Democracy is on the retreat and authoritarianism is on the rise in more than 96 of the U.N.’s 193 member states, according to a new report released here.
The two regions of “highest concern” for defenders of civic space are Sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East and North Africa, which between them account for over half of the countries counted.
These violations are increasing not only in countries perceived to be democratic but also in countries with blatantly repressive regimes.
“The widespread systematic attack on these core civil society liberties has taken many forms, including assault, torture, kidnapping and assassination,” says the CIVICUS Civil Society Watch Report.
“We have known for some time that encroachments on civic space and persecution of peaceful activists were on the rise but it’s more pervasive than many may think,” said Dr. Dhananjayan Sriskandarajah, Secretary-General of CIVICUS, a South Africa-based international alliance dedicated to strengthening citizen action and civil society worldwide.
“Our monitoring in 2014 shows that legitimate civil society activities are worryingly under threat in a huge number of countries in the global North and South, democratic and authoritarian, on all continents,” he added.
The report says while activists engaged in political reform, uncovering corruption and human rights violations continue to be targeted, those defending local communities from land grabs and environmental degradation, as well as those promoting minority group rights, have been subjected to various forms of persecution.
“The link between unethical business practices and closing civic space is becoming clearer as global inequality and capture of power and resources by a handful of political and economic elite rises. “
Advocacy for equitable sharing of natural resources and workers’ rights is becoming increasingly fraught with danger, says the report.