For those of us lucky enough to live in relatively liberal countries, freedom of speech seems a natural part of life; it's a fundamental human right as opposed to a luxury or a privilege, and rightfully so. Despite the fact that freedom of speech is a very basic human right, many countries struggle with the oppression of this right on a daily basis.
One such country is Eritrea, the Horn of Africa nation, recorded in 2012 by the Committee to Protect Journalists as being the world's most censored country, into which no foreign reporters are allowed and the media of which is entirely controlled by the government. Only mildly less restricted in terms of freedom of expression is North Korea - according to the same study the second most censored country in the world - while due to recent rates of political unrest the rates of censorship have increased dramatically in Syria and Iran, which take places three and four on the list respectively in the study.
The issue of free speech has come to light in America recently, with a case in which the U.S. Supreme Court declined to consider if a New Mexico photography company should be able to refuse to record a same-sex couple's commitment ceremony on the grounds of freedom of speech. The case has been in discussion since 2006. It showcases the consternation that still surrounds the issue of freedom of speech, even in mainly emancipated countries, and the too-often conflated ideals of free expression and hateful bigotry. This list numbers ten countries worldwide with the highest rates of freedom of speech, and looks at the various specific regulations pertaining to their media.
5 United States
3 United Kingdom
1 New Zealand
The number one country for freedom of speech is New Zealand. The country's 1990 Bill of Rights act states that "everyone has the right to freedom of expression, including the freedom to seek, receive, and impart information and opinions of any kind in any form", a pretty much definitive explanation of free speech. As of 2013, the country ranks 8th in the Press Freedom Index, and its relaxed and inclusionary attitude to freedom of speech and expression has been attributed to its being a parliamentary democracy.
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