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Final Regional Report on Law and Policy Environment for Civic Space: Sub-Saharan Africa

11 August 2020.

Today, CLD is releasing its fifth and final regional report in its series on the law and policy environment for civic space globally, covering seventeen countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. It highlights legal restrictions which pose more serious risks to the ability of civil society to operate freely in each country, with the goal of providing a guide for where reform is needed.

This series represents the public launch of law and policy reviews commissioned by Transparency International last year covering five regions: Asia Pacific, Europe and Central Asia, Latin America, Middle East and North Africa, and Sub-Saharan Africa. The earlier reports in the series are available online: Asia Pacific, Europe and Central Asia, Latin America and Middle East and North Africa.

The report identifies the following general trends across the region:

    • Regulatory regimes for non-governmental organisations are typically overly complex or unclear, and many include burdensome reporting requirements or grant broad discretion to authorities to refuse to register or dissolve organisations.
    • Despite a welcome trend of decriminalising defamation, criminal reputation offences remain in many countries, along with other problematical content restrictions (such as on sharing false information).
    • Cyber laws introduce new restrictions on speech, including some instances of effectively re-criminalising online defamation. Government authorities have improperly broad authority to block the Internet or specific websites.
    • Media regulators are not independent, despite having significant regulatory powers.
    • Some countries require prior authorisation before organisers may hold demonstrations and some even require notice of any public meeting.
    • Limited oversight of security institutions, combined with expansive definitions of seditious or terrorist acts, pose a risk to peaceful civil society activities.
    • Whistleblower protection laws in the region are rare, while five countries also lack right to information laws.

The Sub-Saharan Africa regional report is available at: Sub-Saharan Africa Report.

For further information, please contact:

Laura Notess
Legal Officer
Centre for Law and Democracy
Email: laura@law-democracy.org
+1 782 234 4471
twitter: @law_democracy

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