INCLO Report Release: Defending Dissent: State Practices that Protect…

New international report makes recommendations on how the rights to protest can be protected and promoted by governments.

(27 June 2018 — Geneva, Switzerland) The International Network of Civil Liberties Organizations (INCLO) and the International Human Rights Clinic at the University of Chicago Law School (IHRC) launched a report today that provides practical guidance on how law enforcement can protect human rights when policing protests.

Defending Dissent: Towards State Practices that Protect and Promote the Rights to Protest aims to bridge the divide between principles and practice. It offers concrete examples and analysis of existing laws, institutional mechanisms and processes, and deployment tactics that work to promote or, in some cases, undermine, protests and public assemblies. The report relies on interviews with policing experts in eight countries, and the expertise of INCLO member organizations engaged in advocacy on human rights and policing.

The publication highlights general principles, tactics and strategies through case studies of successful (and less successful) policing approaches gathered from countries around the world.

The report and its recommendations are organized around three themes: preventive measures and institutional design, tactics and the use of force, and accountability and oversight. Within these themes, the report identifies 12 core principles and 33 good practices essential for their realization.

The report offers authorities a toolkit to evaluate their existing policies, practices, and institutional mechanisms. It provides a detailed discussion on how to implement legal principles and signals the potential challenges that can be encountered in this process.

Protest and public gatherings are the only tools people have to express their grievances and to seek political, social and economic reform. Public protest and speech are quintessential to a free society, yet state policing institutions treat these as national threats, resorting to arbitrary, excessive and discriminatory force.

INCLO and IHRC report promotes an open, practical, and well-informed dialogue between states, policing institutions, civil society, human rights defenders and other stakeholders on human rights compliant policing.

INCLO is a coalition of national, human rights organizations from the North and South that act jointly to influence discussions on standard-setting and raise awareness on the proper management of assemblies.

International Human Rights Clinic at the University of Chicago Law School is a practice-based legal course for graduate students in law that represents clients and partners with organizations on human rights law related advocacy and research.


“Freedom of expression and assembly are the bedrock of democracy, and there are international legal standards that safeguard these rights. However, there is an absence of research and direction from a human rights perspective that provides practical guidance for the implementation and application by the state and its policing institutions of these international standards. This report aims to fill that void,” says Rob De Luca from Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA), one of the main authors of the report.

“This report provides an important tool for the work of national human rights organizations. It also brings in the global perspective to the global debate and it shows that the standards for which we fight are possible and have an empirical foundation,” says Marcela Perelman, one of the main authors of the report from the Center for Legal and Social Studies (CELS) in Argentina.

“Our hope is that the report will foster real—and much needed—dialogue between police and civil society by identifying concrete ways in which public speech and assembly can be, and sometimes are, protected by police departments. We hope to contribute to a better understanding of how the state and its security institutions should be ensuring access to this fundamental democratic right,” says the IHRC Director, Claudia Flores.


Full Report
Executive Summary


Lucila Santos — INCLO’s Program Director —
Claudia Flores — IHRC’s Director —

INCLO Launches New Report: “Unanswered Questions – International Intelligence…

New report reveals lack of transparency of intelligence sharing agreements at the international level.

(June 11, 2018) – A year ago, ten members of the International Network of Civil Liberties Organizations (INCLO) launched a global public information campaign, asking for our national governments to provide information about the current agreements intelligence service agencies have with other countries.

Today, INCLO releases a new report Unanswered Questions – International Intelligence Sharing, summing up the responses to our Freedom of Information requests.

INCLO’s attempt to shed more light on a practice largely shielded from accountability was met with inconclusive results. The records requests are ongoing, but agencies have tended to delay, reject, or not respond at all. The lack of clarity raises concerns about violations that could interfere with people’s rights to privacy, access to information, freedom of expression and freedom of association.

Despite the uproar over Snowden’s revelations of vast and secretive networks seriously affecting our individual freedoms, there is still no public access to agreements governing intelligence sharing anywhere in the world. Today, the only agreements that are public are historical artifacts or those leaked by whistleblowers.

In addition, INCLO’s research has found that there are insufficient domestic laws that govern intelligence sharing partnerships and the way in which agencies operate. Moreover, there is insufficient oversight, review, and a lack of transparency to the existing agreements.

INCLO believes that adequate laws, oversight and transparency are the minimal requirements to preserve democracy and the rule of law.


“Asking for accountability for agencies with extraordinary powers and responsibilities is not naive, it is profoundly practical. It is also necessary for trust, legitimacy and social license for our intelligence agencies,” said Brenda McPhail, Director, Privacy, Technology & Surveillance Project of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association. McPhail belongs to one of the nine INCLO organizations who filed the FOI request.

Elizabeth Farries, co-author with Eric King of the Unanswered Questions report, warns about the impact on the wider democratic processes of holding governments to account. “By continuing to shroud these arrangements in secrecy, governments have removed the public’s ability to challenge their actions,” Farries said. “Our right to know the structure, content and oversight of intelligence sharing agreements is vital because of the serious implications they have for our fundamental human rights, like the right to privacy or freedom of expression.”

INCLO is a network of 13 independent, national human rights organizations from the global South and North. We work together to promote fundamental rights and freedoms.


Elizabeth Farries, INCLO Information Rights Program Manager,

For more information, please see our Report.

When A Criminal Record Becomes a Life Sentence: John…

February 21, 2018

(Toronto, ON) Today the John Howard Society of Ontario (JHSO) revealed the hidden but ruinous burden the criminal justice system places on police targets. Through funding from the Metcalf Foundation, JHSO released Invisible Burden, documenting the unjust impact of police record checks on peoples’ lives. The report identified best practices, leading research, and employer practices, in order to identify opportunities for reform. Additionally, JHSO launched a new website, Police Records Hub compiling updated resources for employers, service providers, and people with various types of records.

Police record checks frequently disclose information well beyond criminal convictions; depending on the police service, mental health apprehensions, police records of suicide attempts, complaints where charges were never laid, withdrawn charges, acquittals, and even victim and witness information can be disclosed on record checks. This is disturbing news because an increasing number of Canadian organizations – employers, volunteer managers, educational institutions, licensing bodies and governments – are incorporating police record checks into their hiring and management practices.

“A police record is ruinous for far too many who don’t deserve to be unemployable for life. The John Howard Society of Ontario’s new report and Hub are great resources that can help foster rights-respecting, inclusive hiring practices” says Michael Bryant, Executive Director and General Counsel, Canadian Civil Liberties Association

Thanks to JHSO, now there is a central hub at, containing best practices, Ontario specific information, guides, and research, all located on one centralized website that can help employers, service, providers, and people with lived experience.

The Invisible Burden report includes:

  • An overview of the types of records checks in Ontario, along with statistics about the prevalence of various types of records;
  • An overview of other jurisdictions: how they have identified the issue; best practices or models aimed at creating rights-respecting, inclusive approaches to hiring;
  • Results from surveys and interviews with large employers in Toronto;
  • One-page fact sheets and infographics;
  • Evidence-based policy recommendations for Ontario;
  • Opportunities to effect changes that will benefit both employers and people with records, and the labour market in general

For more information on record checks, see CCLA’s report False Promises, Hidden Costs and our website at

INCLO Report Release: Gaining Ground: A Framework for Developing…

In many countries across the world, governments have stepped up attacks on Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), making it harder for them to function effectively. A global pattern has emerged, in which certain governments seek to stigmatise and delegitimise these organisations, particularly by demonising their acceptance of foreign funding or other foreign connections they might have. Moreover, governments often impose debilitating regulations, limiting NGOs activities or simply shutting them down. These measures are often cloaked by the authorities as efforts to curb money laundering, corruption or terrorism.

Such state tactics are not new and include public vilification, hostile legislation, arbitrary enforcement, surveillance, arrest and intimidation. But the speed and scale of this latest spreading wave of repression has been astonishing, fuelled by geopolitical trends and national political shifts that are weakening international human rights protection and support.

NGOs are essential for mobilising private initiative, facilitating citizen engagement and protecting people’s rights. To anticipate and prepare for potential threats, they need to closely observe the signs of a sector-wide assault on civic freedoms.

In recent years, many members of the International Network of Civil Liberties Organizations (INCLO) have had to respond to a sudden increase in threats to civic freedoms. In support of these and other NGOs who have experienced similar treatment from authorities, today, INCLO is releasing the report Gaining Ground: A Framework for Developing Strategies and Tactics in Response to Governmental Attacks on NGOs.

To inspire international solidarity and enhance cross-border exchange between different organizations, Gaining Ground provides resources and analysis designed to support national organizations who wish to formulate strategic tactics to counteract governmental threats and assaults. It identifies five strategic questions, related to specific threats observed around the world, and enumerates possible responses, evaluating their pros and cons while addressing the possible considerations determined by the context in which the organizations operate. Moreover, the publication shares relevant case studies that INCLO collected from NGOs around the world.

While the approaches adopted by other NGOs would need to resonate within the national context, INCLO’s report seeks to provide a framework of strategic proposals that can be used as a starting point to address NGO vulnerabilities.

INCLO is a network of 13 independent, national human rights organizations working to promote fundamental rights and freedoms. The INCLO members are: the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI), the Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA), Centro de Estudios Legales y Sociales (CELS) in Argentina, Dejusticia in Colombia, the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR), the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union (HCLU), the Human Rights Law Network (HRLN) in India, the International Human Rights Group Agora (Agora) in Russia,  the Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL), the Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC), the Legal Resources Centre (LRC) in South Africa, and Liberty in the United Kingdom.

Gaining Ground is currently available here in English.

For more information, contact Andreea Anca at


Statement on release of new U.S. travel restrictions

The CCLA is still seriously concerned by the potential impact on refugees and asylum seekers of the new executive order released today by U.S. President Donald Trump restricting travelers from 6 mostly Muslim nations.

“None of the major concerns in our Jan. 29 statement [see below] are abated,” says CCLA Executive Director and General Counsel Sukanya Pillay.

See: CCLA calls for concrete action from Canadian government on U.S. travel ban

en_CAEnglish (Canada)