Freedom House report rates Burkina Faso as world’s greatest democracy setback

By Laureen Fagan - 10 March 2023 at 6:03 pm
Freedom House report rates Burkina Faso as world’s greatest democracy setback

The Sahel nation of Burkina Faso registered the world’s largest decline in overall freedom, largely due to the two coups experienced in 2022, according to a newly released annual report from the Freedom House organization in the United States.

Tunisia, Guinea and Mali also registered some of the highest declines in the last year. When looking across a 10-year timeline, African nations including Libya, South Sudan, Tanzania and the Central African Republic have experienced some of the greatest setbacks to press freedom and fair elections, alongside the rise of authoritarian leaders.

But as the Freedom House report marks its 50th year, there are also positive trends. Just 30% of the 148 countries covered in the first assessment were rated as free nations. That’s risen to 43% of the 195 countries in the report released Thursday.

“Over the past 50 years, consolidated democracies have not only emerged from deeply repressive environments but also proven to be remarkably resilient in the face of new challenges,” said Freedom House. “Although democratization has slowed and encountered setbacks in recent decades, ordinary people around the world, including in oppressive settings like Iran, China, and Cuba, continue to defend their rights against authoritarian encroachment.”

The African continent is home to numerous struggles, often achieving democratic milestones in countries like Burundi only to see the progress reversed. “More recent backsliding in Benin and Senegal led both to drop from Free to Partly Free status,” the Freedom House report said.

Apart from Burkina Faso, coup attempts in 2022 also affected Guinea Bissau, The Gambia, and São Tomé and Príncipe.

The entire Freedom House report is available here.

Image: Presidency Burkina Faso file

Laureen Fagan

Laureen Fagan

Laureen is the editor of Africa Times

Laureen is a freelance journalist creating high-quality, informed content on international affairs, politics and technology. She has worked both in and out of newsrooms since 2000. She is a former paramedic with significant experience in community resilience and nonprofit community development initiatives, and maintains "a passion for action" on sustainability and climate change. She also is trained in conflict resolution and diversity, and has special interests in science and medical reporting, and culture and religion issues. Laureen received her MSJ from Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism in the United States, and completed additional graduate study in theology at University of Notre Dame. Follow Laureen on Mastodon at

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