Europeans’ Right to Protest Under Threat

A report by Carnegie Europe looks at government restrictions on the right to protest during the pandemic, and the response from civil society.


The Carnegie report draws heavily on the 2020 CIVICUS report, available here.

Europeans’ Right to Protest Under Threat (Carnegie Europe, link):

"The year 2020 tested democracy and civic freedoms in many ways. After the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus outbreak a pandemic in March, governments took unprecedented actions, such as imposing curfews, restricting people’s movements, and limiting or banning gatherings. According to international law, some of these measures went beyond the permissible bounds for limiting rights during public health emergencies, bounds meant to ensure that such measures are kept “proportionate, necessary, and nondiscriminatory.”

In its latest report, the CIVICUS Monitor—an online tool that tracks the space for civil society globally—shows that the governments of EU states, Norway, and the United Kingdom (UK) restricted civic freedoms in subtle ways, often under the guise of fighting the pandemic. More specifically, the right to peaceful assembly came under attack. It comes as no surprise that authoritarian and far-right governments in countries like Hungary, Poland, and Slovenia capitalized on the pandemic, albeit in different ways—driven by various political motives and local political contexts. Yet even countries in which people were typically able to exercise their civic freedoms without major hindrances, like Sweden, pushed the boundaries."

 

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