Covid-19: UN Special Rapporteur on the right to peaceful assembly & association condemns restrictions on civil society organizations

Author: Clément Nyaletsossi Voule, UN Special Rapporteur on the right to peaceful assembly and association, OHCHR, Published on: 14 April 2020

“States responses to Covid 19 threat should not halt freedoms of assembly and association”, 14 April 2020

The Covid-19 pandemic has posed unprecedented challenges to human rights around the world... Civil society organizations are also facing numerous restrictions and limitations on their work. In some States, new associations are not being registered, where they are unable to demonstrate internal rules geared to the current crisis situation. While civil society workers have a key role to play in responding to the crisis and providing support to vulnerable populations, their ability to play that role has been limited by restrictive laws as well as by funding shortages, themselves brought on in part by limitations on access to cross-border funding. Members of civil society together with other workers, moreover, have been constrained by lack of access to necessary personal protective equipment. In this context, accounts of cases where labor representatives have faced retaliation for speaking out concerning dangerous situations at the workplace are particularly troubling. The crisis has also been used to limit access to information broadly. Several States have adopted new measures penalizing the spreading of ‘false news,’ or have increased reliance on similar provisions of law already in place, while individuals reporting on the crisis have been cautioned, detained or expelled…

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