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The CIVICUS Monitor research shows that the Covid-19 pandemic has further accelerated the erosion of civic space, while health and economic concerns have taken the public stage, insidious power grabs have been taking place. Governments are restricting the media, criminalising journalists; and targeting human rights defenders.
For instance, in El Salvador, a human rights defender has been the target of a smear campaign after posting on Facebook about overcrowding and the lack of hygiene for people held in quarantine during the pandemic; in Colombia, death squads are taking advantage of lockdowns to kill rural activists; and in Hong Kong, the annual Tiananmen vigil was banned by the local authority due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
CIVICUS reaffirmed its concerns outlined above and stated that it is clear that governments need to do more to respect civic freedoms when responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. It is necessary concerned citizens, while the media and civil society organizations need civic space not only to ensure better decisions now but also to protect the interests of future generations. It is essential to guarantee the access to credible information, shape decisions and hold decision-makers to account has never been more acute.
CIVICUS is a global alliance of civil society organizations and activists with more than 9,000 members in more than 175 countries, established in 1993 and headquartered in Johannesburg, South Africa, with additional hubs across the globe. Civicus mission is to promote a worldwide community of informed, inspired, committed citizens engaged in confronting the challenges facing humanity.