Myanmar Freedom of Expression Scorecard
The Freedom of Expression Scorecard (hereafter “Scorecard”) is an assessment of the progress of the State in key areas needed to strengthen freedom of expression over the past year. The State has a responsibility to respect, protect, and fulfil the right to freedom of expression, which is a cornerstone right fundamental to enabling democracy. The Scorecard is intended to provide a Myanmar-led expert opinion tracking progression or regression by the State during Myanmar’s democratic transition. It is intended to measure positive or negative change year to year, rather than scoring overall conditions or the environment.
This is the fifth consecutive year that the Scorecard has been produced and published. The pilot Scorecard was published in November 2016 and was supported by six organisations. In 2017, 14 organisations participated, 19 organisations in 2018, and 17 organisations took part in 2019. The development and production of the Scorecard is supported by PEN America with funding from the US Department of State, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor (US DRL). PEN America and US DRL are not involved in assessing State progress or generating the scores.
The Scorecard comprises six aspects of freedom of expression, each of which includes five indicators, for a total of 30 indicators altogether. The six aspects and 30 indicators were chosen by PEN Myanmar according to its holistic understanding of the elements of freedom of expression, and are consistent with past Scorecards.
The Scorecard scores and narrative included in this report were generated during an in-depth virtual discussion among representatives of partner organisations, facilitated by PEN Myanmar, on 1 June 2020. The discussion was structured around the aspects and indicators.
PEN Myanmar selected participating partner organisations on the basis of their experience and work in the field of freedom of expression, and these include human rights, media, and lawyers’ organisations. In 2020, 13 organisations participated in the discussion (see Annex for a full list of participants). In previous years, the Scorecard was published to mark World Press Freedom Day on 3 May, but this year the discussion was delayed due to COVID-19.
During the virtual discussion, expert partners gave short presentations updating the participants on developments over the past year relating to each aspect of freedom of expression, after which followed a short discussion. The scoring, content, and quotations included within this report represent diverse views expressed during the Scorecard meeting and are not necessarily held by each partner.
Each participating partner organisation provided a single score for each of the 30 indicators. Scores were then averaged and the overall Scorecard score generated. Scores were given on the following basis:
• 0 = Regression (over the past year)
• 0.5 = Slight regression
• 1 = No change
• 1.5 = Nascent progression and/or a stated commitment to change
• 2 = Notable progression
In 2020, the methodology was adjusted to enable participants to give more nuanced scores. The average scores have been colour-coded as follows: Red for 0-0.50 (Regression), Yellow for 0.51-1.00 (Slight regression), Green for 1.01-1.50 (Nascent progression), and Blue for 1.51-2.00 (Notable progression).
The Scorecard is based on the analysis of chosen partner organisations. It is a statement of experience and opinion from those who work to defend and promote freedom of expression. It is comparative and qualitative, rather than a factual or quantitative study. Each partner organisation has different experiences and areas of expertise; some may be more or less informed on a particular aspect. However, all partners’ scores are amalgamated in order to generate a shared average which will in collective effect exclude (or balance-out) both comparatively positive and comparatively negative opinions, to reach a more generalisable total.
The Scorecard does not yet include aspects of freedom of expression relating to self-censorship, or diversity and pluralism of expression.
Download link for PEN_2020-Scorecard-English