While access to reliable information and freedom of expression are crucial in times of crisis, the COVID-19 pandemic has put ever stronger pressure on civic space and journalists worldwide. Emergency measures taken by governments for the protection of public health have, in numerous countries, been used to extend governmental powers at the cost of basic human liberties including the most indispensable ones for a free development of civic space – freedom of expression, freedom of association and freedom of peaceful assembly.
The intimidation of journalists and crackdown on dissenting voices in the Balkans, Eastern Europe, Central and (South)East Asia and southern America shows a continuation and acceleration of long-term trends of erosion of human rights and freedoms with an increasing control and restriction of access to information.
While the label of ’fake news’ is often assigned to inconvenient information, purposeful misinformation has become a powerful tool in global as well as local politics. In several countries such as Hungary and Poland, laws are being amended or tightened, giving governments even more power to prosecute human rights defenders and journalists. The effects of enhanced surveillance measures introduced namely in China or Albania to monitor the spread of the virus are also of deep concern, endangering privacy and data rights and journalists’ ability to protect sources. States must ensure that freedom of expression and media freedom are protected during the COVID-19 pandemic.
RSF #Tracker_19 Live updates of Covid-19 impacts of press freedom TRACKER
Launched by Reporters Without Borders (RSF), “Tracker 19” is a tool made for an unprecedented global crisis. So named in reference not only to Covid-19 but also article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, this project aims to evaluate the pandemic’s impacts on journalism. It will document state censorship and deliberate disinformation, and their impact on the right to reliable news and information. It will also make recommendations on how to defend journalism.
ICNL COVID-19 Civic Freedom Tracker TRACKER
This tracker monitors government responses to the pandemic that affect civic freedoms and human rights, focusing on emergency laws.
- 23 April 2020 Thailand: Authorities using repressive laws to intensify crackdown on online critics
- 21 April 2020 Tunisia End prosecution of bloggers for criticizing government’s response to COVID-19
- 21 April 2020 Tanzania: Authorities must end crackdown on journalists reporting on COVID-19
- 20 April 2020 India: Crackdown on dissent continues during COVID-19
- 17April 2020 China: How China used technology to combat COVID-19 – and tighten its grip on citizens
- 8 April 2020 Georgia: South Ossetia/Tskhinvali Region: Persecution of journalists who speak out
- 31 March 2020 Hungary: Government must not use extraordinary power to roll back human rights amid COVID-19 emergency
- 17 February 2020 China: Detention of activist shows unrelenting assault on freedom of expression
CIHRS Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies
Civil Rights Defenders
- 16 April 2020 Albania’s Government Unconstitutionally Pushes Draconian Sentences in Fight Against COVID-19
- 18 March 2020 Serbia to Respect Human Rights Obligations During COVID-19 State of Emergency
- 8 April 2020 From the Quarantine in Venezuela: “The Government is Using This as a Mechanism of Political Control”
- 7 April 2020 Cambodia: Proposed State of Emergency Paves the Way for Human Rights Violations
- 7 April 2020 Hungary Ignores Calls For Respect of Human Rights
- 19 May 2020: TRACING APPS: A REAL-LIFE BLACK MIRROR EPISODE?
- 30 April 2020 Turkey: NO AMNESTY FOR ERDOGAN’S CRITICS
- 30 April 2020 Egypt: JAILED EGYPTIAN HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS IN THE COVID-19 FIRING LINE
- 7 April 2020 Cambodia Proposed State of Emergency paves the way for human rights violations
Free Press Unlimited
- 21 April 2020 Russia: Kremlin Dismisses Threats Against Newspaper
International Commission of Jurists (ICJ)
- 24 April 2020 Thailand: The ICJ and other human rights groups make supplementary submission to the UN Human Rights Committee
- 10 April 2020 Myanmar: Government must lift online restrictions in conflict-affected areas to ensure access to information during COVID-19 pandemic
- 2 April 2020 COVID-19: Use of digital surveillance technologies must be human rights compliant
- 1 April 2020 Southeast Asia: States must respect and protect rights in combating misinformation online relating to COVID-19