March 2021 in Middle East and North Africa: A free expression roundup produced by IFEX’s Regional Editor Naseem Tarawnah, based on IFEX member reports and news from the region.

Members of Jordan’s Darak forces (gendarmerie) stand on guard as protesters demonstrate against measures imposed to curb the spread of Covid-19 amidst concerns over the economy, in Amman, Jordan, 15 March 2021, KHALIL MAZRAAWI/AFP via Getty Images

Egypt targets its critics abroad. New moves to hold Saudi Arabia accountable for its human rights record. Heightened calls for the release of Bahrain’s prisoners of conscience. Authorities in Morocco charge critical journalists with sex crimes. Silencing coverage of a royal rift in Jordan:

A gag order in Jordan

Jordanian authorities banned media coverage of a public dispute within the royal family. Faced with international pressure, the media gag order was amended the next day to…


March 2021 in Africa: A free expression roundup produced by IFEX’s regional editor Reyhana Masters, based on IFEX member reports and news from the region.

A group of Nigerian women mark International Women’s Day and voice their concerns over the recent rise in insecurity, hunger and inequality for women demanding better government due to the recent hike in insecurity, hunger and inequality for women, in Lagos, 8 March 2021, Olukayode Jaiyeola/NurPhoto via Getty Images

The celebration of International Women’s Day on 8 March provided a crucial springboard to foreground issues, concerns, and stories of triumph across the continent. Women took centre stage — from the launch of a new podcast featuring youth voices, to a book honouring women leaders, to speaking out against misogynistic attacks:

A Human Rights Watch (HRW) #PoweroftheStreets podcast kicked off the March International Women’s Day celebrations. Hosted by Audrey Kawire Wabwire, the first interviews feature…


March 2021 in the Americas: A free expression round up produced by IFEX’s Regional Editor Paula Martins, based on IFEX member reports and news from the region.

The President of Mexico, Andres Manuel López Obrador, points during a press conference, in Mexico City, 5 April 2021, Luis Barron / Eyepix Group/Barcroft Media via Getty Images

President Obrador attacks ARTICLE 19 after release of critical report

In March, ARTICLE 19 Mexico and Central America released its annual reportDistorsión, examining the overall situation of freedom of expression and information in Mexico in 2020

The news is not good. According to the report, media attacks increased by 13.63% compared to the previous year, with a total of 692 recorded. Of the assaults on journalists, 49.5% were perpetrated by state agents (public civil service personnel, civil security forces and armed…


March 2021 in Asia-Pacific: A free expression roundup produced by IFEX’s regional editor Mong Palatino, based on IFEX member reports and news from the region.

Kathmandu, Nepal, 31 March 2021. A protester holding a burning candle while making the three-finger salute attends a candlelight vigil for those who died in protests in Myanmar, Prabin Ranabhat/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Violence escalates in Myanmar, but the people are fighting back. Women journalists are attacked and killed in Afghanistan. Public outrage in Bangladesh over the killing of a writer and torture of a cartoonist in prison. New laws and regulations undermine media freedom and digital rights in Malaysia and India:

Coup terror, resistance, and solidarity in Myanmar

Myanmar’s military unleashed a brutal nonstop crackdown targeting anti-coup protesters in the past month. But the democracy movement remained defiant, despite the terror tactics of security…


March 2021 in Europe and Central Asia: A free expression round up produced by IFEX’s Regional Editor Cathal Sheerin, based on IFEX member reports and news from the region.

Women in red dance holding up red tulips as they welcome spring during a protest against the Belarus presidential election results near the village of Maloje Zapruddzie, 1 March 2021, -/AFP via Getty Images

March saw Turkey dismantling human rights protections and democratic norms, the promise of change — both good and bad — in Central Asia, and the launch of a new website devoted to tackling SLAPPs. It also saw IFEX members calling on the EU to confront Hungary, Poland and Slovenia’s attacks on media freedom, and important developments in the campaign to hold the Belarusian authorities accountable for human rights violations:

Holding Lukashenko’s regime to account

The repression…


IFEX asked journalist Vanina Berghella to speak with IACHR Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression Pedro Vaca Villarreal, to delve into the important challenges he faces in his newly-appointed position, review his background in the defence of freedom of expression, and discuss the priority issues on the Rapporteur Office’s agenda. This interview was recorded shortly after Vaca assumed his new role in October 2020.

Pedro Vaca Villarreal, the new Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), has an extensive résumé and vast expertise. Vaca is renowned in Colombia for his work as a…


February 2021 in the Americas: A free expression round up produced by IFEX’s Regional Editor Paula Martins, based on IFEX member reports and news from the region.

A woman holds a banner depicting murdered Honduran environmental activist Berta Cáceres during a protest calling for justice in her case, outside the Central-American Economic Integration Bank (BCIE), Tegucigalpa, Honduras, 3 October 2020, ORLANDO SIERRA/AFP via Getty Images

Journalists are not the enemy

On 8 February 2021, IFEX’s Colombian member Fundación para la Libertad de Prensa (FLIP) released its 2020 annual report.

The report highlights espionage operations targeting journalists, the abusive use of force by police against the press during public demonstrations, and the dismissive and stigmatizing behaviour of higher-level officials against the media. …


February 2021 in Africa: A free expression roundup produced by IFEX’s regional editor Reyhana Masters, based on IFEX member reports and news from the region.

The five members of the collective “Black lives matter in Italian Fashion”, during a fashion show ahead of Milan Fashion Week, Milan, Italy, 17 February 2021, MIGUEL MEDINA/AFP via Getty Images

February — a month dedicated to romance and declarations of love in many cultures — was peppered with more setbacks than triumphs. While continental creative advocacy went global and Angola repealed the criminalisation of homosexuality, homophobia rose up the ranks in Ghana, intimate partner violence took centre stage, Nigerian journalists were kidnapped for ransom and a British journalist was expelled from Mozambique:

Black Lives Matter inspires African designs

In a demonstration of how free expression can be creatively wielded to advocate…


February 2021 in Middle East and North Africa: A free expression roundup produced by IFEX’s Regional Editor Naseem Tarawnah, based on IFEX member reports and news from the region.

Biden’s foreign policy sends mixed signals, and what justice for Jamal Khashoggi looks like. Rights groups raise the alarm over abuses in Egypt’s women’s prison. Protesters continue to be targeted across the region, and a Syrian intelligence officer is sentenced in Germany for crimes against humanity:

After four years of enduring a US administration that has turned a blind eye to escalating human rights violations in the region, recent weeks saw…


February 2021 in Asia-Pacific: A free expression roundup produced by IFEX’s regional editor Mong Palatino, based on IFEX member reports and news from the region.

Protesters hold signs during a demonstration against the military coup near Sule Pagoda in central Yangon, Myanmar, 22 February 2021, Myat Thu Kyaw/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Myanmar’s coup has reversed the country’s democratic transition but citizens are pushing back through a civil disobedience movement. As farmers’ protests gain global attention, Indian authorities are clamping down on journalists and supporters of the movement. A court acquittal in India is a big victory for the #MeToo movement. A Bangladeshi writer dies in prison while a cartoonist fights for his life:

Myanmar coup and civil disobedience movement

Myanmar’s Tatmadaw (armed forces) staged a coup on 1 February which led to…

IFEX

IFEX is a global network of organisations that defend and promote the right to freedom of expression and information. Email: info@ifex.org

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