‘Global decline’ in human rights

(RAW STORY)   Human rights faced tough challenges around the world in 2009 for the fourth year running, the US-based rights group Freedom House said in its annual report released Tuesday.

Almost 40 countries in Africa, Latin America, the Middle East and the former Soviet Union lost ground on political rights and civil liberties, the group said.

“The decline is global,” Arch Puddington, Freedom House’s research director, warned in the report.

It “affects countries with military and economic power, affects countries that had previously shown signs of reform potential, and is accompanied by enhanced persecution of political dissidents and independent journalists.”

Referring to Russia and China, Puddington wrote that “to make matters worse, the most powerful authoritarian regimes have become more repressive, more influential in the international arena, and more uncompromising.”

Freedom House classes 89 countries as free, grouping 46 percent of the world’s population. Another 58 countries were partly free, the report said, covering another 20 percent of the global population.

But 47 countries (34 percent of the world’s population, half of whom are in China) are not free, according to the group’s report.

The number of representative democracies (116) slumped to the lowest level since 1995.

Among the worst countries in terms of human rights in 2009 were Myanmar, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Sudan, Tibet (which Freedom House classes separately from China), Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.

Though there were five African nations on the list of the global “worst of the worst,” the Middle East remained the most repressive region in the world, the group said.


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