A new survey by Pan-African research group Afrobarometer revealed that most Africans are willing to let go their personal liberties because of security.
According to the report released this week, “Africans see their individual freedoms diminishing, and many are willing to give up at least some liberties in the name of security.”
The survey “traces continental trends toward both greater government constraints on freedom and greater public tolerance for such constraints”.
Many of these constraints are “fueled in part by fears of insecurity, instability, and/or extremist violence”, the report added.
The public-opinion survey was conducted in 34 countries. In most African countries, “citizens’ assessments of how free they are, and of how cautious they must be in exercising their rights, have worsened considerably over the past decade.”
Afrobarometer said “in addition, popular demand for freedom of association has weakened, and Africans express a widespread willingness to trade some freedoms for increased security”.
Prominent among the findings from the survey are:
- Support for the fundamental freedom of association remains strong.
- Nonetheless, support for freedom of association has shown modest but steady declines
- While a slim majority (53%) stand for the right to private communications, 43% are instead willing to accept government monitoring in the interests of security.
- People are about evenly divided on freedom of religious speech, with 49% backing complete freedom and 47% willing to tolerate government limits on religious speech.
- Support for unrestricted freedom of movement is much lower, at just 35%, compared to 62% who are willing to countenance curfews, roadblocks, and other restrictions in the interests of greater security.
In most African countries there are crackdowns on freedoms and people’s desire to speak against some regimes.
There are however waves of protests in some countries against authoritarian regimes, seeking to end restrictions.