Pandemic stokes world-wide crackdown on free speech

At least 83 countries used the pandemic to violate free speech and assembly rights and have targeted opposition groups and critics of government health initiatives. A record number of journalist found themselves imprisoned in 2020. (The Washington Post, April 20, 2021, by Ishaan Tharoor)

Gerry Simpson of the Human Rights Watch, February 11, 2021, said “Governments should counter Covid-19 by encouraging people to mask up, not shut up. Beating, detaining, prosecuting, and censoring peaceful critics violates many fundamental rights, including free speech, while doing nothing to stop the pandemic.” 

Pen America reported that in 2020 52 countries introduced laws or policies focused on the pandemic to criminalize false information and limit free expression.

For related FAC coverage, click here, here and here.

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