Core civil society rights violated in 109 countries




The latest CIVICUS monitoring shows that in 2015 one or more of the core civil society freedoms of expression, association and peaceful assembly were seriously violated in at least 109 countries. Global civil society alliance CIVICUS has documented serious violations of the freedoms of association, expression and peaceful assembly in 109 countries over the course of 2015.

The list shows that instead of heeding calls to reverse the trend of closing civil society space, more and more states are failing their commitments under international law and reneging on their duty to protect and enable civil society. Several non-state actors also stand accused of seriously violating civil society freedoms.

The following table briefly summarises the nature of the violations captured in this report:

Freedom of Association Violations Includes raids on CSO premises; attacks on individual human rights defenders or leaders and staff of CSOs; introduction of restrictive NGO regulations or laws; confiscation of computers, documents, equipment; public vilification or denigration of a CSO or category of organisation; selective targeting of organisations through the courts by, for example, impeding their ability to generate resources or by deregistering individual organisations.
Freedom of Expression Violations Includes closure of media houses; attacks* on individual journalists or bloggers; restricting circulation of newspapers; censoring news and social media sites; use of criminal laws to curtail free speech; denial of access to information; introduction of restrictive media laws or laws that impose state censorship.
Freedom of Peaceful Assembly Violations Excessive or unlawful use of force (tear gas, rubber bullets, live ammunition, baton charges) on public assemblies by police; attacks* on individual protestors; mass arrests of peaceful protestors; unlawful or unreasonable denial of permission to gather peacefully; unwillingness of states to protect peaceful protestors from violent counter-demonstrators; introduction of new security or anti-terrorism laws that have the effect of curtailing the right to freedom of peaceful assembly.

Of the three core civil society freedoms, the freedom of association was most frequently violated. In other words, the right to set up, join or operate a formal or informal group to take collective action was most imperilled, affecting 85 per cent of the countries. An almost equal number of countries the freedom of expression, which includes the right to seek, receive and impart information and ideas, was violated. In two thirds of the countries on the list, freedom of peaceful assembly, that is, the right to gather publicly or privately to collectively express, promote, pursue and defend common ideas or interests, was violated.

This report and list was compiled based on the analysis of Civil Society Watch reports, and additional monitoring by national and international civil society organisations from the CIVICUS alliance. The following table briefly summarises the nature of the violations captured in this report.


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