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State of Open Government During COVID-19

About

This page provides key insights from the global data collected by the COVID-19 OpenGov Tracker managed by the Analytics & Insights team at OGP. For more details about the data, see the Method section. This page does not provide recommendations or examples of reforms. For these and other resources, please see the OGP Guide to Open Government and the Coronavirus.

This page will be updated on a monthly basis. Last updated: August 17, 2020


Method

All data on this page is publicly available on the COVID-19 OpenGov Tracker, which scrapes and centralizes relevant information from a variety of partner websites. See the Tracker for the full list of sources as well as links to the underlying data and methodology published by each partner organization. The tracker is updated daily. Please contact renzo.falla@opengovpartnership.org with any data-related questions or comments.


Key Points

Emergency measures in response to the pandemic have affected various areas of open government, including civic space, right to information, government oversight, and inclusion. Many restrictions in these areas intensified in June 2020.

  • Civic space: Emergency measures in most OGP countries significantly restrict freedom of assembly. Many impose limitations on the media and restrict free speech with the stated goal of reducing misinformation. Of particular concern is that restrictive measures in many OGP countries do not have a set time limit.
  • Right to information (RTI): One in five OGP members has suspended or altered RTI proceedings in response to the pandemic. RTI oversight agencies in some OGP countries are no longer carrying out their regular functions.
  • Government oversight: Judicial oversight of pandemic-related measures is limited in several OGP countries.
  • Inclusion: Emergency measures in some OGP countries are implemented in a way that is at least occasionally discriminatory. Nearly half of OGP countries are not disclosing sex-disaggregated COVID-19 case data, much less as it relates to testing.

Freedom of Assembly / Association

More than half of OGP countries have substantially restricted freedom of assembly.

As of June 2020, most OGP members had implemented emergency measures that prevent people from meeting others outside of their household unless strictly necessary. Three in four OGP countries prevent outdoor gatherings of more than 10 people. Notably, national-level measures restricting assembly have no officially declared time limit in about one in five OGP countries. Two countries (Honduras and Ecuador) have restricted freedom of association.

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Freedom of Expression

16 OGP countries have restricted freedom of expression.

Many of the restrictions relate to misinformation about the pandemic on social media. Some governments have prohibited individuals from expressing opinions concerning the pandemic. The restrictions are disproportionately in Africa and Asia Pacific and surged in April 2020.

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Gender and Inclusion

Emergency measures are at least occasionally discriminatory in 11 OGP countries.

In 11 OGP countries, emergency measures are implemented in a way that is at least occasionally discriminatory on the basis of race, color, sex, language, religion or social origin. In three of these countries, discrimination is systematic. As for transparency, just over half of OGP countries are publishing sex-disaggregated COVID-19 data (though this rarely extends to testing data). Although there is no significant difference between men and women in global infection rates, there is wide variation across countries.

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Government Oversight

Judicial oversight over pandemic-related measures is limited in 14 OGP countries.

In addition to limited oversight over pandemic-related measures, judicial oversight over non-COVID-19 related areas has been severely affected in four OGP countries. As for legislative oversight, the executive in 14 OGP countries can rule by decree on many issues, several of which may exceed pandemic-related issues. This number increased significantly in June.

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Media Freedom

About one in four OGP countries has restricted media freedom.

Emergency measures have placed at least some limitations on how the media can report on COVID-19 in about one in four OGP countries (disproportionately in Africa and Asia Pacific). 11 OGP countries have referenced the pandemic in imposing limitations on media reporting that go beyond news about the pandemic. In addition, there has been verbal/physical harassment of journalists by the government in more than a quarter of OGP countries.

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Open Data

About a third of OGP countries are not regularly publishing testing data.

Most governments are publishing COVID-19-related data, but not always testing data. In all, 24 OGP countries (disproportionately in Asia Pacific) are not publishing testing data. For countries that are disclosing, problems include scope (e.g. US does not disclose private lab data), frequency, and accessibility (some data is only available through social media or press conferences).  From April to May, the rate of OGP countries disclosing testing data doubled. The rate has stayed the same since then. An OGP leader in disclosure of testing data is Estonia.

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Physical Violence by Police and Military

Security forces are using violence to execute emergency measures in a third of OGP countries.

Security forces, including civilian police and the military, are using disproportionate physical violence against citizens to execute emergency measures in 29 OGP countries. This number increased in June. Countries in Africa and in the Americas are overrepresented in this tally.

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Right to Information

16 OGP members have suspended or altered their RTI frameworks.

So far, nearly one in five OGP countries has suspended or altered its RTI framework in response to the pandemic. In nine OGP countries (disproportionately in the Americas), the government has provided information that deviates from official information offered by the WHO.

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Surveillance

Emergency measures in 18 OGP countries include citizen surveillance methods.

Although many countries are using location and app data in response to the pandemic, emergency measures in about one in five OGP countries specifically reference surveillance. This number increased steadily in May and June. Most surveillance relates to enforcing isolation and lockdown measures – as well as contact tracing – using cell phone location data and monitoring devices.

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