New TrialWatch Report: The Crime of Sedition: What Comes Next for an Archaic Law?

Around the world, states often use broadly worded colonial-era sedition laws to charge journalists, activists, and others for anything from calls to peaceful protest to criticism of government policies and officials. Although sometimes justified as protecting national security, sedition laws are frequently used to target political speech and other forms of expression.

2024 is a Crucial Year

While many countries are limiting their use of sedition or overhauling the laws altogether, some states have been expanding their application of sedition to quash peaceful criticism. In 2024, five jurisdictions in which sedition laws have been frequently used to suppress freedom of expression face vital decisions that will determine the future of these laws and, more broadly, have major repercussions for free speech.

In February 2024, TrialWatch published a report updating its prior survey of sedition laws. The 2024 report covers recent legal developments, based on publicly available case material and monitoring of sedition cases, in India, Pakistan, Hong Kong, Thailand and Malaysia. In each place, 2024 will be a crucial year for either reducing or expanding the use of sedition to curb free expression, with ramifications not only for these five jurisdictions, but also more broadly.