• Alaa Abdel Fattah

    Alaa Abdel Fattah

    Name: Alaa Abdel Fattah

    Country: Egypt


    He was again sentenced to 5 years in prison by a Criminal Court in Cairo during a re-trail of the case on 23 February 2015 for participating in a protest and assaulting a policeman.

    Reason Behind Bars:

    On 11 June 2014 civil society activist and blogger, Alaa Abdel Fattah was sentenced to 15 years in prison and handed a fine of EGP 100000 (approximately US $14000) for participating in a peaceful protest. Alaa was among a group of activists who protested against the use of military courts to try civilians. The protests took place on 26 November 2013 outside the Shuna-Council – Egypt’s Upper House of Parliament. He was charged with “demonstrating without prior notification,” “assaulting security forces,” “stealing a public radio,” and “interrupting the work of national institutions.”  He was sentenced in absentia as he was denied access to the court when the sentencing was done.

    On 28 November 2013, about 20 security agents physically assaulted Alaa and his wife Manal Bahey el Din who is a blogger and activist and confiscated computers and telephones at their home before he was arrested.  He was detained for close to four months and later released on bail. 

    Background information 

    Alaa has been arrested and detained several times in the past for his activism and played an instrumental role in the protests during the Arab Spring that led to the down fall of former President Hosni Mubarak.   He was detained in 2006 for a month and a half for his online activities and was summoned by the Egyptian authorities in October 2011 for taking part in a peaceful demonstration organised by Egypt’s Coptic Christians in October 2011. 27 protesters and a military officer were killed during the demonstrations. 

    On 5 January 2014, the North Giza Criminal Court sentenced Alaa to one year in prison on charges of  arson, damage to property and danger to public safety. The charges were based on allegations that Alaa and another activist attacked the campaign headquarters of former presidential candidate Ahmed Shafiq on 28 May 2012. The one year sentence was suspended for three years.   

    Alaa was given a summons for his arrest by the Office of the Public Protector and on 28 November he wrote to the Public Protector confirming that that he will respect the summons.  He was however arrested on 28 November 2013, and held in pre-trial detention until he was provisionally released in March 2014 by the South Cairo Criminal Court on bail of EGP 10000 (approximately us $ 1400).  He is a prisoner of conscience and is in jail on fictitious charges for his human rights campaigns.  

    On 18 August 2014, Alaa began a hunger strike following news that his father Ahmed Seif El-Islam, a prominent human rights lawyer, was taken into an extensive care unit after his open heart surgery. According to a statement released by Alaa’s family the hunger strike followed a “decisive moment” when Alaa decided he “will not cooperate with this absurd and unfair situation, even if it costs him his life." Alaa’s family and friends stated that they are holding the Egyptian government accountable for any deterioration in Alaa’s health, since it was the draconian Egyptian government that imprisoned him for the third time since 25 January 2014 based on trumped up charges. 

    For more information 

    Amnesty International: Egypt – heavy jail sentences for peaceful protests

    Egypt: Sentencing to 15 years of prison of Mr. Alaa Abdel Fatah and Mr. Ahmed Abdel Rahman  

    Egypt: 15 year sentences for 25 peaceful protesters

    Egypt: Update- suspended sentences on trumped-up charges for human rights defenders Ms. Mona Seif and Mr. Alaa Abd El Fattah  

    Take Action 

    Write immediately to the Egyptian authorities urging them to release Alaa Abdel Fattah and other activists arrested for exercising their rights of assembly and association.  

    Send Appeals to 

    President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi 

    Office of the President 

    Al Ittihadia, Cairo 

    Arab Republic of Egypt 

    Fax: 0020223911441


    Deputy Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs for Human Rights 

    Mahy Hassan Abdel Latif 

    Multilateral Affairs and International Security Affairs 

    Corniche al-Nil, Cairo 

    Arab Republic of Egypt 

    Fax: 00202 25749713


    Write to the Egyptian diplomatic representation in your country.  See a list of Egyptian diplomatic representation abroad here.


  • Bangladesh: Government must stop human rights violations and end impunity

    RAB Picture Gallo March 2022 resized

    The undersigned human rights organisations commemorate all victims of human rights violations and stand in solidarity with the victims’ families in Bangladesh and across the world. This year’s International Human Rights Day’s slogan is “Dignity, Freedom, and Justice for All”. International Human Rights Day 2022 is being observed at a time when the human rights situation in Bangladesh continues to worsen. The absence of effective institutions to prevent political intolerance, undemocratic practices and human rights abuses has resulted in rampant impunity. The current authoritarian government has deprived the people of the benefits of good governance and administration of justice through the politicisation of various State institutions, including the judiciary and the Election Commission, and has severely repressed civil and political rights, including the rights to freedom of expression, freedom of peaceful assembly, and freedom of association.

    Bangladesh is a party to eight major international treaties, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the United Nations (UN) Convention against Torture, and has ratified the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. However, the government continues to disregard its obligations under these treaties. Gross human rights violations, including cases of enforced disappearance, extrajudicial killings, and torture, continue to occur in Bangladesh. The government continues to deny the occurrence of enforced disappearances and has yet to ratify the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance. Members of law enforcement agencies and security forces enjoy impunity as the incumbent government uses them to implement its political agenda.

    Despite strong international criticism, the government has intensified its crackdown on civil society organisations and human rights defenders, and the suppression of civic space. Examples of this include the harassment against human rights organisations such as Odhikar. It is suppressing dissenting voices by enforcing repressive laws, including the Digital Security Act and by filing criminal cases, including sedition and defamation charges. Furthermore, members of the ruling Awami League party and law enforcement agencies have regularly attacked and hindered peaceful assembliesof opposition political parties and dissidents. Ruling party members have also filed false and politically-motivated cases against a large number of opposition party leaders and activists. Law enforcement agencies have conducted raids and indiscriminate arrest operations against opposition party leaders and activists. Journalists and media outlets face many forms of repression, including frequent lawsuits, harassment, and serious physical attacks, and in some cases, deadly violence. Censorship, threats, intimidation, and persecution of media outlets is common. Attacks on journalists working for independent media outlets have also taken place.

    On the occasion of International Human Rights Day 2022, our organisations call for an end to authoritarianism and the respect for democratic principles, human rights, human dignity, and social justice in Bangladesh. We urge the UN human rights monitoring mechanisms to press the Bangladeshi authorities to hold the perpetrators accountable. We call on the government of Bangladesh to create an independent, specialised mechanism that works closely with victim-families and civil society, as recommended by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, to investigate all allegations of gross human rights violations, and to hold the perpetrators accountable.

     --- End of the Statement ---

    The organisations jointly publishing the statement are:

    1. Anti-Death Penalty Asia Network (ADPAN)
    1. Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances (AFAD)
    1. Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA)
    1. Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC)
    1. Asian Network for Free Elections (ANFREL)
    1. Capital Punishment Justice Project (CPJP)
    1. CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation
    1. International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH)
    1. Maayer Daak
    1. Odhikar
    1. Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights (RFK Human Rights)
    1. World Organization Against Torture (OMCT)

    Civic space in Bangladesh is rated as "Repressed" by the CIVICUS Monitor


  • Burundi: Special Rapporteur’s first report shows that patterns of human rights violations remain

    Statement at the 51st Session of the UN Human Rights Council 

    Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on Burundi 

    Delivered by Lisa Majumdar 

    Thank you, Mr President. 

    CIVICUS and independent Burundian civil society organisations thank the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Burundi for his first report. 

    The human rights situation in Burundi has continued on a downward spiral despite President Ndayishimiye’s promises to deliver justice and promote civil and political tolerance. Since President Ndayimishiye came to power, the same patterns of extrajudicial killings, forced disappearances, torture and other forms of human rights violations that characterised his predecessor’s rule can be seen. 

    For instance, on 28 August 2022, Florine Irangabiye, a Burundian women’s rights defender, was arrested and detained in the Burundian Intelligence Bureau after her return from Rwanda, where she had been living.  She is accused of espionage against Burundi. We also note with concern a statement made by the ruling party’s Secretary General in which he called on the Imbonekure to continue night patrols and to “kill any troublemakers.” 

    Lack of cooperation with UN human rights mechanisms has continued under this government. We call on the Burundi government to cooperate with the Special Rapporteur and grant him access to the country. 

    In light of the human rights situation, and of the early stage of the mandate, we urge the Council to renew the Special Rapporteur’s mandate to ensure that the human rights situation in Burundi remains under the scrutiny of the Council. 

    We thank you. 

     Civic space in Burundi is rated as "Closed" by the CIVICUS Monitor


  • Cambodia: the international community must step up efforts to address human right violations

    Statement at the 51st Session of the UN Human Rights Council 

    Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on human rights in Cambodia

    Delivered by Lisa Majumdar

    Thank you, Mr President, and thank you Special Rapporteur for your report.

    In the face of ongoing reporting by the Special Rapporteur, the Cambodian government has shown no political will to undertake democratic or civic space reforms.

    Cambodian human rights defenders and activists continue to face repression and persecution. Highly politicised courts mean that those arbitrarily detained and charged are often held for prolonged periods in pretrial detention and have no chance of getting a fair trial. The ongoing harassment of the Nagaworld workers union and attacks on press freedom is extremely worrying.

    The criminalisation of the opposition in the last five years and recent efforts to harass and undermine new political parties during the commune elections are precursors of what the Cambodian people can expect from their national elections next year.

    If the international community wants to see a free and fair elections in Cambodia it must step up efforts to address these violations.

    We call on the Council to take note of the benchmarks set out in the Special Rapporteur’s report, particularly those relating to the opening up of civic and political space and ceasing the persecution of human rights defenders, specifically:

    • Release detained human rights defenders and political dissidents and drop the charges against them
    • Desist from applying and reform draconian laws including the Law on Associations and Non-Governmental Organizations (LANGO)
    • Restore and re-enfranchise a variety of political parties, and ensure free and fair elections.

    If these benchmarks are not met, the Council must be prepared to take stronger action by way of a stronger monitoring mandate. Failure to do so will see the one-party state entrenched still further in years to come.

     Civic space in Cambodia is rated as "Repressed" by the CIVICUS Monitor


  • India: Concerns around the judicial harassment against Oxfam India

    Mr. Amit Shah
    Union Minister of Home Affairs of India
    Ministry of Home Affairs
    Government of India

    Dear Excellency,

    We are writing to you to convey our concerns around the harassment of Oxfam India, a non-governmental organisation that has worked for more than 70 years in the country to end discrimination and create a free and just society.

    Oxfam India has been instrumental in assisting communities during the COVID-19 crisis and contributed significantly to building community resilience during the pandemic in 16 states of India. It has provided lifesaving medical and diagnostic equipment to 150 District Hospitals, 172 Primary Health Centres, and 166 Community Health Centres in 16 states.

    Therefore, we are concerned about the recent raid on and investigation of the organisation by India’s Income Tax Department. On 7 to 9 September 2022, officials from the Income Tax (IT) Department conducted what was presented as an income tax ‘survey’ of Oxfam India, during which members of the organisation were not allowed to leave the premises. The staff were also denied access to communication devices and the internet was shut down by the authorities, preventing them from contacting families and relatives. The survey team confiscated private mobile phones belonging to the Senior Leadership Team and the Finance lead and took all of the data from the Oxfam India server.

    We believe that this was the latest attempt to harass and intimidate the staff of the organisation. Hindering Oxfam India’s work will affect thousands of people who already benefit from its services. Further, such raids create a chilling effect on civil society and highlight the broad powers the authorities have.

    This is not the first time Oxfam India has been targeted by the authorities. In January 2022, it was reported that the Central government refused to renew Oxfam India’s Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act (FCRA) licence. Oxfam India was among the 6,000 groups whose FCRA registration was revoked and rejected for renewal on 1 January 2022. The NGO subsequently filed a revision petition which is still pending.

    We are alarmed by the increasing use of the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act 2010 - which regulates the acceptance and use of foreign funding for civil society – to target critical civil society organisations. Among other things the law has been used to limit access to funding and impose a heavy burden on bureaucratic procedures under the pretext of combating foreign influence in India.

    As a state party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), India must respect, protect and fulfil the right to freedom of association as enshrined in Article 22 of the Covenant and should ensure that national security practices must comply with international human rights law and must never be used to stifle the legitimate works of civil society. In 2016, three UN human rights experts urged the government to repeal the FCRA, stating that it was being used to ‘obstruct’ access to foreign funding and fails to comply with international human rights standards.

    Therefore, we urge your government to immediately and unconditionally halt the harassment of Oxfam India and other civil society organisations working to defend human rights. We further reiterate our call to the government of India to review or repeal the FCRA to bring compliance with the ICCPR and to create a safe and enabling environment for civil society organisations to conduct their legitimate work.


    1. Alianza ONG, Dominican Republic
    2. Asia Development Alliance
    3. Cemefi- Mexico
    4. Civil Society Capacity Building Center (CESC), Mozambique
    5. CNSC-TOGO
    6. Consortium of Ethiopian Human Rights Organizations (CEHRO)
    7. Cooperation Committee for Cambodia (CCC)
    8. FINESTE. Haiti
    9. Fingo, Finland
    10. Instituto de Comunicacion y Desarrollo (ICD), Uruguay
    11. JOINT - Liga de ONG's em Moçambique
    12. Mozambican Chapter of Media Institute for Southern Africa (MISA Mozambique)
    13. Network of Estonian Non-profit Organizations
    14. NGO Federation of Nepal
    15. Nigeria Network of NGOs
    16. Pakistan Development Alliance
    17. Pakistan NGOs Forum
    18. RACI Argentinas
    19. Red Venezolana de Organizaciones de Sociedad Civil.
    20. REDECIM, Mexico
    21. Redlad.
    22. Regional Initiative Rendir Cuentas
    23. Unión Nacional de Instituciones para el Trabajo de Acción Social (UNITAS) Bolivia
    24. Zambia Council for Social Development (ZCSD)

     Civic space in India is rated as "Repressed" by the CIVICUS Monitor


  • Iran: civil society urgently calls for accountability and respect for women’s rights

    The death of Mahsa Amini while in custody after she was arrested for allegedly violating Iran’s strict rules on  women’s dress code and the massive arrests of protesters require urgent accountability by the government and end to violence against women and women human rights defenders, global civil society organisation, CIVICUS said today.  


  • Irom Sharmila

    Irom Sharmila

    Name: Irom Sharmila  

    Location: India

    Reason Behind Bars:

    Irom has been on a hunger strike since 2000 to highlight persistent human rights abuses committed by Indian security forces under the Armed Forces Special Powers Act of 1958 (AFSPA). Under Section 4 (A) of the law, security forces involved in counter-insurgency operations in “disturbed areas” are given the authority to arrest, detain and even use lethal force against persons suspected of being a threat to “public order.”  Of critical concern is section 6(A) of the law which prohibits courts from holding security officials accountable for their human rights abuses without prior government approval. The law is regularly invoked to forcefully suppress public demonstrations, particularly in insurgency affected areas, including the states of Jammu and Kashmir and Manipur. Justice Jeevan Reddy Committee, a committee founded in 2004 by the government of India to review AFSPA, recommended that the law should be amended as it institutionalizes abuse, repression and discrimination.

    On 2 November 2000, members of the Assam Rifles, one of India’s oldest paramilitary forces, allegedly shot and killed 10 people at a bus stop in Imphal Valley, Manipur. However, despite accusations that the shooting constituted extrajudicial executions the Indian authorities refused to investigate the incident, concluding that it was within the mandate of AFSPA.   In protest of the government’s failure to investigate the incident, Irom decided to indefinitely prolong her traditional Thursday fasts, which she has been carrying out since childhood, to demand the repeal of AFSPA. 

    On 5 November 2000, Irom was arrested by the Indian police under  Section 309 of the Indian Penal Code which criminalizes attempts to commit suicide. Section 309 prescribes 1 year in prison to “whoever attempts to commit suicide and does any act towards the commission of such offence”. Every year since 2000, Irom has been re- arrested  and charged under the law  and forced fed in detention.

    On 20 August 2014, the District and Sessions Judge of Imphal East released Irom stating that refusing food and water doesn’t constitute attempted suicide. However, despite the court ruling, on 22 August 2014, Irom was forcefully re-arrested by the Superintendent of Police (SP) of Imphal East and taken to  Jawaharlal Nehru Institute of Medical Sciences (JNIMS) to be force fed through her nose.  Directly preceding her arrest, Irom was staging a peaceful hunger strike a kilometre away from a government hospital where she has been  imprisoned for the past year.  The government’s relentless judicial persecution of Irom is based solely on her independent activism and represents a severe breach of her basic civil rights. Irom must be immediately and unconditionally released.

    For more information:
    Frontline Defenders: Human rights defender Ms Irom Chanu Sharmila re-arrested
    Save Sharmila Solidarity Campaign
    Three days after her release, anti-AFSPA activist Irom Sharmila re-arrested from protest site

    Take action:
    Send a letter to President Pranab Mukherjee and the Prime Minister Narendra Modi
    Write to Indian authorities and Indian diplomatic missions around the world demanding Irom’s release


  • Les banques publiques de développement ne peuvent pas traîner leurs pieds lorsqu'il s'agit de construire un avenir durable

    Une coalition d'organisations de la société civile demande aux banques publiques de développement (BPD) de prendre des mesures radicales et innovantes pour lutter contre les violations des droits humains et la destruction de l'environnement. Aucun projet financé par les BPD ne devrait se faire au détriment des groupes vulnérables, de l'environnement et des libertés collectives, mais devrait au contraire incarner la voix des communautés, les valeurs démocratiques et la justice environnementale.

    Ces demandes, qui font partie d'une déclaration collective signée par plus de 50 organisations de la société civile, interviennent au moment où plus de 450 BPD se réunissent à Abidjan, en Côte d'Ivoire, à partir du 19 octobre, pour un troisième sommet international intitulé "Finance en commun".

    La pandémie de COVID-19 et l'urgence climatique, associées aux violations des droits humains et aux risques croissants pour les militants dans le monde entier, mettent encore plus en évidence la nécessité de changer les pratiques actuelles. Alors que les banques publiques de développement traînent les pieds pour s'attaquer aux inégalités croisées et structurelles, les organisations de la société civile prennent des mesures visant à créer des moyens de subsistance dignes en intégrant au développement des mesures positives concrètes en faveur de la justice climatique, sociale, de genre et raciale.

    Les BPD ne peuvent pas être réticents à agir. Ils doivent atteindre la cible lorsqu'il s'agit de soutenir la transformation des économies et des systèmes financiers vers la durabilité et de répondre aux besoins les plus pressants des citoyens du monde entier - des systèmes alimentaires au soutien accru à une transition juste vers des sources d'énergie véritablement durables. Les BPD doivent reconnaître que les services publics sont le fondement de sociétés justes et équitables, plutôt que d'encourager leur privatisation et d'entretenir les récits d'austérité.

    Neuf personnes sur dix vivent dans des pays où les libertés civiques sont sévèrement restreintes, et avec un militant de l'environnement tué tous les deux jours en moyenne au cours de la dernière décennie, les banques de développement ont l'obligation de reconnaître et d'intégrer les droits humains dans leurs plans et actions, en suivant un devoir de "ne pas nuire".

    Les communautés ne peuvent pas être laissées sur le carreau. Il faut leur donner l'espace nécessaire pour jouer le rôle légitime de forces motrices dans les réponses aux défis mondiaux d'aujourd'hui, sans quoi les BPD reculeront plutôt qu'elles n'avanceront - et cela signifie plus de dégradation environnementale, moins de participation démocratique, et pour parler franchement une crise encore plus grande que celle à laquelle nous sommes confrontés aujourd'hui. Et personne n'a besoin de cela.

    Les recommandations de la déclaration collective de la société civile sont le fruit d'un processus d'engagement et d'échange qui a duré trois ans et auquel ont participé des réseaux de la société civile dans le but de façonner les politiques et les projets du BPD. Vous trouverez ci-dessous certains de leurs mots et messages.

    Alors que l'appel à la responsabilité se fait de plus en plus pressant, les sommets "Finance en commun" sont l'occasion pour les BPD de faire preuve de leadership moral et de contribuer à remédier à l'absence de collaboration à long terme avec la société civile, les communautés et les groupes autochtones, qui menace de réduire les récits et les pratiques de développement.


    Oluseyi Oyebisi, directeur exécutif du Réseau nigérian des ONG (NNNGO), le réseau national nigérian de 3 700 ONG,a déclaré : "Les pays du Sahara et du Sahel sont confrontés à la plus grave crise sécuritaire de leur histoire, liée au changement climatique, à la justice sociale et aux inégalités dans la région. Marquée par de fortes vulnérabilités économiques (manque d'opportunités, en particulier pour les jeunes), sociales (limitation de l'accès équitable aux services sociaux de base) et climatiques, la région présente des indicateurs de développement humain parmi les plus bas au monde - même avant la pandémie de covidés. L'accès aux populations affectées est limité dans certaines localités en raison de trois facteurs principaux : la situation sécuritaire, le mauvais état des infrastructures et les conditions géographiques difficiles. Les BPD doivent donner la priorité aux organisations de la société civile et aux initiatives communautaires qui soutiennent les programmes étatiques de décentralisation, de réformes du secteur de la sécurité et de réconciliation. Cela permettra de réduire la vulnérabilité des populations et de prévenir l'extrémisme violent."

    Mavalow Christelle Kalhoule, présidente du Forus et présidente de Spong, le réseau des ONG du Burkina Fasoa déclaré : "Les projets de développement façonnent notre monde ; de la façon dont nous naviguons dans nos villes à la façon dont les paysages ruraux sont transformés. En fin de compte, ils ont un impact sur la façon dont nous interagissons les uns avec les autres, avec les plantes et les animaux, avec les autres pays et avec la nourriture dans nos assiettes. Les décisions prises par les banques publiques de développement sont donc existentielles. Cette responsabilité s'accompagne d'une responsabilité encore plus grande d'inclure les communautés directement concernées par les projets de développement, celles dont l'air, l'eau et la vie quotidienne sont affectés pour les générations à venir. Pour ce faire, les banques publiques de développement doivent renforcer leurs efforts à long terme pour créer un dialogue avec les organisations de la société civile, les mouvements sociaux et les communautés indigènes afin de fortifier les principes démocratiques de leur travail. Nous les encourageons à écouter, à demander et à coopérer de manière innovante afin que le développement reste fidèle à sa définition originale de progrès et de changement positif ; un processus collectif, participatif et équitable et un mot qui n'a pas de sens pour quelques-uns, mais pour tous."

    Tity Agbahey, coordinateur régional pour l'Afrique de la Coalition for Human Rights in Development, a déclaré : "De nombreux membres de la société civile ont exprimé leurs inquiétudes quant à la Finance en commun, considérée comme un espace géré par les élites, qui ne parvient pas à être véritablement inclusif. C'est un espace où l'approche traditionnelle descendante du développement, au lieu d'être remise en question, est encore renforcée. Une fois de plus, les dirigeants des banques publiques de développement réunis à ce sommet prendront des décisions sur des questions clés sans écouter les personnes les plus touchées par leurs projets et les véritables experts en développement : les communautés locales, les défenseurs des droits humains, les peuples indigènes, les groupes féministes, la société civile. Ils parleront de "durabilité", tout en ignorant les protestations contre les politiques d'austérité et l'augmentation de la dette. Ils parleront de "droits humains", tout en ignorant ceux qui dénoncent les violations des droits humains dans le cadre de leurs projets. Ils parleront de "transition verte et juste", tout en continuant à soutenir des projets qui contribuent au changement climatique."

    Comlan Julien AGBESSI, coordinateur régional du Réseau des plateformes nationales d'ONG d'Afrique de l'Ouest (REPAOC), une coalition régionale de 15 plateformes nationales de la société civile a déclaré : "Quelle que soit la perception que les pouvoirs publics des différents pays ont d'elles, les organisations non gouvernementales (ONG) contribuent à couvrir les aspects et les espaces non atteints ou insuffisamment atteints par les programmes nationaux de développement. Malgré l'impact indéniable de leurs actions sur les conditions de vie des populations, les ONG restent les parents pauvres des financements des bailleurs de fonds, hormis l'appui de certaines organisations philanthropiques ou caritatives. Dans un tel contexte de raréfaction des opportunités de financement, aggravé par la crise sanitaire due au COVID-19 et la crise économique qui s'en est suivie, le Pooled Finance, qui constitue en fait un changement de paradigme, apparaît comme une bouée de sauvetage pour les OSC. C'est pourquoi le REPAOC se félicite des engagements pris par les Banques Publiques de Développement et les Banques Multilatérales de Développement de soutenir directement les projets et programmes des OSC de la même manière qu'elles le font habituellement avec les gouvernements et le secteur privé. Grâce aux accords de partenariat que nous appelons de nos vœux entre les OSC et les banques, ces dernières peuvent être assurées que les actions qui seront envisagées au profit des communautés rurales et urbaines leur parviendront certainement avec les garanties de responsabilité qu'offrent leurs nouveaux partenaires OSC".

    Frank Vanaerschot, directeur de Counter Balance, a déclaré :

    "En tant que l'un des organisateurs du sommet "Finance en commun" de cette année, la BEI se vantera des milliards qu'elle investit dans le développement. En réalité, la banque va promouvoir les intérêts commerciaux de l'UE et encourager l'utilisation de l'argent public pour le développement dans les pays du Sud afin de garantir les profits des investisseurs privés. La réduction des inégalités passera au mieux au second plan. La BEI co-organise également le sommet malgré les violations systématiques des droits humains dans les projets qu'elle finance du Népal au Kenya. Au lieu de cela, la BEI et d'autres banques publiques devraient s'efforcer de donner du pouvoir aux communautés locales en investissant dans les services publics nécessaires au respect des droits humains, tels que les soins de santé et l'éducation détenus et gérés par l'État - et non pas en plaçant les profits des entreprises au-dessus de tout."

    Stephanie Amoako, Senior Policy Associate chez Accountability Counsela déclaré : "Les BPD doivent être responsables devant les communautés impactées par leurs projets. Tous les BPD doivent disposer d'un mécanisme de responsabilité efficace pour répondre aux préoccupations liées aux projets et devraient s'engager à prévenir et à remédier entièrement à tout préjudice causé aux communautés".

    Jyotsna Mohan Singh, coordinatrice régionale de l'Asia Development Alliance, a déclaré : "Les BPD doivent avoir un noyau normatif ; ils doivent commencer par le cadre des droits. Cela signifie que toutes les garanties doivent être fondées sur les différents cadres de droits qui existent déjà. Il existe des instruments de droits pour les populations autochtones, les personnes âgées, les femmes, les jeunes et les personnes handicapées. Ils font partie intégrante d'un grand nombre de conventions mondiales et régionales. Leur approche doit être ancrée dans ces droits, elle reposera alors sur une base très solide.

    Les gouvernements asiatiques doivent soutenir, mettre en œuvre et appliquer des lois et réglementations environnementales strictes pour tous les projets des BPD. La première étape consiste à diffuser des informations publiques et à mener des évaluations d'impact environnemental ouvertes et efficaces pour tous ces projets, ainsi que des évaluations environnementales stratégiques pour les infrastructures et les projets transfrontaliers."

    Pour de plus amples informations ou des demandes d'interview :

    Liste des signataires.


  • Los Bancos Públicos de Desarrollo no pueden quedarse atrás cuando se trata de construir un futuro sostenible

    Una coalición de organizaciones de la sociedad civil exige a los bancos públicos de desarrollo (BPD) que tomen medidas radicales e innovadoras para hacer frente a las violaciones de los derechos humanos y a la destrucción del medio ambiente. Ningún proyecto financiado por los bancos de desarrollo público debe ir en detrimento de los grupos vulnerables, el medio ambiente y las libertades colectivas, sino que debe incorporar las voces de las comunidades, los valores democráticos y la justicia medioambiental.

    Las demandas, que forman parte de una declaración colectiva firmada por más de 50 organizaciones de la sociedad civil, se producen en el momento en que más de 450 BPD se reúnen en Abiyán, Costa de Marfil, a partir del 19 de octubre, para celebrar una tercera cumbre internacional, denominada Finanzas en Común.

    La pandemia de COVID-19 y la emergencia climática, junto con las violaciones de los derechos humanos y el aumento de los riesgos para los activistas en todo el mundo, están poniendo de manifiesto la necesidad de cambiar las prácticas actuales. Mientras que los bancos públicos de desarrollo pueden arrastrar los pies a la hora de abordar las desigualdades estructurales y entrecruzadas, las organizaciones de la sociedad civil están emprendiendo acciones dirigidas a crear medios de vida dignos, integrando el desarrollo con medidas afirmativas concretas hacia la justicia climática, social, de género y racial.

    Los BPD no pueden ser reacias a actuar. Tienen que dar en la diana cuando se trata de apoyar la transformación de las economías y los sistemas financieros hacia la sostenibilidad y abordar las necesidades más acuciantes de los ciudadanos de todo el mundo, desde los sistemas alimentarios hasta el aumento del apoyo a una transición justa hacia fuentes de energía verdaderamente sostenibles. Los BPD deben reconocer que los servicios públicos son la base de las sociedades justas y equitativas, en lugar de fomentar su privatización y mantener viva la narrativa de la austeridad.

    9 de cada 10 personas viven en países donde las libertades cívicas están severamente restringidas, y con un activista medioambiental asesinado cada dos días de media en la última década, los bancos de desarrollo tienen la obligación de reconocer e incorporar los derechos humanos en sus planes y acciones, siguiendo el deber de "no hacer daño".

    No se puede dejar a las comunidades fuera de la puerta. Hay que darles el espacio necesario para que desempeñen el papel que les corresponde de impulsoras de las respuestas a los retos globales actuales, sin ellas los bancos de desarrollo retrocederán en lugar de avanzar, y esto significa más degradación ambiental, menos participación democrática y, por decirlo claramente, una crisis aún mayor que la actual. Y eso no lo necesita nadie.

    Las recomendaciones de la declaración colectiva de la sociedad civil son el resultado de un proceso de tres años de compromiso e intercambio, en el que han participado redes de la sociedad civil en un esfuerzo por dar forma a las políticas y proyectos del los BPD. A continuación se pueden encontrar algunas de sus palabras y mensajes.

    A medida que aumenta el llamamiento a la rendición de cuentas, las cumbres de Finanzas en Común son una oportunidad para que los BPD muestren su liderazgo moral y ayuden a remediar la falta de colaboración a largo plazo con la sociedad civil, las comunidades y los grupos indígenas, que amenaza con restringir las narrativas y las prácticas de desarrollo.


    Oluseyi Oyebisi, Director Ejecutivo de la Red de ONG de Nigeria (NNNGO), la red nacional nigeriana de 3.700 ONG, dijo: "Los países del Sáhara y del Sahel, especialmente, se enfrentan a la crisis de seguridad más grave de su historia, relacionada con el cambio climático, la justicia social y las desigualdades en la región. Marcada por fuertes vulnerabilidades económicas (falta de oportunidades, especialmente para los jóvenes), sociales (limitación del acceso equitativo a los servicios sociales básicos) y climáticas, la región presenta algunos de los indicadores de desarrollo humano más bajos del mundo, incluso antes de la pandemia de covirus. El acceso a las poblaciones afectadas es limitado en algunas localidades debido a tres factores principales: la situación de seguridad, el mal estado de las infraestructuras y las difíciles condiciones geográficas. Los BPD deben dar prioridad a las organizaciones de la sociedad civil y a las iniciativas comunitarias que apoyan los programas estatales de descentralización, las reformas del sector de la seguridad y la reconciliación. Esto ayudará a reducir la vulnerabilidad de las poblaciones y a prevenir el extremismo violento".

    Mavalow Christelle Kalhoule, presidenta de Forus y presidenta de Spong, la red de ONG de Burkina Faso, dijo "Los proyectos de desarrollo dan forma a nuestro mundo; desde la forma en que navegamos por nuestras ciudades hasta cómo se transforman los paisajes rurales. En última instancia, repercuten en la forma en que nos relacionamos entre nosotros, con las plantas y los animales, con otros países y con los alimentos que tenemos en nuestros platos. Las decisiones que toman los bancos públicos de desarrollo son, por tanto, existenciales. Esta responsabilidad viene acompañada de otra aún mayor, la de incluir a las comunidades directamente afectadas por los proyectos de desarrollo, aquellas cuyo aire, agua y vida cotidiana se ven afectados para las generaciones venideras. Para ello, los bancos públicos de desarrollo deben reforzar sus esfuerzos a largo plazo para crear un diálogo con las organizaciones de la sociedad civil, los movimientos sociales y las comunidades indígenas con el fin de fortalecer los principios democráticos de su trabajo. Les animamos a que escuchen, pregunten y cooperen de forma innovadora para que el desarrollo se mantenga fiel a su definición original de progreso y cambio positivo; un proceso colectivo, participativo y justo y una palabra que tenga un significado no para unos pocos, sino para todos".

    Tity Agbahey, Coordinadora Regional para África de la Coalition for Human Rights in Development, dijo "Muchos miembros de la sociedad civil han expresado su preocupación por el hecho de que Finanzas en Común sea un espacio dirigido por las élites, que no consigue ser verdaderamente inclusivo. Es un espacio en el que el enfoque verticalista del desarrollo, en lugar de ser cuestionado, se refuerza. Una vez más, los dirigentes de los bancos públicos de desarrollo reunidos en esta Cumbre tomarán decisiones sobre cuestiones clave sin escuchar a los más afectados por sus proyectos y a los verdaderos expertos en desarrollo: comunidades locales, defensores de los derechos humanos, pueblos indígenas, grupos feministas, sociedad civil. Hablarán de "sostenibilidad", mientras ignoran las protestas contra las políticas de austeridad y el aumento de la deuda. Hablarán de "derechos humanos", mientras ignoran a quienes denuncian las violaciones de los derechos humanos en el contexto de sus proyectos. Hablarán de "transición verde y justa", mientras siguen apoyando proyectos que contribuyen al cambio climático".

    Comlan Julien AGBESSI, Coordinador Regional de la Red de Plataformas Nacionales de ONG de África Occidental (REPAOC), una coalición regional de 15 plataformas nacionales de la sociedad civil, dijo: "Independientemente de cómo sean percibidas por los poderes públicos de los distintos países, las organizaciones no gubernamentales (ONG) contribuyen a cubrir los aspectos y espacios no alcanzados o insuficientemente alcanzados por los programas nacionales de desarrollo. A pesar del innegable impacto de sus acciones en las condiciones de vida de las poblaciones, las ONG siguen siendo las primas pobres de la financiación de los donantes, aparte del apoyo de algunas organizaciones filantrópicas o benéficas. En este contexto de escasas posibilidades de financiación, agravado por la crisis sanitaria debida a la COVID-19 y la posterior crisis económica, la Financiación Conjunta, que constituye de hecho un cambio de paradigma, parece ser una tabla de salvación para las OSC. Por ello, la REPAOC se congratula de los compromisos adquiridos tanto por los Bancos Públicos de Desarrollo como por los Bancos Multilaterales de Desarrollo de apoyar directamente los proyectos y programas de las OSC, de la misma manera que lo hacen habitualmente con los gobiernos y el sector privado. A través de los acuerdos de asociación que esperamos y deseamos entre las OSC y los bancos, estos últimos pueden estar seguros de que las acciones que se prevean en beneficio de las comunidades rurales y urbanas les llegarán sin duda con las garantías de responsabilidad que ofrecen sus nuevos socios de las OSC".

    Frank Vanaerschot, Director de Counter Balance, dijo:

    "Como uno de los organizadores de la Cumbre de Finanzas en Común de este año, el BEI presumirá de los miles de millones que invierte en desarrollo. La verdad es que el banco estará impulsando los propios intereses comerciales de la UE y promoviendo el uso de dinero público para el desarrollo en el Sur Global para garantizar los beneficios de los inversores privados. La reducción de las desigualdades quedará en segundo plano, en el mejor de los casos. El BEI también coorganiza la cumbre a pesar de las violaciones sistemáticas de los derechos humanos en los proyectos que financia desde Nepal hasta Kenia. En su lugar, el BEI y otros bancos públicos deberían trabajar para empoderar a las comunidades locales invirtiendo en los servicios públicos necesarios para que se respeten los derechos humanos, como la sanidad y la educación de propiedad y gestión públicas, y no en poner los beneficios empresariales por encima de todo".

    Stephanie Amoako, asociada principal de políticas en Accountability Counsel, dijo: "Los BPD deben rendir cuentas a las comunidades afectadas por sus proyectos. Todos los BPD deben contar con un mecanismo eficaz de rendición de cuentas para abordar los problemas que plantean los proyectos y deben comprometerse a prevenir y remediar plenamente cualquier daño a las comunidades".

    Jyotsna Mohan Singh, coordinadora regional de la Asia Development Alliance, dijo: "Los BPD deben tener un núcleo normativo; deben empezar por el marco de los derechos. Esto significa basar todas las salvaguardias en los distintos marcos de derechos que ya existen. Hay instrumentos de derechos para los pueblos indígenas, los ancianos, las mujeres, los jóvenes y las personas con discapacidad. Forman parte de toda una serie de convenios mundiales y regionales. Su enfoque debe basarse en esos derechos, entonces tendrá una base muy firme.

    Los gobiernos asiáticos deben apoyar, implementar y aplicar leyes y reglamentos medioambientales estrictos para todos los proyectos de los BPD. El primer paso es difundir información pública y realizar evaluaciones de impacto ambiental abiertas y eficaces para todos estos proyectos, así como evaluaciones ambientales estratégicas para los proyectos de infraestructura y transfronterizos."

    Para más información o solicitud de entrevistas:

    Lista de firmantes.


  • Lu Maw Naing

    Lu Maw Naing

    Name: Lu Maw Naing

    Location: Myanmar 

    Reason Behind Bars:

    On 25 January 2014, Burmese journalist Lu Maw Naing and several of his colleagues at Unity newspaper published the article, “A secret chemical weapons factory of the former generals, Chinese technicians and the commander-in-chief at Pauk Township”. The article exposed a clandestine chemical weapons facility in the Magwe Division and further revealed that former head of the ruling junta, Than Shwe, and current commander-in-chief of the Myanmar Armed Forces, Min Aung Hlaing, visited the facility with a number of Chinese technicians. These claims were substantiated by statements from local residents and factory workers. 

    On January 31st, Lau Maw Naing was arrested without a warrant in Pauk Township, Magway Division. On February 1st, Naing was transferred to the Special Branch Police in Pauk Township where he was held without bail on charges of exposing state secrets.

    From 31 January – 1 February, three other Unity reporters, including Yarzar Oo, Sithu Soe, and Paing Thet Kyaw, and Unity’s CEO, Tint San, were arrested in connection with the article.

    Days later, in an apparent attempt to intimidate members of Unity’s staff and suppress further reporting on the chemical weapons plant, security forces raided Unity’s offices and confiscated copies of the issue.

    On March 17th, Lu Maw Naing and his colleagues were charged at Pakokku District Court with “disclosing State secrets, trespassing on the restricted area of the factory, taking photographs and the act of abetting”.

    On July 10th, all five journalists were sentenced to 10 years in prison and hard labor for violating Article 3 of the 1923 Burma State Secrecy Act. 

    Lu Maw Naing is reportedly in ill-health and has been denied adequate medical treatment. 

    Background information

    On 15 July 2013, on an official visit to the UK, Burmese President Thein Sein Committed to releasing all political prisoners by the end of 2013.  

    However, on a nationally broadcasted speech on 7 July 2014, Thein Sein defended the arrests, stating that, “If media freedoms are used to endanger state security rather than give benefits to the country, I want to announce that effective action will be taken under existing laws.” 

    According to national watchdog group, Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, at least 46 political prisoners, including peaceful protestors, journalists and civil society activists, remain in prison in Myanmar. 

    For More Information 

    Committee to Protect Journalists- Burma takes another step toward repressing its media

    Take Action 

    Amnesty International Urgent Action on Media Workers Imprisoned in Myanmar

    Write to President Thein Sein demanding the release of Imprisoned Journalists 


  • Mahienour El-Masry

    Mahienour El-Masry

    Name: Mahienour El-Masry

    Location: Egypt


    CIVICUS was informed by a partner in Egypt that on December 27 2015, Mahienour El-Masry second demurrer was rejected by the court.

    Reason Behind Bars: 

    On 21 September 2014, Mahienour El- Masry was provisionally released after the Al Mansheya Misdemeanor Appeals Court suspended her six months prison sentence following an appeal filed by her to the Court of Cassation. On 20 July 2014, the Sidi Gaber Appeal Misdemeanor Court in Alexandria had sentenced Mahienour to six months of prison and a fine of EGP 50,000 (approximately USD 7,200) under Law No 107: Law on the Right to Public Meetings, Processions and Peaceful Demonstrations. Mahienour was found guilty of “participating in an unauthorized protest” and “assaulting police officers”.

    Mahienour’s sentencing is due to a peaceful demonstration she attended to on 2 December 2013 in front of the Alexandria Criminal Court during the fourth hearing of  Khaled Saeed’s murder trial. On 6 June 2010  Khaled Saeed,  the emblematic figure of the 25 January Revolution, was tortured to death by two police officers in Sidi Gaber. The police arrested Mahienour on 12 April 2014 while she was in a clothing store in Mohram Bey District in Alexandria. During her imprisonment, Mahienour was kept in the Damanhour Women prison.

    Mahienour’s arrest is believed to be related to her legitimate human rights work of providing legal assistance to political prisoners and monitoring human rights violations in Egypt.  A member of the Revolutionary Socialist movement and a human rights defender, Mahienour also worked extensively with women’s rights and youth organizations to document atrocities committed by security officers in Egypt.  Mahienour was awarded the prestigious Ludovic Trarieux Human Rights Annual Prize in 2014, an award given to lawyers for their contributions to defending human rights. 

    Background Information:

    Law No 107: Law on the Right to Public Meetings, Processions and Peaceful Demonstrations was adopted on 24 November 2013 and drew widespread criticism from UN experts and civil society organizations for being in breach of international standards. The law gives excessive powers to security forces to arbitrarily ban and disperse peaceful protests while imposing heavy penalties on demonstrators. Since its adoption, Law No 107 has been routinely used to clampdown on peaceful demonstrators and human rights defenders protesting the Egyptian government’s growing intolerance of dissent.

    For more information:

    Egypt:Provisional release of Ms. Mahienour El-Massry

    Amnesty International: Human rights lawyer latest victim of Egypt’s repressive protest law

    Frontline Defenders: Mahienour El-Masry

    Nazra for Feminist Studies: Mahienour El-Massry

    Read Mahienour’s close friend Rasha’s account of her

    Read Mahienour’s letter from jail

    September 2015 Update on Mahienour El-Massry from Fidh

    Take action:

    Send a letter to the Public Prosecutor, and the Egyptian Embassy in your country For a list of Egyptian diplomatic missions abroad please click here
    Solidarity with Mahienour el-Masry and jailed activists
    Resist the Anti- Protest Laws in Egypt


  • Myanmar: As the atrocities mount, so must the momentum towards ensuring accountability

    Statement at the 50th Session of the UN Human Rights Council

    Interactive Dialogue with the UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Myanmar

    June 2022

    Delivered by Kyaw Win, Burma Human Rights Network (BHRN)

    Thank you, Mr. President and Special Rapporteur.

    Since the attempted coup on 1 February 2021 by the Myanmar military junta, the criminalisation of activists and journalists on trumped up charges of incitement, sedition and terrorism by secret military tribunals has persisted. Human rights groups have documented the increasing use of torture or cruel, inhumane and degrading punishment of political prisoners in detention.

    Rohingya and Muslim minorities have also been subjected to tightened restrictions on their fundamental freedoms and are increasingly at risk of being subjected to further atrocity crimes. The junta and its supporters continue to use divisive and hateful rhetoric aimed at marginalising and inciting violence against the Rohingya and Muslim minorities.

    The junta continues to deny the Rohingya the ability to live free and dignified lives by further restricting their freedom of movement. Every year, the junta has arrested and detained nearly a thousand Rohingya people, including women and children, for fleeing oppression in Arakan state. A safe and dignified return for Rohingya refugees will not be possible while these conditions are in place.

    Despite previous findings by the Independent Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar showing widespread and systematic human rights violations, some amounting to crimes against humanity and genocide, impunity remains nearly absolute. As long as this remains so, unyielding repression of activists and oppression of minority communities will continue unabated.

    We call on the UN and its member states to take all possible measures to hold General Min Aung Hlaing, other senior military leaders and members of SAC accountable for their crimes and to cut off the junta from all revenue and weapons streams which allow it to continue its genocidal operations.

    We ask the Special Rapporteur what immediate actions he suggests for States to protect those on the ground and further accountability.

    We thank you.

    Civic space in Myanmr is rated as "Repressed" by the CIVICUS Monitor


  • Myanmar: The root causes of violations against the Rohingya & other minorities cannot be addressed without accountability

    Statements at the 50th Session of the UN Human Rights Council

    CIVICUS and our partner, Burma Human Rights Network delivered two statements on the situation of Rohingya and other minorities in and outside Myanmar, please read them below:

    Interactive Dialogue on High Commisioner Oral update on Myanmar

    Delivered by Kyaw Win, Burma Human Rights Network (BHRN)

    Thank you, Mr. President.

    CIVICUS and the Burma Human Rights Network (BHRN) thanks the High Commissioner for her update.

    We remain deeply concerned about the situation and lack of accountability for violations against the Rohingya and other minorities inside and outside Myanmar.

    Monitoring by BHRN has found that arbitrary arrests and restriction of movement continue to occur. On 31 March, ten Rohingyas were arrested on a bus at a checkpoint in Ann Township in Rakhine State by a joint team of military, police, and immigration officials. On 29 April, four Rohingya Muslim women were arrested at a checkpoint in the same township.

    BHRN has documented a steady increase in anti-Muslim hate speech and disinformation in the country. On 2 April, a post on the social media site Facebook included fabricated information, suggesting that jihadists support the pro-democratic activities in Myanmar. The post was liked by hundreds of Facebook users. On 21 April another post on Facebook accused the pro-democracy group People Defence Force (PDF) of killing Buddhist monks with the support of Muslims.

    It is abundantly clear that the conditions are not in place for the safe voluntary return of displaced Rohingya communities, and will not be so as long as the military junta holds power, and we call on the Council to support a resolution which reflects these serious concerns.

    We further call on States to take proactive steps in providing humanitarian assistance through local networks, particularly in ethnic and ceasefire areas, protect new Rohingya asylum seekers and provide material and diplomatic support to civil society, journalists and activists at risk.

    Thank you.

    The root causes of violations against the Rohingya and other minorities cannot be addressed without accountability

    Panel discussion on the situation of Rohingya and other minorities in Myanmar

    Delivered by Kyaw Win

    Thank you, Mr President, and thank you to the panellists.

    CIVICUS and the Burma Human Rights Network are deeply concerned about the situation of Rohingya Muslims and other minorities in Myanmar.

    The Burmese military has increased its attacks on marginalised minorities throughout the country since the coup in February 2021. It frequently uses arson attacks on minority areas. Civilians have regularly been shot arbitrarily by the military in areas where no conflict or armed groups are present. Hatred and hate speech against Rohingya Muslims and other minorities has persisted.

    If mass atrocities, including genocide, can be perpetrated by the military against the Rohingya, other minorities are at risk. Tensions in Chin State, too, have escalated since the coup, with the junta building up their troop presence in the state. Chin State is majority Christian and ethnic minority.

    The efforts by the international community so far have not altered the junta’s course or stopped them from attacking civilians and the restrictions, arrests and attacks on civil society and journalists has made it increasingly difficult to monitor and document these crimes.

    We call on the international community to stem the flow of arms and finances towards the military junta by imposing sanctions on all enterprises that the military directly profits from, particularly the energy sector, and to support a global arms embargo to prevent the military from resupplying weapons that they will use to harm and kill innocent civilians and target minority groups.

    We stress again that the conditions for safe, dignified voluntary return are not in place, and have no prospect of being so while the junta remains in a position of power. The root causes of violations against the Rohingya and other minorities cannot be addressed without accountability.

    We ask panellists what immediate steps can be taken to protect minority groups in Myanmar and to support civil society groups working on this?

    Civic space in Myanmar is rated as "Repressed" by the CIVICUS Monitor.



  • Osama Al-Najjar


    Name: Osama Al-Najjar

    Location: United Arab Emirates (UAE)

    Reasons Behind Bars

    Human rights defender and online activist Osama Al- Najjar, was arrested on 17 March 2014 in Abu Dhabi by state security forces.  Preceding his arrest, Osama was returning from the Arazeen jail where his imprisoned father, Hossain Al-Najjar, is currently serving an eleven year prison sentence for being a member of UAE94, a group of 94 activists serving heavy prison sentences on highly questionable grounds for  attempting to overthrow UAE’s authoritarian government.

    Upon his arrest, Osama’s whereabouts were kept secret from his immediate family. He was kept in solitary confinement and tortured at a secret detention centre  in Abu Dhabi for four days before he was transferred to the Alwathab jail in Abu Dhabi. 

    Osama remained in pre-trial detention for six months before his first court hearing on 23 September 2014 at the Federal Supreme Court in Abu Dhabi. He is charged with being a member of Al-Islah (Reform and Social Guidance Association), a group banned in UAE for its alleged links to the Muslim Brotherhood, offending the State on Twitter, instigating hatred against the State via Twitter and spreading lies on Twitter about the torture of his father.

    During his second hearing at the same court on 14 October 2014, Osama expressed that he was prevented from accessing his case file and was not allowed to contact his lawyer while in detention. The court postponed Osama’s case for a third time to 28 October 2014 to hear pleadings from both the defence and the prosecution. UAE authorities have not yet shared information on Osama’s final hearing, raising serious concerns that Osama’s access to justice will be delayed in reprisals for  his legitimate human rights work.

    Background Information

    Osama has been active on Twitter since 2012 and has used the platform to highlight fundamental human rights of political detainees and call for an end to their ill- treatment. Osama has also in the past commented on the unfair trial and imprisonment of the UAE94.  On 16 March 2014, hours before his arrest, Osama replied to the ruler of Sharjah on Twitter and said “The people responsible for imprisoning and harassing my father for the past 20 months owe him.”

    The arbitrary arrest of Osama Al-Najjar is another routine example that demonstrates UAE authorities’ growing intolerance of online and offline dissent. Since its second cycle review under the Universal Periodic Review in 2013, UAE has placed a number of worrying restrictions on the rights to freedom of opinion and expression, and has not yet ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).

    For more information:

    Gulf Center for Human Rights (GCHR) Update: UAE: Trial of human rights defender Osama Al-Najjar continues

    Frontline Defenders: Human rights defender Mr Osama Al-Najjar not given access to his case file or allowed contact his lawyer

    Take Action

    Join  Amnesty International's Urgent Action and write to the President  Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, and the Minister of Interior demanding the immediate and unconditional release of Osama Al-Najjar


  • People power under attack: just 3% of people live in countries where fundamental civic freedoms are fully respected

    • Almost six billion people live in 106 countries where there are serious violations of freedoms of expression, assembly, and association
    • This first ever global dataset on civic space shows that countries with fewer fundamental civic rights restrictions have less inequality

    Johannesburg, 4 April 2017 –Just three percent of people live in countries where the rights to protest, organise and speak out are respected, protected and fulfilled. This is according to the CIVICUS Monitor, which today releases the first-ever global dataset on civic space, a concept central to any open and democratic society which means that states have a duty to protect people's’  fundamental rights to associate, assemble peacefully and express views and opinions. CIVICUS also finds that serious violations of these rights are taking place in 106 countries - well over half of all UN Member States.

    The CIVICUS Monitor rates how open civic space is in countries based on how well they uphold the three fundamental civic freedoms that enable people to act collectively and make change: freedom of association, freedom of peaceful assembly, and freedom of expression.

    Of the 195 rated, it finds that civic space in 20 countries - Bahrain, Burundi, Cuba, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Iran, Laos, Libya, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria, Turkmenistan, United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan and Vietnam -  is closed, a rating characterised by an atmosphere of fear and violence, and severe punishment for those who dare to disagree with authorities.

    A further 35 countries are rated repressed. Fifty-one countries are rated obstructed and 63 narrowed. Just 26 countries are rated as open, meaning the state safeguards space for people in the country to share their views, participate in public life and influence political and social change.

    Click here for responsive visualisations of all of our findings:

    In order to highlight countries of immediate concern to us, today CIVICUS is also launching our new Watch List. This advocacy tool enables us to highlight up to five countries on the CIVICUS Monitor where there is a serious and rapid decline in the ability of people to actively engage in a country’s social and political processes, and have their voices heard. Countries on the first iteration of this Watch List include: Cameroon, Macedonia, Myanmar, the USA, and Turkey.

    “Our research shows that restrictions on fundamental civic freedoms are truly a worrying global phenomenon affecting almost 6 billion people,” said CIVICUS Secretary General and CEO Danny Sriskandarajah. “They cut across established democracies and repressive states, undermining participatory democracy, sustainable development and efforts to reduce inequality.”

    The CIVICUS Monitor provides updates on attacks against civil society organisations and activists every weekday.  Analysis of almost 500 updates published on the CIVICUS Monitor over the past four months has found:

    • Detention of activists, use of excessive force against protesters, and attacks on journalists were the three most common violations of civic freedoms.
    • Activists were most likely to be detained over criticism of authorities, human rights monitoring or demands for social or economic needs to be met.
    • Excessive force was most likely to be used against protesters who criticise government decisions or corruption, call for action on human rights abuses or call for basic social or economic needs to be met.
    • Journalists were most likely to be attacked for political reporting, covering protests or conflicts, or because of their ethnicity, religious or political affiliation.
    • In the majority of cases, the state is the perpetrator of violations, although non-state actors also frequently attack journalists, with many of these crimes going unpunished.

    “Swift action should be taken by authorities and the international community to address the rapid decline in respect for civic space in the five countries on our Watch List,” said CIVICUS Monitor lead researcher Cathal Gilbert. “Escalating attacks on protest rights in the United States, the repression of activists in Anglophone areas of Cameroon and Turkey’s all-out assault on dissent must end without delay.”

    CIVICUS Monitor ratings and daily updates are based on a combination of inputs from local activists, regional civil society experts and research partners, existing assessments by national and international civil society organisations, user-generated input and media-monitoring. The CIVICUS Monitor now provides ratings for all UN Member States and regular updates from a network of twenty research partners around the world.


    Annex I – CIVICUS Monitor ratings, 4th April 2017

    Closed (20 countries): Bahrain, Burundi, Cuba, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Iran, Laos, Libya, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria, Turkmenistan, United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan and Vietnam.

    Repressed (35 countries): Afghanistan, Algeria, Angola, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Belarus, Cambodia, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, China, Colombia, Djibouti, Egypt, Gambia, Iraq, Liberia, Mauritania, Mexico, Myanmar, Oman, Pakistan, Palestine, Qatar, Republic of the Congo, Russia, Rwanda, Swaziland, Tajikistan, Thailand, Turkey, Uganda, Venezuela, Yemen and Zimbabwe.

    Obstructed (51 countries): Armenia, Bhutan, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Burkina Faso, Côte d'Ivoire
    Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Fiji, Gabón, Guatemala, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Haiti, Honduras, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Israel, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Moldova, Mongolia, Morocco, Mozambique, Nauru, Nepal, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Tanzania,
    Timor-Leste, Togo, Tunisia, Ukraine and Zambia.

    Narrowed (63 countries): Albania, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bahamas, Belize, Benin, Bolivia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Botswana, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Comoros, Costa Rica, Croatia, Dominica, El Salvador, France, Georgia, Ghana, Greece, Grenada, Guyana, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Kiribati, Kosovo, Lithuania, Macedonia, Malawi, Marshall Islands, Mauritius, Micronesia, Montenegro, Namibia, Palau, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Poland, Romania, Saint Lucia, Samoa, Senegal, Serbia, Seychelles, Slovakia, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, St Kitts and Nevis, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, United Kingdom, United States of America, Uruguay and Vanuatu.

    Open (26 countries): Andorra, Barbados, Belgium, Cape Verde, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, San Marino, Sao Tome and Principe, Sweden, Switzerland and Tuvalu.

    Regional breakdown






































    Notes to editors:

    The CIVICUS Monitor is available at If you have a question about the CIVICUS Monitor - see our FAQ page here.

    For more information or to set up interviews with CIVICUS staff and research partners, please contact Deborah Walter, Communication Manager, CIVICUS on or . Tel: +27 - 11 - 8335959

    CIVICUS is a global alliance of over 3,600 civil society organisations and activists dedicated to strengthening citizen action and civil society around the world.



  • Pierre C. Mbonimpa

    Pierre Claver Mbonimpa

    Name: Pierre Claver Mbonimpa

    Country: Burundi 


    He was provisionally released from jail but is in exile at the moment. He was shot and seriously injured on 3 August 2015 and was taken out of the country for medical treatment. His son in law, Pascal Nshimirimana, was subsequently assassinated on 9 October 2015.

    Reason behind bars:  

    Leading Burundian human rights activist Pierre Claver Mbonimpa was arrested at midnight on 15 May 2014 in Bujumbura was interrogated by prosecutors and later charged with inciting public disobedience and threatening national security on the basis of comments he made on Burundian radio station,  Radio Publique Africaine (RPA).  He is one of Burundi’s leading human rights defenders and president of the Association for the Protection of Human Rights and Detained Persons (APRODH).   The charges against him stem from comments he made on Radio Publique Africaine (RPA) on 6 May 2014 that some youth from Burundi were being armed and sent to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) for military training.   Before his arrest, he was questioned by the police about the comments he had made on radio. Pierre Claver is a former police officer, a former prisoner and founded APRODH to defend prisoner’s rights and the rights of all Burundians. He is currently being detained at the Prison Centrale de Mbimpa. 

    Pierre Claver Mbonimpa (66 years old) is a leading human rights defender in Burundi and had served in the police force before 1994.   He was imprisoned for two years on the basis of false accusations and after experiencing the harsh and deplorable conditions in prison, he formed APRODH.  He has over the years campaigned against extra-judicial killings and publicly condemned the poor living conditions in Burundi’s prisons.   

    He has been a victim of judicial harassment and persecution in the past for his human rights activities and in 2010 he was summoned by the judicial authorities and interrogated about the work he was doing on the case of human rights defender Ernest Manirumva who was assassinated in 2009 while investigating allegations of corruption in the Burundian police.

     Prior to his arrest on 15 May 2014, he responded to summons from the police on 7 and 12 May and sent his lawyer to represent him on 14 May.  He was interrogated about the comments he made on RPA and was later arrested at the airport in Bujumbura on 15 May while on his way to Kenya.   He is a recipient of the 2007 Martin Ennals Award and the 2011 Henry Dunant Award.   He is a prisoner of conscience arrested and intimidated for his human rights activities.   

    For more Information 

    Joint Submission by CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation, NGO in General Consultative Status with ECOSOC And Ligue des Droits de la personne dans la région des Grandes Lacs

    Burundi: release human rights defender Pierre Claver Mbonimpa

    Burundi: Confirmation de la détention préventive de M. Pierre Claver Mbonimpa

    Letter calling for the release of Pierre Claver Mbonimpa


  • Public Development Banks can’t drag their feet when it comes to building a sustainable future

    A coalition of civil society organisations is demanding public development banks (PDBs) to take radical and innovative steps to tackle human rights violations and environmental destruction. No project funded by PDBs should come at the expenses of vulnerable groups, the environment and collective liberties, but should instead embody the voices of communities, democratic values and environmental justice.

    The demands, part of a collective statement signed by more than 50 civil society organisations, come as over 450 PDBs gather in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, from October 19th, for a third international summit, dubbed Finance in Common.

    The COVID-19 pandemic and climate emergency, coupled with human rights violations and increasing risks for activists worldwide, is bringing the need to change current practices into even sharper focus. While public development banks may drag their feet on addressing intersecting and structural inequalities, civil society organisations are taking actions aimed at creating dignified livelihoods by embedding development with concrete affirmative measures towards climate, social, gender, and racial justice.

    PDBs cannot be reluctant to act. They need to hit the target when it comes to supporting the transformation of economies and financial systems towards sustainability and addressing the most pressing needs of citizens worldwide – from food systems to increasing support for a just transition towards truly sustainable energy sources. PDBs must recognise that public services are the foundation of fair and just societies, rather than encouraging their privatisation and keep austerity narratives alive.

    9 out of 10 people live in countries where civic freedoms are severely restricted, and with an environmental activist killed every two days on average over the past decade, development banks have an obligation to recognize and incorporate human rights in their plans and actions, following a “do not harm” duty.

    Communities cannot be left out of the door. They need to be given the space to play the rightful role of driving forces in the answers to today’s global challenges, without them PDBs will move backwards rather than forward – and this means more environmental degradation, less democratic participation, and to put it bluntly an even greater crisis than the one we are facing today. And nobody needs that.

    The recommendations in the collective civil society statement emerge from a three-year process of engagement and exchange, involving civil society networks in an effort to shape PDBs policies and projects. You can find some of their words and messages below.

    As the call for accountability grows, the Finance in Common summits are an opportunity for PDBs to show moral leadership and help remedy the lack of long-term collaborations with civil society, communities and indigenous groups, threatening to curtail development narratives and practices.


    Oluseyi Oyebisi, Executive Director of Nigeria Network of NGOs (NNNGO) the Nigerian national network of 3,700 NGOs said:“The Sahara and Sahel countries especially have been facing the most serious security crisis in their history linked with climate change, social justice and inequalities in the region. Marked by strong economic (lack of opportunities especially for young people), social (limitation of equitable access to basic social services) and climatic vulnerabilities, the region has some of the lowest human development indicators in the world – even before the covid pandemic. Access to affected populations is limited in some localities due to three main factors: the security situation, the poor state of infrastructures and difficult geographic conditions. PDBs must prioritise civil society organisations and Communities initiatives supporting state programs of decentralization, security sector reforms and reconciliation. This will help reduce the vulnerability of populations and prevent violent extremism.”

    Mavalow Christelle Kalhoule, Forus Chair and President of Spong, the NGO network of Burkina Faso said: “Development projects shape our world; from the ways we navigate our cities to how rural landscapes are being transformed. Ultimately, they impact the ways we interact with one another, with plants and animals, with other countries and with the food on our plates. The decisions taken by public development banks are therefore existential. Such responsibility comes with an even greater one to include communities directly concerned by development projects, those whose air, water and everyday lives are affected for generations to come. For this to happen, public development banks must reinforce their long-term efforts to create dialogue with civil society organisations, social movements and indigenous communities in order to fortify the democratic principles of their work. We encourage them to listen, to ask and to cooperate in innovative ways so that development stays true to its original definition of progress and positive change; a collective, participative and fair process and a word which has a meaning not for a few, but for all."

    Tity Agbahey, Africa Regional Coordinator, Coalition for human rights in development said: "Many in civil society have expressed concerns about Finance in Common as a space run by elites, that fails to be truly inclusive. It is a space where the mainstream top-down approach to development, instead of being challenged, is further reinforced. Once again, the leaders of the public development banks gathered at this Summit will be taking decisions on key issues without listening to those most affected by their projects and the real development experts: local communities, human rights defenders, Indigenous Peoples, feminist groups, civil society. They will speak about “sustainability”, while ignoring the protests against austerity policies and rising debt. They will speak about “human rights”, while ignoring those denouncing human rights violations in the context of their projects. They will speak about “green and just transition”, while continuing to support projects that contribute to climate change."

    Comlan Julien AGBESSI, Regional Coordinator of the Network of National NGO Platforms of West Africa (REPAOC), a regional coalition of 15 national civil society platformssaid: "Regardless of how they are perceived by the public authorities in the various countries, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) contribute to covering the aspects and spaces not reached or insufficiently reached by national development programmes. Despite the undeniable impact of their actions on the living conditions of populations, NGOs remain the poor cousins of donor funding, apart from the support of certain philanthropic or charitable organisations. In such a context of scarce funding opportunities, aggravated by the health crisis due to COVID-19 and the subsequent economic crisis, Pooled Finance, which is in fact a paradigm shift, appears to be a lifeline for CSOs. This is why REPAOC welcomes the commitments made by both the Public Development Banks and the Multilateral Development Banks to directly support CSO projects and programmes in the same way as they usually do with governments and the private sector. Through the partnership agreements that we hope and pray for between CSOs and banks, the latter can be assured that the actions that will be envisaged for the benefit of rural and urban communities will certainly reach them with the guarantees of accountability that their new CSO partners offer”.

    Frank Vanaerschot, Director of Counter Balance, said:

    “As one of this year’s organisers of the Finance in Common Summit, the EIB will brag about the billions it invests in development. The truth is the bank will be pushing the EU’s own commercial interests and promoting the use of public money for development in the Global South to guarantee profits for private investors. Reducing inequalities will be second-place at best. The EIB is also co-hosting the summit despite systemic human rights violations in projects it finances from Nepal to Kenya. Instead, the EIB and other public banks should work to empower local communities by investing in the public services needed for human rights to be respected, such as publicly owned and governed healthcare and education - not on putting corporate profits above all else.”

    Stephanie Amoako, Senior Policy Associate at Accountability Counselsaid: “PDBs must be accountability to the communities impacted by their projects. All PDBs need to have an effective accountability mechanism to address concerns with projects and should commit to preventing and fully remediating any harm to communities”.

    Jyotsna Mohan Singh, Regional Coordinator, Asia Development Alliance said: “PDBs should have a normative core; they should start with the rights framework. This means grounding all safeguards into all the various rights frameworks that already exist. There are rights instruments for indigenous people, the elderly, women, youth, and people living with disability. They are part and parcel of a whole host of both global conventions and regional conventions. Their approach should be grounded in those rights, then it will be on a very firm footing.

    Asian governments need to support, implement, and apply strict environmental laws and regulations for all PDBs projects. The first step is to disseminate public information and conduct open and effective environmental impact assessments for all these projects, as well as strategic environmental assessments for infrastructure and cross-border projects.”

    List of Signatories.


  • Togo’s violations of the press are out of step with democratic norms


    CIVICUS speaks toKoffi Déla Frack Kepomey, the executive director of Concertation Nationale de la Société Civile du Togo (CNSC-Togo) concerning the recent closure of a television and radio station by the regulatory authority as well as the torture of a journalist.

    1. Two independent media outlets, LCF television station and radio City FM, were closed by the media regulatory authority High Authority for Audio-Visual and Communication  (HAAC) on 6 February 2017. Can you detail these closures?

    The High Authority for Audio-Visual and Communication (HAAC) issued a communiqué on 19 September and 26 December 2016 respectively saying that it had informed media outlets LCF and City FM which are under the media group Sud Média, of irregularities and invited them to comply with the rules before 5 February 2017. A failure to comply would lead to the withdrawal of their licenses the HAAC said.

    During a press conference convened by the president of the HAAC, Pitang Tchalla, on 3 February 2017, he declared that he was not aware of the existence of documents constituting a file of the Sud Média group and announced they will be closed after 5 February 2017.

    The director of the Sud Média group, Luc Abaki, confirmed that the Sud Média group complied with the rules and that all documents had been provided to the then HAAC president Philippe Evegno.

    Some questions remain to be clarified after the closure such as what exactly is the Sud Média group being blamed for? What are the underlying and unsaid reasons for this case?

    Although it is the HAAC that attributes frequencies to radio and television stations, and gives authorisation to the written press, the HAAC also does not have the authority to cancel frequencies from those with legal existence. This power belongs to the justice arm of the state. Article 130, title IX of the Constitution states, among others that “… the HAAC has the competence to grant authorisations to new installations of private television and radio stations”. Additionally, article 24 of the Organic Law establishing the HAAC specifies that the HAAC has the competence to grant authorisations for the installation and operation of television and radio stations. Analysing these two situations shows clearly that the powers that be have decided to muzzle the press.

    CNSC remains particularly concerned about the increasing restrictions for the freedom of expression and freedom of the press in Togo.

    2. Journalist Robert Avotor was violently attacked on 7 February 2017 and tortured for two hours by security forces when reporting on a land dispute in Akato-Viépé. What happened?

    The journalist Robert Avotor was carrying out his reporting work when he was arrested, handcuffed and tortured. This happened in Akato-Viépé, a suburb of Lomé, where he was reporting on a land dispute.

    According to the journalist there is a land dispute in Akato-Viépé following a decision of the Supreme Court ruled that some buildings had to be demolished. Gendarmes came to force people from the area. There were about one hundred men in combat uniforms. Robert went there to do a report. He had his press vest and his press card. He descended from his motorcycle and approached the gendarmes and presented himself and requested to speak with the chief of the gendarmes.

    Here are the facts as described by the journalist in his own words: “One of them asked me who I am and I repeated to him that I am a journalist. They responded that there was no chief among them, that they were all chiefs. After this, they asked me to show my press card, which I did. Afterwards they said: ‘We don’t eat cards here’. One of them ordered me to leave the premises. He had hardly finished saying that when he started to beat me. I ran but other gendarmes caught me and started clubbing me. They then handcuffed me, put me in a corner and walked away. Some minutes later, they came back and asked me for which press organisation I work for. I told them I came from L’Alternative. They asked me who the director was. I said it was Ferdinand Ayité. They responded, ‘This time, we have you. We always come across this name. We will make you feel what we are capable of. When you are in the crowd, you make noise. Today, it’s you alone.’ They left me in the corner. They handcuffed my hands behind my back. From time to time they came back to tighten my handcuffs. This hurt my wrists.

    At a certain point, I felt the need to relieve myself. I asked them if they would permit me to urinate. They categorically refused. I then urinated in my pants and this amused them. They also brought in another person that they had discovered filming the eviction. I was there, handcuffed, for more than two hours. They then handcuffed us together (with the other person that had also been arrested), and we got into their vehicle. Once we arrived at the Gendarmerie of Sagbado, they erased all the images in our phones and on our devices. They gave us back our phones and asked us to leave. They took note of our identity numbers and we left around 14.30.”

    According to Ferdinand Ayité, director of L’Alternative, journalist Robert Avotor has been subject to anonymous calls and harassment since the attack on 7 February. On the night of 19 February, while going home by motorcycle, he was followed by a car that sped up and hit the rear of his motorcycle, leading him to fall.

    The Minister of Security, Yak Damehame, has received the journalist a couple of days later, together with the director of l’Alternativenewspaper and other media actors, in which he reassured to take the necessary sanctions to those responsible.

    3. How would you describe the situation of freedom of expression in Togo?

    The closure of these two independent media described above and the attack on and torture of journalist Robert Avotor by security forces are incidents that bear a heavy cost for freedom of expression in Togo.

    The mission of the High Authority for Audio-Visual and Communication (HAAC) is “to guarantee and ensure the freedom and protection of the press and other ways of mass communication” and the first article of Organic Law 2004-021/PR of 15 December 2004 regulating the HAAC, modified  by Organic Law  2009-029 of 22 December 2009 and Organic Law 2013-016 of 8 July 2013 says the HAAC is an “independent institution, independent of the administrative authorities, of all political power, of all associations and pressure groups”. The HAAC does not have the calling/ vocation to close media.

    Togo has ratified international agreements, and in particular, it has ratified the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhumane or Degrading Treatment or Punishment and also its Constitution does not permit torture.

    These incidents constitute an obstacle to the exercise of the freedom of press and the freedom of expression, also protected by the Togolese Constitution and are an attack on human rights. They risk to annul all the efforts the government has implemented in that sense, and above all eligibility for different programmes of the Millenium Challenge Corporation.

    4. How has Togolese civil society reacted to these developments?

    Confronted with these events, civil society in Togo has mobilised to express their indignation through press statements, open letters and public marches. A public march was organised on 25 February in Lomé by CSOs and press organisations, joint by certain political parties, to condemn the closure of LCF and City FM. Although the march was authorised by municipal authorities, the crowd was dispersed by security forces using teargas grenades and batons, and chased protestors into the compound of the University of Lomé. CSOs and press organisations condemned strongly this violation of peaceful assembly.

    Joint press statements were organised to denounce the violations of the freedom of expression, and open letters were written to government structures to use their influence to guarantee the freedom of expression. For example, CNSC has written to the MCA Cell, a structure put in place by the government to assist Togo to benefit from the Treshold and Compact of the Millenium Challenge Corporation.

    5. Can you tell us some more about the environment for civil society in Togo?

    At the moment we can say that there is a beginning of awareness within Togolese civil society in terms of mobilisation that needs to be encouraged. However, civic space is still under threat and there is need for more sensitisation and capacity enhancement to preserve civil society.

    6. What support can international and regional groups offer to CNSC-Togo and other civil society organisations in the country?

    Togolese CSOs not only need capacity enhancement for the effective preservation of civic space but also institutional support. There is a need to strengthen CSOs and activists on the preservation of civic space by accentuating the use of technology and including them in regional and international networks in order to share experiences and information.

    Institutional support is a big need of CSOs in Togo, for them to achieve increased effectiveness and sustainability. Additionally regional and international groups must advocate, to the international community and the partners for Togo to respect regional and international instruments in practice.

    Confronted with this situations, CNSC-Togo has addressed a communication to the Coordinator of the Cell MCA – Togo, a cell that was set up by the state to improve the indexes of development, freedom, corruption in order for Togo to benefit from the Millenium Challenge Corporation. We have asked the cell to use its influence to bring the president of the HAAC to reconsider its decision to withdraw the authorisation to close the LCF and City FM stations of the Sud Média group.

    • For more information on CNSC-Togo and their activities, visit their website,
    • Please describe in one paragraph what CNSC-Togo does.CNSC (Concertation de la Société Civile du Togo) is a Togolese civil society network with 72 member organisations, working mainly on the themes of democracy, good governance, and the promotion and protection of individual and collective rights of Togolese citizens.

    Togo is ranked as obstructed by the CIVICUSMonitor.


  • Uyghur Violations a Litmus Test for Global Governance and Rules-Based International Order

    By Mandeep Tiwana, Head of Programs and United Nations Representative at CIVICUS

    This week is a momentous one for the world’s premier human rights body. At stake is a resolution to decide whether the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva can hold a debate on a recently released UN report. The report concludes that rights violations by China’s government in its Xinjiang region ‘may constitute international crimes, in particular crimes against humanity’.Unsurprisingly, China’s government is doing everything in its power to scotch plans for a debate on the report’s contents. Its tactics include intimidating smaller states, spreading disinformation and politicising genuine human rights concerns – the very thing the Human Rights Council was set up to overcome.

    The historic report, which affirms that the rights of Xinjiang’s Uyghur Muslim population are being violated through an industrial-level programme of mass incarceration, systemic torture and sexual violence, attracted huge controversy before it was released on 31 August 2022, minutes before the end of the term of the outgoing High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet.

    Read on Inter Press Service


  • Zambia’s media under siege

    Following reported violations on the press in Zambia that have included the closing of a newspaper and two radio stations, CIVICUS speaks to Wilson Pondamali a Zambian freelance investigative journalist and media activist to detail the situation

    1. Describe Zambia’s media landscape?
    Zambia is home to a plural media since the reintroduction of a political multiparty system in 1991 when veteran trade unionist Fredrick Chiluba’s Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD) ousted the liberation leader Kenneth Kaunda’s United National Independence Party (UNIP).

    2. Please explain recent violations of the press in Zambia?
    The PostThe Post newspaper of late has been facing severe harassment. The Post newspaper, a forerunner to the Weekly Post, was one of the first independent newspapers and continued to champion democracy and good governance by holding government accountable. Incidentally, the harassment of The Post newspaper started way back but the previous leaders between 1990 and 2008 – Kaunda, Chiluba and Levy Mwanawasa were tolerant of it.

    Mwanawasa succeeded Chiluba in 2001 but died in office in 2008, being succeeded by Rupiah Banda who was later defeated by Michael Sata of the Patriotic Front (PF) in 2011. The suffocation of The Post newspaper which manifested in 2016 during the reign of Michael Sata’s successor and incumbent Edgar Lungu could have started under President Banda apparently because the tabloid showed open support for Sata from the first day Banda was nominated to contest the 2008 election, in which he narrowly defeated Sata.

    The Post newspaper continued to be critical in the three-year reign of Banda while projecting Sata in the limelight. It is undisputable that the tabloid played a pivotal role in the PF’s 2011 victory. This can be supported by the large number of its staff who were offered jobs in the civil service thereafter. The managing editor, and Editor in Chief Fred M’membe’s right hand man Amos Malupenga, was appointed as permanent secretary, while M’membe’s deputy Sam Mujuda was appointed into foreign service as high commissioner. The news editor George Chellah became press aide at State house while many other journalists were appointed press attaches to Zambia’s foreign missions. Sata died after only three years in office and was succeeded by Edgar Lungu in a tight 2015 election, defeating closest rival UPND’s Hakainde Hichilema mainly with support from former President Banda. Lungu himself received fair criticism from The Post during and before the 2015 and 2016 elections.

    It would be correct to speculate that Banda was still vindictive of The Post and wanted it closed as evidenced by his threatening statement made when he was still in office. Being a close ally of Lungu, the newspaper company is now being pursued over a disputed tax claim by the Zambia Revenue Authority, leading to the tax authority threatening to seize the company’s fleet of vehicles and the premises on 21 June 2016 leaving the newspapers workers and owners to operate outside.

    But then that was not enough, some workers who claimed not to have been paid applied to the High court to have the newspaper liquidated and a long-time foe of M’membe, Lusaka lawyer Lewis Mosho was appointed liquidator on 1 September 2016. Mosho, of Lewis Nathan and partners immediately after assuming the liquidator role ‘fired’ M’membe and lawyers Mutembo and Nchima Nchito.

    After The Post was closed down, the only media that remained as the strongest force was the privately owned Muvi TV with its sister company Komboni radio, both based in Lusaka but broadcasting to many parts of the country.

    Zambian broadcast media, except the national broadcaster Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation – ZNBC are all regulated by the ‘not so independent’ Independent Broadcasting Authority (IBA) which was created by an Act of parliament. The IBA board and director general are appointed by the minister of information and its offices are located at the government owned mass media complex, housing ZNBC and another government media agency Zambia news and Information Services.

    The IBA suspended the broadcasting licenses of Muvi TV, Komboni and Itezhitezhi radio stations a few days after the disputed re-election of Lungu in the August general election. They were accused of allegedly broadcasting statements that were a danger to national security. The three media outlets were never charged nor given a chance to be heard but were just served with suspension notices and switched off. Their premises were taken over by heavily armed police who denied workers any entry to the premises. The stations were then reinstated in an apparent ‘diluted’ form weeks after the election petition hearing had commenced and Lungu was sworn into office. In the process, Komboni executive director Lesa Kasoma Nyirenda was assaulted by police as she tried to gain entry into her premises after being reinstated.

    3. Why are we witnessing a clamp down on media?
    The Edgar Lungu led PF regime seems to be in a mode of not tolerating divergent views as can be witnessed by continued threats on any dissenting views. Some of the threats are in the party while others are external. He has kept a strong grip on the PF, as witnessed by the harsh treatment of past PF members who resigned and sought to rejoin. One such member is Miles Sampa who was given some conditions before he could be readmitted. Another possible challenger Chishimba Kambwili, was relieved of his influential position of youth chairman in the central committee and later stripped of his position as information minister.

    To ensure he is in a safe haven, most media houses that have hosted people critic to his administration have been victimised by state machinery or even party cadres. In principle, the President seems not to tolerate criticism hence the clamp-down of critical media and journalists.

    4. What was the situation of freedom of expression during last year’s election?
    There was a serious and visible clamp-down on freedom of expression in the run up to the elections as evidenced by countless refusals by the authorities for the opposition to organise party meetings. The main victims were UPND cadres who also had their meetings disrupted by unruly PF cadres.

    Radio stations that hosted the opposition members were also victimised by police or cadres themselves with impunity and no arrests were made. The scenario has continued as evidenced by the detention of and threats to journalists hosting opposition. Prime TV, Chipata TV, Mkushi radio and Radio Mano, to mention but a few have been victims.

    The ongoing harassment of The Mast newspaper owned by Fred’s wife Mutinta Mazoka M’membe is yet another example of a clampdown on freedom of expression. This is what led me to stage a one-man protest at the M’membe’s residence on Sunday, 19 February 2017.

    5. What is the way forward for media in Zambia
    There is need for a very strong force of media rights activism in the nation, which must be backed by legal instruments to ensure that journalists are protected from both economic and professional manipulation. Most private media houses are paying about K1 000 (US$100) per month salaries and this exposes journalists to temptations of unethical conduct.

    There is also need for effective retraining as some media houses are manned by unprofessional journalists, especially the community radio stations who form the majority of plural media. To date, the Media Institute for Southern Africa Zambia chapter is the only organisation that seems to champion media violations but over some time it has also not shown enough stamina hence receiving resentment and criticism from media practitioners. Today Zambian media is very highly polarised and there is a need to resolve this.

    6. How can international CSOs assist in the situation?
    As local CSOs remain threatened, international CSOs can help mitigate the situation by lobbying both the Zambian government and other governments to allow for freedom of expression. This could be done through interventions at international meetings that are being attended by Zambia’s leadership. There is also need for capacity building among the Zambian media practitioners and activists and lobbying for legal reforms such as the long-awaited but elusive Access to Information law. Exchange programmes and attachments of Zambians to other media outlets outside the country would help as well.

    Wilson Pondamali is a freelance investigative journalist and media activist who has worked in print and electronic media, both in government and privately owned media. He is the founding editor of a community newspaper Kabwe Bulletin and currently sits on the Media Institute of Southern Africa (Zambia chapter) board as membership committee chairperson. He is also chairing this year’s MISA Zambia media awards to be hosted in May. He holds various qualifications from the University of Zambia, Zambia Institute of Mass Communication, Institute for Advancement of Journalism (South Africa), Cavendish University Zambia and Fojo Media Institute of Sweden.