28th UPR session (November 2017). The submissions examine the state of civil society in each country, including the promotion and protection of the rights to freedom of association, assembly and expression and the environment for human rights defenders. We further provide an assessment of the States’ domestic implementation of civic space recommendations received during the 2nd UPR cycle over 4 years ago and provide a number of targeted follow-up recommendations.
Countries examined: Benin, Gabon, Guatemala, Pakistan, Peru, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Ukraine and Zambia.
Benin (FR/EN): CIVICUS and Groupe d’Action pour le Progrès et la Paix (GAPP Benin) highlight the use of unwarranted restrictions on freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, including the suspension of independent media outlets by the national media regulator, and the authorities’ targeted denial of permission to hold peaceful assemblies by student associations in public universities.
Gabon (FR/EN): CIVICUS, Brainforest and Dynamique Citoyen analyse unwarranted restrictions on journalists and independent media agencies and the promulgation of unduly restrictive legislation including the Communications Code, which undermine the right to freedom of expression. We further discuss how security forces have used excessive and unlawful force to disperse peaceful protests, particularly those held during periods of elections and when demonstrators oppose government practices or policies.
Guatemala (EN/SP): CIVICUS and RedLad highlight the deterioration of the conditions for human rights defenders in Guatemala who are often subject of physical attacks, harassment and intimidation by state and non-state actors. CIVICUS and RedLad further highlight the increased levels of violence committed against independent journalists as well as the government’s failure to implement protection mechanisms to safeguard the work of journalists and human rights defenders.
Pakistan: CIVICUS and the Pakistan NGO Forum address the severe and continued restrictions on freedom of expression under draconian blasphemy laws as well as persecution of human rights defenders who face threats and attacks, including extra-judicial killings, vilification and stigmatization. We further make a number of recommendation to Pakistan to foster a safe, respectful, enabling environment for civil society, including through removing legal and policy measures, which unwarrantedly limit the right to associate.
Peru (EN/SP): CIVICUS and APRODEH (Asociación Pro Derechos Humanos) highlight the endemic levels of violence against journalists and human rights defenders, and particularly against land rights, indigenous and environmental activists and reporters. The submission further examines the use of both legal and extra-legal restrictions on the right to freedom of peaceful assembly, with an emphasis on the use of excessive force by the security forces leading to frequent injuries and deaths of protesters.
South Korea: CIVICUS assesses the space for civil society in South Korea, including the authorities’ crackdown on human rights defenders, civil society activists and union representatives to prevent them from participating in and organising a range of ongoing demonstrations. We also discuss growing intolerance of the right to freedom of peaceful assembly exemplified by the authorities increasingly hostile approaches to mass demonstrations, including mass arrests of protesters and excessive use of force.
Sri Lanka: CIVICUS and INFORM: Human Rights Documentation Centre highlight the significant threats to civic space in post-war Sri Lanka. Despite progress made since its last review, we discuss several issues pertaining to the free operation of independent civic groups, a culture of impunity for abuses against HRDs and the unwarranted proposal to strengthen restrictive counter terrorism legislation.
Ukraine (EN/UK): CIVICUS, the Center for Civil Liberties and the DeJuRe Foundation discuss the serious and ongoing restrictions on civic space brought about because of the conflict between Ukraine and illegal armed groups backed by Russia in some parts of the country. The submission also highlights serious concerns about new anti-corruption rules which compel NGOs to submit asset declarations as well as the serious threats to the physical integrity of journalists and the independence and plurality of the media in Ukraine.
Zambia: CIVICUS and the Zambia Council for Social Development (ZCSD) assess the continued delay in repealing the NGO Act No. 16 of 2009 which unduly restricts the participation of civil society through punitive sanctions for non-compliance and excessive discretion of the State to dictate the activities of CSOs. We further discuss the continued use of the Public Order Act to unwarrantedly limit the exercise of the freedoms of peaceful assembly and association.
To read previous Universal Periodic Review submissions by CIVICUS and partners, see here.