THE WORST OF THE WORST
On January 12, Freedom House released the findings from the latest edition of Freedom in the World, the annual survey of global political rights and civil liberties. According to the survey’s findings, 2008 marked the third consecutive year in which global freedom suffered a decline. This setback was most pronounced in Sub-Saharan Africa and the non-Baltic former Soviet Union, although it affected most other regions of the world. Furthermore, the decline in freedom coincided with the onset of a forceful reaction against democracy by a number of powerful authoritarian regimes, including Russia and China. However, there are different degrees in Hell too.
Of the 42 countries designated as Not Free, eight have been given the survey’s lowest possible rating of 7 for both political rights and civil liberties. Among the eight worst-rated countries, one, North Korea, is a one-party Marxist-Leninist regime. Two, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, are Central Asian countries ruled by dictators with roots in the Soviet period. Libya is an Arab country under the sway of a secular dictatorship, while Sudan is under a leadership that has elements both of radical Islamism and of a typical military junta. The remaining worst-rated states are Burma, a tightly controlled military dictatorship; Equatorial Guinea, a highly repressive regime with one of the worst human rights records in Africa; and Somalia, a failed state.
There are two worst-rated territories: Tibet, under Chinese jurisdiction, and Chechnya, where a repressive pro-Kremlim regime continues to struggle with a guerrilla insurgency.
An additional 11 countries and territories received scores that were slightly above the worst-ranked countries, and received ratings of 6,7 or 7,6 for political rights and civil liberties: Belarus, Chad, China, Cuba, Eritrea, Laos, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Zimbabwe, South Ossetia, and Western Sahara.
Freedom in the World 2009 Survey Release