COVID-19 Civic Freedom Tracker

Keep Civic Space Healthy

This tracker monitors government responses to the pandemic that affect civic freedoms and human rights, focusing on emergency laws. For information about our methodology, click here.

For more information and analysis by region, click here.

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The COVID-19 Civic Freedom Tracker is a collaborative effort by the ICNL, ECNL, and our global network of partners, with generous research support from the UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism, Fionnuala D. Ní Aoláin. This is an ongoing effort, and we welcome you to email us at adeblock@icnl.org and simona@ecnl.org to share additional resources.


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China

Declaration of "Wartime Mode" and Lockdown

Authorities declared a "wartime" mode in Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang. Authorities ordered lockdown measures, including banning all public gatherings, forbidding residents to leave their housing compounds, and requiring those who needed to leave the city to present a negative COVID-19 test.

(See primary source or citation here)


Introduced 18 Jul 2020 Lifted on 9/1/20

Issue(s): Assembly, Movement

Type: order

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China

Declaration of a "Wartime Emergency Mode" in Beijing District

Beijing officials have placed 29 residential communities under a "wartime emergency mode" after a surge of positive cases in the district. Officials have ordered a lockdown of the district (all neighborhoods of the district will be closed immediately and all residents must stay home).

(See primary source or citation here)


Introduced 13 Jun 2020 Lifted on 7/3/20

Issue(s): Movement

Type: order

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China

Opinions on Strictly Punishing Violations and Crimes that Obstruct the Control of the Coronavirus Epidemic

The Supreme Peoples Court, the Supreme Peoples Procuratorate, the Ministry of Public Security, and the Ministry of Justice jointly issued COVID-19 judicial opinions to clarify standards in the application provisions of PRC's criminal law. According to the opinions, the commission of certain crimes during the period of epidemic prevention and control may be subject to heavier punishment. Notably, the opinions call to "strictly punish crimes of fabricating or spreading rumors in accordance with law," and criminalize a variety of types of dissemination of "false" information on information networks.

(See primary source or citation here)


Introduced 10 Feb 2020

Issue(s): Disinformation, Expression

Type: order

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China

Lockdowns in Hubei Province

On January 23, the central government imposed travel lockdowns on Wuhan and nearby cities in Hubei province, effectively confining an estimated 56 million people. Wuhan authorities also suspended all vehicle traffic, with limited exceptions, in the city center. Many residents in Wuhan expressed difficulties about access to medical care and other life necessities. (See primary source or citation here)


Introduced 23 Jan 2020

Issue(s): Movement

Type: policy

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China

Secret Detention of Opposition Figures under Pretext of Quarantine

According to rights activists, the Chinese government has detained opposition figures upon being released from prison, under the pretext of quarantining them. "Quarantines" in this context involve detention without families' knowledge, and deprivation of individuals' ability to communicate with the outside world while they are held in secret locations. On one occasion, a woman was held in "quarantine" in a windowless room for more than a month, even though she had been tested and quarantined before her release from prison. On another occasion, a human rights defender was detained in the midst of standard day-to-day activities, interrogated, and "quarantined" in a hotel 500 miles away. Local officials have suggested these types of detentions go even beyond emergency powers granted to the Chinese government under the national emergency law. 

(See primary source or citation here)


Introduced 30 Jul 2020

Issue(s): Expression, Movement

Type: practice

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China

Use of Surveillance Cameras to Enforce Quarantine

Local governments in China have been installing surveillance cameras outside the homes of persons under quarantine in several cities. Some people reported that cameras have even been placed inside their homes.

(See primary source or citation here)


Introduced 28 Apr 2020

Issue(s): Surveillance, Privacy, Movement

Type: practice

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China

Mandatory Phone App Shares Data with Police

Citizens in hundreds of Chinese cities are required to install software on their smartphones that determines whether they should be quarantined or allowed into public places, based on their personal information and details of recent travel. The software tracks users' location and appears to shares data with the police. (See primary source or citation here)


Introduced 1 Mar 2020

Issue(s): Surveillance, Privacy

Type: practice

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This is an ongoing effort, and we welcome you to email us at adeblock@icnl.org and simona@ecnl.org to share additional resources.