Around the world governments are using the threat of coronavirus to restrict civil liberties and restrict the freedom of the press. While many of these draconian measures are necessary in the efforts to stop the spread of Covid-19 it is also true that certain leaders and governments are using the epidemic as an opportunity to suppress civil, political and press freedoms for their own political gain.
Hungarian Prime Minister Victor Oban has passed new laws that threaten five years in prison for publishing stories which ‘alarm or agitate’ the public. In Brazil President Bolsonaro has removed freedom of information laws. In Serbia a journalist was arrested for reporting that hospital staff lacked adequate protective equipment.
These are just three examples of governments using the excuse of coronavirus to attack the press. All three examples can be found on the new X Index interactive map – Disease Control. The Disease Control map plots violations against the media carried out during the coronavirus crisis. These attacks can include the arrest of journalists, physical attacks against reporters and/or new laws restricting or removing press freedoms.
The map uses color-coded markers, markers which are alarmingly shaped to resemble the coronavirus. The colors indicate different categories of attacks on press freedom, for example the detention or arrest of journalists, reporting restrictions and social media restrictions. If you select a marker on the map you can read a brief review of the attack on the press and click through to read more about the story as reported by trusted news sources.