November 24, 2020

Shrinking Space: Civil Society under Threat in South Asia

This event took place on 17 November 2020 at 1pm.

Crackdowns on civil society space through funding and registration restrictions, as well as proliferating forms of harassment, including through litigation, have become increasingly common throughout South Asia as a means to silence criticism. At a time when freedom of expression and association are under threat, when transparency and accountability and under pressure, the need for civil society to be able to hold governments to account is as important as ever.

On 29 September 2020, Amnesty International India announced that it was halting its work on upholding human rights in India after the Indian government froze its bank accounts. Amnesty stated that this amounted to an act of reprisal for the organisation’s human rights work, following an increasing pattern of harassment and repressive tactics to shut down critical voices and groups working to promote, protect, and uphold fundamental rights in the country.

The Bar Human Rights Committee of England and Wales was pleased to host this timely panel event with human rights lawyers and regional experts, which explored the impact of a shrinking, and hostile, space for civil society across South Asia, and asked how the international community can help.

Speakers include:
• Hina Jilani, Pioneering lawyer, human rights defender and leading activist in Pakistan’s women’s movement; member of The Elders.
• Sara Hossain, Lawyer at the Supreme Court of Bangladesh and Rights Activist.
• Rajat Khosla, Senior Director for Research, Advocacy and Policy, Amnesty International.
• Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia Director, Human Rights Watch.