Human rights defenders, activists and individuals who criticise government policies or express dissent or diverging opinion to those of the authorities are subjected to harassment, surveillance, arbitrary detention, smear campaigns, prolonged and unfair trials. Family members of HRDs are also targeted and subjected to intimidation and harassment at the hands of the authorities.
New anti-terrorism legislation enacted in 2014 has been used to target human rights defenders and government critics. Some received harsh sentences by an anti-terrorism court, including lenghty prison terms. The government targeted online activists and family members who reported on human rights violations. Due process and fair trial rights are often not respected. Defendants are commonly sentenced to floggings of hundreds of lashes.
Human rights organisations and independent groups are not permitted to operate legally in the country. This places members at risk of prosecution for “setting up an unregistered organisation.” An associations law that would allow non-charity organisations to operate was spoken of, but not passed in 2014.