CIVICUS – the global alliance of civil society organisations and activists dedicated to strengthening citizen action and civil society – has released its latest report: “People Power Under Attack 2019“.
Findings based on data gathered by CIVICUS Monitor, a global research collaboration which rates and tracks respect for fundamental freedoms in 196 countries, show an alarming, and deepening, civic space crisis across the globe.
Fundamental freedoms of association, peaceful assembly and expression are backsliding across the world. The report found that just 3% of the world’s population are now living in countries where their fundamental rights are in general, protected and respected.
Responding to the report, Australian Council for International Development CEO, Marc Purcell said:
“Rising authoritarianism is one of the most threatening trends across the Asia-Pacific. Australia must be more active in responding to this challenge.
“Australia needs to focus on empowering the region’s civil societies and individuals, combating corruption and good governance to build the wellbeing, culture, security and sovereignty of Australia’s neighbours.
“The backsliding on basic civic freedoms and democratic rights is an alarming deterioration. The persistent assault on civil society and fundamental freedoms in Asia, particularly on censorship and harassment and even in some cases, the killing of NGO leaders, demonstrates the need for urgent action.
“Civil society is part of the antidote to increasing trends of authoritarianism. It creates critical public debate which advances peoples’ rights. Supporting civil society should be part of interests in our region, and this should be carefully considered in Australia’s aid review.
“ACFID will continue to advocate for those who are facing closing civic space in countries where we operate, and call on the Australian Government to be a champion for the role of civil society, standing as a bulwark against further erosion”.