CIVICUS World Alliance for Citizen Participation (CIVICUS) issued a report People Power under Attack: Findings from the CIVICUS Monitor.
According to the latest findings, only 3% of people live in countries where space for civic activism – or civic space – is truly open. Based upon monitoring of 195 countries, CIVICUS finds that people in 106 countries face serious threats when organizing, speaking out and taking peaceful action to improve their societies, albeit rights’ guarantees by most national constitutions and international law.
CIVICUS Monitor identifies arbitrary or unlawful detention of human rights defenders by states as number one tactic of repression, with 160 reports related to the detention of activists published between June 2016 and March 2017. Furthermore, states oftentimes resort to using excessive force (tear gas, rubber bullets and sometimes live ammunition) during protests to curb dissent and mobilization, with 112 cases being reported in this period. CIVICUS Monitor pinpoints to alarming numbers of journalists that are being attacked with impunity for state agents or non-state actors, with 101 such reports received in the reporting period. Other common features of restrictions on civic space include the harassment or intimidation of human rights defenders, often by threat of legal action; direct or indirect censorship of the media and, increasingly, of online content; and legislative or bureaucratic restrictions which make it difficult for civil society to organize and carry out its work. Finally, the data provide evidence on the tactics state and non-state actors use to restrict civic space.
With its report, CIVICUS released a Watch List – listing of 5 countries of immediate concern about a serious and rapid decline in respect for civic space and which are being closely followed on developments in the coming weeks. Two of the five countries come from the Western Balkans and Turkey region, namely
- Macedonia, whereby civil society is facing serious and ongoing targeting of CSOs supported by international funders. The situation in Macedonia is part of a wider trend against foreign-funded CSOs in the Balkans and neighboring regions with similar developments being tracked in Hungary, Croatia and Serbia; and
- Turkey, whereby an ongoing widespread crackdown against independent civil society and media continues to be a serious cause for concern and the upcoming referendum to increase the president’s powers means there is an increased likelihood of a further closure of civic space.
The full report is available here.