Almost three-quarters of the world’s population lived in a country where rights and freedoms declined last year, according to Freedom House.
Nearly 75% of the world’s population lived in a place that experienced a decline in rights and freedoms in 2020, a US-based think tank said in a new report, detailing the 15th consecutive year of reduced global freedoms. .
While 28 countries saw improvement last year, freedom drops were recorded in 73 others, according to Freedom House’s annual report “Freedom in the World.” report, published Wednesday.
The Washington, DC-based group has classified 151 countries and 45 territories as free, partially free, or non-free based on criteria including electoral processes, political pluralism, government corruption, and freedom of speech and assembly. , among others.
“In 2020, it is struggling democracies and authoritarian states that further explain the global decline. The proportion of non-free countries is now the highest it has been in the past 15 years, ”the organization said.
“These hard knocks marked the 15th consecutive year of decline in global freedom … The long democratic recession is deepening.”
India went from free to partially free in 2020, as Freedom House accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his party of crack down on critics, Muslims scapegoating and “tragically leading India itself towards authoritarianism”.
“With India’s decline to Partly Free, less than 20 percent of the world’s population now live in a free country, the smallest proportion since 1995,” the report reads.
Freedom House also said governments have used the COVID-19 pandemic “to consolidate power and suppress dissent.”
He highlighted Algeria, where he said the state had used coronavirus-related lockdown measures to remove a protest movement, and to the Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who “exploited the pandemic to accumulate emergency powers and deter independent reports and critics.”
The United States has also seen an 11-point drop in freedom since 2020, according to the report, making it one of the 25 countries to experience the steepest declines over the 10-year period.
Freedom House said a deadly insurrection at the US Capitol on Jan. 6, spurred on by former President Donald Trump and led by a host of his supporters, “threw the country into an even greater crisis” after years of declining freedoms.
“Politically flawed health recommendations, partisan infighting, extremely high and racially disparate coronavirus death rates, and the police violence against protesters the advocacy for racial justice over the summer all underscored the systemic dysfunctions of the United States and made American democracy appear fundamentally unstable, ”the report read.
The group also criticized China for exerting “malicious influence” in 2020, including a crackdown on freedoms in Hong Kong resulting from a national security law.
Despite its generally grim conclusions, Freedom House said democracy is resilient and countries can bounce back.
He highlighted Malawi, where democratic progress has been made, and Taiwan, which has “largely respected civil liberties” in its response to the coronavirus pandemic, as nations that have overcome challenges in 2020.