Out of Sight, Not Out of Mind: The Global Scale and Scope of Transnational Repression

Nate Schenkkan & Isabel Linzer, Freedom House

Created 09/02/2021

Analysis, Monitoring, Report


This report is the product of an effort to understand the scale and scope of “transnational repression,” in which governments reach across national borders to silence dissent among their diaspora and exile communities. Freedom House assembled cases of transnational repression from public sources, including UN and government documents, human rights reports, and credible news outlets, in order to generate a detailed picture of this global phenomenon.

The project compiled a catalogue of 608 direct, physical cases of transnational repression since 2014. In each incident, the origin country’s authorities physically reached an individual living abroad, whether through detention, assault, physical intimidation, unlawful deportation, rendition, or suspected assassination. The list includes 31 origin states conducting physical transnational repression in 79 host countries. This total is certainly only partial; hundreds of other physical cases that lacked sufficient documentation, especially detentions and unlawful deportations, are not included in Freedom House’s count. Nevertheless, even this conservative enumeration shows that what often appear to be isolated incidents—an assassination here, a kidnapping there—in fact represent a pernicious and pervasive threat to human freedom and security.

Click here to read the full report and policy recommendations. 

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