Report shows more than half of global population is living through freedom of expression crisis News
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Report shows more than half of global population is living through freedom of expression crisis

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

This dramatic shift 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 spectacular rapprochement between his party, the BJP, and the big families dominating the media.” Somdeep Sen, a political scientist at Roskilde University in Denmark, told NPR, “What’s left is a few major [digital] outlets that are independent.

Ethiopia also made the negative jump from highly restricted to crisis in Article 19’s report. Since 2000, 46 countries have experienced a negative shift in freedom of expression. These declining shifts have begun to level off as freedom of expression scores are becoming stagnant.

Despite the increase, some countries were shown to have made great improvements in freedom of speech. Brazil, Thailand, Niger, Fiji, and Sri Lanka moved towards more openness on the scale. However, of these countries, Brazil, whose government is tackling misinformation and antidemocratic expressions head-on, is the only one now considered open after making a major 25-point jump over the past year.

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

The GER is an annual analysis of the right to free expression and information worldwide. It uses 25 indicators of freedom of expression and tracks this expression throughout 161 of the 195 countries in the world. It then ranks the level of freedom on a 1-100 scale, with 100 being the most open. The GER categorizes countries into one of five categories: open, less restricted, restricted, highly restricted, or crisis. The level of crisis has a freedom of expression level ranging from 0-19 while the open level ranges from 80-100.