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DEMOCRACY IN CRISIS AS AUTOCRATS ABUSE POWER DURING PANDEMIC

Democracy is in crisis worldwide as governments take advantage of the coronavirus pandemic to tighten controls and conduct human rights abuses, according to a new report by research institute Freedom House, Jessie Yeung reported for CNN.

The report, released Thursday, identified 80 countries where freedoms have deteriorated, many of them nations with repressive or authoritarian governments like China and Cambodia, the report said. "What began as a worldwide health crisis has become part of the global crisis for democracy," said Michael J. Abramowitz, president of Freedom House, which is funded by the US government. "Governments in every part of the world have abused their powers in the name of public health, seizing the opportunity to undermine democracy and human rights."


Between January and September, Freedom House and the survey firm GQR surveyed nearly 400 journalists, activists, civil servants and experts in 105 countries and territories. Freedom House also consulted international analysts, bringing the total number of countries covered in the report to 192.


"The crisis of democratic governance, having begun long before the pandemic, is likely to continue after the health crisis recedes, as the laws and norms being put in place now will be difficult to reverse," said the report. But there is one bright spot, it added -- investigative journalism has pushed forward despite restrictions, especially in the Philippines. Meanwhile, mass protests continue worldwide, even in repressive countries. Although 158 countries have imposed restrictions on demonstrations, at least 90 nations have seen significant protests since the pandemic began, according to Freedom House researchers. "Even amid devastation and disruption, some have responded to the pandemic with hope and rejuvenation," said the report. "Democracy is suffering around the world, but the public's demand for it has not been extinguished."



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