Commentary: ICAR predicts rise in companies & governments silencing dissent through strategic lawsuits & COVID measures
Author: International Corporate Accountability Roundtable, Published on: 22 May 2020
"Silencing dissent — it’s easier in a COVID world," 20 May 2020
Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation (SLAPPs)...are often successful in scaring human rights defenders and activists into silence…[W]e may see a rise in SLAPPs as a result of increased online speech, which is more easily tracked and traceable than in-person protests…In these cases, companies claim that civil society groups are working in concert to damage their business prospects and reputations…Closing courts or limiting capacity may result in delays in the judicial resolution.
…[G]overnments have seemingly implemented restrictions on public gatherings to stop ongoing protests...Governments have implemented new mass surveillance and tracking tools that may be used disproportionately against dissidents…Privacy advocates are weary of government claims that data will be collected with consent and…in place only for the time required to combat the pandemic.
…A number of governments, including China, Egypt, and Turkey, have taken steps to expel journalists or detain those who speak out against their government’s response to the pandemic.
...Governments have not provided human rights defenders with adequate protections in “lock down” situations…[Colombia] saw the assassination of three prominent social activists...Armed rebel groups, many of which make their money through drug trafficking and illegal mining, are targeting activists they see as impediments to their profits…