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Report: Governments & business target climate activists and close civic space

'Closing Civic Space for Climate Activists', June 2020

The rise of a global climate movement has been accompanied by a crackdown on civic space for climate activists worldwide. As climate strikes, protests, and mass mobilization become more widespread, many governments have teamed up with private actors to quell climate activism... Governments have arrested scores of climate protesters engaged in peaceful protest actions, and passed laws to criminalize formerly legal protest methods... In addition to government-sponsored surveillance, private security firms also spy on climate activists... Strategic Lawsuits against Public Participation (SLAPPs) have been levied against climate activists and environmental organizations challenging fossil fuel and extractive interests. These suits often charge activists under a range of typically baseless claims, including allegations of defamation, anti-racketeering, interfering with business, and conspiracy. Punitive, frivolous lawsuits by powerful industry actors against individuals and non-profits are designed to disincentivize and chill citizen engagement while draining resources... SLAPPs are also common in the Global South, with coal mining companies bringing lawsuits against environmentalists in South Africa, and agribusiness and extractive companies suing activists in India, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, and Malaysia... Climate protesters regularly face violence and abuse from law enforcement officials... Reflecting a global trend of killings against land and environmental defenders, the Philippines has one of the highest murder rates of those peacefully defending their land against mining, agribusiness, and coal projects. In Brazil, numerous indigenous leaders protesting against illegal logging have also been murdered...