USA upgraded in global ratings report on civic freedoms16 March, 2023
- USA upgraded from ‘obstructed’ to ‘narrowed’
- Positive developments include an executive order reforming policing practices and prosecution of law enforcement officials responsible for violating protestors’ rights
- Concerns remain about new measures to restrict the right to protest at the state level and about freedom of speech in classrooms
The United States of America has been upgraded from ‘obstructed’ to ‘narrowed’ in a new report by the CIVICUS Monitor, a global research collaboration that rates and tracks fundamental civic freedoms in 197 countries and territories. The United States is one of ten countries to improve its rating in 2022 - 15 others have been downgraded.
‘Narrowed’ is the second-highest tier rating a country can receive by the CIVICUS Monitor. In reality, it means that people in the country are allowed to exercise civic freedoms, including the freedoms of association, peaceful assembly and expression, but occasionally violations of these rights take place.
According to the report, People Power Under Attack 2022, the Biden administration has sought to improve on the previous administration’s relationship with the media while stressing the importance of democratic institutions. In the United States the federal government took steps to safeguard fundamental freedoms and civil society, with policies to strengthen police accountability, support workplace organising and promote humanitarian assistance worldwide.
Nevertheless, the year also saw lawmakers at the state level adopting further restrictions on protests and introducing measures to limit free speech in schools. Incidents of excessive force and arbitrary arrests of protesters remain recurrent, and the country continues to criminalise whistleblowers. While civic space in the USA has improved enough to drive a change of rating, trends that negatively affected the space for civil society and the press still endure.
“While the current federal administration in the United States is taking steps to better safeguard constitutionally guaranteed civic freedoms, greater vigilance is required by civil society and democratic institutions at the state level where the right to protest continues to come under attack through legislation and policies designed to restrict people’s mobilisations on progressive issues,” said Mandeep Tiwana, Chief Programmes Officer and CIVICUS Representative to the United Nations. “Worryingly, divisive politicians continue to sow distrust in independent media which anchors democracy.”
Over twenty organisations collaborate on the CIVICUS Monitor, providing evidence and research that help us target countries where civic freedoms are at risk. The Monitor has posted more than 490 civic space updates in the last year, which are analysed in People Power Under Attack 2022.
Civic freedoms in 197 countries and territories are categorised as either closed, repressed, obstructed, narrowed or open, based on a methodology that combines several sources of data on the freedoms of association, peaceful assembly and expression.
The release of this 5th global assessment by the CIVICUS Monitor comes ahead of the second Summit for Democracy to be held from 29-30 March 2023 in Costa Rica, which will be co-hosted by the Biden Administration. It is expected that over 100 governments will attend. Part of the Summit will be used to review progress on commitments made in 2021 by over half the world’s governments to defend democracy and human rights.
The USA is now rated ‘narrowed’ on the CIVICUS Monitor. 41 other countries and territories have this rating (see all). Visit USA’s homepage on the CIVICUS Monitor for more information and check back regularly for the latest updates.
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