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[Report] Repressive Measures During COVID-19 Pandemic in South Asia: Implications on Civic Space and Fundamental Freedoms

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South Asia comprises eight countries—Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka—and stands as a densely populated region, housing approximately one-and-a-half billion people with diverse ethnicities, cultures, and religious beliefs. While not classified among the primary economic powerhouses globally, the region—excluding Afghanistan—has progressively entered the arena of competitive economies, marked by extensive trade in goods, services, and labour.

Despite these strides in socio-economic development, it is crucial to acknowledge the intricate and challenging relationship between South Asia and democratic governance. The region has a long history of political instability, largely from its extended colonial era and subsequent decolonization processes. These challenges have been compounded by escalating regional insecurities, boundary disputes, territorial conflicts, and armed confrontations rooted in ethnic, religious, ideological, and linguistic divisions. Consequently, these factors have led to widespread violations of civil, political, economic, social, and cultural rights perpetrated by both State and non-state actors alike.

FORUM-ASIA takes great pride in unveiling its latest report, “Repressive Measures During COVID-19 Pandemic in South Asia: Implications on Civic Space and Fundamental Freedoms.” This comprehensive report delves into the multifaceted impact of the COVID-19 crisis response in South Asia, specifically examining how these measures have adversely affected civic space and fundamental freedoms in the region. Through rigorous research and analysis, this report aims to shed light on the concerning trends of governmental overreach and the erosion of democratic values, emphasising the implications of such actions on the rights of individuals to freely engage in civic activities and exercise their fundamental freedoms. By highlighting these critical issues, FORUM-ASIA endeavours to encourage dialogue, promote accountability, and advocate for the protection and preservation of human rights and democratic principles in South Asia.

Read the report here