The international human rights organization Freedom House has published the annual report “Freedom in the World-2023”.
Basic freedoms in the world have been steadily deteriorating for 17 years. Last year, 16 of the 57 countries considered unfree also had the lowest scores on political rights and civil liberties. Azerbaijan is among these 16 countries, where also: South Sudan, Turkmenistan, Syria, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Belarus, China, Myanmar, Eritrea, North Korea, Equatorial Guinea, Central African Republic, Somalia, Tajikistan and Yemen.
Over the past 17 years, the number of countries and territories where there is no freedom of the media has increased from 14 to 33.
Currently, there is an increase in violations of the right to freedom of expression in the world due to the growth of invasions of privacy, harassment and intimidation, as well as self-censorship on the Internet, the report notes.
According to Freedom House, among the reasons why freedom and democracy are experiencing the greatest decline are wars, coups, attacks by illegal leaders on democratic institutions. In February 2022, the “authoritarian regime” of Russian President Vladimir Putin launched a war against Ukraine to “suppress the hard-won democratic process.”
The parliaments of Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan have imposed additional restrictions on the activities of media and journalists, and new legislation requires foreign online platforms to register as local legal entities.
Among the countries whose democratic path is in the spotlight, the report mentions Armenia and Turkey. “Azerbaijani forces have attacked and seized Armenian territory along the border, which threatens the democratic government in Yerevan and increases the risk of a full-scale war,” the report says.
It should be noted that official Baku has not yet commented on the Freedom House report in any way. The authorities traditionally claim that fundamental freedoms, including freedom of speech and the media, associations and religions, are fully guaranteed in Azerbaijan. There are no politically motivated arrests in the country, and oppositionists are tried and arrested for specific violations. Law enforcement agencies reject the accusations of torture and inhuman treatment.
As for the conflict with Armenia, the government says it is ready to sign a peace agreement with Armenia, but Yerevan is delaying this process. Therefore, official Baku calls critical reports of international organizations biased and biased.