International Network of Civil Liberties Organizations

Protest Rights
and Policing

INCLO member organizations believe that the fundamental rights to protest and express opinions in public is critical to a functional democracy. Additionally, the role of the state is to protect and promote the rights to protest and enable people to voice their concerns freely and safely.

However, in many countries around the world, policing and security institutions often resort to the excessive use of force to disperse crowds, states introduce restrictive laws and endorse practices that curtail people’s ability to protest and express dissent, while protesters and social leaders are frequently persecuted and subject to human rights violations.

INCLO brings together a global network of human rights defenders and public interest lawyers from our member organizations to conduct research and advocate against repressive responses by policing and security institutions to social protests and human rights activism. Together we develop standards for the free exercise of the rights to protest at the regional and international levels.

Goals:

  1. To research, educate, and litigate repressive responses to protests by states and their policing and security institutions.
  2. To advocate for policies and international standards that protect and promote our rights to protest and promote the proper management of assemblies.

Reports:

  1. Defending Dissent: Towards State Practices that Protect and Promote the Rights to Protest, June 2018.

    Our report identifies policing principles and practices that governments need to adopt to protect and promote human rights in the context of protests. The publication relies on a review of protest-related literature, 44 case studies from INCLO jurisdictions, interviews with policing experts in different countries and the expertise of INCLO member organizations.

  2. Lethal in Disguise: The Health Consequences of Crowd-Control Weapons, 2016

    As a seminal piece of research on CCWs, this report brings to light a wealth of new information about CCWs and their detrimental effects on health and wellbeing, as well as on exercising the rights to protest and peaceful assembly.

  3. Take Back the Streets: Repression and Criminalization of Protest around the World, 2013

    Our first report showcases contemporary examples of repressive responses by states and their policing and security institutions to activism and protest resulting in injury, death, and the criminalization of protest leaders. The case studies highlighted were brought forward by our member organizations, focusing on INCLO jurisdictions.

Surveillance and
Human Rights

In this digital age, governments, intelligence agencies and private companies across the globe can easily see where we're going, who we're talking to and what interests we have. Often harvested without our knowledge or consent, this personal information can be used to target us unfairly, influence our choices and suppress our voices when we express dissent.

People from all backgrounds experience these intrusions, which interfere with our fundamental rights to privacy, freedom of expression and freedom of association. However the effects are disproportionately felt by marginalised or activist populations, increasing inequalities.

INCLO brings together a global network of technologists, legal, and Surveillance and Human Rights experts. Our research and community engagement show how domestic laws and international treaties are slow to respond to these intrusions or are absent altogether. Our advocacy strives to establish and ensure human rights protections, both in legal frameworks and in practice.

Goals:

  1. To research, educate, and litigate for the protection and enhancement of our rights and freedoms in the digital age at international and local levels.
  2. To advocate for strong oversight, transparency, and public disclosure about the way state and private actors alike access and use our personal information.

Reports

  1. Spying On Dissent (2019)

    Surveillance technologies and protest.

    Policing technologies are harming protest rights in INCLO member countries.

  2. Unanswered Questions (2018)

    INCLO filed coordinated Freedom of Information requests in 2017 to learn how intelligence sharing practices operate in our countries. Our report details responses, desk research, confidential interviews with officials and experiences in our 13 countries. We reveal ongoing insufficient laws, oversight and transparency governing these practices.

  3. OHCHR Submissions (2018)

    INCLO provided input to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights report on human rights challenges relating to privacy in the digital age. We recommended that the Human Rights Committee issue a new General Comment on the right to privacy under Article 17 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

  4. Surveillance and Democracy (2016)

    Our report offers a ground-level view of some of the ways surveillance, and digital electronic surveillance in particular, is impacting on the lives of citizens and residents in INCLO countries.

Advocacy

  1. Intelligence Sharing Project

    INCLO members filed Freedom of Information (FOI) requests in our attempt to shine light on the intelligence sharing practices and agreements between different intelligence agencies around the world. This is the first multinational coalition demanding governments release information about practices shielded from accountability. Please see our report here on our findings to date.

    • Intelligence Sharing Project
      Freedom of Information Requests and responses
      Go to Page
  2. 10 NGOs v the United Kingdom

    Seven INCLO members filed complaints arguing that the UK’s historical bulk surveillance violated our rights to privacy and to free expression. In September 2018, the European Court of Human Rights agreed. And now we’ve sought a further ruling that gathering enormous quantities of data about a wide range of people can never be justified.

  3. Condemning the internet crackdown in Russia

    The Moscow court ban of the encrypted messaging service Telegram LLP is one in a series of attacks on people’s fundamental rights to privacy and freedom of expression in Russia. INCLO asked Google, Amazon, Microsoft, and Apple to condemn the ban and the wider internet crackdown in Russia.

  4. Surveillance Matters

    INCLO in partnership with our HCLU member created a website with free, ethical and open sourced tips on how to better protect your privacy and personal information protection online.

Religious Freedom
and Equal Treatment

Across the globe INCLO members work to advance the right to equal treatment for groups that have long been oppressed, including lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people, women as well as racial and religious minorities. At the same time, our members uphold the freedom of religion and conscience as a fundamental human right to be valued, defended, and protected.

As a network we aim to bring our commitment to both equality and religious freedom, and to inform the cases where the two sets of rights may be in tension. We have developed a principled, reconciling approach reflecting our understanding that the fundamental right to freedom of religion does not give any person the right to impose their views on others, including by discriminating against or otherwise harming them.

Our goals are:

  1. To advance equality and religious liberty.
  2. To provide a framework for addressing the tensions between the two set of rights.

Reports:

  1. Drawing the Line: Tackling Tensions between Religious Freedom and Equality

    In this report INCLO members provide a framework that includes the understanding that religious freedom means the right to our beliefs, a right that is fundamental and must be vigorously defended; however, religious freedom does not give us the right to impose our views on others, including by discriminating against or otherwise harming them.

Advocacy:

  1. INCLO statement on Women’s Rights to Equality and Access to Reproductive Healthcare including Abortion

  2. Global Developments in Religious Freedom and Equal Treatment

    INCLO’s members distribute this international newsletter, highlighting cases that reveal the tensions between the two rights and identifying worrying trends that require serious consideration.

Protecting
Civic Space

In recent years, a growing number of governments around the world have stepped up attacks against democratic dissent, including attacks on Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs). Certain governments have been restricting civil society space which has affected citizens’ rights to engage in democratic dissent. In addition to them, non-government entities such as businesses, private militias, religious groups, and even ordinary citizens have also been contributing to this disturbing trend.

The NGOs and other civil society actors in these countries have increasingly become the target of public vilification, hostile legislation, arbitrary enforcement, surveillance, and in more extreme cases, freedom of movement restrictions, intimidation and arrest.

These measures significantly interfere with the ability of NGOs and other civil society actors to function effectively, continue to facilitate citizen engagement, and protect people’s rights and their access to information and justice.

Some highlights:

  1. Organizations working at the local and national level play the main role in pushing back against the tide of politics that seeks to undermine civil society. At the same time, INCLO believes that grassroot initiatives need to be supported by —although not be dependent on— international solidarity.

    To show solidarity, INCLO has developed a set of standard strategies that can be used as guidelines by NGOs tackling restrictive governmental actions that they are confronted with at the national level.

    Gaining Ground: A Framework for Developing Strategies and Tactics in Response to Governmental Attacks on NGOs formulates possible responses to each of the five identified threats that have been emerging as a global pattern.

    The publication draws on the first-hand experiences of different organizations, including some of INCLO’s 13 members that work on issues related to civil liberties and human rights around the world.

Publications:

  • Gaining Ground: A Framework for Developing Strategies and Tactics in Response to Governmental Attacks on NGOs
    Gaining Ground: A Framework for Developing Strategies and Tactics in Response to Governmental Attacks on NGOs
    English PDF
  • Gaining Ground Brochure
    Gaining Ground - Brochure
    English PDF