In defense of civil society

Enshrined in the Constitution of 1988, freedom of association was achieved after Brazil’s redemocratization. This right is what enables the existence of civil society, comprised of NGOs and social movements that work on different fronts, agendas and causes. A strong and independent civil society is synonymous with a healthy and participatory democracy.

This is why authoritarian governments around the world try to curtail, control and criminalize NGOs, particularly those that denounce violations, advocate for rights and change, mobilize people, influence public debate and pressure authorities.

In Brazil, Bolsonaro was elected in 2018 with the promise of ending “all types of activism” and he has mounted a harsh attack on organizations not aligned with his agenda, especially those that defend the environment and human rights and represent minorities and vulnerable groups.

Although they have intensified under Bolsonaro, these attacks are not new. The tactics include discrediting civil society organizations as legitimate political actors, criminalizing social movements, harassment, intimidation and violence against rights defenders, espionage, the creation of legal control mechanisms and cutting off funding.

Conectas was created from the need to connect organizations, activists and academics from the Global South and, because of this, one of its main courses of action is to strengthen the human rights movement and civil society. We work to ensure that NGOs, social movements and activists have freedom of action, security and a place in the discussion of public policies. The strength of our democracy depends on this.

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