Global Free Expression in Crisis for Over Half the World’s Population, Report Warns

A new report has found that the state of free expression is in crisis for over half the global population, VOA reported yesterday.

The findings paint a concerning picture as dozens of countries prepare to hold elections in 2024, with documented efforts to restrict access to information.

According to the Global Expression Report published by the free speech group Article 19, more than 4.2 billion people, or 53% of the world’s population, live in countries where freedom of expression is in crisis. Conversely, just over one-fifth (23%) reside in countries considered open or less restricted.

The report marks a significant deterioration from Article 19’s previous annual assessment, which found 34% of the global population lived in countries with free expression in crisis. Over the past decade, the organization has documented a worsening situation in 78 countries.

To determine its rankings, Article 19 analyzes 25 indicators, including media, religious, and academic freedoms, classifying nations as open, less restricted, restricted, highly restricted, or in crisis.

Concerning trends observed include an increase in internet shutdowns and state-sponsored disinformation campaigns intended to influence upcoming elections.

Article 19’s executive director, Quinn McKew, warned that being a savvy information consumer is “critically important” during these times.

Of particular concern is the situation in India, which has declined in 24 out of 25 factors assessed and is now classified as being in “crisis.” The report cites crackdowns on critical journalists and news outlets in the world’s largest democracy as it prepares for national elections.

While the overall global picture is bleak, the report offers hope, citing improvements in countries like Brazil following recent electoral changes.

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