Shrinking civic space in Bangladesh, the Philippines and India continues unabated

Statement at the 54th Session of the UN Human Rights Council 

General Debate Item 4

Delivered by Róisín Dunbar , CIVICUS

Thank you, Mr President,

The new CIVICUS Monitor Watchlist, highlights serious concerns regarding the rapid decline in respect for civic space in Bangladesh, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Ecuador, Senegal and the United Arab Emirates. We call on these governments to end crackdowns and ensure accountability for perpetrators. 

In Bangladesh, since the beginning of this year, we have seen a serious and rapid decline in respect for civic freedoms, marked by repression of opposition activists and critics with impunity. We condemn the two-year conviction of human rights defenders Adilur Rahman Khan and Nasiruddin Elan and call for their immediate and unconditional release. The harassment of human rights defenders and journalists has had a chilling effect across Bangladesh and we urge the government to respect fundamental freedoms ahead of upcoming elections. 

The situation for civic space in the Philippines remains dire. We are particularly concerned by ongoing reports of ‘red-tagging’ and judicial harassment of human rights defenders and cases of enforced disappearances. The government continues to misuse counterterrorism legislation to target activists. Despite the UN Joint Programme in the Philippines, a climate of impunity persists while domestic mechanisms continue to fail to provide justice to victims, families and communities. We urge the government to end harassment of human rights defenders and ensure accountability for victims of human rights violations. 

We continue to be deeply concerned about the human rights situation in India. Despite UPR commitments made in March, we are particularly concerned about the ongoing detention of human rights defenders under the draconian Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act including student activists, those connected to the Bhima Koregaon case as well as prominent human rights defenders in Kashmir like Khurram Parvez and Irfan Mehraj. Journalists continue to be targeted and the crackdown on foreign funding for civil society organisations has persisted.

CIVICUS calls on the international community to monitor and address these worrying situations of shrinking civic space. 

Thank you.



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