EVENT: Shrinking Space: Civil Society under Threat in South Asia

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.

BHRC is pleased to host this timely panel event with human rights lawyers and regional experts to explore the impact of a shrinking, and hostile, space for civil society across South Asia, and asks 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.

The discussion will be chaired by Schona Jolly QC, Chair of the Bar Human Rights Committee of England and Wales.

The speakers will be followed by a Q&A session.

Do join us!

Speakers biographies

Sara Hossain

Sara Hossain is a barrister practicing in the Supreme Court of Bangladesh, mainly in the areas of constitutional, public interest and family law. She serves pro bono at the Bangladesh Legal Aid and Services Trust. She has been involved in landmark cases on women’s rights, the right to liberty and freedom of expression. Sara is involved with national and regional organisations on human rights including the Human Rights Forum, Bangladesh, the Committee on Fundamental Rights and South Asians for Human Rights.

Rajat Khosla

Rajat Khosla joined as Senior Director for Research, Advocacy and Policy at the International Secretariat of Amnesty International this year from the World Health Organisation, where he worked as the Human Rights Adviser over the last 7 years. He has extensive experience in various research, advocacy, legal and policy roles in organisations such as OHCHR, UNDP, the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, the International Environmental Law Research Centre and UNFPA.

Please note that registration of interest is first required through Zoom. This event is open to the public, but due to the anticipated number of attendees, priority will be given to BHRC members and invited guests. Please wait for confirmation of your space before attending.

To register please click here: https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_8HjAhkicQ5G9I1cx2vVOqA