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Report: Less than 20% of global population live in a free country

  • Published at 03:13 pm March 7th, 2021
Freedom of speech
Representational photo: Bigstock

Nations with a decline in political rights and civil liberties have outnumbered nations with gains by the biggest margin in 15 years, says a new report

A recent report by an independent freedom watchdog has unveiled that less than 20% of the world’s population currently lives in a country deemed "free."

“Although freedom in the world’s better-performing countries had been in retreat for several years, in 2020 it was struggling democracies and authoritarian states that accounted for more of the global decline. The proportion of ‘Not Free’ countries is now the highest it has been in the past 15 years,” said Freedom House, a US-based political freedom and human rights watchdog, in its report Democracy under Siege

Overall, freedom scores were downgraded in 73 countries, representing 75% of the world's population, as the share of nations “Not Free” hit its highest level since 2006, the year the watchdog set as the beginning of the deterioration of democracy across the globe, the report said.

Did you know that less than 20% of the world's population lives in a country rated Free by Freedom in the World 2021 report? Read more to follow this damaging global trajectory: www.freedomintheworld.org

Posted by Freedom House on Friday, 5 March 2021

The report also said that nations with decline in political rights and civil liberties had outnumbered nations with gains by the biggest margin in a 15-year period.

“On average, the scores of these countries have declined by about 15% during the same period. At the same time, the number of countries worldwide earning a net score improvement for 2020 was the lowest since 2005, suggesting that the prospects for a change in the global downward trend are more challenging than ever,” it said.

Mentioning that widespread protest movements of 2019 often collided with increased repression in 2020, it also stated that many of such protests led to oppressive regimes benefiting from a distracted and divided international community and using crackdowns to curtail demonstrators.

The report, which mentioned a host of countries such as India, China and the United States, also identified that the global decline in freedom was also fuelled by the response by governments to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“As Covid-19 spread during the year, governments across the democratic spectrum repeatedly resorted to excessive surveillance, discriminatory restrictions on freedoms like movement and assembly, and arbitrary or violent enforcement of such restrictions by police and nonstate actors.

Waves of false and misleading information, generated deliberately by political leaders in some cases, flooded many countries’ communication systems, obscuring reliable data and jeopardizing lives,” the report mentioned.

Mentioning India, the report stated that India’s overall score dropped to 67 out of 100 in 2020, compared to 71 in 2019.

China was categorized by the report as “not free” with a score of 9 out of 100, down from 11 in 2019. Pakistan scored 37, slipping just one step from last year. The United States was also downgraded to 83 in 2020 from 94 in 2010.

Meanwhile, Sweden, Norway and Finland scored a perfect 100 in the report.