Turkey labelled ‘not free’ in Freedom House report

Freedom House designated Turkey as “not free” in its “Freedom in the world 2021” report, released on Wednesday.

The index ranks countries on a variety of metrics including political pluralism and rule of law.  

Turkey scored 32 out of 100, unchanged from last year. Any country scoring below 34 is considered “not free”.

“Prosecutions and campaigns of harassment against opposition politicians, prominent members of civil society, independent journalists, and critics of Turkey’s increasingly aggressive foreign policy continued,” Freedom House said.

Examples include imprisoned former leader of the pro-Kurdish Democratic Peoples’ Party (HDP) Selahattin Demirtaş and liberal philanthropist Osman Kavala, who the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has ruled should both be immediately released.

However, the COVID-19 pandemic and struggling Turkish economy “have given the government new incentives to suppress dissent and limit public discourse”, Freedom House said.

Overall, Freedom House found that the last 12 months had seen authoritarian actors become bolder across the world, with the share of countries labelled “not free” reaching an all-time high.

The freedom scores of 73 countries, representing 75 percent of the world’s population had declined, according to the report. A trend that was intensified by the role of oppressive regimes and populist leaders in using “false or misleading” information about COVID-19.

“Democratic governments will have to work in solidarity with one another, and with democracy advocates and human rights defenders in more repressive settings, if we are to reverse 15 years of accumulated declines and build a more free and peaceful world,” Sarah Repucci, vice-president of research and analysis at Freedom House said.