Brasil experiences grave democratic crises, says German NGO Bread for the World

The political crisis is increasingly determined by conservatism, and political activity by citizens is repressed, often with violence, by the authorities, declares Brot für die Welt

A new index disseminated on Wednesday 31 January places Brazil amongst countries in which the operation of civil society and the exercise of individual liberties – such as the right to demonstrate or to express one’s opinion – is merely “limited”. The scale has five levels and runs from “free” to “closed”.

Drafted by the NGO Brot für die Welt [Bread for the World], linked to the German Evangelical Church (Evangelische Kirche Deutschland: EKD), the Atlas der Zivilgesellschaft [Civil Society Atlas] notes that “since the controversial process of the impeachment of ex-President Dilma Rousseff, in August 2016, this G20 country, the ninth largest economy in the world, is experiencing a grave democratic crisis. [The German organization is a supporter of CESE’s Small Project Fund].

According to the report, “active participation in politics, through social movements, is increasingly seeing the criminalization of activists. The political climate is ever more determined by religious conservatism” which disrespects the rights of women and homosexuals, “raising tensions and social differences”.

The report asserts that violence in protests against the government is rising.  “Special units act with tear gas, stun grenades, rubber bullets and, in part, lethal weapons against protestors”, which, according to the report, frequently result in people being injured and even killed.

Brazil appears on the index alongside 52 other countries in which the free expression of individual liberties is “limited by governments through a combination of legal and practical limitations.” Other countries on the list are India, Indonesia, Mozambique, Haiti and Israel.

Around the world

The Civil Society Atlas presents a sombre picture for the functioning of civil society and the exercise of individual liberties around the world.  It notes that only 2% of the global population lives in societies in which it is possible to express oneself and act politically in a way that is completely free.

This population totals 148 million people who live in 22 countries, the majority of which are European.  These include Germany, the Scandinavian nations, Switzerland and Portugal.  There, citizens can “without legal or practical barriers, create associations, undertake demonstrations in public spaces and obtain and disseminate information”.

The authors note a direct relationship between civil liberties and the development of society. “When pressure is put on the population, conflicts emerge and this prevents development”, declared Brot für die Welt’s Director of Human Rights, Julia Duchrow, presenting the study in Berlin.  According to Duchrow, better living conditions therefore depend on the free exercise of civil liberties.

Six countries, including Brazil, were analysed in detail, the others were: Kenya, Chad, Honduras, the Philippines and Azerbaijan.  “What they all have in common is that civil society is increasingly repressed,” Duchrow stated.  As examples, she cited the disproportionate use of police violence against protestors and the promulgation of laws that restrict the influence of civil society.

The report notes that the trend around the world is for authoritarian regimes while in many countries despots have even garnered the support of a portion of the population.  One example is the Philippines, where President Rodrigo Duterte has the sympathy of many citizens.  “Unfortunately, nationalist tendencies are on the rise at the moment,” said Duchrow.

Source: German News Service DW


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