Free expression in Europe and Central Asia at the turn of the year

A man wears a mask that reads “There Is No Way To Ban Memorial” outside the Supreme Court, during a hearing against the rights group, Moscow, Russia, 14 December 2021, Stanislav Krasilnikov/TASS via Getty Images

Russia: Dismantling civil society

Azerbaijan: Authorities to decide who is a journalist

Poland: “Lex-TVN” bill vetoed

Belarus: Raids and heavy sentences

UK: An assault on fundamental rights

  • The draconian Policing Bill would radically curtail the right to protest; it includes protest-banning orders with catch-all definitions that would leave many protesters vulnerable to prosecution. It also includes an expansion of Police stop and search powers and makes an offence of “locking-on” (whereby protesters chain or glue themselves to their place of protest), with offenders facing up to 51 weeks in prison.
  • The Nationalities and Borders Bill would allow the government to remove a person’s British citizenship without prior notice if such a move was considered to be in the “national interest”, or in the interests of national security, and if the government believed that the person in question was eligible for foreign citizenship. Such powers are likely to disproportionately affect minority ethnic groups, and especially Muslims. The legislation would also criminalise undocumented asylum seekers and penalise refugees entitled to asylum who arrive in the UK without prior permission.
  • The dismantling of the UK Human Rights Act. In December, the Secretary of State for Justice, Dominic Raab, launched a consultation on a new bill of rights. The government’s proposals — which Raab has said will counter “wokery and political correctness” — will, among other things, introduce a permission stage to “deter spurious human rights claims”, allow judges to override rulings from the European Court of Human Rights, and expedite the deportation of foreign criminals.

Turkey: Council of Europe presses for release of Osman Kavala and Selahattin Demirtaş

In brief




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

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

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