Downward Spiral: Another year of more oppression and less freedom

A year ago, I mentioned CIVICUS and its State of Civil Society Report for 2019 which said the world was becoming less free, more restricive of human rights and more people were living under oppressive regimes.  Sadly, it appears 2020 is another year of decline.  From the CIVICUS website:

11 countries downgraded in new global report on civic freedoms

  • A growing number of people are living in ‘closed’, ‘repressed’ and ‘obstructed’ countries
  • Downgraded countries include the USA, Philippines, Guinea, Slovenia, and Iraq
  • Top violations include: detention of protesters, censorship and attacks on journalists
  • Freedoms of speech, association and peaceful assembly  deteriorated during COVID-19

The fundamental freedoms of association, peaceful assembly and expression continue to deteriorate across the world, according to a new report released today by the CIVICUS Monitor, a research collaboration that tracks fundamental freedoms in 196 countries. The new report, People Power Under Attack 2020, shows the number of people living in countries with significant civic space restrictions continues to increase year on year. 

87 per cent of the world’s population now live in countries rated as ‘closed’, ‘repressed’ or ‘obstructed’ – an increase of over 4% from last year. Over a quarter of people live in countries with the worst rating, closed, where state and non-state actors are routinely allowed to imprison, injure, and kill people for attempting to exercise their fundamental freedoms. China, Saudi Arabia, Turkmenistan and 20 other countries fall under this category. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a dire impact on civic freedoms globally. In times of crisis, space for open and constructive dialogue between governments and civil society, as well as access to prompt and reliable information, are fundamental. However, our research shows that governments have taken a different path and are using the pandemic as an opportunity to introduce or implement additional restrictions on civic freedoms. 

COVID-19 used as an excuse to oppress dissent and violate human rights.  How unshocking that is.

The State of Civil Society Report for 2020 can be downloaded here.


  1. DonDueed says

    No doubt COVID-19 has also resulted in a lot of self-repression. I know I’d hesitate to join a protest right now.