Freedom House 2019: Georgia is “Partly Free”

On February 4, the United States-based NGO Freedom House released its ‘Freedom in the World 2019’ report. The annual report, published since 1973, is Freedom House’s flagship work. It evaluates the condition of political rights and civil liberties around the world. Countries are given a numerical score and ranked; currently, the report evaluates 195 countries and 14 territories. Countries are split into three groups: free, partly free, and not free.

For the 2019 report, Georgia remained in the partly free category, with a score of 63 points out of a possible 100. Three categories are evaluated: freedom rating, political rights, and civil liberties. In each category, a country is ranked out of seven, with lower scores being better, in this case. Georgia scores three out of seven in all the categories.

Compared to other countries in the region, Georgia ranks higher than its neighbors. Ukraine has 60 points, Moldova has 58, and Armenia just 51. Countries in the spotlight for 2019, receiving special analytical attention in the report, include Armenia. The report explains, “In a region dominated by entrenched elites, Armenia made a breakthrough with the victory of reform-minded leader Nikol Pashinyan in snap elections that were called after unpopular incumbent Serzh Sargsyan attempted to evade term limits and extend his rule.” The report put a spotlight on elections overall. The 2019 report notes “the weakening of democratic norms around the world, especially regarding elections and the human rights of migrants.”

Georgia’s scores near Montenegro, with 65, and Serbia, with 67. Georgia is surrounded by unfree countries – Russia scores 20, Turkey scores 31 and Azerbaijan scores a dismal 11.

Interestingly, Freedom House also ranks what is calls “territories,” a list on which the Georgian regions of Abkhazia and “South Ossetia” are included. Abkhazia is relatively close to the rest of the Georgia in the partly free category with a score of 41 out of 100, while “South Ossetia” is ranked not free with a score of 10, scoring particularly low in political rights (seven out of seven) and civil liberties (six and a half out of seven).

In November, Freedom House released its annual Freedom on the Net report, where Georgia was ranked “free” with a score of 25 points out of 100: scores below 30 are “free.” Although Georgia has the highest freedom rating in the region, its score was one point lower than in the 2017 report.

“Georgians freely use social media tools to organize themselves and be engaged in political and social events. However, unreliable and politically biased content, including anti-Western propaganda, also proliferated online,” the report reads, noting also that internet access and usage continues to grow.

The report further notes that, out of the 65 countries evaluated, 26 have experienced a deterioration in internet freedom in the last year. In a pattern predictive of the Freedom in the World report, almost half the world’s internet freedom declines were somehow related to elections. The report wans that the threat of ‘fake news’ is being used by some governments as an excuse to censor opposition or unfavorable material.

To read the full Freedom in the World report, visit

By Samantha Guthrie

07 February 2019 17:09