Lysa John Announced as new CIVICUS SG
The CIVICUS Board of Directors is pleased to announce that following an extensive international search and selection process, Lysa John will be joining CIVICUS as the new Secretary General (SG) of the alliance.
The CIVICUS Board of Directors is pleased to announce that following an extensive international search and selection process, Lysa John will be joining CIVICUS as the new Secretary General (SG) of the alliance.
Peaceful activists and campesinos of the “Movimiento Rios Vivos” were unlawfully obstructed by police in Ituango, Colombia on 8 September 2018 as they participated in the global “Rise for Climate” mobilisation. The action in Ituango was part of a global mobilisation organised by the environmental rights group 350.org, which brought together tens of thousands of people who took part in 900 actions in 95 countries around the world. The blocking of the protesters is an example of the ongoing pattern of violations against environmental defenders.
Bangladesh: Release and drop all charges against all those arbitrarily arrested and investigate police abuse
Global civil society alliance CIVICUS is calling for your support and solidarity to demand the release of students and protesters who were arrested and charged over the last month in Bangladesh. On 15th August, Bangladesh was added to the CIVICUS Monitor’s Watch List, which means that there has been an escalation in serious threats to fundamental freedoms in recent weeks and months.
Add your voice to the campaign to demand that the government reverse this trend, release all those arbitrarily arrested and investigate police abuses by sending the letter below to government authorities, and adding your voice on social media using #BangladeshProtests.
ARTICLE 19 and CIVICUS are extremely disappointed that the Senate (Dewan Negara) has rejected a bill to repeal the repressive Anti-Fake News Act 2018. International and national rights groups, UN experts and Malaysian civil society have raised serious concerns that the law is inconsistent with international standards and may be used to violate the right to freedom of expression. The failure to abolish the law runs contrary to the new government’s commitment to reform the restrictive environment for expression and public discourse established by the previous Barisan Nasional government.
Global human rights groups have condemned Vietnam’s arbitrary detention and deportation of a Malaysian human rights leader who had arrived in the country to attend a regional World Economic Forum (WEF) summit.
Debbie Stothard, Secretary-General of the International Federation of Human Rights (FIDH), had arrived in Vietnam on September 9 and was detained overnight at the Hanoi’s Noi Bai International Airport overnigh before being deported to Malaysia the following morning. Stothard, who had been invited to speak at the forum, was denied entry for “national defense, security or social order and safety” reasons. She also serves as coordinator of the Alternative ASEAN Network on Burma (ALTSEAN-Burma). ASEAN is the Association of South East Asian Nations, a regional political and economic bloc.
Global civil society alliance, CIVICUS, has expressed grave concern at Stothard’s arbitrary detention and deportation and said it illustrates the repressive human rights environment in Vietnam. Amnesty International’s Senior Director of Global Operations, Minar Pimple was also barred from entering Vietnam to speak at the WEF meeting.
“By arbitrarily detaining and deporting a representative of a well-respected international human rights organisation, Vietnamese authorities have demonstrated serious disdain for international norms. Such actions weaken Vietnam’s commitment to the sustainable development goals framework which promises respect for fundamental freedoms and support for effective partnerships with civil society,” said Mandeep Tiwana, CIVICUS Chief Programmes Officer.
“The authorities must allow her to participate in the forum without restrictions or reprisals” said Tiwana.
Fundamental freedoms are severely curtailed in Vietnam, with activists, journalists and bloggers routinely arrested and imprisoned under vaguely defined national security laws. Activists also face restrictions on their movement and are subject to surveillance, harassment and violent assaults. Media outlets in Viet Nam are heavily censored and peaceful protesters have faced arbitrary arrests and excessive use of force by the police.
In April 2018, three United Nations experts urged Vietnamese authorities “not to crack down on civil society to muzzle dissenting voices and stifle the people’s rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly and association, in violation of the country’s obligations under international human rights law”.
These restrictions against civil society highlight relentless efforts by the Vietnamese authorities to silence individuals who have critical or dissenting views.
CIVICUS calls on the Vietnam government to immediately stop these actions and unconditionally release all human rights defenders imprisoned for exercising their fundamental rights. The authorities must also end all forms of harassment and intimidation against them.
The CIVICUS Monitor, an online platform that tracks threats to civil society in countries across the globe, has rated the space for civil society in Vietnam is rated as closed.
For more information, please contact:
The passing of the so called “cybercrime law” is another worrisome development for citizens in Egypt, adding another layer to the already repressive freedom of expression situation in the county. Signed by President Abdelfattah al-Sisi in August 2018, the law provides the State with the authority to block websites it deems pose threats to national security or the economy. Administrators and visitors to these sites may face fines and jail times for doing so. The law was passed by Parliament in June 2018.
Over 200 civil society groups have issued a joint letter calling on governments in Latin America and the Caribbean to sign the Escazu Agreement & commit to respect people’s right to participate in environmental decisions! https://t.co/ZUitLDLfXg ｜#Sign4theEnvironment pic.twitter.com/DnKyzdgPtL— Action4SD (@Action4SD) September 13, 2018
Governments across Latin America and the Caribbean can make history and set new standards for protection of the environment and human rights by signing the Escazú Agreement during the upcoming United Nations General Assembly in New York on 27 September.
CIVICUS, the global civil society alliance, is one of 200 organisations who signed to a joint open letter, calling on the heads of state of all 33 countries in the region to ratify the ground-breaking treaty.
“For CIVICUS, the Escazú Agreement is a fundamental tool to address the serious situation faced by environmental defenders in Latin America and the Caribbean, which in recent years has become the most dangerous region in the world for people engaged in campaigns to protect their environment,” said Natalia Gomez, Advocacy and Network Engagement Officer of the Vuka! Coalition.
The open letter calls on governments to sign the agreement and then adopt rapid and effective measures to implement it in their respective countries. It was signed by over 200 global, regional and national organisations that work across Latin America and the Caribbean in fields such as human rights, the environment, development and democracy, including Amnesty International, Greenpeace, Human Rights Watch, Article 19, Front Line Defenders and Global Witness.
Adopted in San José, Costa Rica, by representatives of 24 countries on 4 March 2018, the Escazú Agreement would be the first binding treaty in the region to establish protections for the rights of access to information, public participation and access to justice in environmental matters, as well as enshrining the protection of environmental human rights defenders.
CIVICUS calls on the governments of the 33 countries of Latin America and the Caribbean to sign and ratify the Escazú Agreement and in this way, assume a real commitment to the protection of the civic space and environmental defenders.
All 33 states in Latin America and the Caribbean will have the opportunity to sign the agreement at the UN headquarters in New York from 27 September 2018. At least 11 countries must sign and ratify it by 27 September 2020 for it to come into force.
For more information or to arrange an interview, contact:
PhotoCred: ECLAC - United Nations
Global civil society alliance, CIVICUS, believes the conviction of two journalists employed by global news agency, Reuters, who have been on trial in Myanmar is a dark day for press freedom in Myanmar. The two journalists have been sentenced to seven years imprisonment.
Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo were arrested on December 12, 2017 under the country’s colonial-era Official Secrets Act. The reporters, who were facing up to 14 years imprisonment if convicted, were arrested after being handed documents by police officers during a dinner meeting, that turned out to be secret government documents relating to Myanmar’s western Rakhine state and security forces, according to the country’s Information Ministry.
At the time of their arrest, the journalists, who both pleaded “not guilty” to charges, had been investigating the killing of 10 Rohingya Muslims in Inn Din village in Rakhine during a brutal military crackdown in that state against the Rohingya minority that began last August. During the trial, a police captain, admitted in court that a senior officer had ordered his subordinates to “trap” the journalists by handing them the classified documents. He was subsequently sentenced to a one-year prison term.
In recent months, there have been continued attacks on fundamental freedoms in Myanmar with dozens being arrested and charged for peaceful protests or for exercising their right to freedom of expression.
“We believe the verdict in this trial is a travesty of justice and sends a chilling message to all journalists in the country,” said Clementine de Montjoye, Advocacy and Campaigns Officer at CIVICUS:
“Prosecutions on spurious grounds serve to intimidate local journalists and activists, and this trial is representative of the Myanmar government’s repeated attempts to cover up its actions,” said de Montjove.
“Given the state-sponsored atrocities being committed in Myanmar today, the government’s crackdown on independent investigations and dissent is hardly surprising”.
In an End of Mission report issued in July, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, Yanghee Lee, said “the democratic space in Myanmar continues to sharply deteriorate”. Her report also highlighted concerns about the use of repressive laws to suppress political dissidents, youth, human rights defenders and activists and the arrest of demonstrators around the country.
The CIVICUS Monitor, an online platform that tracks threats to civil society across the globe, has rated civic space in Myanmar as repressed. CIVICUS stands in solidarity with Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo and all Myanmars who work to promote democracy and the protection of fundamental freedoms.
For more information, contact:
Clementine de Montjoye
Paris-Geneva-Manama- For the second time since 2013, the United Nations (UN) Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD) has issued an Opinion regarding the legality of the detention of Mr. Nabeel Rajab under international human rights law. In its second opinion, the WGAD held that the detention was not only arbitrary but also discriminatory. The 127 signatory human rights groups welcome this landmark opinion, made public on 13 August 2018, recognising the role played by human rights defenders in society and the need to protect them. We call upon the Bahraini Government to immediately release Nabeel Rajab in accordance with this latest request.
In its Opinion (A/HRC/WGAD/2018/13), the WGAD considered that the detention of Mr. Nabeel Rajab contravenes Articles 2, 3, 7, 9, 10, 11, 18 and 19 of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights and Articles 2, 9, 10, 14, 18, 19 and 26 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, ratified by Bahrain in 2006. The WGAD requested the Government of Bahrain to “release Mr. Rajab immediately and accord him an enforceable right to compensation and other reparations, in accordance with international law.”
This constitutes a landmark opinion as it recognises that the detention of Mr. Nabeel Rajab – President of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR), Founding Director of the Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR), Deputy Secretary General of FIDH and a member of the Human Rights Watch Middle East and North Africa Advisory Committee – is arbitrary and in violation of international law, as it results from his exercise of the right to freedom of opinion and expression as well as freedom of thought and conscience, and furthermore constitutes “discrimination based on political or other opinion, as well as on his status as a human rights defender.” Mr. Nabeel Rajab’s detention has therefore been found arbitrary under both categories II and V as defined by the WGAD.
Mr. Nabeel Rajab was arrested on 13 June 2016 and has been detained since then by the Bahraini authorities on several freedom of expression-related charges that inherently violate his basic human rights. On 15 January 2018, the Court of Cassation upheld his two-year prison sentence, convicting him of “spreading false news and rumors about the internal situation in the Kingdom, which undermines state prestige and status” – in reference to television interviews he gave in 2015 and 2016. Most recently on 5 June 2018, the Manama Appeals Court upheld his five years’ imprisonment sentence for “disseminating false rumors in time of war”; “offending a foreign country” – in this case Saudi Arabia; and for “insulting a statutory body”, in reference to comments made on Twitter in March 2015 regarding alleged torture in Jaw prison and criticising the killing of civilians in the Yemen conflict by the Saudi Arabia-led coalition. The Twitter case will next be heard by the Court of Cassation, the final opportunity for the authorities to acquit him.
The WGAD underlined that “the penalisation of a media outlet, publishers or journalists solely for being critical of the government or the political social system espoused by the government can never be considered to be a necessary restriction of freedom of expression,” and emphasised that “no such trial of Mr. Rajab should have taken place or take place in the future.” It added that the WGAD “cannot help but notice that Mr. Rajab’s political views and convictions are clearly at the centre of the present case and that the authorities have displayed an attitude towards him that can only be characterised as discriminatory.”
The WGAD added that several cases concerning Bahrain had already been brought before it in the past five years, in which WGAD “has found the Government to be in violation of its human rights obligations.” WGAD added that “under certain circumstances, widespread or systematic imprisonment or other severe deprivation of liberty in violation of the rules of international law may constitute crimes against humanity.”
Indeed, the list of those detained for exercising their right to freedom of expression and opinion in Bahrain is long and includes several prominent human rights defenders, notably Mr. Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja, Dr. Abduljalil Al-Singace and Mr. Naji Fateel – whom the WGAD previously mentioned in communications to the Bahraini authorities.
Our organisations recall that this is the second time the WGAD has issued an Opinion regarding Mr. Nabeel Rajab. In its Opinion A/HRC/WGAD/2013/12 adopted in December 2013, the WGAD already classified Mr. Nabeel Rajab’s detention as arbitrary as it resulted from his exercise of his universally recognised human rights and because his right to a fair trial had not been guaranteed (arbitrary detention under categories II and III as defined by the WGAD).The fact that over four years have passed since that opinion was issued, with no remedial action and while Bahrain has continued to open new prosecutions against him and others, punishing expression of critical views, demonstrates the government’s pattern of disdain for international human rights bodies.
To conclude, our organisations urge the Bahrain authorities to follow up on the WGAD’s request to conduct a country visit to Bahrain and to respect the WGAD’s opinion, by immediately and unconditionally releasing Mr. Nabeel Rajab, and dropping all charges against him. In addition, we urge the authorities to release all other human rights defenders arbitrarily detained in Bahrain and to guarantee in all circumstances their physical and psychological health.
This statement is endorsed by the following organisations:
1- ACAT Germany – Action by Christians for the Abolition of Torture
2- ACAT Luxembourg
3- Access Now
4- Acción Ecológica (Ecuador)
5- Americans for Human Rights and Democracy in Bahrain – ADHRB
6- Amman Center for Human Rights Studies – ACHRS (Jordania)
7- Amnesty International
8- Anti-Discrimination Center « Memorial » (Russia)
9- Arabic Network for Human Rights Information – ANHRI (Egypt)
10- Arab Penal Reform Organisation (Egypt)
11- Armanshahr / OPEN Asia (Afghanistan)
12- ARTICLE 19
13- Asociación Pro Derechos Humanos - APRODEH (Peru)
14- Association for Defense of Human Rights – ADHR
15- Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression – AFTE (Egypt)
16- Association marocaine des droits humains - AMDH
17- Bahrain Center for Human Rights
18- Bahrain Forum for Human Rights
19- Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy – BIRD
20- Bahrain Interfaith
21- Cairo Institute for Human Rights – CIHRS
22- CARAM Asia (Malaysia)
23- Center for Civil Liberties (Ukraine)
24- Center for Constitutional Rights (USA)
25- Center for Prisoners’ Rights (Japan)
26- Centre libanais pour les droits humains - CLDH
27- Centro de Capacitación Social de Panama
28- Centro de Derechos y Desarrollo – CEDAL (Peru)
29- Centro de Estudios Legales y Sociales – CELS (Argentina)
30- Centro de Políticas Públicas y Derechos Humanos – Perú EQUIDAD
31- Centro Nicaragüense de Derechos Humanos – CENIDH (Nicaragua)
32- Centro para la Acción Legal en Derechos Humanos – CALDH (Guatemala)
33- Citizen Watch (Russia)
34- CIVICUS : World Alliance for Citizen Participation
35- Civil Society Institute – CSI (Armenia)
36- Colectivo de Abogados « José Alvear Restrepo » (Colombia)
37- Collectif des familles de disparu(e)s en Algérie - CFDA
38- Comisión de Derechos Humanos de El Salvador – CDHES
39- Comisión Ecuménica de Derechos Humanos – CEDHU (Ecuador)
40- Comisión Nacional de los Derechos Humanos (Costa Rica)
41- Comité de Acción Jurídica – CAJ (Argentina)
42- Comité Permanente por la Defensa de los Derechos Humanos – CPDH (Colombia)
43- Committee for the Respect of Liberties and Human Rights in Tunisia - CRLDHT
44- Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative – CHRI (India)
45- Corporación de Defensa y Promoción de los Derechos del Pueblo – CODEPU (Chile)
46- Dutch League for Human Rights - LvRM
47- European Center for Democracy and Human Rights – ECDHR (Bahrain)
48- FEMED – Fédération euro-méditerranéenne contre les disparitions forcées
49- FIDH, in the framework of the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders
50- Finnish League for Human Rights
51- Foundation for Human Rights Initiative – FHRI (Uganda)
52- Front Line Defenders
53- Fundación Regional de Asesoría en Derechos Humanos – INREDH (Ecuador)
54- Groupe LOTUS (DRC) 55- Gulf Center for Human Rights
56- Human Rights Association – IHD (Turkey)
57- Human Rights Association for the Assistance of Prisoners (Egypt)
58- Human Rights Center – HRIDC (Georgia)
59- Human Rights Center « Memorial » (Russia)
60- Human Rights Center « Viasna » (Belarus)
61- Human Rights Commission of Pakistan
62- Human Rights Foundation of Turkey
63- Human Rights in China
64- Human Rights Mouvement « Bir Duino Kyrgyzstan »
65- Human Rights Sentinel (Ireland)
66- Human Rights Watch
67- I’lam – Arab Center for Media Freedom, Development and Research
69- IFoX Turkey – Initiative for Freedom of Expression
70- Index on Censorship
71- International Human Rights Organisation « Club des coeurs ardents » (Uzbekistan)
72- International Legal Initiative – ILI (Kazakhstan)
73- Internet Law Reform Dialogue – iLaw (Thaïland)
74- Institut Alternatives et Initiatives Citoyennes pour la Gouvernance Démocratique – I-AICGD (RDC)
75- Instituto Latinoamericano para una Sociedad y Derecho Alternativos – ILSA (Colombia)
76- Internationale Liga für Menschenrechte (Allemagne)
77- International Service for Human Rights – ISHR
78- Iraqi Al-Amal Association
79- Jousor Yemen Foundation for Development and Humanitarian Response 80- Justice for Iran
81- Justiça Global (Brasil)
82- Kazakhstan International Bureau for Human Rights and the Rule of Law
83- Latvian Human Rights Committee
84- Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada
85- League for the Defense of Human Rights in Iran
86- League for the Defense of Human Rights – LADO Romania
87- Legal Clinic « Adilet » (Kyrgyzstan)
88- Liga lidských práv (Czech Republic)
89- Ligue burundaise des droits de l’Homme - ITEKA (Burundi)
90- Ligue des droits de l’Homme (Belgique)
91- Ligue ivoirienne des droits de l’Homme
92- Ligue sénégalaise des droits humains – LSDH
93- Ligue tchadienne des droits de l’Homme – LTDH
94- Ligue tunisienne des droits de l’Homme – LTDH
95- MADA – Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedom
96- Maharat Foundation (Lebanon)
97- Maison des droits de l’Homme du Cameroun - MDHC
98- Maldivian Democracy Network
99- MARCH Lebanon
100- Media Association for Peace – MAP (Lebanon)
101- MENA Monitoring Group
102- Metro Center for Defending Journalists’ Rights (Iraqi Kurdistan)
103- Monitoring Committee on Attacks on Lawyers - International Association of People’s Lawyers
104- Movimento Nacional de Direitos Humanos - MNDH (Brasil)
105- Mwatana Organisation for Human Rights (Yemen)
106- Norwegian PEN
107- Odhikar (Bangladesh)
108- Pakistan Press Foundation
109- PEN America
110- PEN Canada
111- PEN International
112- Promo-LEX (Moldova)
113- Public Foundation – Human Rights Center « Kylym Shamy » (Kyrgyzstan)
114- RAFTO Foundation for Human Rights
115- Réseau Doustourna (Tunisia)
116- SALAM for Democracy and Human Rights
117- Scholars at Risk
118- Sisters’ Arab Forum for Human Rights – SAF (Yemen)
119- Suara Rakyat Malaysia - SUARAM
120- Taïwan Association for Human Rights – TAHR
121- Tunisian Forum for Economic and Social Rights – FTDES
122- Vietnam Committee for Human Rights
123- Vigilance for Democracy and the Civic State
124- World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers – WAN-IFRA
125- World Organisation Against Torture - OMCT, in the framework of the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders
126- Yemen Organisation for Defending Rights and Democratic Freedoms
127- Zambia Council for Social Development – ZCSD
For more information, please contact:
Six countries in Asia, Latin America and Africa have been added to a watchlist of countries which have seen an escalation in serious threats to fundamental freedoms in recent weeks and months.
The new watchlist released by the CIVICUS Monitor, an online platform that tracks threats to civil society across the globe, identifies growing concerns in Bangladesh, Maldives, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Guatemala, and Nicaragua. Activists and civil society organisations in these countries are currently experiencing a severe infringement of civic freedoms, as protected by international law.
Violations include brutal attacks by police on peaceful protests in Nicaragua and Bangladesh; the murder of human rights defenders in Guatemala; the killing of protesters and a brutal state campaign against activists and the political opposition in the DRC; and the prosecution of human rights defenders and journalists on fabricated charges in Cameroon, amidst an escalating civil conflict.
“It is deeply concerning to see escalated threats to basic rights in these countries,” said Cathal Gilbert, CIVICUS Civic Space Research Lead.
“It is crucial that these six governments wake up to their failure to respect international law and take swift action to respect their citizens’ most basic freedoms in a democratic society,” Gilbert said.
“We also call upon neighbouring states and international bodies to do put pressure on these countries to end the repression.”
Over the past year, authorities in Bangladesh have used repressive laws to target and harass journalists and human rights defenders, restrict freedom of assembly and carry out the enforced disappearances of opposition supporters. The human rights situation has deteriorated further ahead of national elections scheduled for late 2018. Members of the Bangladesh Chhatra League (BCL), the student wing of the ruling party Bangladesh Awami League (BAL), have attacked student activists, academics and journalists with impunity.
In Nicaragua, at least 300 people have been killed since protests began in April 2018, with hundreds more kidnapped or missing. The demonstrations were initially sparked by regressive changes to the social security system but grew to include calls for President Daniel Ortega to resign in the wake of his brutal repression of peaceful protests. While large-scale marches have subsided in recent days, some continue amid a tense political situation as the Ortega government continues to silence critics despite agreements struck with international bodies, and an undertaking to allow an IACHR investigation into the violence. Attacks on protestors are perpetrated both by state forces and armed groups aligned with the government.
This year, between January and July alone, at least 18 human rights defenders (HRDs) were killed in Guatemala. There were also two assassination attempts and 135 other attacks, with 32 of those aimed at women HRDs. In early August, United Nations Special Rapporteurs issued a statement raising the alarm at the spike in killings in 2018. Reports from Guatemala indicate that the space for civil society has worsened due to land disputes and actions by corporate interests, the source of targeted violence against specific groups of activists.
Despite the announcement that Congolese president Joseph Kabila will not run for a third term, tensions are still high in the DRC, ahead of scheduled elections in December. In recent months, protestors, youth movements, human rights defenders, journalists and the political opposition have all faced widespread state repression, including arrests. In June this year, CSOs and UN Special Rapporteurs expressed serious concerns about a planned new law that would give authorities power to dissolve non-governmental organisations (NGOs) over public order or national security concerns.
In Maldives, a widespread crackdown on dissent began in February 2018 when a court ordered the release of opposition leaders. This decision led to the arbitrary arrest of judges, scores of opposition politicians and activists as well as the use of unnecessary force by police to disperse peaceful demonstrations. There are also documented cases of people being ill-treated in detention. With elections due on 23rd September 2018, civic space is likely to become increasingly contested. Already in May 2018, the Electoral Commission moved to bar four opposition leaders from running in the upcoming presidential elections.
In Cameroon, an escalating conflict in the country’s Anglophone regions between armed separatists and the government has sparked a mounting humanitarian crisis. It began as protests in 2016, resulting in state repression of protests and the arrest and prosecution of protest leaders. The conflict intensified in recent months with killings and human rights violations committed by both sides. At least 100 civilians, 43 security officers and an unknown number of armed separatists have reportedly been killed, according to an International Crisis Group report. NGOs and human rights defenders have also been targeted.
In the coming weeks, the CIVICUS Monitor will closely track developments in each of these countries as part of efforts to ensure greater pressure is brought to bear on governments. CIVICUS calls upon these governments to do everything in their power to immediately end the ongoing crackdowns and ensure that perpetrators are held to account.
For more information, please contact:
Cambodian authorities should immediately drop politically motivated bribery charges against five human rights defenders known as the ADHOC 5 (“FreeThe5KH” in social media campaigns), five international organizations said today. The trial of the five – four current and one former senior staff members of the nongovernmental Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association (ADHOC) – is scheduled for August 27, 2018, after lying dormant for a year. If convicted, each faces between 5 and 10 years in prison.
JOHANNESBURG: Shocking scenes have emerged from Uganda where police and the military have used live ammunition and extreme violence to disperse protestors demanding the release of detained members of parliament and activists following days of political unrest in further signs of growing political intolerance against dissenting voices.
Global civil society alliance, CIVICUS, condemns this use of lethal violence used by security forces and calls on the East African Community to urgently meet and send communication to Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni to immediately ensure the release of arrested political and human rights activists.
Said Teldah Mawarire, CIVICUS Campaigns and Advocacy Officer: “The use of live ammunition to disperse protests is unacceptable under any circumstances and must be condemned by regional leaders. Security forces must cease this action immediately.”
“It goes against the tenets of open and free political participation which Uganda subscribes to as a democracy,”’ said Mawarire.
Following a by-election in Arua Municipality on 15 August 2018, violence erupted resulting in the police shooting and killing Yasin Kawuma, the driver of popular member of parliament Robert Kyagulanyi, popularly known as Bobi Wine. Kyagulanyi and other activists have been held incommunicado and not allowed access to legal representation or visits from family members. Other reports suggest the detainees have been severely tortured and denied access to medical treatment. Another detained member of parliament Francis Zaake was dumped in Rubaga hospital in an unconscious state.
Days after the poll, there were also several arrests of protestors in different parts of the country including Kamwokya and the capital Kampala. Protestors also gathered at the Kenya border in Busia registering displeasure at the recent detentions and demanding the release of Kyagulanyi and other activists. In all cases, the authorities responded either with live ammunition, teargas and assaults on protestors.
Journalists have also not been spared by police brutality. In Arua, journalists Hebert Zziwa and Ronald Muwanga were arrested while reporting live on the unrest. Both were assaulted and detained overnight before being charged with inciting violence and malicious damage to property. They have been released on bail. Journalists were also viciously assaulted by members of the uniformed forces during protests in Kampala on 20 August 2018.
“Impunity remains a cause for concern where perpetrators of incidents of political violence are rarely held to account. An immediate enquiry made up of eminent and independent individuals from the continent, must be established to investigate the torture and loss of life with a view of bringing those responsible to justice,” said Mawarire.
CIVICUS Monitor, an online tool that tracks threats to civil society in all countries, rates the space for civil society in Uganda as “repressed”. Under this rating, civil society and citizens do not fully enjoy their freedoms and those engaging in protest are targeted by the state authorities through arrests, use of live ammunition and arrests.
CIVICUS expresses solidarity with Ugandans demanding the respect of fundamental freedoms and calls on the East African Community and the African Union to urge President Museveni to immediately stop using violence against his citizens, release all those in detention and respect the rule of law.
For more information, please contact:
Land activist and human rights defender Tep Vanny has been unjustly detained for two years, for defending the rights of the Boeung Kak Lake community and her fellow Cambodians. We, the undersigned civil society organisations and communities, condemn her ongoing imprisonment and call on the authorities to immediately and unconditionally release Tep Vanny, drop all dormant criminal charges and overturn any convictions against her, so that she may return to her family and community.
Tep Vanny has fought tirelessly to protect the rights of members of her community following their forced eviction from their homes on Boeung Kak Lake, Phnom Penh, but also those of fellow human rights defenders campaigning for separate causes. As long as she is behind bars, Tep Vanny is prevented from carrying out her peaceful and valuable work.
“We have to share all the benefits of our experience. If we stand up together, we can get justice,” said Tep Vanny. “If the communities join together, we have big power.”
It was during one such peaceful protest that Tep Vanny was arrested on 15 August 2016, challenging the arbitrary detention of four human rights defenders and one election official. On 22 August 2016, she was convicted of ‘insulting a public official’, and sentenced to six days in prison. However, instead of releasing her based on time served, the authorities reactivated dormant charges dating back to a 2013 peaceful protest, later sentencing her to two and half years of imprisonment and a fine of 14 million riels (around $3,500). To date, Tep Vanny’s requests for pardon or early release have all been rejected. Her many trials and appeals have fallen far short of fair trial standards, with the evidence presented failing to meet the burden of proof required to sustain a conviction.
“As a victim of eviction I can guarantee that Tep Vanny did not use any violence or do anything wrong. I would stake my life on that,” said fellow Boeung Kak Lake activist Bov Chhorvy. “The authorities should release her so she can be with her family. Her children and mother need her.”
Her excessively lengthy detention, apart from taking a personal toll, further deprives her two children of a normal childhood, since they only see their mother once a month. Tep Vanny’s mother’s deteriorating health is aggravated by the ongoing unjust treatment of her daughter. The inability to care for her family places an acute psychological burden on Tep Vanny, exacerbated by her detention in one of Cambodia’s worst prisons, where she shares a cell with more than 150 other detainees in squalid conditions. Civil society representatives as well as members of the Boeung Kak Lake community have been frequently turned away when attempting to visit her in prison, further compounding the isolation from friends and family and in violation of the UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners.
We call on the Cambodian authorities to release Tep Vanny immediately and unconditionally, drop all charges and end all criminal investigations against her. This will ensure that she is able to continue her work as a human rights defender, and more importantly reunite with her family and community. Finally, we urge the authorities to cease the intimidation and harassment of Tep Vanny and all other activists through arrests, prosecution and imprisonment.
This statement is endorsed by:
What do a Liberian rapper, an Indian journalism graduate and a young Angolan author have in common?
They are all winners of a global contest that encourages young creatives to imagine the kind of democracy they would like to live in.
Hosted by global civil society alliance, CIVICUS, under the theme, “Re-imagining Democracy: In Search of Silenced Voices”, the Through Arts and Imagination creative arts competition was organised to celebrate International Youth Day on August 12. The aim was to encourage young creative artists to share their vision of what democracy should be and to raise the silenced voices of youth globally.
Contestants submitted entries in three creative arts categories: written arts, which included poems, short stories and essays of 500 words or less; visual arts, which included drawings, paintings, cartoons and photography; and multimedia arts, which included short films of no longer than 2 minutes and songs. Creators had to be under 30 years old to enter.
Prizes for the winners, whose submissions included a song, a poem and a cartoon, include a USD300 cash prize to be donated to a social change organisation of their choice.
Music artist, Amaze, wowed judges with his song promoting voter awareness in his native Liberia, entitled “Know Who To Vote For”.
“I feel democracy should be everybody business,” said Amaze.
“My inspiration was to educate voters to vote right and not base on ethnicity, scholarships, or religious background,” said Amaze.
He was one of 15 finalists and was selected for the best multimedia arts entry from among dozens of entries from across the globe by a panel of judges and almost 1,500 online voters worldwide.
Amaze, whose name is Henry Amazin Toe, started his music career at age 14 in Guinea and is currently a hipco Accountability Ambassador who mentors other underground artists to create music for social change. Hipco is a genre of dance music that blends hip-hop, R&B and traditional Liberian music with lyrics in colloquial dialects spoken in Liberia.
The contest’s the visual arts category winner, Vandita Sariya from India, came out tops for a cartoon, entitled “One” that she says was inspired by a surge in intolerance in society where she lives.
“A wave of pseudo-nationalism is going on in my country, India and people are judging and even killing others for who they are, what they look like, what they eat and what their beliefs are,” said Sariya.
Sariya, who says she plans to donate her prize money to towards children’s education and nourishment, is an emerging creative artist who has been practicing her craft for just six months.
A poem by Angolan author, Cláudia Cassoma – encouraging youth to see themselves as the “master key” to all the solutions they seek – was chosen as the winner of the written arts category.
Cassoma, who has had four books published, says the poem, entitled Chave Mestra" (Portuguese for master key), was inspired by a common attitude she encounters among young people in her country, Angola and globally.
“Today, one thing I hear a lot are complaints by youth about the million things that are wrong with the world while they themselves are doing nothing. Usually, that's the case because they feel they can't do anything,” Cassoma said.
“The piece is a message for youth to reimagine democracy by seeing themselves as the master key, the key to solve any if not all issues we face,” she said.
Said Elisa Novoa, CIVICUS Youth Working Group coordinator: “The aim of this contest was to give a space for young people to express a vision for the kind of democracy they desire. It was also an opportunity to mobilise young creative minds from every corner of the globe, offering a platform to amplify their messages related to the respect of democratic values and social justice.”
“In a world where information is shared with so much hate, discrimination and stigmatisation, we want to enable arts to be a tool to share messages of hope, justice and equality,” said Novoa.
The winning entries will also be featured in CIVICUS’ State of Civil Society Report 2018, to be released in September 2018.
For more information, contact:
CIVICUS Communications team
To the President of Bangladesh,
H.E. Md Abdul Hamid
Bangladesh: Release all those arbitrarily arrested and investigate police abuse
Dear President Hamid,
We are writing to express our concerns about serious violations of civic freedoms perpetrated during recent protests in Bangladesh. We urge your government to take immediate steps to address these issues in accordance with your international human rights obligations.
Our organisations are concerned about reports that police used excessive force, including firing rubber bullets and tear gas on 4th August 2018 to disperse demonstrations in Dhaka which were triggered by the killing of two teenagers by a speeding bus on 29th July 2018. We are also concerned that the government may be covering up the actual death toll and have received information that at least three others students may have also been killed and one critically injured.
Some of the student protesters were also allegedly attacked by members of the Bangladesh Chhatra League (BCL) and Jubo League, the student and youth wing of the ruling Bangladesh Awami League (BAL) party.
More than 20 journalists were attacked, some of whom were later detained briefly by the police. At least four journalists from The Daily Star newspaper were reportedly beaten while at least seven photojournalists were injured in attacks in Jhigatala and Science Lab areas of the city on 5 August 2018. While some attackers wore helmets, the journalists identified some of their attackers as BCL members.
We are also concerned about the arbitrary arrest of scores of individuals around the protest, in particularly Bangladeshi photographer Shahidul Alam who was taken from his home, just hours after he made comments on Al-Jazeera about protests in the city. He was subsequently charged under section 57 of Bangladesh’s Information Communications Technology Act a provision that has been frequently used to bring charges against critics, activists and other dissenting voices in Bangladesh. He has also alleged that he was tortured while in custody. A lawyer in Sirajganj, Sakhawat Hossain Shakil, was also arrested and remanded under Section 57 of the ICT Act on 7th August for allegedly sharing anti-government posts and expressing solidarity with safe road protesters on Facebook.
At least 22 protesters were remanded in police custody for two days and five are facing charges under Section 57 of the Information and Communication Technology Act. Some were allegedly tortured or ill-treated in custody. They are now detained in prison as the courts have rejected the applications for bail.
In the last few months, our organisations have also documented attacks by the BCL against students protesting the civil service quota system, which reserves 30 percent of government jobs for children of freedom fighters from Bangladesh’s Liberation War in 1971. Academics and journalists supporting them have also been targeted. Some student activists were subsequently detained and charged. At least six are languishing in jail and according to their lawyers were allegedly tortured in police custody.
The arrest and charging of peaceful protesters and allegations of torture and ill-treatment, clearly contravene Bangladesh obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment. Our organisations also believe that the violent actions of the police at these protests are inconsistent with international human rights standards on the use of force such as the United Nations Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement, and that the failure to take appropriate measures to prevent and punish harm caused by private actors, such as the BCL, also contravenes Bangladesh’s international human rights obligations.
Many of the issues above were also raised at the Human Rights Council during Bangladesh’s recent Universal Periodic Review in May 2018, and received support from your government. Protecting civic freedoms is also part of Bangladesh’s commitments under Agenda 2030 and these violations highlight that the country is failing abysmally to meet targets set under Sustainable Development Goal 16 on promoting peaceful and inclusive societies, and particularly target 16:10 to “protect fundamental freedoms, in accordance with national legislation and international agreements”.
Therefore, we urge your government to take the following steps as a matter of priority:
We express our sincere hope that you will consider and implement these recommendations.
David E. Kode
, Advocacy and Campaigns Lead
Ichal Supriadi , Secretary General, Asia Democracy Network (ADN)
Basil Fernando, Director, Policy and Programme, Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC)
Henri Tiphagne , Executive Director, People’s Watch
Mathew Jacob , National Coordinator, Human Rights Defenders Alert – India (HRDA)
John Samuel, Executive Director, Forum Asia (Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development)
A global human rights group has called for police and ruling party supporters to be held accountable for their violent responses to peaceful student protests in Bangladesh. Thousands of students protesting poor road safety have been targeted with excessive force by police and brutal attacks reportedly from the student wing of the ruling party.
JOHANNESBURG: The Southern African Development Community (SADC) should urge Zimbabwean authorities to show restraint and respect of the rule of law in the wake of a violent crackdown on post-election protests.
Global civil society alliance, CIVICUS, is calling on SADC to engage Zimbabwe on its response to protesters who express dissatisfaction with the administration of the July 30 general elections.
At least six people were killed and many more injured when security forces used live ammunition against protesters in the capital Harare, as the country awaited the results of the historic vote. Riot police and military in armoured vehicles swept through the streets, targeting bystanders and forcing others to shutter businesses and return home. Several journalists covering the event were intimidated and forced to stop working.
On August 4, riot police dispersed a press conference organised by the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) in the capital, Harare. Before that, police raided MDC headquarters, arresting party members and charging them with inciting and engaging in political violence. Most are currently being held in Harare’s notorious Chikarubi Maximum Security Prison. Security forces have intimidated the political opposition and ordinary citizens, arresting supporters of the MDC. Some have been abducted and others have gone into hiding. The army is also harassing, under the cover of darkness, activists it suspects of leading the organization of protests.
The release of the results of the 30 July elections and the actions of the army and riot police have brought back traumatic memories of decades of repression suffered by Zimbabweans, under the regime of ousted president Robert Mugabe.
“The use of live ammunition against unarmed civilians can never be justified,” said David Kode, CIVICUS Campaigns and Advocacy lead.
“As responsible neighbours and stakeholders of peace in the region, SADC leaders should send a clear message to Zimbabwean authorities to act with integrity and respect the rule of law including exercise of fundamental freedom.”
The 30 July elections were expected to usher in a new era of democratic governance in Zimbabwe after the military coup in November 2017 but the post elections crisis has led to uncertainty and demonstrated that the military continues to cast an ominous shadow over politics. Zimbabwean authorities invoked the restrictive Public Order and Security Act to enable the armed forces intervene.
The right to freedom of expression, association and assembly is enshrined in the Zimbabwean constitution. SADC should call on the government and security forces to exercise restraint and respect these fundamental rights of citizens including the right to assemble peacefully.
CIVICUS Monitor, an online tool that tracks threats to civil society in all countries around the world, rates the space for civil society in Zimbabwe as “repressed.”
For more information, please contact:
CIVICUS, the global civil society alliance and its partners Asia Democracy Network (ADN), Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC), Forum Asia, Instituto de Comunicación y Desarrollo (ICD), West African Human Rights Defenders Network, Experts for Security and Global Affairs Association, Balkan Civil Society Development Network (BCSDN), European Civic Forum (ECF) and International Partnership for Human Rights (IPHR) call on the Singapore government to drop contempt charges against human rights activist, Jolovan Wham for his comments on social media criticising the judiciary. Our organisations believe the charges brought against him are politically motivated, aimed to suppress his freedom of expression.
Legitimacy of upcoming #Cambodia elections questioned as Hun Sen has narrowed democratic space by cracking down on opposition & journalists & attempting to silence #civilsociety https://t.co/qDWesXp3cS| @prakchanthul @SuySe1 @HannahEP @EmmaRichards85 @asiatimesonline @mongster pic.twitter.com/Xz0WtxWVNt— CIVICUS (@CIVICUSalliance) July 26, 2018
The assault on civic freedoms in Cambodia has narrowed the democratic space in the country and raises serious questions about the legitimacy of the 29 July elections. Over the last year, monitoring by the CIVICUS Monitor shows how the authorities have outlawed the leading opposition party, shutdown or arbitrarily interfered with media outlets, introduced laws to restrict and silence civil society and jailed its critics.
CIVICUS & @karapatan call for immediate & unconditional release of all detained #humanrights defenders & development workers, & for authorities to investigate & prosecute police & military members responsible for this gross abuse of power https://t.co/bc18CrukSq pic.twitter.com/6CSbnxV2M6— CIVICUS (@CIVICUSalliance) July 11, 2018
The arrests of 13 activists and church development workers in the Philippines is part of an ongoing campaign by the government of President Rodrigo Duterte to intimidate and silence human rights defenders, say global and local rights groups.
Global civil society alliance CIVICUS and local rights organisation, Karapatan are calling for authorities to drop all charges against and immediately release all the activists who were arrested on July 4 in the southern city of General Santos.
Philippines National Police (PNP) members and military personnel raided a meeting of the Iglesia Filipino Independiente-Visayas Mindanao Regional Office for Development (IFI-VIMROD) and presented three arrest warrants, none of which corresponded with any participants gathered. Regardless, the entire group was arrested and fabricated charges of obstruction of justice were filed against 11 defenders, who were later released on bail, while charges against the remaining two remain unknown.
Among those arrested were Teresita Naul, Karapatan National Council member for Northern Mindanao; Aldeem Yanez of Iglesia Filipino Independiente (IFI); Datu Jomorito Guaynon, Kalumbay Regional Lumad Organisation chairperson; Ireneo Udarbe, of the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas; Vennel Chenfoo, previously of the Kabataan Partylist; Kristine Cabardo of the League of Filipino Students; and Roger Plana, an IFI-VIMROD volunteer.
“The arrests are symptomatic of an ongoing drive by the regime in Philippines to silence human rights defenders and representatives of civil society,” said David Kode, CIVICUS Campaigns and Advocacy lead.
Since the declaration of martial law on May 23, 2017 on spurious grounds, Karapatan has documented the arbitrary arrests of almost 1,000 people on the island of Mindanao. Some 95 of them remain detained. The actions of the Philippines’ current administration and armed forces is an assault on people’s rights and civil liberties, aimed at pressuring human rights defenders to self-censor.
CIVICUS and Karapatan also urge the authorities to investigate and prosecute police and military members responsible for this gross abuse of power.
CIVICUS Monitor, an online tool that tracks threats to civil society in all countries, has rated civic space in the Philippines as ‘Obstructed’.
For more information, please contact:
Karapatan Secretary General
+63 917 316 2831
Johannesburg, 3 July 2018 – What does democracy mean to you? How are youth in your community putting democracy into action? What do you see as threats to democracy today? What does your ideal democracy look like?
‘Through Arts and Imagination’ is a global contest seeking bold and original creative arts submissions – music, poetry, art, multimedia – that present youth perspectives on Re-imagining Democracy. To celebrate International Youth Day on 12 August 2018, the Youth Working Group at CIVICUS, a global civil society alliance, would like to create space for the voices of silenced youth to be heard. CIVICUS wants to provide an opportunity for youth to express a vision of democracy reimagined. You will not only get the chance to make your voice heard by a global audience, but you will also get a chance to help a cause of your choice!
“In a world in which our democracy and fundamental freedoms are under increasing threat, a world where the voices of young people are silenced and marginalised, we believe that it is up to this generation to re-imagine the democracy we want to live in,” said Elisa Novoa, of the CIVICUS Youth Working Group.
The Symposium hopes to showcase pieces that present what democracy means to you – what it looks like and feels like in everyday life. We want to see that democracy is about more than just putting a ballot in a box, but instead involves actions such as: organizing, thinking and writing, working alongside others, protesting, expressing solidarity, being part of a community, and engaging locally. You are also welcome to submit your ideas and dreams about a democracy that is true to its name – ‘rule by the people’ – and how you imagine it would play out in your community.
The Youth Day Creative Symposium has three submission categories:
The submission must relate to the overall theme of Re-Imagining Democracy. Submissions should present your views and feelings on the current state of democracy and your views, as a young person, on rethinking and rebuilding it.
Your submission should relate to one of the following sub-themes:
In order to submit a piece in this contest participants and submissions must fulfill the criteria below:
*Consideration will be given to ensure gender, ethnic and religious diversity of contestants.
 2018 Creative Symposium partners might be able to provide a physical space to run this workshop in their cities.
 Participants will select in their registration form an organisation contributing towards the solution of their selected cause to donate their prize if their poem, song or short story is selected in the top 3.
Johannesburgo, 3 de julio de 2018 - ¿Qué significa para ti la democracia? ¿Cómo están poniendo en práctica la democracia los jóvenes en tu comunidad? ¿Qué consideras que supone una amenaza a la democracia de hoy en día? ¿Cómo es tu democracia ideal?
'Through Arts and Imagination' es un concurso internacional que busca recoger piezas artísticas, originales y creativas, de música, poesía, arte y/o multimedia, en las que se muestre el punto de vista de la juventud en torno al tema Re-imaginar la democracia. Para celebrar el Día Internacional de la Juventud el 12 de agosto de 2018, el grupo de trabajo sobre la juventud de CIVICUS, la alianza global de la sociedad civil, desea crear un espacio para que se escuchen las voces de las personas jóvenes que están siendo silenciadas. CIVICUS quiere brindar una oportunidad para que los jóvenes expresen su visión sobre cómo re-imaginar la democracia. No solo tendrán la oportunidad de hacer que sus voces sean escuchadas por un público internacional, ¡sino que también tendrán la oportunidad de contribuir con la causa que elijas!
"En un mundo en el que nuestra democracia y nuestras libertades fundamentales están siendo amenazadas constantemente, un mundo donde las voces de los jóvenes están siendo silenciadas y marginadas, creemos que nos corresponde a nuestra generación volver a imaginar la democracia en la que queremos vivir" dijo Elisa Novoa, del grupo de trabajo sobre la juventud de CIVICUS.
El encuentro espera mostrar diferentes piezas que expresen qué significa la democracia para los jóvenes: cómo se ve y cómo se siente en la vida cotidiana. Queremos hacer visible que la democracia es algo más que poner una papeleta en una caja, que incluye acciones como: organizar, pensar, escribir, trabajar de manera colaborativa, protestar, expresar solidaridad, formar parte de una comunidad e involucrarse a nivel local. Del mismo modo, podrán enviarnos sus propuestas acerca del significado mismo de democracia (gobierno de la gente), y de la manera en que se muestra en su comunidad.
El encuentro creativo del Día Internacional de la Juventud se divide en tres categorías:
La presentación debe estar relacionada con el tema general Re-Imagining Democracy (Re-imaginar la democracia). Las presentaciones deberán expresar sus opiniones y sentimientos sobre el estado actual de la democracia y sus puntos de vista, como persona joven, sobre el replanteamiento y la reconstrucción de la misma.
Su presentación deberá estar relacionada con uno de los siguientes subtemas:
Para enviar una pieza en este concurso, las personas participantes y sus presentaciones deben cumplir los siguientes criterios:
* Se tendrá en consideración el equilibrio de diversidad de género, etnia y religión de las/los participantes.
[i] Los colaboradores del Encuentro 2018 pueden proporcionar un espacio físico para la realización de este taller en sus ciudades.
[ii] Los participantes seleccionarán, en el formulario de registro, una organización que contribuya con la causa seleccionada para donar su premio, en caso de que su obra sea seleccionada entre los 3 primeros.
Johannesburg, 3 juillet 2018 - Que signifie la démocratie pour vous? Comment les jeunes mettent-ils la démocratie en pratique dans votre communauté? Que considérez-vous comme une menace pour la démocratie aujourd'hui? Comment est votre démocratie idéale?
'Through Arts and Imagination' est un concours international qui vise à collecter des morceaux artistiques, originaux et créatifs de musique, de poésie, d'art et/ou de multimédia, dans lesquels le point de vue de la jeunesse est présenté autour du thème Ré-imaginer la démocratie. Pour célébrer la Journée internationale de la jeunesse, le 12 août 2018, le groupe de travail de la jeunesse de CIVICUS, l'alliance mondiale de la société civile, veut créer un espace pour que les voix des jeunes qui sont réduites au silence soient entendues. CIVICUS veut donner l'opportunité aux jeunes d'exprimer leur vision sur la manière de ré-imaginer la démocratie. Non seulement ils auront l'occasion de faire entendre leur voix auprès d'un public international, mais ils auront aussi l'occasion de contribuer à la cause qu’ils choisissent !
"Dans un monde où notre démocratie et nos libertés fondamentales sont constamment menacées, un monde où les voix des jeunes sont réduites au silence et marginalisées, nous croyons qu'il appartient à notre génération de ré-imaginer la démocratie dans laquelle nous voulons vivre" a déclaré Elisa Novoa, du groupe de travail des jeunes de CIVICUS.
La réunion espère montrer différentes oeuvres qui expriment ce que la démocratie signifie pour les jeunes: à quoi ça ressemble et comment il se sent dans la vie quotidienne. Nous voulons montrer que la démocratie est plus qu'un simple bulletin de vote, qui comprend des actions telles que: organiser, penser, écrire, travailler en collaboration, protester, exprimer sa solidarité, faire partie d'une communauté et s'impliquer au niveau local. De la même manière, vous pouvez nous envoyer vos propositions sur le sens même de la démocratie (gouvernement du peuple) et la façon dont il est montré dans votre communauté.
La réunion créative de la Journée internationale de la jeunesse est divisée en trois catégories:
La présentation devrait être liée au thème général Re-Imagining Democracy (Ré-imaginer la démocratie). Les présentations doivent exprimer leurs opinions et sentiments sur l'état actuel de la démocratie et leurs points de vue, en tant que jeunes, sur la façon de la repenser et de la reconstruire.
Votre présentation doit être liée à l'un des sous-thèmes suivants:
Pour envoyer une pièce dans ce concours, les participants et leurs présentations doivent répondre aux critères suivants:
* L'équilibre entre la diversité des sexes, l'ethnicité et la religion des participants sera pris en considération.
[i] Les collaborateurs de la Réunion 2018 peuvent fournir un espace physique pour la réalisation de cet atelier dans leurs villes.
[ii] Les participants sélectionneront, dans le formulaire d'inscription, une organisation qui contribue avec la cause sélectionnée pour faire don de leur prix, dans le cas où leur travail est sélectionné parmi les 3 premiers.
It is with a mix of sadness and appreciation that the CIVICUS Board of Directors announces that Dhananjayan Sriskandarajah will be stepping down from his role as Secretary General at the end of 2018. Since joining the Secretariat team in January 2013, Danny has played a critical role in the development and success of the alliance.
One of the notable successes of the past 5 and a half years has been the invaluable cooperative working relationship between the Board, Secretary General, and Secretariat Staff, through a period of dynamic growth.
“We cannot thank Danny enough for the dedication, passion, enthusiasm and motivation he has given CIVICUS alliance over the past 5 and half years. He will be missed by the staff, Board, members and partners alike,” said Anabel Cruz, Chair of the Board. “However, we are confident that working closely with the Secretariat staff and management team, we will have a smooth transition. Our priority now is to find an exemplary leader to carry out our mandate with passion, to live our values, to help us generate collective creativity and courage through our many relationships to achieve true systemic change in our world.”
“It will have been six fabulous, fruitful, fulfilling years at CIVICUS. It has been a real privilege working not just with amazing colleagues inside the Secretariat, but also with the inspiring people who have been part of our board over the years, and the ever-growing alliance of members and partners around the world,” Danny reflected.
“However, the time has come for me to step aside and for CIVICUS to have some fresh leadership to take it through the next stages of the alliance’s development,” he added. “With a wonderful board, a great staff team and stable finances, everything is in place for a smooth transition.”
“Conditions for us as citizens to organise and mobilise in some ways are getting worse, but my reflection after these five and a half years is that the world needs civil society more than ever before,” Danny advises. “It needs us to be bold, to be creative, to push the boundaries and to push for systematic change. One of the most inspiring things about this role is that we work in this alliance with people who are doing just that - who are standing up in defending civic freedoms, who are coming up with new ways of channeling citizen voice, and of challenging power.”
Over the next few months, the CIVICUS board will oversee the search and selection of the next Secretary General. The incoming Secretary General will play a leading role in empowering civil society and citizen action, at a critical moment for civil society. The Board has said it is looking for a disruptive change leader, an inspirational visionary with a courageous voice who can defend civic freedoms and democratic values, strengthen the power of people to organise, mobilise and take action, and empower a more accountable, effective and innovative civil society.
CIVICUS has engaged Macaulay Search to assist with the recruitment process and full details of the job description and selection process can be found here:
A new proposed policy by the government of Nepal would further curtail the work of international and national non-governmental organisations (NGOs) operating in the country by tightening the state’s control over them.
President Muhammadu Buhari
Aso Villa, Yakubu Gowon Crescent,
The Three Arms Zone, Asokoro,
Abuja, FTC, Nigeria
Dear President Muhammadu Buhari,
We at the Committee to Protect Journalists, a non-profit organization that champions press freedom internationally, and 18 other organizations, are writing to call for the release of journalist Jones Abiri, who has been held by Nigeria's Department of State Security (DSS) for nearly two years, and to call for DSS to be held accountable for its attacks against journalists in Nigeria.
We were disappointed that, after repeated requests during CPJ's visit to Nigeria in April 2018, we were not permitted to visit Abiri in detention. In a meeting with CPJ on April 24, 2018, Garba Shehu, your presidential spokesperson, confirmed that Abiri remained in DSS custody and said he would be charged in court on allegations of being a militant. Yet after almost two years behind bars, Abiri has not seen a courtroom, nor has his family been given any information about his health and well-being.
The DSS operates under Nigeria's coordinator of national security, which reports directly to you, according to the 1986 National Security Agencies Act. During a visit to State House in April, Garba Shehu also told CPJ that you would be made personally aware of Abiri's ongoing detention. We therefore call for your swift action to ensure Abiri's release and that those responsible for his prolonged and illegal detention are held accountable.
In February and March 2018, the DSS also arrested Tony Ezimakor, the Abuja bureau chief of the privately owned Daily Independent newspaper. CPJ documented Ezimakor's week-long detention without charge or court appearance, during which the DSS threatened the journalist with terrorism charges for his reporting.
Over the last two years, CPJ has repeatedly tried to contact Lawal Musa Daura, director general of the DSS, and Gbeteng Bassi, director of operations of the DSS, without success. Nigerian journalists have similarly told CPJ, with dismay, that they are unable to reach the DSS for comment, regarding the arrest of their colleagues or otherwise. During the same April 2018 meeting with CPJ, Garba Shehu confirmed that the DSS has not designated anyone responsible for communicating with the Nigerian public. We urge you to improve accountability and make the DSS accessible to the press. This includes the appointment of a DSS spokesperson.
Your action to ensure the safety of journalists and the promotion of open dialogue through the press is made even more important because Nigeria will hold elections in February 2019. Around the world, CPJ has documented how attacks on journalists have escalated during election periods and other political processes. It is in this context that we urge you to take decisive action to ensure that journalists are free to report on matters of public concern, and that a culture of self-censorship does not cloud public decision-making processes. As part of this, Abiri should be released without delay.
Committee to Protect Journalists
Shu'aibu Usman Leman
Nigerian Union of Journalists
Wade H. McMullen, Jr.
Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights
Human Rights Concern - Eritrea
Head of Advocacy and Campaigns
Community Empowerment for Progress Organization, South Sudan
Caucasus Civil Initiatives Center (CCIC)
Association For Human Rights In Ethiopia (AHRE)
Asociación por la Democracia y los Derechos Humanos
Melanie Sonhaye Kombate
Programs and Advocacy Director
West African Human Rights Defenders Network (ROADDH/WAHRDN)
Metro Center for Journalists Rights & Advocacy
Alphonsus B.M. Gbanie
Human Rights Defenders Network- Sierra Leone
Founding Executive Director and Board Member,
Nigeria Network of NGOs
Amnesty International - Nigeria
Karapatan - Philippines
Odhikar - Bangladesh
Media Foundation for West Africa
CIVICUS, the global civil society alliance
“The USA did not engage in the Human Rights Council under the Bush administration and only returned under the Obama Administration. The Council survived then and it will survive now. The worrying part is that global power dynamics have shifted significantly since then and with the US withdrawal, the vacuum will certainly be filled by Russia and China who have not demonstrated commitment to advancing the human rights discourse. This could negatively impact on Council priorities. Democratic states committed to protecting and promoting human rights will need to show increased commitment to safeguarding human rights norms.”
“Once again President Trump is showing his complete disregard for the fundamental rights and freedoms the US claims to uphold. While the Human Rights Council is by no means perfect and its membership is frequently under scrutiny, it remains an important force for accountability and justice.
“The US should urgently reverse this decision, which places it squarely on the wrong side of history. It is wilfully choosing to undermine the human rights of all people everywhere, and their struggles for justice.”
International Commission of Jurists
"The withdrawal of the United States from the United Nations Human Rights Council is unlikely in itself to have much impact on the Council, or human rights in the world. The real issue is the Trump administration's broader rejection of multilateralism and rule of law (international or otherwise), and how it acts in practice, both at home and abroad.”
International Service for Human Rights (ISHR)
"The withdrawal of the US is deeply regrettable. The constructive engagement of States with a genuine commitment to human rights and the rule of law is essential for peace, security and sustainable development."
‘While the Human Rights Council is far from perfect, it makes a significant contribution to protecting human rights, providing justice to victims, and promoting accountability for perpetrators."
"The Trump administration decision to turn its back on the UN's top human rights body is childish, hypocritical, and self-defeating. Today, only the enemies of human rights, some of whom sit on the Council, are pleased.
“Nature abhors a vacuum, and the same goes for multilateral fora. While the US will lose voice and influence, China, Russia, Egypt will likely try and assert greater control over the Human Rights Council's agenda and dynamics."
Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies
"By withdrawing the US put appeasement of Israel before the need to protect and support those struggling for human rights and democracy around the world."
Football is the world’s most popular sport, played on all continents, by girls and boys and women and men of all ages. For many, it is an invaluable outlet for expression, for joining together with others and for collectively enjoying the outdoors. Even in the world’s most repressive countries, football is a thriving sport. However, for people who also want to express themselves, assemble and associate in other ways, or promote causes or ideas with which the authorities in their country disagree, the world is not such a welcoming place. These graphics show how teams competing at the FIFA World Cup in Russia fare when assessed on their respect for the freedoms of association, peaceful assembly and expression. On this evidence, minnows Iceland come out on top, while favorites Brazil languish near the bottom. The graph below also shows that there are several countries - including Russia, Egypt, Iran and Saudi Arabi - which implement widespread or systematic repression of their citizens are taking part in this year's tournament.
See how the 32 competing countries compare by visiting the World Cup section of the CIVICUS Monitor, which is an online research tool that tracks and rates civic space scores across all countries.
One month after a horrific massacre of protesters in the occupied Palestinian territory, global civil society alliance, CIVICUS is urging accountability for the unacceptably high levels of lethal violence employed by Israeli security forces against demonstrations.
Since 30 March 2018, when Palestinians launched a protest campaign against forced evictions, the denial of their right to return to their occupied territories and the relocation of the US embassy to Jerusalem, more than 120 protestors have been killed including children, journalists and health personnel. In addition, more than 12 000 Palestinians have been wounded. On May 14, the deadliest day of the protests, more than 61 Palestinians including 8 children were shot and killed by Israeli forces and nearly 3 000 were wounded in Gaza.
Despite the decision by the UN Human Rights Council on 18 May 2018 to dispatch an independent commission of inquiry to investigate violations of international human rights and humanitarian law, Israeli forces are continuing to use unnecessary, indiscriminate and disproportionate force against protesters. This includes exploding bullets, which are designed to inflict maximum damage, in a calculated attempt to kill, maim and inflict serious bodily harm on Palestinian protesters. Palestinian civil society representatives are being prevented from travelling abroad including to UN bodies to expose the atrocities being committed by Israeli forces.
Said Mandeep Tiwana, CIVICUS’ Chief Programmes Officer: “We all bear responsibility for not doing enough to demand an end to the atrocities committed by Israeli security forces.”
“Silence from some states and overt support for Israeli forces’ actions by others is emboldening them to act with impunity and cause massive suffering to the Palestinian community,” said Tiwana.
As Israeli authorities wilfully ignore calls from the international community to exercise restraint against Palestinian protestors, CIVICUS urges civil society around the world to urge their governments to speak out against continuing attacks on Palestinian protesters, demand an end to impunity by Israeli forces and support the commission of inquiry mandated by the UN Human Rights Council to investigate violations in the context of the large scale civilian protests in the occupied Palestinian territory.
For more information, contact:
CIVICUS y @CoordinadoraCC exigen al presidente de #Nicaragua— CIVICUS (@CIVICUSalliance) June 12, 2018
el cese inmediato de la violencia contra las protestas pacíficas que se están desarrollando en el país desde el pasado mes de abril. https://t.co/7ykjPAlGgXhttps://t.co/gYrWnYXA6k
La alianza global de la sociedad civil CIVICUS y la Coordinadora Civil de Nicaragua hacen un llamamiento al gobierno de Nicaragua para que detenga la violencia contra las personas que se manifiestan de manera pacífica y para que respete su derecho a manifestarse libremente y de forma pacífica. Después de 54 días de protesta, 135 personas han sido asesinadas, más de 1000 han resultado heridas y 400 detenidas. Mientras tanto, estas personas manifestantes piden al presidente Daniel Ortega que renuncie.
5 June 2018
General Prayut Chan-o-cha
Pitsanulok Road, Dusit
Bangkok 10300, Thailand
Re: Concerns regarding arrest and prosecution of peaceful protesters
Dear Prime Minister,
We are writing to you with regards to the recent arrest and charging of pro-democracy activists for their participation in a peaceful protest in Bangkok on 22 May 2018, the fourth anniversary of the military coup in Thailand. These individuals were part of a group of hundreds of protesters who were calling for an end to military rule and for elections to be held by November 2018, in line with commitments previously made by your government.
Joint open letter from @article19asia @adn2013seoul and @CIVICUSalliance calling on the #Thailand PM to drop all the charges against the pro-democracy activists involved in the 22 May protests, repeal restrictive laws and take steps to restore democratic rule pic.twitter.com/igDMyLGSZz— Josef Benedict (@josefroy2) June 5, 2018
15 individuals were arrested on the day of the protest and subsequently charged with various offences including violations of Penal Code Sections 116 (sedition), 215 (assemblies leading to “breach of the peace”) and 216 (refusal to disperse). They are also facing charges under Article 12 of the Head of the NCPO Order No. 3/2558, which prohibits “political gatherings of five or more persons”, the Road Traffic Act, and the Public Assembly Act.
On 24 May, after being detained for two nights, the 15 activists were brought to the Bangkok Criminal Court and granted bail of 100,000 Thai Baht per person (approximately USD 3,100). The court also imposed restrictions prohibiting the activists from organising or participating in further protests.
On 29 May, authorities issued summons to at least 47 additional individuals present during the protest, including a staff member from Thai Lawyers for Human Rights who was on hand to monitor the event. This group of individuals will learn the nature of the charges they face when they report to a Bangkok police station on 7 June.
The arrest and charging of the protesters clearly contravene Thailand’s obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), as do the restrictions placed on the future activities of these individuals.
After four years of military rule in Thailand, government authorities continue to arbitrarily arrest, detain and prosecute peaceful protesters and government critics under an array of laws including those used to charge the 22 May protesters as well as the Computer Crimes Act and Penal Code provisions relating to defamation and offenses against the monarchy. Many pro-democracy activists are subject to charges in multiple criminal cases concerning their protest activities and could face decades of imprisonment, if convicted.
By limiting political activities, curbing public gatherings, monitoring private communications, and stifling public discourse on matters of national interest, authorities are unjustifiably restricting the rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly. Moreover, these actions have created a fearful environment in which people cannot freely express their opinions, criticize public authorities, or peacefully assemble without risking arrest and prosecution. These human rights violations are taking place in the context of the Thai government’s repeated failure to fulfil promises to hold elections and restore democratic norms.
Therefore, we urge Thai authorities to take the following steps as a matter of priority:
We express our sincere hope that you will consider and support these recommendations. We would be happy to discuss these matters with you or other appropriate officials at any time and offer our support in reforming laws and policies to ensure compliance with international human rights law and standards.
David E. Kode Soo Yon Suh Matthew Bugher
Advocacy & Campaigns Lead Program Manager Head of Asia Programme
CIVICUS Asia Democracy Network ARTICLE 19
To Permanent Representatives of Member and Observer States of the United Nations Human Rights Council, Geneva, Switzerland
Ahead of the 38th session of the UN Human Rights Council (“HRC” or “the Council”), we write to you as a cross-regional group of non-governmental organizations to share our serious concerns over the systematic, widespread and gross human rights violations that continue to be committed with impunity in Eritrea.
We urge your Government to support and co-sponsor at the upcoming session a streamlined resolution that accurately reflects the gravity of the situation on the ground, renews the mandate of the Special Rapporteur under the Council’s agenda item 4, and sets out a framework for needed reforms to improve the human rights situation in the country and advance accountability.
At the Council’s last regular session, during an enhanced interactive dialogue on Eritrea held in March 2018, Deputy UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Kate Gilmore noted:
“In 2016, the Commission of Inquiry on Eritrea found reasonable grounds to believe that crimes against humanity, namely, enslavement, imprisonment, enforced disappearance, torture, other inhumane acts, persecution, rape and murder, had been committed since 1991. The Commission noted that despite the State’s increased engagement with the international community, there was no evidence of progress in the field of human rights. I regret to report that this state of affairs remains unchanged.”
In her most recent statement to the Council, the UN Special Rapporteur on Eritrea, Sheila B. Keetharuth, similarly detailed violations pertaining to the right to life, including deaths in custody for which responsibility “falls squarely on Government authorities,” the right to liberty and security of the person, freedom from arbitrary arrest and detention, freedoms of expression, assembly and association, and freedom of religion or belief, including the harassment, mistreatment, torture and detention of members of unrecognized religions. These continuing violations present a systematic character, meaning, in the words of the Special Rapporteur, that “they cannot be the result of random or isolated acts by the authorities” and that they occur in a country ruled “not by law, but by fear.”
Since Eritrea was first considered by the Council, the Government has refused to cooperate with the mechanisms the Council set up, including the Special Rapporteur and the Commission of Inquiry (CoI). At the March 2018 enhanced interactive dialogue, Eritrea was not present to take the floor as the concerned country.
Eritrea’s cooperation with other international bodies, mechanisms or agencies has been extremely selective. While the Government recently invited the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) for a short-term technical assistance mission, the Deputy High Commissioner underlined that “the test of the merits of our engagement with Eritrea – like Eritrea’s commitments at the international level – lies in whether or not they produce concrete human rights improvements for the people of Eritrea.” She concluded that there had been no measurable progress to date.
Eritrea has consistently denied UN Special Procedures, including the country-specific Special Rapporteur, access to the country. At the time of writing, pending visit requests by Special Procedures included requests from the Special Rapporteurs on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment (request in 2005; reminders in 2007 and 2010); freedom of religion or belief (request in 2004; reminders in 2005 and 2006); extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions (request in 2010); the right to food (request in 2003); and freedom of opinion and expression (request in 2003; reminders in 2005 and 2015).
Eritrea has also attacked, intimidated and threatened human rights defenders and independent UN experts, including the Special Rapporteur and members of the CoI. When the latter presented their report in 2015, they noted that “[they] were followed in the streets and in [their] hotels and vilified in blogs on line where the words of [their] report have been twisted and misquoted.” The Commission’s Chair added: “Of course this is trivial compared to the day to day experience of people in Eritrea itself, but it is indicative of a determination on the part of the authorities to control anyone they perceive as a critic.”
The gravity, scale and nature of the continuing violations call for justice. Victims, including those who live inside the country and those who have fled it, deserve redress. As domestic avenues for such redress are non-existent, the international community must continue to act with a view to ending the generalized impunity that prevails in the country. The Deputy High Commissioner reminded the Council that, as advised by the Special Rapporteur, there could be “no sustainable solution to the refugee outflows until the Government complied with its human rights obligations.”
In view of the ongoing crimes under international law and violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms committed in Eritrea, the Special Rapporteur’s mandate remains an indispensable mechanism to advance the protection and promotion of human rights in the country. The mandate holder continues to fulfil an invaluable role by monitoring the dire situation in the country, shining a light on violations, providing a crucial platform to help amplify the voices of victims, and offering Eritreans an opportunity to find long-lasting solutions for the respect of their human rights.
Consistent with its mandate to address situations of violations of human rights, including gross and systematic violations, the Human Rights Council should continue to address the situation in Eritrea. We urge your delegation to actively support and co-sponsor a resolution that:
We thank you for your attention to these pressing issues and are available to provide your delegation with further information as required.
Asian Legal Resource Centre
Central Africa Human Rights Defenders Network (REDHAC)
Christian Solidarity Worldwide
Citizens for Democratic Rights in Eritrea (CDRiE)
DefendDefenders (the East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project)
Eritrean Diaspora in East Africa
Eritrean Lowland League
Eritrean Law Society
Eritrean Movement for Democracy and Human Rights
FIDH (International Federation for Human Rights)
Human Rights Concern – Eritrea
Human Rights Institute of South Africa (HURISA)
Human Rights Watch
International Fellowship of Reconciliation
International Service for Human Rights
Reporters Without Borders
Southern Africa Human Rights Defenders Network (SAHRDN)
West Africa Human Rights Defenders Network (WAHRDN/ROADDH)
 www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=16731&LangID=E The Special Rapporteur herself has faced personal attacks during an interactive dialogue that was held in June 2017, when she was referred to as a “naked Empress with no clothes” and was accused of carrying out a witch-hunt against Eritrea. See www.amnesty.org/en/documents/ior40/8032/2018/en/
 See footnote 1 above.
Two months after 26 civil society activists were arrested in peaceful demonstrations against a new finance law in the capital, Niamey, Oxfam and Amnesty International are joining with eight NGOs to call on the authorities of Niger to ease the situation by releasing the detainees and bring an end to the prosecutions.
The upcoming CIVICUS State of Civil Society Report, to be published in September 2018, will focus on the special theme of ‘Reimagining Democracy’. The publication will explore the current state of democratic practices, the contemporary trends that are having an impact on them, and civil society initiatives to respond to major democratic challenges and reinvent democracy from the ground up. As with previous reports, we are seeking to collaborate with and hear the views of a wide range of civil society activists, leaders, experts and stakeholders.
This is where you come in: we want your thoughts on the situation of and perspectives on democracy in your context, your stories about civil society action in connection to our theme, and your ideas about what civil society can do to reimagine, rebuild and project democracy into the future. Through your submissions, we hope to be able to view our theme from a variety of different angles in order to get as complete an nuanced a picture as possible.
Submissions will be published in a dedicated section of our website and will help inform our final report.
This is an open call for submissions, and anyone who has a story to share that is in one way or another related to the theme is welcome to participate.
We will receive short written submissions (ideally of up to 1,500 words) on a specific aspect of the theme. Submissions should preferably focus on a practical case study of civil society experience and response. We are particularly looking for case studies that focus on innovative and creative responses to the challenges and limitations of current democratic practices.
We would like to collect the widest possible range of experiences of legitimate democratic expressions - of the many ways in which ‘people power’ can express itself. We are taking a broad view of democracy, beyond elections, encompassing a variety of democratic practices at every level. Please feel free to present your working definition of democracy as you frame your issue and tell your story.
Key questions for submissions to address may include:
Submissions may be made by individuals or organisations, and may be written in English, French, Portuguese or Spanish. We encourage the submission of audio-visual material and photos alongside written submissions.
All submissions received will be published, provided they show a clear relation to the theme, highlight examples of civil society action, and are consistent with CIVICUS’ core values and principles, as articulated in our 2017-2022 Strategic Plan. We may edit submissions before publication for house style and consistency of language usage, but will correspond with authors if substantive changes are suggested.
About the theme
Our theme. ‘Reimagining Democracy’, comes as a response to the various challenges to democratic practices observed in country after country around the world. These include personal presidential rule and challenges to the rule of law, pushback by the politically powerful against the expression of democratic dissent, public dissatisfaction with contemporary democratic practice, restrictive definitions of citizenship leading to the exclusion of many people, and the rise of extreme and polarising political movements.
Seeking to move beyond pessimism, our main focus will be on the responses of civil society to defend, rebuild and deepen democracy – to reimagine democracy. We will highlight examples of successful practice in reimagining democracy, as well as the challenges encountered in responding, and make a series of practical recommendations on how civil society actions to reimagine democracy can be nurtured and strengthened.
Possible topics as part of this theme include:
In the lead up to the 14th general elections in Malaysia on 9 May, CIVICUS interviewed the Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (Bersih 2.0 which means "clean" in Malay). The coalition - made up of like-minded civil society organisations - was officially launched in 2006 with the objective of campaigning for clean and fair elections in Malaysia.
Among its eights demands include: cleaning the electoral roll; reforming postal balloting; the use of indelible ink; a minimum 21 days campaign period; free and fair access to media for all political parties; strengthening public institutions to act independently and impartially in upholding the rule of law and democracy and halting corruption and dirty politics.
Since 2007, it has organized five massive street protests to the have drawn tens of thousands of people to protest on the streets of Kuala Lumpur and other parts of the country calling for electoral and national reform. Smallers protests have also been held in different countries across the world. Ahead of these mass rallies Bersih 2.0 organisers have been arrested or harassed by the authorities and authorities have seized their computers, mobile phones and documents.
Over the last month, Bersih 2.0 raised concerns about the redelineation of constituencies which was done in haste in favour of the ruling government, highlighted problems with the overseas postal voting system, publicized vote buying by candidates and the manipulation and abuse of power by the Election Commission (EC) on Nomination Day
More information on Bersih 2.0 can be found at https://www.bersih.org
STATEMENT / More than 300 national and international NGOs condemn the violent repression of the demonstrations held in Nicaragua against the #INSS reforms: https://t.co/XAoeFpMceT #SOSNicaragua #FuerzaNicaragua— IM-Defensoras (@IM_Defensoras) April 27, 2018
We hereby condemn the violent repression of the demonstrations held in Nicaragua against the Social Security reforms, and we demand respect for the legitimate right to protest of Nicaraguan women and men
Daniel Ortega, President of the Republic of Nicaragua.
Rosario Murillo, Vice President of the Republic of Nicaragua.
We, 323 undersigned national, diverse regional and international organizations and networks, hereby condemn the violent repression of the demonstrations held in Nicaragua against the Social Security reforms, and we demand respect for the legitimate right to protest of Nicaraguan women and men.
Since Wednesday the 18th April, organizations, networks and human rights defenders in Nicaragua have been documenting and denouncing multiple violations of the right to hold peaceful protests, that include: murders, disappearances, arbitrary detentions, physical aggressions; the use of stones, sticks, rubber bullets, and tear gas; threats, acts of intimidation and the infringement of the right to information; in the context of the demonstrations that were organised in response to the Government’s imposition of the Social Security reforms that involve cuts of 5% in pensions, as well as other measures that affect the fundamental rights of Nicaraguan women and men.
As has been verified, these attacks are being perpetrated by State security forces that repress the population with excessive use of force, and by groups of civilians linked to the Juventud Sandinista (Sandinista Youth Movement) who are acting with total impunity, and with the complicity and consent of the police, causing outbreaks of violence that have already claimed the lives of at least 40 people.1
Another matter of grave concern are the violations of the right to freedom of expression, manifested in the theft of journalists' professional equipment, assaults and acts of intimidation during repressive actions and the shutting down of the transmission, through digital cable service, of 100% Noticias, channel 12 and channel 23 that were covering the protests.
These attacks violate the right to freedom of assembly and to peaceful association, the right to freedom of opinion and expression of the Nicaraguan people, and their right to defend the social rights that are threatened by the Social Security reforms that the Government seeks to impose.
This situation is not an isolated case; in recent times, numerous acts have been documented that infringe the right to social protest - by restricting people’s freedom of movement, through campaigns of criminalization, threats and harassment against organizations and human rights’ defenders, or through the closure of communication spaces, and many other actions that threaten democracy and the human rights of Nicaraguan women and men.
In the light of the above, we, the organizations and individual signatories to this letter, demand the following actions from the Nicaraguan State:
1. Abogadas y Abogados para la Justicia y los Derechos Humanos
2. Abriendo Camino A.C.
3. Académicas en Acción Critica
4. Acción Solidaria
5. ACCSI Acción Ciudadana Contra el SIDA
6. Agrupación Ciudadana por la Despenalización del aborto - El Salvador
7. AIETI Asociacion de Investigación y Especialización sobrecTemas Iberoamericanos
8. Aireana, grupo por los derechos de las lesbianas. Asunción. PARAGUAY
9. Akahata A.C.
10. Alianza Latinoamericana y Caribeña de Juventudes
11. Alianza Regional por la Libre Expresión e Información
12. American Jewish World Service
13. Americas Program, Center for International Policy
14. Amigas en Consejos de Desarrollo AMICODE
15. AMUMRA - Asociación Civil de Derechos Humanos Mujeres Unidas Migrantes y Refugiadas en Argentina
16. ANC- Peru
17. Andrea Kraybill Art
20. Arte para Sanar
21. Articulação de Mulheres Brasileiras
22. Asamblea Feminista de Madrid
23. Asistencia Legal por Derechos Humanos A.C.
24. Asociación Andaluza por la Solidaridad y la Paz (ASPA)
25. Asociación Bolivarianos Diversos
26. Asociación Cepres
27. Asociación Ciudadana ACCEDER
28. Asociación Ciudadana por los Derechos Humanos de Argentina
29. Asociacion Civil De Mujeres Resilientes
30. Asociación Civil Magdalenas Puerto Madryn
31. Asociacion de Mujeres Salvadoreñas en Accion del Barrio San Jacinto AMSAB-SJ
32. Asociación de jóvenes feministas Ameyalli, El Salvador
33. Asociación Educativa Barbiana
34. Asociación Entre Amigos LGBTI de El Salvador
35. Asociación Interamericana para la Defensa del Ambiente, AIDA (Regional)
36. Asociacion Interpueblos-Cantabria-España
37. Asociación para una sociedad más justa
38. Asociación para una vida mejor (Apuvimeh)
39. Asociación Paz y Esperanza
40. ASOCIACIÓN PRO DEFENSA DE LA CUENCA DEL RÍO JUAN DÍAZ
41. Asociación Pro Derechos Humanos de España
42. Associação brasileira de defesa da mulher da infância e da juventude
43. ATTAC Roanne
44. AvanzaFem AC
45. Balance Promoción para el Desarrollo y Juventud, México
46. Beso Diverso
47. Bilboko Bilgune Feminista
48. BILGUNE FEMINISTA (Euskal Herria-Pais Vasco)
49. Bordamos Feminicidios (México)
50. Both ENDS
51. Brigada UNE
52. Calala Fondo de Mujeres
53. Campaña 28 de Septiembre - Guatemala
54. Campaña Convención DSYDR Peru
55. Campo A.C.
56. Canas Dignas
57. Capital Humano y Social Alternativo - CHS Alternativo
59. Católicas por el Derecho a Decidir - España
60. Católicas por el Derecho a Decidir – México
62. Centro de Acción y Defensa por los Derechos Humanos - Cadef
63. Centro de análisis, formación e iniciativa social, CAFIS A.C.
64. Centro de Derechos de Mujeres CDM
65. Centro de Derechos Humanos de la Montaña Tlachinollan
66. Centro de Derechos Humanos de la Universidad Católica Andrés Bello (CDH-UCAB)
67. Centro de Derechos Humanos de la Universidad Metropolitana (CDH-UNIMET)
68. Centro de Derechos Humanos Fray Francisco de Vitoria OP, A.C. (México)
69. Centro de Derechos Humanos Fray Matías de Córdova (Chiapas, México)
70. Centro de Documentación en Derechos Humanos "Segundo Montes Mozo S.J." (CSMM)
71. Centro de Estudios e Investigación sobre Mujeres
72. CENTRO DE ESTUDIOS HUMANISTAS - Costa Rica
73. Centro de estudios y capacitación familiar. Cefa
74. Centro de Iniciativas para la Cooperación Batá (CIC Batá)
75. Centro de Investigación para la Prevención de la Violencia en Centroamérica – CIPREVICA
76. Centro de Investigaciones para la Equidad Política Pública y Desarrollo, CIPE.
77. Centro de Sanación, Formación e Investigación Transpersonal Q'anil
78. Centro Documentación e Información Bolivia-CEDIB-
79. Centro Hermanas Mirabal de Derechos Humanos A.C.
80. Centro Para el Desarrollo Integral de la Mujer
81. Centro para la Paz y los DDHH de la Universidad Central de Venezuela
82. Centro por la Justicia y el Derecho Internacional (CEJIL)
83. Cepaz - Centro de Justicia y Paz
85. CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation
86. Civilis Derechos Humanos
87. CLADEM ARGENTINA (Comité de América Latina y el Caribe para la Defensa de los Derechos de las Mujeres)
88. CLADEM Bolivia
89. Cladem Nicaragua
90. Coalicion Todas
92. Codice, Jalisco
93. Colectiva Actoras de Cambio
94. Colectiva Amorales
95. Colectiva Ciudad y Género AC
96. Colectiva con Letra F (México)
97. Colectiva Chancha Negra
98. Colectiva de Mujeres de Masaya
99. Colectiva Femimista
100. Colectiva Sororidad Glocal
101. Colectivas lesbicas
102. Colectivo de Abogados "José Alvear Restrepo" (Ccajar), Colombia
103. Colectivo de Mujeres de Matagalpa Nicaragua
104. Colectivo de Mujeres Sobrevivientes Siempre Resistentes – Chile
105. Colectivo de Trabajadoras y Trabajadores Sociales de Honduras (CTS-H)
106. Colectivo de Trabajadores y Trabajadoras de Honduras
107. Colectivo Estudiantil Pro Derechos Humanos del Centro de Investigación y Docencia Económicas
108. Colectivo Josefa Lastiri
109. Colectivo para la Participación de la Infancia y Juventud
110. Colectivo PSG
111. Colectivo Trans del Uruguay
112. Colectivo Utopía Puebla
113. Collectif Guatemala
114. Comisión de Derechos Humanos de Ica
115. Comisión Nacional de Derechos Humanos del Estado Monagas de la Federación de Colegios de Abogados de Venezuela
116. Comité Ambiental en Defensa de la Vida (Colombia).
117. Comité de América Latina y el Caribe para la Defensa de los Derechos de las Mujeres (CLADEM)
118. Comité de America Latina y el Caribe para la Defensa de los Derechos Humanos de las Mujeres (CLADEM- Mexico)
119. Comité por los derechos humanos en América latina (CDHAL)
120. Comunidad de familiares y amigos por los Derechos Humanos de la Diversidad Sexual COFADHIS
122.Concertación Interamericana de Derechos Humanos de las Mujeres
123.Consejo de Mujeres Cristianas
124. Consejo tiyat tlali
125. Consorcio para el Diálogo Parlamentario MX
126. Consorcio para el Diálogo Parlamentario y la Equidad Oaxaca AC
127. ControlaTuGobierno, A.C.
128. CONVERGENCIA DE LAS CULTURAS - Costa Rica
129. Convite A.C.
131. Coordinación de Mujeres del Paraguay
132. Coordinadora 28 de Mayo - Guatemala
133. Coordinadora Estatal de Organizaciones Feministas
134. Coordinadora Nacional de Derechos Humanos - Perú
135. Coordinadora Norte Tierra y Libertad - Costa Rica
136. Córdoba Solidaria
137. Count Me In! Consortium
138. Cuerpas Creando Comunidad
139. Cuerpas Sin Reglas
141. Defiende Venezuela
142. Derechos Humanos
143. Ditsö- Costa Rica
144. Ecologistas en Acción (España)
145. Elige Red de Jóvenes por los Derechos Sexuales y Reproductivos AC
146. Ellas por la igualdad AC
147. Epistemologías del Sur: Red de pensamiento crítico, respecto de los derechos humanos, la dinámica educativa y el territorio
148. Equidad de Género, Ciudadanía, Trabajo y Familia
149. Equipo de Reflexión, Investigación y Comunicación de la Compañía de Jesús en Honduras
150. Escritorio Juridico Gutierrez Ceballos
151. Espacio DESCA
152. Espacio Público - Venezuela
153. Espiral hacia la Igualdad
154. Estancia del Migrante González y Martínez, A.C. (Querétaro, México)
155. Estudiantes por una Política Sensata de Drogas, Costa Rica.
156. EXCUBITUS derechos humanos en educacion.
157. Existir al caminar A.C.
158. Feministas en Marcha - Puerto Rico
159. Feministas Independientes
160. FIA capitulo Venezuela Seccional Anzoategui
161. Fondo Apthapi Jopueti Bolivia
162. Fondo CAMY
163. Fondo de Acción Urgente para América Latina y el Caribe FAU-AL
164. FONDO LUNARIA MUJER COLOMBIA
165. Foro de Jóvenes con Liderazgo AC
166. Free Press Unlimited
167. FRENTE COOPERATIVO Y DE ECONOMÍA SOCIAL - Costa Rica
168. Frente por los Derechos Igualitarios
169. FRIDA | The Young Feminist Fund
170. FRONT LINE DEFENDERS
173. Fundación Acceso
174. Fundación Arcoiris por el respeto a la diversidad sexual.
175. Fundación CAUCE, Cultura Ambiental - Causa Ecologista. Paraná. Argentina
176. Fundación Colectivo Hombres XX, A. C.
177. Fundacion PANIAMOR
178. Fundación para el Debido Proceso (DPLF)
179. Fundacion para el Desarrollo Comunitario-FUNDECOM
180. Fundación para el Desarrollo de la Libertad Ciudadana
181. Fundación salvadoreña por la diversidad sexual de la Mano Contigo
183. Global Fund for Women
184. Grupo de Accion Comunitaria. Madrid. Estado Español
185. Grupo de Educación Popular con Mujeres A.C.
186. Grupo Visión Nocturna Uruguay
187. Guatemala citizen
188. Guatemaltecas por la Defensa del Estado Laico (GDEL)
190. Iacta Sociojuridica SCCLP
192. IMDEC AC
193. INCIDIR, A.C.
194. Ingeniería Sin Fronteras Aragón
195. Iniciativas de Cooperación Internacional para el Desarrollo
196. Institute on Race, Equality and Human Rights
197. Instituto Caribeño de Derechos Humanos (ICADH)
198. Instituto de Enseñanza para el Desarrollo Sostenible
199. Instituto Sur Andino de Investigación y Acción Solidaria-ISAIAS
200. IRC WASH
202. JASS-JUST ASSOCIATES/ASOCIADAS POR LO JUSTO
203. Jóvenes Voceras y Voceros en DSDR, El Salvador.
204. Juntos por la Vida
205. Justice and Peace Netherlands 206.Kallpachay Suyu. Ambiente y cultura.
207. Kentucky Interfaith Taskforce on Latin America and the Caribbean
208. La Cabaretiza AC
209. La Casa Mandarina AC
210. LA COMUNIDAD PARA EL DESARROLLO HUMANO - Costa Rica
211. Laboratorio de la Máscara
212. Las Reinas Chulas cabaret y derechos humanos A.C.
213.Lesbocolectivo las Resueltas
214. LeSVOZ, AC
215. Los siempre sospechosos de todo
216. Mama Cash
217. Maquila Solidarity Network
218. MARCHA CENTROAMERICANA POR LA PAZ Y LA NO VIOLENCIA
219. Margens Clínicas - São Paulo/ Brasil
220. Marxa Mundial de Dones
221. Memoria de mujeres
223. Movimiento Autónomo de Mujeres de Nicaragua
224. Movimiento de Mujeres de Chinandega
225. Movimiento de Mujeres de Santo Tomás
226. Movimiento de Mujeres Visitación Padilla
227. Movimiento Migrante Mesoamericano
228. Movimiento Vinotinto
229. Mujer Ideas Desarrollo e Investigación
230. Mujer y salud en Uruguay MYSU
231. Mujeres Ambientalistas, El Salvador.
232. Mujeres de Izabal
233. Mujeres de Negro Rosario – Argentina
234. Mujeres Integradas en el Oeste de Rosario Argentina
235.Mujeres Trabajadoras Unidas, A.C
236. MUNDO SIN GUERRAS Y SIN VIOLENCIA - Costa Rica
237. Ni Una Menos
239. Observatorio Etico Caribe y América Central – Obetica
240. Observatorio Ético Internacional – OBETI
241. Observatorio Venezolano de Conflictividad Social (OVCS)
243. OFICINA JURIDICA PARA LA MUJER
244. OMCT - Organización Mundial Contra la Tortura
245. Organización de Mujeres Tierra Viva
246. OTRANS ARGENTINA
247. Otros Mundos A.C./Amigos de la Tierra México
248. Paro Internaciónal se Mujeres, Polonia
249. Partido Feminista de España
250. PARTIDO HUMANISTA - Costa Rica
251. Perifèries del Món
252. Pikara Magazine (País Vasco-España)
253. Plataforma Interamericana de Derechos Humanos, Democracia y Desarrollo PIDHDD
254. Plataforma Internacional contra la Impunidad
255. Plataforma Salvadoreña de juventudes
257. Please remove signature of Kentucky Interfaith Taskforce
258. Presencia y Palabra: Mujeres Afroperuanas
260. Profesionales católicos - Piura - Perú
262. PROMEDEHUM (Venezuela)
263. Radio Stereo Vos
265. Reacción Climática - Bolivia
266. Red Con Las Amigas Y En La Casa
267. Red de Activistas Ciudadanos por los DDHH
268. Red de Ambientalistas Comunitarios de El Salvador RACDES
269. Red de la No Violencia contra las Mujeres - REDNOVI
270. Red de mujeres contra la violencia
271. Red de salud de las Mujeres Latinoamericanas y del Caribe
272. Red Internacional de Migración y Desarrollo
273. Red Latinoamericana y Caribeña de Jóvenes por los Derechos Sexuales RedLAC
274. Red Nacional Coincidir
275. Red Nacional de Defensoras de Derechos Humanos en Honduras
276. Red Para la Infancia y la Adolescencia de El Salvador (RIA)
277. Red Solidaria de Derechos Humanos A.C. (Michoacán, México)
278. REDLAMYC Red latinoamericana y caribeña que lucha por los derechos de niñas niños y adolescentes
280. Refugee and Immigrant Fund (RIF)
282. RESURJ Realizando la Justicia Sexual
283. Revista SIC del Centro Gumilla
284. Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights
285. Roma National Center from Moldova
286. Schone Kleren Campagne
287. Schumacher College
288. Sector de Mujeres
289. Seguridad en Democracia (SEDEM)
290. Semillas de Nuestra Tierra, AC
291. Sol de primavera
292. Sombrilla Costa Rica
293. SOS Corpo- Instituto Feminista para a Democracia - Recife/ Pernambuco -Brasil
294. Spatium Libertas AC
296. St Williams church
297. Stichting Lleca (Holanda)
298. Strajk Kobiet Polonia
299. SURKUNA - Centro de apoyo y protección de derechos humanos
300. Sursiendo, Comunicación y Cultura Digital AC
301. Swefor Guatemala
302. Tequio jurídico
303. Todas Mx
304. Trabajadora del retail
305. Transparencia Venezuela
306. Uganda Youth Alliance For Family Planning And Adolescents Health -UYAFPAH
307. Unidad de Protección a Defensoras y Defensores de Derechos Humanos - Guatemala (UDEFEGUA)
308. Unidas Somos Tendencia
309. Union global por la democracia
310. Unión Latinoamericana de Mujeres ULAM
312. Universidad de la Tierra en Puebla
313. Urgent Action Fund- Latin America and the Caribbean
314. UXU EMAKUMEEN TALDEA
315. Vecinas Feministas por la Justicia Sexual y Reproductiva en América Latina y el Caribe
316. Voces de mujeres, historias que transforman
317. Voces Mesoamericanas, Acción con Pueblos Migrantes A.C.
318. WECF International
319. Witness for Peace
320. WO=MEN Dutch Gender Platform
321. WOLA (Washington Office on Latin America)
322. Women Advocacy and Development Initiative (WADI)
323. Women Strike Polonia
Conditions for human rights defenders and journalists in Bangladesh are dire, and appear to be worsening according to the CIVICUS Monitor. A declining respect for democracy has precipitated the closure of civic space through a systematic clampdown on independent dissent. This intensifying crackdown on civil society has led to a de facto ban on public meetings, mass arrests of activists and reports of abductions and torture. Civil society actors documenting human rights violations perpetrated by the government are particularly vulnerable to harassment, intimidation and arbitrary arrest.
The authorities in Bangladesh continue to target civil society, most recently through draconian legislation designed to undermine the sector's independence. In October 2016, parliament passed an amendment to the widely-criticised Foreign Donations (Voluntary Activities) Regulation Bill (FDRB). The law strengthens the government's power to revoke CSO licenses for a variety of offences, including defamation, involvement in subversive activities and terrorist financing. The Digital Security Bill placed in Parliament is yet another attempt to stifle freedom of expression in Bangladesh and impede independent journalism. See full details of the Security bill in a joint leter below to the Prime Minister of Bangladesh:
.@forum_asia, @humanrightsasia & @CIVICUSalliance issue joint open letter to #PrimeMinister of #Bangladesh, Sheikh Hasina Wazed, to express concern proposed #DigitalSecurity Bill will restrict #FreedomOfExpression & promote #selfcensorship https://t.co/dIJgA3IiZo pic.twitter.com/FVJbU4eVmG— FORUM-ASIA (@forum_asia) April 24, 2018
H.E. Sheikh Hasina Wazed
Prime Minister of Bangladesh
c/o Md. Nojibur Rahman
Principal Secretary to the HPM
Prime Minister’s Office
Dear Prime Minister,
Open Letter: Proposed Digital Security Bill will restrict free expression and promote self-censorship in Bangladesh
FORUM-ASIA, the Asian Human Rights Commission and CIVICUS (World Alliance for Citizen Participation) are writing to you, as civil society organisations, to express our grave concern about the implications of the proposed Digital Security Bill 2018 on the right to freedom of expression of the citizens of Bangladesh.
We understand that the draft bill was presented before the parliament and was sent to a Standing Committee on 9 April 2018 and is expected to be reviewed over the next four weeks.
We believe the 2018 Digital Security Bill contains provisions that are overly broad and vague, and that impose disproportionate sentences and prescribe lengthy prison sentences for violators. The bill, if adopted, will exacerbate a range of legal restrictions that will impinge on the right to freedom of expression guaranteed in the Constitution and the country’s obligations under international law, in particular the ICCPR, which was ratified by Bangladesh in 2000.
We are particularly concerned about the follow aspects of the bill:
We are concerned that, according to reports, although the draft bill is currently under consideration in parliament, cases filed under section 57 of the ICT Act will continue to be investigated and if necessary, prosecuted.
Section 57 of the ICT Act violates the right to freedom of expression by both criminalising legitimate forms of expression and through its vague wording that allows the authorities to arbitrarily and abusively apply the law. Scores of journalists have been arrested under section 57 of the Act for their reporting; around 700 cases have been filed under this Section since 2013. The provision has also been described as a “de facto blasphemy law”, as it criminalises several forms of online expression including anyone who “causes to hurt or may hurt religious belief”.
In 2017, the Human Rights Committee in its concluding observations raised concerns about the arrest of journalists, “secular bloggers” and human rights defenders under the ICT Act and called for the government to “repeal or revise the [ICT law] with a view to bringing it into conformity with the State party’s obligations under the Covenant, taking into account the Committee’s general comment No. 34 (2011) on the freedoms of opinion and expression”.
We are also highly concerned by the government's lack of meaningful consultation regarding the bill with key stakeholders including journalists, civil society and the human rights community. We urge the government of Bangladesh to prioritise a collective review of the proposed Digital Security Bill to bring it in line with international human rights law and standards and to repeal Section 57 of the ICT Act. The government must ensure that any future legislative proposals that have implications for the media or civil society are developed in full consultation with all stakeholders.
Freedom of expression is of critical importance to hold those in power accountable. There should be no limitations on the freedom of expression and personal opinion, particularly those that systematically violate democratic spaces and practices.
It is crucial that the government takes steps to develop an enabling environment for freedom of expression in line with international standards and end its willful misuse of restrictive legislation to subvert free speech.
The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) works towards the radical rethinking and fundamental redesigning of justice institutions in order to protect and promote human rights in Asia. Established in 1984, the Hong Kong based organisation is a Laureate of the Right Livelihood Award, 2014.
CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation is a global alliance of civil society organisations and activists dedicated to strengthening citizen action and civil society throughout the world. Headquartered in Johannesburg, South Africa it is a membership alliance with more than 4,000 members in more than 175 countries.
FORUM-ASIA is a regional human rights group with 58 member organisations in 19 countries across Asia. FORUM-ASIA has offices in Bangkok, Jakarta, Geneva and Kathmandu. FORUM-ASIA addresses key areas of human rights violations in the region, including freedoms of expression, assembly and association, human rights defenders, and democratization.
For further details, contact:
The sentencing of the six activists yesterday for peacefully expressing their opinions, illustrates the Vietnam authorities’ utter contempt for freedom of expression, said global civil society alliance, CIVICUS.
The six, linked to the Brotherhood for Democracy, include prominent human rights lawyer Nguyen Van Dai, who was sentenced to 15 years imprisonment. Van Dai, arrested in 2015, is the co-founder of the Vietnam Human Rights Committee and a pro-democracy activist. He has provided legal assistance to citizens who have faced human rights violations committed by the government and members of religious minorities, and has faced judicial harassment.
Others also received equally harsh sentences. Nguyen Trung Ton and Truong Minh Doc, 12 years imprisonment; Nguyen Van Bac Truen, 11 years imprisonment; Le Thu Ha, nine years imprisonment and Nguyen Van Troi, seven years imprisonment.
The activists were all charged under Article 79 of the Penal Code for ‘attempting to overthrow the state ‘and sentenced after a one-day summary trial.
“The convictions of these activist after a sham trial is a slap in the face of justice. It demonstrates the ruthless determination of the authorities to crush all forms of dissent in Vietnam and to silence peaceful critics. CIVICUS calls for the verdict to be quashed and for the immediate and unconditional release of all of them” said David Kode, Advocacy & Campaigns Lead.
Fundamental freedoms are severely curtailed in Vietnam with activists, journalists and bloggers routinely arrested and imprisoned under vaguely defined national security laws. Media outlets are heavily censored and peaceful protesters have faced arbitrary arrests and excessive use of force by the police. Jailed activists have also been transferred to remote prisons, thousands of kilometers from their families.
In February 2018, the UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of expression, said ‘he was deeply concerned by the increasing number of arrests and the detention of rights activists and journalists covering issues of public relevance in Vietnam.’
“Vietnam has ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which protects the right to freedom of opinion and expression. The authorities must comply with its obligations and halt the harassment, arbitrary arrest and prosecution of activists and bloggers for peacefully carrying out their activities to promote and protect human rights.”
Civic space in Vietnam is rated as closed by the CIVICUS Monitor, a tool that tracks the state of civil society in all countries.
In a letter to the Ethiopian Prime Minister-designate, a coalition of over 40 civil society organisations express their concern regarding the recent arrests of journalists and human rights defenders
State of emergency in #Ethiopia: 11 journalists & human rights defenders arrested as new Prime Minister appointed. Civil society groups call for immediate release https://t.co/0TjpANemCc pic.twitter.com/e9QKqCQeIO— CIVICUS (@CIVICUSalliance) March 30, 2018
To: Prime Minister-Designate, Dr. Abiy Ahmed Ali
Cc: Abadula Gemeda, Speaker of the House of Peoples’ Representative
The undersigned international, regional and national human rights and development organisations write to express our grave concern over the recent arrest of 11 Ethiopian journalists, bloggers and political opposition leaders amid a new crackdown on fundamental freedoms. Such measures undermine the Ethiopian government's international human rights obligations as well as recent political commitments to initiate an era of widespread democratic political reform. As you assume your position as Prime Minister, we urge the Ethiopian Government to immediately and unconditionally release all human rights defenders, political activists and journalists, including the 11 individuals detained this week.
On 25 March 2018, Ethiopian police and security forces arrested journalists Eskinder Nega and Temesgen Desalegn, Zone9 bloggers Mahlet Fantahun, Befekadu Hailu, blogger Zelalem Workaggnhu and political activists Andualem Arage, Addisu Getinet, Yidnekachewu Addis, Sintayehu Chekol, Tefera Tesfaye and Woynshet Molla.
The arrests were carried out while the defenders were attending a private meeting in Addis Ababa at the home of journalist Temesgen Desalegn. The private gathering was held in recognition of the recent release of thousands of political prisoners amidst ongoing and widespread protests against political marginalisation and land grabbing in the Oromia and Amhara regions which began in late 2015. The eleven are currently being held at Gotera-Pepsi Police Station in Addis Ababa.
Days earlier on 8 March, authorities arrested Seyoum Teshome, a prominent blogger and university lecturer. Teshome, who is a frequent contributor to Ethiothinkthank.com and was detained for three months under the previous State of Emergency, is currently being held in the notorious Maekelawi Prison in Addis Ababa.
While the authorities have not publicly indicated if charges will be brought against the defenders, under the February reinstatement of the national State of Emergency, groups and individuals must seek permission from the Command Post to host public gatherings.
Prior to their release in February, several of the defenders had previously been imprisoned for periods ranging from two to seven years in relation to their legitimate work as journalists, bloggers and political activists. Eskinder Nega and the Zone9 Bloggers are recipients of international awards celebrating their contribution to independent journalism and human rights.
The arrests follow the declaration of a national State of Emergency on 16 February by the Cabinet for a period of six months. The State of Emergency includes a number of draconian and overbroad provisions. Among other worrying violations of fundamental democratic freedoms, the State of Emergency imposes a blanket ban on all protests, the dissemination of any publication deemed to “incite and sow discord” including those who criticise the State of Emergency, and allows for warrantless arrest.
Such measures are contrary to international human rights law and the Ethiopian Constitution and are counter-productive to peace and security. The invocation of the State of Emergency criminalises dissent and persecutes human rights defenders, protesters and journalists.
We urge the government of Ethiopia to: (i) immediately release all human rights defenders, political opponents and journalists detained for exercising their legitimate rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly; (ii) end all forms of harassment against journalists and all citizens with critical views on national matters and; (iii) review and amend the State of Emergency to ensure that any limitations on fundamental rights are in line with international human rights obligations.
African Law Foundation (Nigeria)
Association for Progressive Communications (APC)
Asia Democracy Network (ADN)
Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA)
Asian Legal Resource Center (ALRC)
Association for Human Rights in Ethiopia (AHRE)
The Article 20 Network
Balkan Civil Society Development Network (BCSDN)
Caucasus Civil Initiatives Center
Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL)
CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation
Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ)
Commonwealth Human Right Initiative (CHRI)
DefendDefenders (East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project)
Endorois Welfare Council (Kenya)
Ethiopia Human Rights Project (EHRP)
Front Line Defenders
Global Participe (Republic of the Congo)
International Civil Society Centre
International Service for Human Rights
JOINT - Ligas de ONGs em Mocambique (Mozambique)
OutRight Action International
Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum
Reporters Without Borders (RSF)
Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights
Sengwer Indigenous Peoples Programme
Uganda National NGO Forum (UNNGOF)
West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI)
West African Human Rights Defenders' Network (WAHRDN)
World Movement for Democracy
World Organization Against Torture
Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association (ZELA)
Civil society response to the Zero Draft of the UN´s Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration
There are over a quarter billion migrants and refugees in the world. Over 5,000 died last year on their dangerous journeys. The United Nations has been moved to act.
Governments are currently negotiating a Global Compact on Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration. The agreement is meant to protect the rights of those displaced and help address the root economic, environmental and social drivers that are compelling people to leave their communities and countries.
Last week, the UN released its draft agreement and will have until December to negotiate the final details. A key area where the document falls short is on commitments to tackle the primary causes of migration. A stated aim of the Global Compact is to “mitigate the adverse drivers and structural factors that hinder people from building and maintaining sustainable livelihoods in their countries of origin”. However, the current text lacks actionable commitments to control the numerous man-made forces underlying global mass migration.
The reasons are different for every migrant and diaspora, but we know that natural disasters are the number one cause of internal and international displacement. With rising sea levels, desertification and extreme weather events, climate action must be a part of any meaningful agreement.
"Climate induced displacement is upon us. Coastal communities are being evacuated and relocated the world over.” Said Emele Duituturaga, Executive Director of the Pacific Islands Association of Non Governmental Organisations. “Here in sea locked countries of the Pacific Ocean, disappearance of our island homes is imminent".
To protect the growing number of climate migrants, a necessary starting place for the compact is to reaffirm the importance of the Paris Climate Change Agreement and accelerate efforts to limit global average temperature rise to 1.5°C, instead of the more conservative and ambiguous target to keep the world “well below” 2°C above pre-industrial levels. Missing just one of these targets will lead to millions of people being displaced. The United Nations´ climate science panel (The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) gauges that the half a degree gap in warming “amounts to a greater likelihood of drought, flooding, resource depletion, conflict and forced migration”. Climate models show us that the additional 0.5°C would further raise sea levels by 10 centimeters and cut crop yields by half across the tropics.
From Fiji to Trinidad and Tobago, from Bangladesh to Morocco, civil society groups are calling on their governments to make climate mitigation a fundamental pillar of the Global Compact on Migration. Over 400 civil society groups at International Civil Society Week (Fiji, December) signed a joint declaration on climate induced displacement, outlining key demands for the Global Compact. Among other recommendations, we are urging the UN to address the causes and consequences of migration, including:
The upcoming multi-stakeholder consultations on 21 February and 21 May at UN Headquarters will provide civil society with the opportunity to raise the ambition of the Global Compact and to help ensure meaningful action is taken to reduce the man-made causes of migration and incorporate key recommendations put forth in the joint civil society declaration.
At the conclusion of International Civil Society Week 2017 (ICSW) on December 7th, more than 700 civil society leaders and activists from over 100 countries have called for climate change to be formally recognised as a primary driver of migration. The call comes just days after Donald Trump announced that he is withdrawing the United States from the United Nations Global Compact on Migration.
The Global Civil Society Declaration on Climate Induced Displacement was first presented to delegates of ICSW, held in Suva, Fiji, by global civil society alliance CIVICUS and the Pacific Islands Association of Non Governmental Organisations (PIANGO). This is the first time in more than 20 years of convening that ICSW was held in the Pacific region, where rising sea levels are already displacing communities.
The declaration calls on the international community to commit to protecting the human rights of all persons, regardless of their migratory status and fulfill the objectives of the Paris Climate Agreement.
“The UN global compact process is a critical opportunity to develop a consensus position on how the international community should promote rights-based migration and protect refugees,” said Danny Sriskandarajah, Secretary General of CIVICUS. “We are urging policymakers to protect the rights and dignity of individuals who are being forced to move, and promote the cultural rights of the communities affected,“ Said Sriskandarajah.
Organisations which have contributed to the declaration include the Pacific Islands Association of Non-Governmental Organisations, the Pacific Islands Development Forum, Oxfam Pacific, 350.org, ACT Alliance and CIVICUS, among others.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
Spread the word
Share the message on social media:
.@Pacific_2030, @PIDF01, @oxfampacific, @350, @ACTAlliance, CIVICUS & many others, launch Declaration on Climate Induced Displacement. Read the full declaration and sign on here: http://bit.ly/2B6eVDI
More than 700 civil society leaders and activists from over 100 countries call for #climatechange to be recognised as a key driver of #migration! Join the call here: http://bit.ly/2B6eVDI #ICSW2017
I just joined others around the world in signing on to the Climate Declaration! You can too: http://bit.ly/2B6eVDI
.@CIVICUSSG calls on policymakers to protect the rights & dignity of individuals who are being forced to move, and protect the cultural rights of the communities affected. Join the call http://bit.ly/2B6eVDI
Rising seas and extreme weather are leading many to have no option but to abandon their homes! Sign on to the Climate Declaration and call on policy makers to protect climate refugees http://bit.ly/2B6eVDI
Find out more:
Check out these stories by journalists and delegates attending ICSW.
Al Jazeera: Ex-New Zealand PM: Manus refugees deserve humanity
Open Democracy: Climate refugees need global protection – with or without the US
Inter Press News: Migrants Deserve Dignity” says CIVICUS While Trump Pulls out of Proposed Migrant Compact
Open Democracy: Climate refugees need global protection – with or without the US
Reuters: Where is the justice?' ask climate 'refugees', sidelined from global deal
Fiji Times: Call for solidarity on migration
Radio New Zealand: Climate-induced migration critical issue for Pacific NGOs
Want to know more about what happened at International Civil Society Week 2017? Visit the live blog archive.
By Frances Eve, Network of Chinese Human Rights Defenders (CHRD) and Cathal Gilbert, World Alliance for Citizen Participation, CIVICUS
From 3-5 September, the leaders of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa met at the ninth BRICS summit. The venue was Xiamen - a gleaming port city which symbolises China’s rise as the new economic and political force in the world. It is also a fitting venue to mark the continued emergence of BRICS as a bloc with some serious geopolitical heft.
But what does BRICS mean for Chinese people and how can they have any say in these annual meetings, which bring together heads of state from 5 of the most prosperous and populous emerging economies?
These are uncomfortable questions for a group of leaders who, thus far, have not sought any meaningful inputs from their citizens on the future direction of BRICS. They are particularly awkward questions for host, China, where civil society activists, human rights lawyers, and others who seek to have a say in tackling China’s 21st century problems are systematically repressed by a small elite determined to hold on to power.
Regular monitoring of the space for civil society by the CIVICUS Monitor and the China Human Rights Briefing shows the freedoms of association, peaceful assembly and expression are systematically curtailed in China. These research tools show that civic space is ‘repressed’ in China, indicating that citizens are not able to safely and fully exercise their fundamental rights, namely to associate, peacefully assemble and express themselves. Based on these indicators, the state of civil society rights in China is the lowest amongst BRICS countries and in the bottom quarter for all UN member states.
Since 2014, a series of restrictive new laws on national security, non-profit organisations and anti-terrorism have been passed, coinciding with a sustained escalation of detentions of dissidents. The latest of these is China’s new National Intelligence Law, which gives authorities “sweeping powers to monitor and investigate foreign and domestic individuals and institutions”. The Law on the Management of Overseas NGO Activities, which allows the police to control CSOs' funding sources, staffing and activities, came into force on the 1st of January this year.
Aside from laws, China has relentlessly pursued its critics through mass arrests of lawyers and activists in 2015, the shutdown of websites promoting peaceful dialogue and deploying riot police to prevent a demonstration on poor air quality in Chengdu. The list goes on.
The Chinese authorities’ distaste for free speech and human rights activism was perhaps best displayed following the death in July 2017 of China’s only Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Liu Xiaobo. Rather than allow Xiaobo’s colleagues and friends to mourn, the authorities tightly controlled his burial at sea to prevent a commemoration, arrested activists after his funeral and orchestrated the subsequent disappearance of his widow, Liu Xia, whom they have held in arbitrary detention since 2010.
None of these issues were discussed at the summit in Xiamen. The agenda was dominated by concerns of international security, especially as North Korea tested a hydrogen bomb on the first day of the summit, global trade and the rebalancing of the global financial systems.
But if any of this is to be achieved, and particularly if BRICS is to realise its goal of “strong, sustainable, balanced and inclusive economic growth”, its leaders will have to start listening to their people. Fans of China’s spectacular economic growth may say that political reform is not necessary but history shows us that silencing your citizens is always a strategy with a limited shelf life. Either education and prosperity will rise to levels where citizens demand a proper say, or exclusion and frustration will spill over onto the streets.
China’s leaders are smart enough to know that even their industrial-scale repression is only partly successful. Indeed, China does allow for tens of thousands of protests to take place across the country every year. By adopting this pressure valve strategy, China allows citizens to let off steam while it simultaneously goes after the organisers or those who share information. This month’s sentencing of a citizen journalist to four years in prison for documenting labour protests is one such example of this tactic.
Deep down, China’s leaders know that a state can never completely kill the spirit of activism and resistance. Nowadays, the rising influence of the internet, despite being a tool of repression and rigidly controlled and monitored in China, continues to make the spread of ideas and calls to action easier.
BRICS may seem a strange place for China to begin the journey towards a more open society. But within the BRICS framework, China can learn from South Africa, where one of the world’s most progressive constitutions is still largely intact, there is a pluralism in the media and protests take place on a daily basis. This dialogue about the merits of democracy could take place through a genuine South-South spirit of partnership, devoid of the often toxic dynamics of North-South dialogue.
An empowered and engaged civil society doesn’t just mean there will be greater checks on power. It is also a means to create innovation, social cohesion and prosperity within society, share new ideas, challenge the status quo and explore the wealth of generosity and creativity in each individual.
With almost 1.4 billion people, surely this is China’s greatest untapped resource?
Frances Eve is a Hong Kong-based researcher with the Network of Chinese Human Rights Defenders (CHRD), a coalition of Chinese and international NGOs dedicated to the promotion of human rights in China.
Cathal Gilbert is a researcher at The World Alliance for Citizen Participation, CIVICUS
Arabic | Kurdish
We, the undersigned civil society organisations, commemorate the victims of enforced disappearances in Syria and support their families, urging the international community to support their demand to ensure justice, truth and reparation and the immediate release of all those enforcedly held in secret detention. As the world marks today the International Day of Victims of Enforced Disappearances, our organisations condemn the continued and systematic use of enforced disappearance which amounts to a crime against humanity committed by the Syrian government. To silence its critics and instil fear among communities, the Syrian government adopted this practice towards its civilians and deployed it systematically after the start of the peaceful protests in 2011. We also call upon all armed groups to the conflict to promptly release all those held disappeared and disclose their fates and whereabouts.
Since the rise of the peaceful protests in Syria, our organisations have been monitoring, documenting and campaigning on cases of hundreds of Syrian individuals who have been subjected to enforced disappearance. Many of those are women and children. Thousands of family members of those disappeared are struggling for justice in their dangerous and impossible quest to find the fate and whereabouts of their loved ones. They experience mental and emotional anguish, while placed outside the protection of the law, and are often blackmailed, manipulated and used by brokers. The struggle for justice must not cease, accountability towards enforced disappearance must be high on the agenda of all international peace making and negotiations on Syria which might take place.
We call for justice for Bassel Khartabil, a Syrian-Palestinian software engineer and free speech activist, who was subjected to extrajudicial execution by a military field court in October 2015 and whose fate only became known in August 2017. On 15 March 2012, Military Intelligence had arrested Bassel Khartabil and held him incommunicado for eight months.
We urge the Syrian government to immediately disclose the fate and whereabouts of tens of thousands of victims of enforced disappearances including Syrian lawyer Khalil Maatouk, whose whereabouts are unknown since he was arrested at a government military checkpoint in October 2012. We call on the armed opposition groups to release Syrian human rights defenders, including Razan Zaitouneh Samira Khalil, Wael Hamadeh and Nazem Hammadi, who were kidnapped from the Violations Documentation Center (VDC) offices by armed, masked gunmen in Douma on 9 December 2013.
We collectively call for the immediate release of all detainees held in Syria for peacefully exercising their legitimate rights to freedom of expression and association. We urge both the Syrian government and armed opposition groups to immediately disclose the fate of those disappeared and stop arbitrarily arresting, abducting and detaining people for their peaceful, journalistic, and humanitarian activities – in line with United Nations Security Council resolution 2139, which demands ‘the release of all arbitrarily detained’ in Syria.
We specifically call on the Syrian government to:
We specifically call on armed opposition groups to:
1. Amnesty International
3. EuroMed Rights (EMR)
4. Front Line Defenders
5. Families for Freedom
6. Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR)
7. Human Rights Guardians
8. Impunity Watch
9. International Federation for Human rights (FIDH)
10. International Service for Human Rights (ISHR)
11. Justice for Life Organization (JFL)
12. Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms (MADA)
13. PAX for Peace
14. PEN international
15. Syrian Center for Legal Studies and Research (SCLSR)
16. Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression (SCM)
17. Syrian Institute for Justice and Accountability
18. Syrians for Truth and Justice (STJ)
19. Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR)
20. The Day After (TDA)
21. The Syrian Archive
23. World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT)
The Enabling Environment National Assessment (EENA), developed by CIVICUS and the International Center for Not-for-Profit Law (ICNL), is a participatory, civil society-led and action-oriented research methodology.
The Nominations Committee was given the very challenging task of selecting 12 names from the nominations received, narrowing down the slate to collectively reflect the diversity and balance we seek for the CIVICUS Board in terms of geographic location, gender, age and experience, while endeavouring to ensure a measure of continuity between outgoing and incoming Boards.
Congratulations to the 12 candidates below who are up for election for the next CIVICUS Board of Directors! We would also like to thank all CIVICUS members who were nominated for taking part in this process.
Amr Lashin | Care International | Egypt
Amr holds a Bachelor Degree from the Faculty of Urban & Regional Planning, Cairo University. Having more than 17 years of experience in the fields of Urban, Environmental, Social and Economic development, Amr is also experienced in the field of local administration as well as civil society organizational assessment and capacity strengthening. Amr Lashin is an expert on Social Accountability and Good Governance best practices and theories.
He has worked with international organizations such as the GIZ and was contracted for some consultancy guidance missions in some multinational and national private sector companies.
Amr is currently the Director of the newly formed Strategies and Governance Unit at CARE International in Egypt. He has also been responsible for the establishment of the first Social Accountability Network in the Arab World (ANSA-AW) where he has worked to introduce the concept and the practices of Social Accountability in the region. He has also undertaken several consultancies in different countries in MENA.
In his new capacity, Amr leads the strategic direction and management of the unit and ensures the mainstreaming of CARE International in Egypt strategies, namely: Gender Justice; Economic Empowerment, Social Accountability and ICT for Development, across the organization’s programming.
Bernard Lutete Di Lutete | Save the Climate | Democratic Republic of Congo
Bernard LUTETE DI LUTETE, born on November 11, 1976, from Kinshasa DRCongo is the President and CEO of SAVE THE CLIMAT, a0 NGO In Consultative Status with ECOSOC since 2014, and Associated with DPI since 2015. has experience and knowledge in Environment, International Diplomacy, Politics and Local Governance. Bernard is a reliable, lively and adaptable professional with a background in technical education. Bernard has well-developed inter-personal skills, is a self-starter and is equally comfortable as a team leader. Bernard is still looking for opportunities to utilize existing skills, to learn more and work to best support national and international organizations, CSO, United Nations.
He is passionate about issues relating to climate change, environmental protection, democracies in crisis, humanitarian, poverty, and the implementation of the SDGs. Bernard has an educational background in International Politics and Diplomacy from ROME MUN in Rome Italy; International Water Law from UNITAR and University of Geneva, Municipal Finances for Local Governance with the World Bank Group. He has worked with The United Nations Systems such as ECOSOC, DPI, UNECA, UNDP, UN REDD+, UNEP, Africa CSO, EBAFOSA; and other strong international organizations such as CIVICUS, GFMD, MADE and CORMSA.
Dr. Daisy N. Owomugasho | The Hunger Project Uganda | Uganda
Dr. Daisy N. Owomugasho became Country Director for The Hunger Project (THP)-Uganda in February 2011.Prior to joining THP-Uganda, Dr. Owomugasho was a lecturer at Makerere University in Kampala, one of the most prestigious universities in Uganda. She has also held the position of Executive Director at two non-governmental organizations: the African Women’s Economic Policy Network, a pan-African, faith-based organization that seeks to strengthen the capacity of women to influence economic policies; and the Uganda Debt Network, which works to promote and advocate for poverty assistance policies.
Dr. Owomugasho has also worked as a consultant for the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), African Development Bank, InWent of Germany, Idasa of South Africa and International Budget Project. She has participated in several international conferences including the World Trade Organization’s (WTO’s) Fifth Ministerial Conference in Cancun, Mexico in 2003, and the UN Conferences on the Status of Women (UNCSW) in 2004, 2008, 2010 and 2017.Dr. Owomugasho earned her PhD in Economics from Makerere University in Uganda in 2014. She also holds a Masters Degree in Development Economics from Dalhousie University in Halifax, Canada and a B.A. Degree in Economics and Rural Economy from Makerere University.
Lorenzo Marsili | European Alternatives | Italy
Lorenzo is an author, social entrepreneur and political activist.
After graduating in philosophy from the University of London, he founded quarterly journal Naked Punch to research cultural production from non-Western countries. After spending time in China and obtaining a second degree from the School of Oriental and African Studies, he launched Transnational Dialogues, an exchange program between Chinese, Brazilian and European activists and change-makers.
A longstanding believer in transnational politics, in 2007 he co-founded European Alternatives, an international NGO working to promote citizenship rights across the European Union. With activities spanning over 18 countries, including Turkey and Ukraine, the organisation runs campaigns to empower activists, defend fundamental rights, and advocate for democratic reform. Several campaigns have been organised jointly with CIVICUS. In 2013 he launched the European Media Initiative, gathering 200,000 signatures to demand an EU directive ensuring media freedom, transparency and the rights of media watchdogs. Since 2016 he is part of the advisory board for CIVICUS Monitor.He is an active public speaker and a media commentator internationally, including on BBC [UK], Al Jazeera [INT], El Diario [ESP], Il Fatto Quotidiano [IT]. His latest book, Citizens of Nowhere, is forthcoming from Zed Books.
Lysa John Berna | Save The Children International | India
Lysa has worked on issues of governance accountability and social justice since 1998. She began her career with YUVA (Mumbai, India) working on grassroots-led advocacy and campaigns linked to urban poverty, governance and housing rights. In 2006, she joined ‘Wada Na Todo Abhiyan’ (Don’t Break the Promise Campaign) as National Coordinator, helping create what is now one of India’s largest and most influential advocacy networks.
In 2009, Lysa joined the Global Call to Action against Poverty (GCAP) as International Campaign Director working to connect and strengthen civil society-led efforts on poverty, inequality across 80+ countries. The 'The World We Want 2015' campaign, which eventually became the United Nation's platform for public and civil society engagement on the MDGs, was an outcome of this effort. In 2013, she served as Head of Outreach in the Secretariat of the UN Secretary General’s High Level Panel on the Post-2015 Agenda, following which she joined Save the Children International where she currently helps coordinate the planning and delivery of the 'Every Last Child' campaign in over 70 countries worldwide in the position of Campaign Director.
Lysa has authored several reports, including assessments on the role and influence of emerging powers such as BRICS. She has contributed to publications such as Earthscan, Outlook India and the Guardian. She holds a Master’s degree from the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai.
Mauricio Alarcón Salvador | Fundación Ciudadanía y Desarrollo | Ecuador
An Activist and human rights defender. Deputy Director of Fundamedios, an organization that works on the promotion and defense of freedoms of expression, press and association in Ecuador. Mauricio is the Executive Director of Fundación Ciudadanía y Desarrollo, which works on education for democracy and promotion of transparency, citizen participation and social control, with special emphasis on youth. He was a constitutional adviser at the Citizen Participation Council (2009) and an alternate member at the National Constituent Assembly (2008). In 2013 the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) awarded him with the “30 under 30” award as one of the 30 most inspiring young leaders working for a democratic future in the world. In 2016 he participated in the Drapper Hills Fellowship of the Center for Democracy, Development and Rule of Law at Stanford University.
Mauricio is a committed young leader, committed to his organization, to CIVICUS’ mission and to human rights across the globe. He is willing to serve as a CIVICUS Board member and committees and can bring his experience and managerial skills to the organization. He is very innovative with an enormous ability to think creatively, a team builder and very enthusiastic and responsible as well.
Neeshad Shafi | CliMates | Qatar
Neeshad is a youth environmental activist, educator, speaker and an outspoken climate change advocate, who campaigns extensively to raise the awareness about climate change and Sustainable Development goals (SDGs). He holds a master’s degree in Energy & Environmental Engineering and resides in Doha, Qatar. His continuous enthusiasm for environmental advocacy led him to be the focal point for various regional and International NGOs in the Middle East.
Neeshad has been active in UNFCCC climate negotiation process since 2012 and was involved in COP22 in Marrakech as well as the historic COP21 in Paris on invitation from civil society for advocating the importance of Arab youth as partners for climate action. He has been invited to numerous local, regional and international conferences in United States, Jordan, Lebanon, France, Morocco, Tunisia, UAE and Saudi Arabia. He has given numerous interviews and written critically acclaimed articles on both digital and print media.
He also has campaigned for social causes like education for all, gender equality and human rights primarily focused on improving the circumstances of and opportunities for Arab women. He is also part of Womenpreneur, a Middle East North Africa (MENA) based not-profit organization which focuses on women empowerment, entrepreneurship and business development.
He is currently serving as Co-Founder and National Coordinator for Arab Youth Climate Movement Qatar (AYCMQ), Middle East Officer for CliMates, Founding member at CAN (Climate Action Network) Arab World, Founding Team member at Youth Climate Lab, Liaison Officer in Gulf Region for Citizens Climate Lobby and Steering Committee at CoalitionWILD.
Nyaradzo Mashayamombe | Tag a Life International Trust (TALI) | Zimbabwe
Nyaradzo Mashayamombe is a globally acclaimed, passionate award winning girls, young women and youth issues leader, activist and founder of a girls and young women’s rights organisation Tag a Life International (TaLI).
A singer/song writer, Development Consultant, Entrepreneur and Speaker, she’s a Pan Africanist who believes the struggles in Africa need Young Africans to take a stand participating in entrepreneurship, good governance, accountability and Human Rights. Nyaradzo is a Board Member of the Community Solutions Programme, a Global Exchange of IREX funded by the US State Department whose programme she's an elite alumna after attending the fellowship under women's issues.
She’s also an alumna of the Reagan Fascell Fellowship and of ; a member of CIVICUS, The World Movement for Democracy as well as a Vital Voices Alumni. She’s former Country Coordinator for Girls Not Brides International and a Former Board Member of Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe. She’s an Opinion leader, Human Rights Activist, Known to boldly speak out against Gender Inequalities especially controversial ones regarding leaders/politicians through radios, television, media and social networks and promoting girls and young women leadership. She's a write in local press, international journals on various issues ranging from youths, women and human rights. She holds a Masters Degree in Development among other qualifications. She intends to start her PhD in 2018 regarding Community Development and Policy. She loves representing human rights, democracy, governance, entrepreneurship, youths and opportunities as a global leader. She brings expertise in youth programming, young women’s issues, strategic planning, has expertise in governance especially human resources.
Patricia J. Lerner | Greenpeace International | The Netherlands
Patricia J. Lerner is a political economist and former diplomat with over 25 years experience leading multicultural teams in the Sahel, the Caribbean, Central and Eastern Europe, as well as policy coordination with the EU on a range of issues including humanitarian assistance, post-conflict reconstruction, economic and social development, and democracy and human rights.
Pat has been Senior Political Advisor with Greenpeace International since September 2008, serving as focal point for UN issues, as well as G7 and G20 processes. She has worked on the climate negotiations with a particular focus on climate finance, sustainable energy for all, Rio+20, the post-2015 development agenda, the SDGs and served on the Reference Group of Action2015. She co-leads Greenpeace International’s work on restrictions on civil society to act and serves on the Steering Group of the new Vuka!Coalition for Action on Civic Space.The daughter of an American anthropologist father and French mother, Pat grew up in francophone West Africa, studied at Wheaton College (Norton, Massachusetts), the UN African Institute for Economic Development and Planning (Dakar, Senegal), the London School of Economics & Political Science (London) and the Victoria & Albert Museum of Design (London). She loves reggae, jazz, art, films and reading.
Sebastián Vielmas | The Oxfam-Québec Youth Observatory | Chile
Sebastián Vielmas is Latin American, born in Chile. He has been a student activist since secondary school. In 2011 he became the Secretary General of the Student Federation of the Catholic University of Chile (FEUC), one of the most important student organizations of the country.
That year the student movement was the protagonist of the most important social mobilization since the end of the dictatorship in 1990. The main slogan was: "For a free, public and quality education". As a result of the mobilization, many changes to educational policies have been produced and the public debate changed in the country.
After this experience, Sebastián has continued its involvement in the global civil society working for the participation of the youth and the right to education. That’s why he currently participates as a volunteer member within the Youth Observatory of Oxfam Québec and the Youth Action Team of CIVICUS. Sebastián is, also, the Director of Strategy and Planning of REDICEC, the Chilean Researcher Network in Canada.
Sebastián currently finishes his Master in Political Science at the Université Laval (Québec, Canada) conducting research on the creation of coalitions and the influence on the public policies of the student’s movements in Chile and in Quebec (2011-2012).
Shaheen Anam | Executive Director, Manusher Jonno Foundation (MJF) | Bangladesh
Shaheen Anam heads the Manusher Jonno Foundation (MJF) which provides funding and capacity building support to a range of small and large organizations all over Bangladesh working on issues of transparency, self-representation and empowerment of marginalized and vulnerable communities.
She has over 20 years of experience in development, is part of the women’s movement and is well known as a human rights and women rights activist. MJF is also involved in a number of critical national level policy advocacy and played a key role in the enactment of the Right to Information Act, domestic Violence Act, review of labor law, Child pornography Act etc.
Previously, she worked for CARE Bangladesh, UNDP and UNHCR in Bangladesh and abroad. She has also worked in the Ministry of Women and Children Affairs as the Project Director of a gender equality project funded by CIDA. Shaheen has a Masters in Social work from the Hunter College School of Social Work, New York and a Masters in Psychology from Dhaka University.
Ziya Guliyev | National Platform of the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum | Azerbaijan
Ziya Guliyev is an Azerbaijani who holds a LL.M degree in International Human Rights Law from the University of Essex, in the United Kingdom.
He has previously worked for different NGOs, such as Social Strategic Research Center (2006-2008), Law and Development Center (2008-2010), Democracy Study Public Union (2010-2012), Public Association for Assistance to Free Economy (2012-2014), and legal researcher at Human Rights Watch (2015-2016).
In 2009, he established the Center for Legal Initiatives, which mainly deals with the protection of civil and political rights, human rights, education and advocacy work before the Treaty Monitoring Bodies of the United Nations. Ziya also serves as a member of the expert panel of OSCE on freedom of association.
In May 2016 he founded the Baku Academy of Human Rights Law, the first human rights education platform in Azerbaijan. He is alumnus of the Baku School of Political Studies (2012) and Visegrad School of Political Studies (2015). He was awarded the Alumni of the year by the European Academy of Diplomacy in 2016.
He is currently a Country Facilitator and a member of the Steering Committee of the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum.
Joint statement by 61 Myanmar and international human rights organizations
Concerned by reports that the Myanmar authorities will retain the criminal defamation provision of Section 66(d) during a review of the Telecommunications Law, 61 national and international human rights organizations are urging the Myanmar authorities, and in particular the Ministry of Transport and Communication and the Parliament, to ensure it is repealed in the amended law.
Section 66(d) of the 2013 Telecommunications Law provides for up to three years in prison for “extorting, coercing, restraining wrongfully, defaming, disturbing, causing undue influence or threatening any person using a telecommunications network.” In the last two years, this law has opened the door to a wave of criminal prosecutions of individuals for peaceful communications on Facebook and has increasingly been used to stifle criticism of the authorities. According to the 2013 Telecommunications Research Group, which has been documenting prosecutions under Section 66(d), at least 71 people are known to have been charged for online defamation under the law.
The current review of the Telecommunications Law offers an important opportunity to repeal Section 66(d) and bring the 2013 Telecommunications Law fully in line with international human rights law and standards. Failure to do so would raise serious questions about the government’s commitment to freedom of expression. It would, worryingly, leave people in the country at risk of imprisonment simply for sharing opinions online. It would also undermine the government’s reform and responsible business agenda, by chilling or even silencing the ability of the public and the media to report on public sector mismanagement, harmful and illegal business practices, and corruption.
VAGUELY-WORDED, SECTION 66(D) HAS ALLOWED FOR AN ABUSIVE APPLICATION OF THE LAW
One of the most problematic aspects of Section 66(d) is its vagueness. Under international human rights law and standards, restrictions on the human right to freedom of expression are allowed for certain, narrowly defined purposes only, including to protect the rights and reputation of others. Restrictions should be clear, detailed and well-defined in law, limited to those specified purposes, and necessary and proportionate to achieve their aim.
Section 66(d) does not adequately define what actions would be considered “disturbing”, or “causing undue influence.” These terms are overly broad and subject to widely different interpretations. Previous military governments for example, deemed the views of people who promoted democracy and human rights to be “disturbing.”
This vagueness carries risks. Section 66(d) has been used to stifle criticism of both the civilian government and the military. For instance, individuals have been imprisoned for Facebook posts calling Myanmar’s President Htin Kyaw an “idiot” and “crazy” and for posts mocking the Myanmar Army. One criminal prosecution revolved around the posting of an image depicting the Army’s Commander-in-Chief with a women’s htamein (a sarong-like garment) on his head.
It is important to keep in mind that under international law, the purpose of laws covering defamation, libel, slander and insult is to protect the rights and reputations of people, not to prevent criticism of the government or of individual officials. According to UN Special Rapporteurs on the right to freedom of expression and the UN Human Rights Committee, public figures are necessarily subject to a greater degree of criticism than private citizens because of their institutional role, to ensure open debate about matters of public interest.
The high volume of cases brought under Section 66(d) has also been facilitated by the fact that it allows anyone to file a complaint, even individuals other than the person who has allegedly been defamed. As a result, in Myanmar people have filed complaints on behalf of State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi and President Htin Kyaw, as well as members of the military.
In the past year we have also seen a surge in the number of criminal prosecutions initiated by private Facebook users against each other for posts that they believe to be untrue, insulting, offensive, or otherwise objectionable. These include, for example, Facebook posts saying that someone was a cheat, warning people against using specific businesses, or complaining about land disputes.
DEFAMATION SHOULD NEVER BE CRIMINALISED – WHERE IT OCCURS THERE ARE OTHER WAYS TO ADDRESS IT
Although international human rights law and standards do not prohibit the use of defamation laws for purposes such as protecting the rights and reputations of people, international authorities including the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to freedom of expression and the UN Human Rights Committee have affirmed that defamation should never be a criminal offence. This is because imprisoning someone for defaming another person is disproportionate and can threaten the right to freedom of expression itself. The threat of imprisonment can prevent people from peacefully speaking out on sensitive issues and lead to self-censorship.
There are other ways to address defamation, including online defamation, which do not involve imprisonment, for example through making it a matter of civil rather than criminal law. In addition, those responsible could be made to issue an apology, a public rectification or clarification in order to restore the reputation that has been harmed.
Our organizations are deeply concerned that some members of the administration appear to view Section 66(d) as a solution to address advocacy of hatred. We recognize that Myanmar has a growing problem in this regard and welcome attempts to address this. However, Section 66(d) has done little to prevent such activity. Instead, it has enabled an environment of intolerance and conflict by allowing anyone who deems a Facebook post “offensive” to sue the author.
As the government has expressed its intention to adopt a separate law on hate speech, we would like to stress that any prohibition of advocacy of hatred must be formulated precisely and not unlawfully restrict freedom of expression. Beyond legislation, our organizations believe authorities at all levels should speak out against discriminatory rhetoric and ensure broader policy measures are undertaken to tackle the root causes of intolerance, including for instance by promoting intercultural dialogue and education on diversity and pluralism.
In light of the above, our organizations are urging the Myanmar authorities to:
As long as Section 66(d) remains, people in Myanmar – especially those who criticise officials and government policies online – will be at risk of being imprisoned for their peaceful exercise of the right to freedom of expression.
List of signatories:
La alianza global de la sociedad civil CIVICUS y el Servicio Internacional para los Derechos Humanos (ISHR) expresan su profunda preocupación por el creciente deterioro de las instituciones democráticas en Venezuela. Los días 28 y 29 de marzo de 2017, la Sala Constitucional del Tribunal Supremo de Justicia (TSJ) de Venezuela emitió las sentencias N° 155 y 156, mediante las cuales declaró a la Asamblea Nacional en desacato, privó a los legisladores de inmunidad parlamentaria y asumió atribuciones del Congreso, así como la prerrogativa de delegarlas en quien juzgara conveniente, en este caso en la presidencia.
Numerosas organizaciones de la sociedad civil venezolanas han manifestado que estas decisiones equivalen en la práctica a un intento de golpe de Estado contra el Poder Legislativo, un pilar fundamental de las instituciones democráticas y la encarnación del derecho de la ciudadanía a estar representada allí donde se toman las decisiones clave que repercuten sobre sus vidas y sus derechos. Del mismo modo, la Fiscal General consideró que estas decisiones del TSJ representan una ruptura del orden constitucional.
Los últimos acontecimientos han sido la culminación de un proceso de erosión de la autoridad del Congreso que lleva varios años, y que ha sumido al país en una profunda crisis social. Durante el pasado año y medio, el TSJ emitió más de 50 resoluciones que socavaron las funciones de la Asamblea Nacional y otorgaron poderes ilimitados al Ejecutivo. Esta es la razón por la cual la decisión del TSJ de dar marcha atrás sobre sus últimas decisiones no supuso un restablecimiento de la separación de poderes y del estado de derecho. El hecho de que el TSJ revirtiera sus decisiones a petición del Ejecutivo, asimismo, no hizo más que enfatizar la falta de independencia del poder judicial y la degradación en curso de las instituciones republicanas en Venezuela.
A lo largo de los años, la erosión de los controles constitucionales y la consiguiente polarización política han ido acompañados de restricciones cada vez mayores sobre las libertades cívicas, es decir, sobre los derechos a la libertad de asociación, de expresión y de reunión pacífica sin los cuales no puede funcionar una sociedad civil activa y empoderada.
A su vez, la creciente concentración de poderes de decisión en el liderazgo ejecutivo ha redundado en graves fallos en la formulación de políticas públicas, intensificando en vez de resolver la crisis social que afronta el país, con fenómenos que incluyen una aguda escasez de alimentos y otros bienes básicos, el desmoronamiento del sistema público de salud y un aumento de la violencia callejera que afecta desproporcionadamente a las comunidades empobrecidas. También resulta preocupante la creciente represión estatal contra individuos y grupos de la sociedad civil que se expresan, organizan y protestan acerca de estos problemas.
Frente a esta crisis multidimensional, hacemos un llamado al gobierno venezolano para que:
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CIVICUS Políticas e Investigación
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