Freedom of Expression

Over the past few years, many of Freedom House’s publications, including Freedom in the World, Freedom of the Press and Freedom on the Net: A Global Assessment of Internet and Digital Media, have pointed to worrisome declines in freedom of expression in countries around the world. According to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, freedom of expression is the right of every individual to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers. In practice, however, this fundamental human right is frequently restricted through tactics that include censorship, restrictive press legislation, and harassment of journalists, bloggers and others who voice their opinions, as well as crackdowns on religious minorities and other suppression of religious freedom. In response to the growing problem, Freedom House is engaging in a multi-faceted Freedom of Expression Campaign to defend this critical right.

Within individual countries, Freedom House employs advocacy, financial support, and technical assistance to support efforts by local free expression advocates to oppose or overturn media laws that restrict journalists’ ability to cover crucial issues, including through criminal insult, defamation or libel laws. Freedom House also organizes and participates in delegations of experts to countries that have recently implemented or are drafting legislation limiting free expression. These delegations collaborate with local organizations and free expression advocates to recommend changes to legislation and to develop advocacy campaigns addressing the restrictive laws.
 

Internationally, Freedom House focuses on resisting efforts at the United Nations to restrict existing norms protecting freedom of expression. These efforts include creating international legal mechanisms banning language deemed “defamatory of religions,” as well as organizing annual delegations to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva and to the UN Third Committee in New York to educate member states on key freedom of expression issues and to resist attempts to restrict freedom of expression. Freedom House also regularly gives oral interventions at the UNHCR, submits written reports and letters to the council, holds side panel sessions, and sends letters advocating for freedom of expression directly to state representatives.

Research & Reports

Combating Impunity: Transitional Justice and Anti-Corruption

In 2013, Freedom House and Transparency International convened transitional justice and anti-corruption experts in Berlin to discuss the role of anti-corruption initiatives in pre- and post-transition countries. They found ways for transitional justice and anti-corruption tools be used complementarily to uncover corruption’s link to human right abuses and support successful democratic transitions. The report Combating Impunity: Transitional Justice and Anti-Corruption captures the conclusions and recommendations of the dialogue.

What Next? : The Quest to Protect Human Rights Defenders and Journalists in a Digital World

In the face of new, sophisticated restrictions, frontline human rights activists are unprepared for the security challenges they face, while donors and international support groups struggle to collaborate effectively and protect and defend human rights, Freedom House concludes in a new report.

Programs

Freedom House works in Ukraine to protect professional and citizen journalists, to empower and support their efforts to impartially cover developments in Ukraine, and to uncover corruption.

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Freedom House helps LGBTI rights groups in Southeast Asia to push back against the tide of intolerance.

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