Violations of artistic freedom of expression in 2012

Violations of artistic freedom of expression was monitored and documented by Freemuse on this website as part of the world conference ‘All that is Banned is Desired’. The documentation found the basis for a statistical compilation presenting a glimpse of the situation for artists worldwide in 2012 and includes cases in more than 50 countries across the fields of dance, film, music, theatre, visual arts and literature (journalists are not included).

A total number of 186 cases of attacks on artists and violations of their rights have been registered. The cases include 8 artists being killed, 16 imprisoned, 1 abducted, 5 attacked, 15 threatened, 37 prosecuted and 37 detained, as well as 67 cases of censorship.


Please note that the documentation is based on reports published on It is not a complete survey but the first collection of its kind. 



The statistics are based on reports covering violations of artistic freedom of expression published on between 20/3/2012 – 16/1/2013 and includes incidents taking place during 2012.

The following principles of statistical registration have been used: If an artist is threatened and attacked while abducted the case is only listed as “abducted” in the statistics. If an artist is detained, prosecuted and then consequently imprisoned for the same incident of the violation is only listed as “imprisoned”. Artists who were imprisoned before 2012, but who are still in prison are only included in the statistics if their case was presented in a news article.

The statistics do e.g. not include the serious situation for thousands of musicians in northern Mali, who are prevented from performing their music due to bans by Islamic fundamentalist rebels. Neither does it include all cases presented by PEN international Writers in Prison committee which has produced an extensive case list and statistics concerning violations committed against writers as well as journalists. For further information please visit


The mapping of violations and collection of data was made possible thanks to the generous support from PostkodLotteriet Sweden.






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