The Middle East and North Africa holds some of the worst records of freedom of expression in the world. Many countries in the region lack legal protection for human rights and the rule of law is undermined by a lack of independent judiciaries. The 2011 Arab Spring popular protests brought hope for improvements but devastating wars, foreign intervention and instability have since made it an extremely dangerous environment for journalists, civil society and human rights defenders, forcing millions to leave in search of safety. As war and conflict tear apart infrastructure and cause huge regression in development indicators across Yemen, Syria, Libya and Iraq, elsewhere repressive governments in Saudi Arabia, Iran, Egypt and Bahrain have reinforced anti-human rights practices, often in the name of national security and countering terrorism.
Important progress made in Tunisia since the 2011 revolution for the right to freedom of expression and access to information remains fragile. An active civil society and vibrant media sector create opportunities for progress in Lebanon but concrete reforms are often stunted by political crisis and corruption. After the Arab Spring protests, reforms in Morocco also provided opportunities for change where street protests across the country in 2017 have motivated discussions of reform through decentralisation.
ARTICLE 19 works to promote progressive legislative frameworks in countries open to reform, and holds governments accountable for violations of the right to free expression through advocacy, campaigning and support for local partners. We promote the use of the right to information, monitor freedom of expression and threats to safety online and promote policies for challenging hate speech through progressive legal frameworks and counter speech.Meet the Team
Digital rights and diverse communities
At what risks do LGBTQI individuals use dating and social apps in Iran and Egypt? How can these platforms do more to protect their users from physical and digital violence posed by state and non-state actors? We discuss issues of physical and digital security online for LGBTQI communities in the Middle East.