Worrying legislation to restrict Nigerian civil society sector underway

CIVICUS, the global civil society alliance and the Nigeria Network of NGOs (NNNGO) are deeply concerned about impending legislation to restrict freedom of association in Nigeria.

Nigeria’s National Assembly is currently considering a bill to provide for “the establishment of the Non-Governmental Organisations Regulatory Commission for the Supervision, Coordination and Monitoring of Non-Governmental Organisations, Civil Society Organisations etc. in Nigeria and for related matters.” First introduced in July 2016, the bill has since passed through the second reading in the House of Representatives. The bill has now been referred to the Committee on CSOs and Development Partners for further legislative input.

“The bill is in conflict with Nigeria’s Constitutional and international law obligations,” says Oyebisi Oluseyi, Executive Director of NNNGO. “We must instead strengthen civic space in Nigeria, as our sector’s role in finding solutions to the enormous challenges facing our nation cannot be overemphasized”.


Groundbreaking tool tracking civic freedoms worldwide to launch 24.10.2016

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The CIVICUS Monitor is a new global platform tracking violations of freedoms of assembly, association and expression in real-time.

Johannesburg, 18 October 2016 - In light of widespread global restrictions on civil society, CIVICUS is launching a new tool to measure the freedoms that people around the world have to protest, organise and speak out. The tool will go online at 00.01 Central Africa Time (CAT) on 24 October 2016 (UN World Development Information Day).

The CIVICUS Monitor will rate country respect for civic space in five broad categories from Closed to Open, based on how well they uphold the three fundamental rights that allow citizens to come together and demand change: freedom of association, freedom of peaceful assembly, and freedom of expression. In addition to the 104 country ratings available on launch day, the latest updates on civic space will be available for most countries in the world.

CIVICUS will also be releasing numbers on which types of violations were most common and the driving forces behind them, based on analysis of more than 200 national-level updates on civic freedoms gathered over the past four months (June – October 2016).

By signing up to the Sustainable Development Goals last year, world leaders agreed that people must be able to take part in making the decisions that affect their lives, and to ensure access to information (Goal 16). The CIVICUS Monitor will show how the key civic freedoms that should allow for this are coming under sustained assault.

Ratings are based on a combination of inputs from local civil society advocates, regionally-based research partners and civil society experts, existing assessments, user-generated input and media-monitoring. Local views are prioritised and all users are invited to contribute information on the situation in their countries. The number of countries rated by the CIVICUS Monitor will increase over time and news updates will be added each weekday.


Launching online at https://monitor.civicus.org/

00.01 Central Africa Time (CAT), 24 October 2016

Notes to editors: 

For advance access to the CIVICUS Monitor web platform under embargo or to set up an interview, please contact CIVICUS’ global press office on . Interviews can be arranged in advance with CIVICUS Secretary General Danny Sriskandarajah and CIVICUS Monitor Researcher Cathal Gilbert, as well as regional researchers.

A one-minute video explainer on civic space and the CIVICUS Monitor is available here.

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






INDIA: Shuttering of media in Kashmir undemocratic

The crackdown over the past week against several newspapers in India’s northern state of Jammu and Kashmir is a worrying development that has blocked free communication in the region. Since earlier this month, authorities also limited and blocked mobile phone access, social media and telephonic landline services, as well as access to cable television networks. CIVICUS, the global civil society alliance condemns this media and communication clampdown and denounces the excessive lethal force used on protestors by law enforcement agencies. 

Since July 16, authorities have been on the offensive against several newspapers - among them the Kashmir Observer, the Kashmir Reader, the Rising Kashmir, the Daily Kashmir Images and the Greater Kashmir. Security forces raided the premises of publications, confiscated printed copies, detained staff and stopped circulation of the print media. 


Joint Alert: Honduran civil society facing rising threats

CIVICUS logo colour on transparency lowresFOPRIDEHGlobal civil society alliance CIVICUS and the Federation of Non-Governmental Organisations for the Development of Honduras (FOPRIDEH) strongly condemn the recent assassination of environmental activist Lesbia Yaneth Urquía and urge the Honduran government to conduct a full investigation into her death, as well as ensure a safe environment for human rights defenders to do their work.

On 6 July, the body of Lesbia Yaneth Urquía, a member of the Council of Indigenous People of Honduras (COPINH), was found in a rubbish dump some 100 miles west of Tegucigalpa, Honduras’ capital. Preliminary reports linked her murder to a robbery attempt.  The murder of Lesbia Yaneth Urquía comes just four months after the assassinations of fellow COPINH activists Berta Caceres and Nelson García, who were shot dead in early and mid-March 2016 respectively. Urquía and her colleagues have been fervent defenders of the community rights and part of a long fight to stop a hydroelectric megaproject undertaken without the consent of the local population, who are concerned that it could lead to cutting off water and other resources for several indigenous communities. 


CIVICUS condemns UK government’s attempt to silence civil society

The UK government is receiving widespread condemnation for a new clause in grant agreements that will place restrictions on civil society organisations lobbying the government. 

Last week, 140 UK charities signed a joint letter to David Cameron expressing their deep concern over the proposed clause and the move has been strongly condemned by the global alliance of civil society organisations, CIVICUS. 

“This move restricts the freedom of expression of UK civil society, and fundamentally reduces the opportunity for the voices of the people who receive the vital support of charities to be heard. Coming from a country with a long tradition of free speech, this is a serious step in the wrong direction for democracy, transparency and human rights. Moreover, it only serves to further stoke up a worrying global trend where governments around the world are trying to silence civil society,” said Dr Dhananjayan Sriskandarajah, Secretary-General of CIVICUS.


International community must urge Israel to withdraw repressive NGO bill

The international community must urgently call on Israeli authorities to withdraw a repressive proposed law that seeks to silence human rights groups says CIVICUS, the global civil society alliance. 

In what could set an extremely bad precedent, the regressive draft `Obligation to Disclose Support by a Foreign Political Entity Act’ passed its first reading in the Israeli parliament, the Knesset, on 8 February when it garnered 50 votes in favour of and 43 against it.

“Every democratic country that subscribes to international human rights law should be extremely concerned by this bill,” said Teldah Mawarire, Policy and Research Officer at CIVICUS. “There are strong reasons to believe that this proposed law is specifically designed to stop the work of human rights groups, especially those that expose abuses in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.” 


Struggles for a better world are all threatened by the inequality crisis - new alliance

As the world’s rich and powerful gather in Davos for the World Economic Forum an  alliance of top international charities, human rights campaigners, women’s rights groups, green groups, civil society organisations and trade unions has come together to fight the growing crisis of inequality.

In a joint statement, the alliance, including ActionAid, Amnesty International, Oxfam, Greenpeace and the International Trade Union Confederation warns that growing inequality threatens progress on development, environment, women’s rights and human rights.
The alliance statement says ‘“Struggles for a better world are all threatened by the inequality crisis that is spiraling out of control.  Across the world, we are seeing the gap between the richest and the rest reach extremes not seen in a century.’  




From Ebola to the bombing of Gaza, civil society was the first responder to humanitarian emergencies during the last year, but faces dire threats and a funding crisis around the world, says a new report.

“During the last year civil society was everywhere, doing great work often at the frontline of the world’s challenges, but at the same time having to stave off threats to its very existence,” said Dr Dhananjayan Sriskandarajah, the CIVICUS Secretary-General on launching the organisation’s 2015 State of Civil Society Report.


Burundi: Stop the violence against protesters

As the new dates set for parliamentary and presidential elections approach in Burundi (26 June and 15 July 2015), civic freedoms should be restored says CIVICUS, the global civil society alliance.

“The police are continuing to use live ammunition against protesters unhappy with the decision by President Pierre Nkurunziza to stand for a third term,” said David Kode, Policy and Research Officer at CIVICUS. “An atmosphere of fear wherein democratic freedoms of expression, association and peaceful assembly are imperilled does not set the stage for a free and fair election.”


South Korea: Release protesters and end crackdown on Sewol Ferry demonstrations

3 June 2015 - Global civil society alliance, CIVICUS, condemns South Korea’s on-going persecution of civil society groups and protestors calling for transparent and independent investigations into the sinking of the Sewol Ferry on 16 April 2014 in which 304 people, mostly school students lost their lives. CIVICUS urges South Korean authorities to immediately and unconditionally release all activists currently detained for participating in the demonstrations.


Thousands around the world participate in Global Day of Citizen Action


21 May 2015 - From Mexico to Mongolia, thousands of citizens around the world gathered last Saturday to exercise their fundamental rights to speak out, organise and take action on a wide-range of social issues.

More than 100 events in 50 countries saw a combined total of over 20,000 citizens engaged as part of the `Global Day of Citizen Action’. The purpose of the international campaign was to raise awareness about ‘civic space’, which represents the freedoms of expression, association and assembly.


Media Statement: CIVICUS urges protection of civic freedoms ahead of presidential elections in Burundi

Global civil society alliance, CIVICUS, urges Burundi’s government to respect civic freedoms and end violence against protesters. Since 26 April, riot police and security forces in Burundi have violently repressed peaceful protests in the capital, Bujumbura, against a third term bid for President by Pierre Nkurunziza.


ARE YOU FREE TO SPEAK OUT, ORGANISE AND TAKE ACTION? ‘Global Day of Citizen Action’ seeks to engage citizens around the world

An upcoming global event will seek to engage citizens around the world on a set of human rights we don’t often hear much about: “civic space”. The ‘Global Day of Citizen Action’, to be held on Saturday 16 May 2015, will ask citizens whether they feel free to speak out, organise and take action, a group of rights that collectively may be called “civic space”.


Civil society in India being demonised says global civil society alliance

15 April 2015 - The rise in bureaucratic harassment and demonisation of civil society organisations and activists in India is raising increasing concern. Defamatory public statements by senior government officials and the vilification of activists in the media have contributed towards a prohibitive operating environment for India’s civil society, says global civil society alliance, CIVICUS.


Bahrain: End Reprisals Against Leading Human Rights Defender Nabeel Rajab

Images for Nabeel statement


13 April 2015 - We in the Bahrain and international human rights NGO community condemn the
arrest and detention of Nabeel Rajab, a prominent human rights defender in the Kingdom of
Bahrain. On 4 April, the Bahrain Public Prosecution Office renewed Mr. Rajab’s pretrial detention
for a further 15 days. We call on the Bahraini authorities to immediately and unconditionally
release Mr. Rajab and to drop all charges against him.


Repression and secret detentions escalate in the DRC ahead of 2016 elections



drc9 APRIL 2015. The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is experiencing brutal suppression of dissent and fundamental freedoms linked to presidential elections next year. With intensifying pressure on President Joseph Kabila to not seek another term after 14 years in power, DRC authorities are targeting civil society activists and journalists.

At least 30 individuals, including members of the media and civil society, were arrested on 15 March following a press conference in the capital, Kinshasa. The press conference was preceded by a workshop on youth engagement and political processes organised by Filimbi, an organisation working to strengthen civic action. At least 5 human rights activists remain in secret detention.

The latest arrests send a message that authorities do not tolerate dissent, and will not allow an open debate on issues related to elections and civic engagement. Freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly are now firmly at stake in the Democratic Republic of Congo. 


Bangladesh: Restore democratic freedoms and end onslaught on dissent

30 March - Global civil society alliance, CIVICUS, and the Asian Legal Resource Centre (ALRC) express grave concern over the unabated incursions on fundamental human rights and democratic freedoms in Bangladesh amid the on-going political violence in the country.


Azerbaijan: joint letter to the OGP to ensure civil society organisations can participate in and influence action plan

ARTICLE 19, CIVICUS and Publish What You Pay have submitted a joint letter to the steering committee of the Open Government Partnership (OGP) calling on them to ensure that civil society organisations can participate in and influence Azerbaijan’s OGP action plan.


Bahrain: Human rights groups express grave concern as imprisoned Bahraini activist Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja goes public with hunger strike

Civicus in partnership with 25+ organisations have produced a joint press statement (see below) on the detention and hunger strike of the Bahraini human rights activist, Abdulhadi Al Khawaja. 



18 March - After several unsuccessful appeals to prison administration officials for adequate medical assistance, leading Bahraini human rights defender Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja has publically announced that he has gone on hunger strike in protest of his continued arbitrary detention and mistreatment while in prison. Al-Khawaja, who began the water-only hunger strike on 2 March 2015, is suffering from serious health issues and is at severe risk of further health complications. 

“He sounded weak and exhausted on the phone to an extent that we could tell how sick he was, but this won’t stop him from battling for his freedom and the freedom of all human rights defenders in Bahrain,” said his daughter Maryam Al-Khawaja, Co-Director of at the Gulf Center for Human Rights (GCHR).

Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja, the Co-founder of the Gulf Center for Human Rights (GCHR) and the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR), was sentenced to life in prison in June 2011 for peaceful human rights activities. The undersigned organizations and individuals express their grave concern about the continued mistreatment of Al-Khawaja while in detention and call on the Government of Bahrain to immediately and unconditionally address Al-Khawaja’s legitimate demands. 


Sudanese civil society faces crackdown ahead of elections say international NGOs

International civil society is raising the alarm over attacks on independent civil society groups and critical voices in advance of Sudan’s general elections scheduled for April 2015. 


Sri Lanka: Put civil society at the heart of the new presidential agenda

27 January 2015 - International civil society is calling on Sri Lanka’s newly elected President Maithripala Sirisena to put civic freedoms and civil society participation at the heart of his 100 day plan.

Global civil society alliance, CIVICUS, and the International Movement Against All Forms of Discrimination and Racism (IMADR) are urging the new president to start afresh in his country’s treatment and dealings with civil society and minority groups.


Anti-Terrorism Measures in Pakistan: Authorities urged to see civil society as partners not opponents

20 January 2015 - Civil society in Pakistan, which already faces severe restrictions, is facing further threats to its freedom, following the horrific terrorist attack on a school in Peshawar last December.

CIVICUS, a global alliance of civil society organisations, Pakhtunkhwa Civil Society Network (PCSN) and the Tribal NGOs Consortium (TNC) are dismayed at attempts to silence independent civil society groups who have been at the forefront of condemning religious extremism in Pakistan over the last decade. Despite civil society’s important role in promoting peace and tolerance, the government is planning to introduce a controversial foreign funding law, which will vest officials with excessive powers to control and suspend the activities of NGOs that rely on funds from international sources. It is expected that a draft bill (the Foreign Contributions Regulation Act 2015) will be submitted for government approval later this month.


Allegations of corporate complicity in attacks on activists in Philippines

10 December 2014. Global civil society alliance, CIVICUS, is deeply concerned by the systematic attacks against land and indigenous people’s rights activists in Mindanao, the second largest and southernmost major island in the Philippines.

The highly populated island (over 21 million people) is rich in mineral deposits of copper, gold, silver and nickel, and is host to more than 30 multinational mining companies from 13 countries, including the United States, Australia, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom. Local civil society groups are alarmed at the complicity of corporate conglomerates in the forceful evictions and displacement of indigenous communities, and land rights and indigenous people’s rights activists operate under extreme threat.


Turkey: Repressive Security Bill will further imperil civic freedoms

Turkish Translation of Media Statement

11 November, 2014 - Global civil society alliance, CIVICUS is deeply concerned with the proposed “Security Package” before the Turkish Parliament, which if approved will warrant abusive policing practices, such as the ability to disperse public assemblies with physical force and to use firearms against protesters. In addition, the security package will grant courts broad powers to persecute and detain political dissidents. 


Global gathering of civil society to be held in Johannesburg in November

Hundreds of activists and prominent members of civil society from more than 100 countries will gather in Johannesburg for International Civil Society Week (ICSW) from 19-25 November.

Representatives from civil society will use the weeklong series of events to discuss and debate some of the most urgent problems facing people around the world.

“The week offers a unique opportunity for civil society organisations and activists from all over to gather in one place to connect, share experiences and best practice, and to inspire each other,” said Dr Danny Sriskandarajah, Secretary-General of CIVICUS.

The week, to be held at Wits University, will feature events that touch on a wide range of issues: advocacy, campaigns, data for development, global governance, human rights, labour movements, media, protests, and youth — to mention just a few.


Ethiopia: Crackdown on dissent intensifies as journalists convicted

Joint Statement





31 October 2014. Ethiopia’s already limited space for civil society and human rights defenders is undergoing further contraction, warns CIVICUS, The East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project, and the Ethiopia Human Rights Project (EHRP). Throughout 2014, Ethiopian authorities have orchestrated an unprecedented legislative assault on journalists, and independent voices within civil society, undermining fundamental human rights and restricting the operating environment for civil society and human rights defenders.


Calls for Azerbaijan to end crackdown on civil society and uphold Council of Europe Commitments

24 October 2014. Global civil society alliance, CIVICUS, and the Center for National and International Studies (CNIS) are gravely concerned at the unprecedented crackdown on civil society and democratic freedoms in Azerbaijan. This is particularly worrying given Azerbaijan’s recent appointment as chair of the Council of Europe, which serves as the region’s preeminent human rights body.

“Azerbaijan’s government is using a number of repressive tactics to silence dissent and destroy independent civil society in Azerbaijan in violation of Europe’s professed values,” said Leila Alieva, President of CNIS. “Since May 2014, the government has opened criminal investigations and frozen the assets of over 20 national and international groups including the Center for National and International Studies, Transparency International and Oxfam. As a result of the investigations, the vast majority of the organisations have ceased their operations or left the country, while the leaders of many of the national groups have been forced into exile.”


Egypt: International Civil Society Urges Egypt to Release Activists

incarcerated15 October 2014. The global civil society alliance, CIVICUS, urges Egypt’s authorities to end the judicial persecution of seven women human rights activists who are on trial for peacefully protesting a controversial assembly law that effectively bans public gatherings without police permission.

The current state of civil society in Egypt is dire. The military-backed government has   introduced a number of measures to restrict freedom of speech and the right to assemble. It is also considering a law to restrict the ability of NGOs to receive funds from international sources with a view to stopping their human rights monitoring activities.  Moreover, it has become common practice for judges to imprison non-violent youth campaigners that support basic democratic reforms. “The seven women that are on trial are not dangerous vandals as alleged by security forces, instead they are victims of a heavy-handed judicial system which arbitrarily punishes its most engaged and socially conscious citizens,” said Semanur Karaman, Policy and Research Officer at CIVICUS.  “It is a travesty of justice to see these human rights defenders being subjected to these oppressive sanctions that are in violation of universal principles of international law,” said Karaman.


Cambodia at a Crossroads: New laws would limit freedoms

Partnerlogos10 October 2014: Set against a background of endemic corruption, unsustainably low wages and impoverishing confiscations of land, Cambodia is considering a series of laws that will severely restrict human rights and the activities of civil society organisations working on these issues, according to a team of international experts visiting the country.


Concern over South Sudan NGO Law amidst deepening crisis

CEPO6 October 2014 - Civil society CIVICUSorganisations are calling on South Sudanese authorities to stop the adoption of a restrictive NGO bill amidst fears that it could severely hinder civil society activities and undermine efforts to address the continuing humanitarian crisis in the country.

Global civil society alliance, CIVICUS and the South Sudan based Community Empowerment for Progress Organization (CEPO) have urged the National Legislative Assembly of South Sudan to stop the bill that is currently under parliamentary consideration.

Of critical concern are vague provisions of the proposed 2013 NGO Bill which gives the government excessive discretionary powers to control the operations of civil society groups.  According to the bill, all NGOs in the country must register with the government and align their work with the government’s national development plan. Moreover, organisations are forced to adhere to ill-defined requirements to “respect (for) the sovereignty of the Republic of South Sudan, its institution and laws.”


More Than 150 Organisations call on king to release Bahraini activist

MaryamAlKhawajaUpdate: 19 September 2014: We are happy to let you know that detained Bahraini  activist, Maryam Al-Khawaja is no longer in custody. She was released on 18 September by Bahraini authorities although the politically motivated charges against her still stand.

We are overwhelmed by the groundswell of support we received from around the world on Maryam’s plight. Over 150 civil society organisations in over 60 countries joined us in endorsing a letter to Bahrain’s government urging the release of Maryam and an end to persecution of human rights defenders in the country.


Global civil society alliance condemns NGO crack-down in Hungary and calls on new European Commission to act

Hungary flag

9 September 2014. Punitive action taken by elements of the Hungarian police and state prosecutors against key civil society bodies has been strongly condemned by global civil society alliance, CIVICUS. 

“The latest events in Hungary highlight a major set-back for due process and lead to serious questions about Hungarian democracy. The incoming European Commission must act to ensure that the core democratic principles of the Union are upheld,” said Dr Danny Sriskandarajah, Secretary-General of CIVICUS. 

In the latest developments to restrict the activity of legitimate NGOs that receive funds from the Norwegian NGO Fund, police have raided offices of two key organisations: the Okotars Foundation and the Foundation for Development of Democratic Rights (DemNet). They are reported to have prevented staff from communicating or leaving the premises while the raids took place and to have searched the whole premises, ransacked files and taken laptops and servers. 


One year later: Bangladeshi activists still face trumped up charges

4 September 2014. Global civil society alliance, CIVICUS urges Bangladesh’s government to unconditionally withdraw politically motivated criminal charges against Bangladeshi activists Adilur Rahman Khan and Mr ASM Nasiruddin Elan. They were charged one year ago today under the draconian Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Act for documenting human rights violations.

“Mr Khan and Mr Elan are highly respected civil society activists who have made an immense contribution to support good governance and accountability in Bangladesh”, said Tor Hodenfield, Policy and Advocacy Officer at CIVICUS. “Their rights monitoring and advocacy work through their organisation, Odhikar, is crucial for Bangladesh’s democracy and to meet the country’s human obligations.”

The charges against Mr Khan and Mr Elan stem from the publication of a fact finding report by Odhikar on the alleged killing of 61 people by Bangladeshi security forces during a rally held by Hefazat-e-Islam activists in Dhaka from 5-6 May 2013. Bangladeshi authorities demanded that Odhikar release details of individuals who had submitted testimonials and evidence about the killings, which was rejected by the organization to protect them from reprisals.


Gaza represents a failure of global governance: International community must insist on accountability for war crimes

3 September 2014. We have watched with horror, the death and destruction wreaked on the people of Gaza by the State of Israel over the past two months. We have watched the targeting of civilian areas by Israeli forces which has resulted in over 2000 deaths, including approximately 500 children. Notably, the UN has said that roughly 70% of the Palestinians killed were civilians. Equally, we condemn the actions of Hamas militants who let loose a barrage of rockets on Israeli civilian areas causing fear and the death of seven civilians.

We believe that what has taken place in Gaza represents a monumental failure of the global governance system, highlighting many of the weaknesses that we have outlined in our State of Civil Society Report 2014. The report points out that international institutions provide a battleground where the strategic imperatives of states are asserted and contested. This is evident from the lack of response by the UN Security Council whose primary responsibility is to maintain international peace and security. Although, we are heartened that the UN Human Rights Council was able to pass a resolution on the establishment of a commission of inquiry to investigate violations by both sides, we remain concerned whether perpetrators of what we believe are war crimes will be brought to justice. Sadly, many powerful and democratic states did not vote in support of the resolution.


Global civil society alliance stands in solidarity with South African community health workers

28 August 2014 - Global civil society alliance, CIVICUS, has expressed solidarity with 127 community health workers and members of the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) who will be appearing in court on 1 September in Bloemfontein, South Africa.  They are facing charges in relation to their arrest following a peaceful night vigil on 10 July and a peaceful demonstration on 11 July. The community health workers and activists sought to highlight challenges plaguing the public health sector and demand dignified working conditions in South Africa’s Free State province.

“For over a year we have released alerts, stating our concern over a slowly collapsing public health system, the evidence of which is borne out of the many stories we receive on a frequent basis from those who are dependent on this crumbling health system,” said Sello Mokhaliphi, TAC Free State Provincial Chairperson. “We as the TAC, community health care workers and the government need to work together to improve it instead of fighting one another.”


Radical Change Needed Says Jay Naidoo In New Role As Global Civil Society Advisor

13 August 2014. Former Minister in the Mandela Cabinet, co-founder of COSATU and lifetime activist, Jay Naidoo, will be playing a new role as an advisor to CIVICUS, the global civil society alliance.

“We are delighted to be able to draw on Jay’s vast experience in helping civil society navigate the confluence of crises humanity faces at the moment,” said Dr Danny Sriskandarajah, Secretary-General of CIVICUS.

As a global alliance with a mission to strengthen civil society, the CIVCUS Board asked Jay Naidoo to form and chair an advisory council to help it think through some of the challenges facing civil society. So far, together with the CIVICUS Secretary-General, he has had numerous conversations with civil society actors – from grassroots activists to the CEOs of some of the biggest NGOs in the world.


Human rights defenders in Bangladesh face dire threats

26 June 2014 - Independent civil society groups and journalists exposing human rights violations are coming under increasing pressure by Bangladeshi authorities warns CIVICUS, the global civil society alliance. Individuals and organisations speaking out against the volatile political climate in Bangladesh which has taken a turn for the worse following the flawed January 2014 elections – boycotted by the opposition - are being subjected to various forms of persecution by state institutions.

“In recent months, Bangladesh’s government has been extremely hostile towards human rights defenders subjecting them to various forms of unwarranted surveillance and malicious prosecution,” said Mandeep Tiwana, Head of Policy and Research at CIVICUS. “Many critical voices have already been silenced while those who continue to expose violations remain severely threatened.”

Human rights advocacy organisation, Odhikar is facing serious threats to its existence. Its Secretary, Adilur Rahman Khan and Director Nasiruddin Elan are currently facing several politically motivated criminal charges for their work in documenting human rights violations. The organisation has also been subjected to various forms of intimidation including persistent surveillance of its staff and repeated inspection of its records by Bangladeshi authorities.


International community must not overlook repression and attacks on civil society in Egypt

2 July 2014 - Global civil society alliance, CIVICUS, is urging the international community to isolate Egypt’s repressive regime as it escalates its campaign against democratic dissent and the rights of its people.

“The past few months have marked a concerted assault on fundamental freedoms by Egypt’s totalitarian state,” said Mandeep Tiwana, Head of Policy and Research at CIVICUS. “President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi heads an illegitimate regime that has no respect for international norms and basic human rights. When global leaders, regional and international institutions continue routine diplomatic engagements with Egypt’s regime, they make themselves complicit in the suppression of the rights of Egyptians.”  

On 23 June, three Al-Jazeera journalists were handed lengthy prison terms of 7-10 years through a sham trial on the basis of made up charges of supporting the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood. Earlier, this month on 11 June 2014, well respected activist Alaa Abdel Fattah and 24 others were convicted for holding illegal demonstrations and sentenced to 15 years in prison for protesting against the routine practice of using military courts to try civilians for political offences.


Civil society and media face ongoing crackdown in Nigeria

25 June 2014 - Global civil society alliance, CIVICUS is shocked at the ongoing media and civil society crackdown in Nigeria. A number of legal and extra-legal tactics are being employed by Nigeria’s government to prevent the spread of information and the exercise of democratic freedoms.

“Once hailed for its progress on democratic indicators, Nigeria is fast becoming a hostile place for independent media and civil society groups, said David Kode, Policy and Research Officer at CIVICUS. “In moves reminiscent of the days of military dictatorship in Nigeria, the media and civil society are being blamed for threatening state security.”

Civil society organisations (CSOs) in Nigeria are extremely concerned by legislative moves to control their funding from international sources through the restrictive Foreign Donations (Regulation) Bill. The Bill gives the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission broad discretionary powers to deny foreign funding to CSOs on vague grounds such as `likely to affect’ the sovereignty and integrity of Nigeria, adverse diplomatic relations with foreign countries and religious harmony. Many believe this is a direct consequence of increasing civil society criticism of Nigeria’s government for its handling of the law and order situation in the country.    


UN HRC must strengthen protections for civil society

13 June 2014: The UN Human Rights Council (HRC) must act to address the shrinking space for civil society across the globe, urged member organisations of the Civic Space Initiative* (CSI) at a side event in Geneva on 12 June.

In September 2013, the HRC adopted by consensus a landmark resolution urging States to create a safe and enabling environment for civil society to operate and carry out their essential work. 

The side event sought to identify how States must address the “implementation gap” between international standards and domestic law and practice, in particular for marginalised groups.  

“Freedom of association is a fundamental right, yet its core is being chipped away. Perhaps it’s time to shape the contours of this right more clearly: the existence of an independent civil society is a prerequisite for a legitimate democracy,” said Maina Kiai, UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of peaceful assembly and association. “It is the primary vehicle for people to organize and make their voices heard. States have no business interfering with that process – rather, they should encourage it.”


First `Global Day of Citizen Action’ to be held on Saturday 7 June


4 June 2014 - More than 20 countries around the world will participate in the first ever 'Global Day of Citizen Action’ on Saturday 7 June as part of a campaign to raise awareness about threats to freedom of expression, association and assembly.

“The 'Global Day of Citizen Action’ will allow people all around the world to tell us what they think about their rights to speak out, organise and take action,” said Zubair Sayed, Head of Communication at CIVICUS, the global civil society alliance.

“At the moment we have around 40 events in more than 20 countries and many people are still signing up. The events will engage thousands of people and will have a strong visual and social media element, so we’re quite excited about them. For those who haven’t already, there’s still time to host events or sign up to attend, and on the day people will also be able to participate online,” Sayed said.


Brasil incluido na onda global de protestos impulsionada por falhas de governança nacional e internacional, afirma novo relatório

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02 Junho 2014- Protestos públicos em massa  têm ocupado as manchetes ao redor do mundo durante os últimos anos, refletindo uma falha de governança a nível nacional e internacional, diz o novo relatório da aliança global de sociedade civil, CIVICUS.

"Em muitos países ao redor do mundo, inclusive no Brasil, as pessoas vêem  que os processos democráticos formais assim como os partidos políticos estão falhando a abordar as questões realmente importantes. Em vez disso, esses sistemas são vistos servindo os interesses das elites políticas e económicas, "disse Danny Sriskandarajah, o secretário-geral da CIVICUS no lançamento do relatório 2014 sobre o estado da sociedade Civil.

"Seria de esperar que aqueles sendo reprimidos, marginalizados ou excluídos a nível nacional fossem ouvidos e protegidos pelas instituições a nível internacional – mas também a governança global não está funcionando. Muitos dos nossos processos e instituições internacionais estão desatualizados, não têm mecanismos de prestação de contas e são incapazes de enfrentar os desafios atuais eficazmente. As Instituições de governança internacional com um âmbito  limitado de participação popular correm o risco de se tornar irrelevantes.


Yeni rapor ulusal ve uluslararası yönetişim hatalarının sebep olduğu küresel protesto dalgalarına dikkat çekiyor.

02 Haziran 2014 - Küresel sivil toplum ittifakı CIVICUS tarafından yayınlanan yeni rapor, geçtiğimiz birkaç senede dünya genelinde manşetleri yakalayan  kitlesel protestoların, ulusal ve uluslararası seviyede gerçekleşen yönetişim hatalarını yansıttığına dikkat çekiyor.

CIVICUS Genel Sekreteri Dr. Danny Sriskandarajah, 2014 Sivil Toplumun Durumu Raporu’nun duyurusunda “Dünya genelinde pek çok ülkede insanlar, resmi demokratik süreçleri ve parti politikalarını değer verdikleri meseleleri ele almakta başarısız buluyor.  Aksine insanlar bu sistemlerin politik ve ekonomik elitlerin çıkarlarına hizmet ettiğini düşünüyor.” dedi.

Rapor, Türkiye’de kitlesel protestolara katılan kişilerin elitist olmakla itham edildiğine dikkat çekiyor. Ayrıca protestocuların demokratik yollarla seçilmiş ve arkasında geniş halk desteği olan bir lidere karşı çıkmakla suçlandığını belirtiyor. Ancak küçük barışçıl gösterilerin kitlesel hareketlere dönüşmesine, devletin göstericilere orantısız ve şiddet dolu tepki vermesi sebep oldu. Protestoculara saldıran polislerin fotoğrafları
ülkedeki geleneksel ve sosyal medya kanalları aracılığıyla yaygınlaştırıldı. Görüntüler tepkinin büyümesine ve hızlı bir şekilde protestocuların sayısının artmasına neden oldu.  Ayrıca protestoya katılan insan profili çeşitlendi ve dile getirilen taleplerin kapsamı genişledi. Protestoların kapsamı ilk günlerde dile getirilen meseleleri aştı ve protestolar halkın derinlerde yatan memnuniyetsizliklerini meydana çıkardı.


Global wave of protests driven by national and international governance failures, says new report

State of civil society report 2014

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Mass public protests that have grabbed headlines around the world during the last few years reflect a failure of governance at the national and international level, says a new report by the global civil society alliance, CIVICUS.

“In many countries around the world people see formal democratic processes and party politics as failing to address the issues they care about. Instead these systems are seen to serve the interests of political and economic elites,” said Dr Danny Sriskandarajah, the CIVICUS Secretary-General on launching the organisation’s 2014 State of Civil Society Report.


Civil Society calls for end to indiscriminate killings and violations of human rights in Philippines

19 May 2014. Torture and enforced disappearances of activists by state security agents and private militias have severely escalated in recent months in the Philippines, say global civil society alliance, CIVICUS, and Karapatan Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights.

“We are alarmed at attacks on activists and members of the political opposition in the Philippines. 

Since taking office in June 2010, the administration of President Benigno Aquino has done little to address serious violations of human rights in the country despite promises made during his election campaign,” said Cristina Palabay, Secretary General of Karapatan. 

From July 2010 to March 2014, Karapatan has documented cases of 192 victims of extrajudicial killings, 21 cases of enforced disappearance, 94 of torture and 631 of illegal arrests and detention. 26 journalists have also been reportedly murdered since President Benigno Aquino took office, making the Philippines an extremely dangerous environment for the media. 


Call to release civil society activists as Azerbaijan chairs Council of Europe

Azerbaijan arrests

14 May 2014. Johannesburg. Azerbaijan has been urged to stop the intimidation and judicial harassment of human rights defenders as it assumes the chair of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe on 14 May. 

The call, by global civil society alliance, CIVICUS and Azerbaijan-based Center for National and International Studies (CNIS), comes in the face of persecution by the government of leaders of several prominent civil society organisations (CSOs)  in apparent reprisals for critically analysing the presidential elections.  Other activists are being held on different charges to discredit their credibility.

“Azerbaijani authorities have severely escalated repression since the re-election of President Ilham Aliyev in October 2013. Numerous activists have been arrested and detained merely for speaking out against the government’s poor human rights record,” said Leila Alieva, President of CNIS. “These actions are a matter of serious concern as the European system is underpinned by a commitment to uphold human rights standards.” 


Call for release of civil society leader on 4th anniversary behind bars

CIVICUS logo colour-on-white SML HRA  AAND Ittijah


6 May 2014 – The global civil society alliance, CIVICUS, and several NGO networks are calling for the release of the imprisoned Palestinian civil society leader, Ameer Makhoul, on the 4th anniversary of his arrest.

“Ameer Makhoul has unjustly spent years in prison as a result of his legitimate and peaceful activities as a human rights defender,” said Mandeep Tiwana, Head of Policy and Research at CIVICUS. “His trial and conviction were marred by a number of flaws and inconsistencies and we are calling on the Israeli government to release him immediately.”

On 6 May 2010, Ameer Makhoul, Director of the Palestinian NGO, Ittijah: Union of Arab Community-Based Associations, was arrested by Israeli Shin Bet security forces in Haifa, Israel. Following his arrest, Mr Makhoul was denied access to legal counsel and his family for nearly two weeks, during which he was reportedly forced to make a confession under severe duress.


Civil Society Alarmed At US Attempt To Punish Academia Over Israel

4 MAY 2014 - Global civil society alliance, CIVICUS and the US-based Defending Dissent Foundation are alarmed at proposed legislation in the United States to reduce official funding to academic institutions that support the boycott of Israel.


“Israel remains one of most serious violators of human rights on the planet,” said Mandeep Tiwana, Head of Policy and Research at CIVICUS. “It is indeed ironic that legislation would be proposed in the United States to limit freedom of expression when a fundamental pillar of US foreign policy is supposed to be support for human and democratic rights.”


The “Anti- Boycott Bill” (number A 08392A) introduced in the New York State Assembly on 6 February 2014 prohibits the use of state funds by any college to provide assistance to any ‘academic entity’ that supports a boycott of a country or its academic institutions either through an official statement or public resolution. The bill covers support to any university, college or professor including through financing of travel to meetings or membership of organisations that support boycotts. 


OWG inches closer to human rights for all post-2015, but still a long road ahead

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In December of last year, we came together as human rights, social and environmental justice and trade union organizations worldwide to lay out a roadmap for embedding all human rights into the core of the post-2015 sustainable development agenda. We’ve monitored developments very carefully since then.

As the Open Working Group (OWG) on sustainable development now moves from principles to the specific content of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), we are compelled to assess how well the full realization of human rights is reflected in the Co-Chairs’ Working Document in advance of the 5-9 May session of the OWG.

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International civil society calls on Sri Lanka to release human rights activists

20 March 2014 – The release of Sri Lankan Human Rights Defenders Ruki Fernando and Father Praveen Mahesan must be met with substantive reform to advance human rights say CIVICUS, the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) and the Sri Lanka Campaign for Peace and Justice (SLCPJ).

“While we welcome the release of Fernando and Father Praveen following an outpouring of international condemnation, numerous activists and dissidents remain in detention for trying to advance human rights,” says Danny Sriskandarajah, CIVICUS Secretary-General. “The Sri Lankan Government must further heed the appeals of national and international civil society groups to remove all unwarranted restrictions on peaceful dissent and ensure a sustainable transition to democracy and rule of law,” continued Sriskandarajah.




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