Nearly 75 percent of the world’s population lived in a place that saw a decline in rights and freedoms in 2020, making it the 15th year in a row, reports a US-based Freedom House.
While 28 countries saw an improvement last year, declines in freedom were recorded in 73 other countries, according to Freedom House’s “Freedom in the World” report.
The report ranked 151 countries and 45 territories as either free, partly free or not free based on criteria that included electoral processes, political pluralism, government corruption, and freedom of expression and assembly, among others.
Maldives was ranked ’partly free’ with a score of 40 out of 100. This is a 5 point improvement from the previous year.
Maldives scored 19 out of 40 for Political Rights, a 5 point increase from previous year and 21 out of 60 for Civil Liberties, remaining the same as previous year, according to the report.
The report highlighted the rising religious extremism in Maldives with cases such as of a magistrate on Naifaru Island sentenced a woman to death by stoning for extramarital sex, which the Supreme Court overturned the sentence a day later. Moreover, the Presidential Commission investigating past deaths and disappearances reported its findings on the disappearance of journalist Ahmed Rilwan, stating that a local terrorist organization with transnational links abducted Rilwan in August 2014 and murdered him the next day. The case regarding Maldives Democratic Network (MDN) was also highlighted in the report.
The report also gave a score of 4 out of 12, a point more than previous year for functioning of the government. The report considered the government ineffective to curb corruption.
Freedom of Speech category scored a mere 2 out of 12. The report criticized disappearance and murders of journalists from extremist Islamic organizations.
Freedom House also claimed governments have used the COVID-19 pandemic “to consolidate power and suppress dissent”.