Freedom remains an indispensable flesh in democratic nations where governments are accountable to their people. The prevalence of rule of law, freedom of speech and association as well as respect for the rights of others are ingredients to any country seeking to thrive politically or economically.
But the news of global freedom since 2005 has continued to suffer heavy frustration, declining by each passing year.
According to the 2023 edition of the Freedom in the World report released on Thursday, global freedom declined for the 17th consecutive year in 2022.
The report produced by Freedom House, a United States nonprofit organization that tracks global trends and compiles individual country reports on political rights and liberties, stated that in the organization’s debut report in 1973, only 44 out of 148 countries were rated free. This figure pegged the rate of free countries at less than 30 percent. Today, 84 out of 195 nations — or 43 percent — earn that distinction.
However, the relatively good story has morphed into a bad tale since 2005, and 2022 marked the 17th consecutive year in the decline of global freedom. The reason for the drastic fallout is not difficult to seek. Competitive elections in Africa and Latin America and the rolling back of pandemic-related restrictions — which curtailed freedom of assembly and freedom of expression — drove the gains.
According to Freedom House’s report, 34 countries made overall improvements while 35 countries declined in the rankings — the smallest gap between 17 years.
The report also explained that while autocrats and authoritarian regimes are “far from infallible,” their own misconduct or corrupt practices often “provide openings for democratic forces.”
Also, over the past 17 years, the number of countries scoring 0 out of 4 on media freedom has ballooned from 14 to 33. This shows that freedom of expression which is a key driver of global democratic decline is also being stifled. In the past year, media freedom came under fire in at least 157 countries and territories, out of 195 included in the Freedom House’s 50th year of the study report.
According to the report, the largest score of improvement came from Colombia, Slovenia and Kosovo while major fallout in freedom came from Tunisia, Hungary, and Russia.