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Report shows that more than half of the world’s population is experiencing a crisis of freedom of expression: JURIST

Free speech organization Article 19 published its Global Expression Report (GER) 2024 on Tuesday, showing that more than half of the world’s population is “experiencing a free speech crisis”, unable to speak freely. In 2023, the percentage of people living in this crisis increased to 53 percent, or about 4 billion people.

This dramatic change is largely attributed to India, which was officially designated as a country in crisis in the report. The country has experienced a 35-point drop over the last decade. According to Reporters Without Borders, “India’s media has fallen into an “unofficial state of emergency” as Prime Minister Narendra Modi has “engineered a dramatic rapprochement between his party, the BJP, and the big families that dominate the media.” Somdeep Sen, a political scientist at Roskilde University in Denmark, told NPR: “What remains are a few major (digital) media outlets that are independent.

Ethiopia also made the negative jump from very restricted to crisis in the Article 19 report. Since 2000, 46 countries have experienced a negative change in freedom of expression. These declining changes have begun to stabilize as free speech scores are plateauing.

Despite the increase, some countries were shown to have made great improvements in freedom of expression. Brazil, Thailand, Niger, Fiji and Sri Lanka moved towards greater openness at scale. However, of these countries, Brazil, whose government is head-on confronting disinformation and anti-democratic expressions, is the only one that is now considered open after having made a significant jump of 25 points over the past year.

Only 23 percent of the world’s population currently lives in a country with open or less restricted expression.

The GER is an annual analysis of the right to free expression and information around the world. It uses 25 indicators of freedom of expression and tracks this expression in 161 of the 195 countries in the world. It then rates the level of freedom on a scale of 1 to 100, with 100 being the most open. The TBM classifies countries into one of five categories: open, less restricted, restricted, very restricted or in crisis. The crisis level has a level of freedom of expression that ranges from 0 to 19 while the openness level ranges between 80 and 100.

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