#18 2015

Who can I turn to, my friends?

“While you were quiet, while you were indifferent, while they haven’t yet come after you, while “I’m not interested in politics,” while the opinion polls show ratings of 86 percent ‒ all ‒ ALL! ‒ of my acquaintances who could have helped you, have either emigrated, ended up in jail or been killed. I no longer have anywhere or anyone to send my writings to.”

Putin’s brutal reprisals against dissidents has had a devastating effect on opposition journalists and authors in the country – today, the democratic resistance movement is weak and fragmented, and many have chosen to flee the country. Russian journalist and author Arkady Babchenko writes about the consequences.

“I’m supposed to be thinking about god, not Putin” – the demise of Russian NGOs

The traditional task of Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) is to guarantee human rights, free elections and the freedom of speech, thereby fulfilling an important role in societies that struggle with censorship and oppression, such as Russia. A

A cauliflower for Ida

Press and speech freedoms in Ukraine have seriously deteriorated as the conflicts besetting the country have intensified. Many newspapers have been forced to close after pressure from Russian separatists and self-appointed

“There is no future for Turkey under these conditions we are in”

Turkey has in recent years set a new record in the number of journalists and writers imprisoned and brought to trial. Meanwhile, the escalation of violence inside Turkey and on its borders with Syria is being used by President Erdogan to obtain a

A prisoner’s freedom, a society’s captivity

Writer and human rights lawyer Muharrem Erbey served almost four years in a Turkish prison without trial. Once released, he saw the world with new eyes – and noted how the limits of freedom of speech had shifted in Turkey

Orbán with a Hitler moustache – on freedom of the press in Hungary

Hungary has received harsh international criticism for being a country where the government draconically restricts freedom of the press. The ruling party usually dismisses these accusations with indignation and points to

Backing into the future – on the new Spanish ”gag law”

In the wake of the sharp protests against various “austerity politics”, the Spanish government has in recent years carved away at civil rights and freedoms, writes teacher in International Law at the University of the

Which freedom of speech should we defend? On the confused debate following the Charlie Hebdo shooting

Freedom of speech has always been conditional and all societies have set limits to it. But after the killings in Paris, we were once again reminded of how the conditions of freedom of speech have changed in a global and digitalized world – we are

Europe's last dictatorship

Belarus is described as Europe’s last dictatorship. The country has had the same president for twenty years and is the only one in Europe still employing capital punishment. The regime has also introduced a special license

It is easy to sound apocalyptic when discussing the directions that the freedom of speech is taking in the world

Year after year the organizations that globally monitor the freedom of speech and of the press reach the same depressing result: in the last decades there has been a gradual erosion of free speech. Freedom House claim that on the web, globally, the freedom of expression and information has been curtailed for the fourth year consecutively. Concerning the free press in Europe the organisation drily points out that “press freedom faces threats in a number of states.”

In the Reporters Without Borders’ world press freedom index there is a similar assessment: 2014 was a dark year that saw an escalating number of assaults against journalists and bloggers around the world. They claim, furthermore, that compared to other regions, Europe’s ratings fell steeply, the reason being that some countries have encountered severe problems during the year—problems that the EU system has been unable to control.

In these surveys Europe has long been rated “best in class.” But something has happened. Even here it is harder to uphold a free debating climate and the hindrances can differ between countries from direct threats to semi-censorship to self-censorship.