The Guardian’s survey of civil society restrictions
According to the United Nations, ‘a dynamic, diverse and independent civil society, able to operate freely, knowledgeable and skilled with regard to human rights, is a key element in securing sustainable human rights protection in all regions of the world.’ However, CHRI’s 2015 report ‘Reaching for Partnership’ makes it clear that the space for civil society is shrinking across the Commonwealth.
Civil society is an essential part of a functioning, fair, and democratic country, and the crackdowns and restrictions have been highlighted by many news agencies around the world. In Uganda for example, where the disappointing news emerged yesterday that during the elections social media sites have been blocked, a government bill forces NGOs to register with a new oversight board, ‘declare their sources of income’ and gain ‘permits from local authorities’, and these permits can be revoked if it ‘in the opinion of the board it is in the public interest to do so.’ Ugandan NGOs must additionally ‘not engage in any act which is prejudicial to the security and laws of Uganda’ including not going against the bill itself. This not only restricts NGOs, but also creates a climate of fear around speaking up against injustices and rights abuses.
The Guardian is now trying to gather information about how civil society organisations are being affected. They need people to speak up about their experiences, to help to highlight, and push back against the weakening of civil society.
To take part in the conversation go to: http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2016/feb/15/are-you-affected-by-crackdowns-on-civil-society-in-your-country