TEHRAN, Young Journalists Club (YJC) - The annual Freedom in the World report, produced by the US NGO Freedom House, has classified Turkey as “not free” for the first time since the report series began in 1999. It had lost its status as “partly free” due to a slide in political and civil rights.
Freedom House pointed to Erdogan’s widespread crackdown in the wake of a failed 2016 coup and the disputed referendum in 2017 which gave the Turkish president widespread new powers.
The report also criticized Erdogan for sacking elected mayors and replacing them with political allies and for “arbitrary prosecutions of rights activists and other perceived enemies of the state”.
Turkey’s passage over the threshold from 'Partly Free' to 'Not Free' is the culmination of a long and accelerating slide in Freedom in the World,” wrote Michael Abramowitz, Freedom House’s president.
“The country’s score has been in free fall since 2014 due to an escalating series of assaults on the press, social media users, protesters, political parties, the judiciary, and the electoral system, as President Recep Tayyip Erdodan fights to impose personalized control over the state and society in a deteriorating domestic and regional security environment.”
There was no immediate response from the Turkish government to the report.
The report painted a gloomy picture of the state of freedom around the world, finding that for a 12th consecutive years there had been a “decline in global freedom”.
Along with Turkey, 70 other countries suffered net declines in their political and civil rights, while only 35 improved their freedom scores.
“Democracy faced its most serious crisis in decades in 2017 as its basic tenets — including guarantees of free and fair elections, the rights of minorities, freedom of the press, and the rule of law — came under attack around the world,” the report found.
The report estimated that about 39 per cent of the world’s 7.6 billion people live in free countries, compared to 24 per cent in partially free countries and 37 per cent in unfree countries.
Freedom House concluded that freedom in the US had suffered under Donald Trump and America was among the country’s whose scores had declined, although it was still classified as a free country.
Britain was given a 94 out of 100 on the freedom scale while the Scandinavian countries of Finland, Sweden and Norway topped the list on 100.
Freedom House says it is an independent body and its assessment reflects its own examination of the data.