UN Universal Periodic Review submissions on civil society space in Bangladesh, Colombia, Cuba and Djibouti

The United Nations Human Rights Council's Universal Periodic Review is a unique process which involves a review of the human rights records of all 193 UN Member States once every 4.5 years.

CIVICUS and its partners have submitted UN Universal Periodic Review (UPR) submissions on four countries in advance of the 44th UPR session in October-November 2023. The submissions examine the state of civil society in each country, including the promotion and protection of the rights to freedom of association, assembly and expression and the environment for human rights defenders. We further provide an assessment of the States’ domestic implementation of civic space recommendations received during the 3rd UPR cycle over 4 years ago and provide a number of targeted follow-up recommendations.

Bangladesh– The submission by CIVICUS and the Asia Legal Resource Centre (ALRC) highlights concerns over the increasing harassment of critical human rights groups as well as the criminalisation and harassment of and threats and attacks on HRDs, journalists and critics, with impunity. The report also documents alarming restrictions on press freedom, the systematic use of the Digital Security Act to silence dissent and unwarranted restrictions and use of excessive force to crush protests.

Colombia ­– In this submission, CIVICUS and Temblores ONG examine the situation of civic space in Colombia, underscoring the extreme violence that the country’s HRDs, social leaders and journalists face. The research shows that the implementation of various protection mechanisms has been ineffective and uncoordinated. In the submission, the organisations also highlight the repeated use of disproportionate force against protesters, showing a pattern of violations affecting the right to freedom of peaceful assembly.

CubaCIVICUS, the Latin American and Caribbean Network for Democracy (REDLAD) and Gobierno y Análisis Político AC (GAPAC) detail the government persistent failure to address unwarranted restrictions on civic space, both in law and in practice. The report highlights constitutional and legal obstacles to the exercise of the basic freedoms of association, peaceful assembly and expression in Cuba. It further reports cases of harassment and persecution faced by CSOs and activists, including arbitrary arrests and searches of their homes and offices, and of persistent censorship.

Djibouti – This submission by CIVICUS and the East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project (DefendDefenders) highlights concerns about Djibouti’s onslaught on freedom of expression and media freedom through its enactment of stifling laws that silence critical opinions. It further sheds a light on the targeting of HRDs and political opposition through intimidation, stifling laws and judicial harassment.


Civic space in Bangladesh and Colombia is rated as Repressed, whereas Cuba and Djibouti’s is rated as Closed by the CIVICUS Monitor.



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