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Freedom of Expression, Civic Space

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.

RSF 2020 World Press Freedom Index: “Entering a decisive decade for journalism, exacerbated by coronavirus”

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.


Global Partners Digital, ARTICLE 19, CIPESA, CHR University of Pretoria and Protege QV launch Interactive Disinformation Tracker TRACKER

This interactive map seeks to support human rights defenders in Sub-Saharan Africa by tracking and analysing all laws, policies and other government actions on disinformation across Sub-Saharan Africa.

Amnesty International

CIHRS Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies

Civil Rights Defenders



Free Press Unlimited

Freedom House


International Commission of Jurists (ICJ)