Publication Date: June 2023

According to The Global Expression Report 2023, freedom of expression is under threat and in decline. The general public, as well as professional communicators and activists, face an increasing number of threats than in past years. These threats are posed not only by autocratic governments, but also by legislation and law enforcement within democratic structures that erode the respect of human rights, as well as by corporate interests and organised crime; where those groups and their interests overlap, freedoms are in even more danger. Advances in global levels of democracy made over the last 35 years have been wiped out: people now experience limits on their democratic rights at levels not seen since 1986. Conflict is the greatest and most immediate threat to free speech, particularly for those on the frontlines of expression: in 2022, journalists and human rights defenders were predominantly killed in countries suffering from conflicts, either internal or international. Political violence targeting civilians also became more common and deadlier, with more than 125,700 events globally leading to over 145,500 reported fatalities.

  • 401 human rights defenders were murdered in 2022, including 186 in Colombia, 50 in Ukraine, and 45 in Mexico. 48% of those murdered were defending land, environmental, and Indigenous peoples’ rights.
  • 87 journalists were murdered in 2022 – 33 more than in 2021 – including 19 in Mexico and 10 in Ukraine. 64 more were missing in 2022. 
  • At the end of 2022, 363 journalists were behind bars. The top jailers were Iran, China, Myanmar, Turkey, and Belarus.
Tags: Freedom of expression

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