Freedom House, a New York based, non-profit NGO, has been monitoring threats to human rights from as far back as 1980. Its 2009 annual report discloses that at the commencement of 2009, 54% of the world’s population is still forced to live under brutal authoritarian rule.
” 89 (46%) of the world’s 193 countries are ranked as Free, where the population has freedom of a large variety of political and human rights
” 62 (32%) live in only Partly Free countries, where rule of law is very weakly enforced
” 42 (22%) of the world’s countries are given the rating of Not Free with the people having only basic human rights and political freedom completely unknown.
Of the 42 countries ranked as Not Free, eight were listed with the Worst of the Worst possible rating. These countries included: Burma, Equatorial Guinea, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Sudan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. The list also included the two territories, Chechnya and Tibet.
These countries were followed by a slightly lesser rating: Belarus, Chad, China, Cuba, Eritrea, Laos, Saudi Arabia, Syria and Zimbabwe, as well as the two territories of South Ossetia (Georgia) and Western Sahara (Morocco). In these nations there is no place for private discussion, while political opposition is fiercely oppressed. All criticism of the state is censored and punishment severely administered. The people’s lives are totally state controlled and all-encompassing, with the overshadowing fear of reprisal for self-determining thoughts, or actions.
The next level of countries were: Belarus, Chad, China, Cuba, Eritrea, Laos, Saudi Arabia, Syria and Zimbabwe, besides the two territories of South Ossetia (Georgia) and Western Sahara (Morocco). In these countries private discussion is firmly discouraged, while political challengers are ruthlessly tyrannized. Any criticism of the government is monitored and punishment meted out. The people’s lives are fully controlled by the government and totally enveloping, with constant fear of official reprisal for self-governing thoughts, or actions.
The countries committing human rights abuse, reach across the Americas, the Middle East, Central Asia, Africa and East Asia. They embrace a large range of cultures and several levels of economic growth. Countries such as Zimbabwe have crumbled from being one of Africa’s most affluent nations, to becoming one of its poorest, ravaged by disease, starvation and the world’s highest level of inflation.
Over the last thirty years there has been a major extension of human independence. Many tyrannical leaders have found themselves before international courts, while some are still on trial. Numerous states have done away with their dictatorship and embraced democracy and opted for basic civil freedom. There is universal backing for the:
” values of democracy
” rule of law
” liberty of association
” freedom of speech,
” rights of the minorities
” plus many other fundamental universally recognized basic human rights.
Numerous countries that have attained measured and sustainable progress in long-term economic growth, also have gained a respect for democratic practices.
Jennifer Windsor, Executive Director of Freedom House however says “Although democracy has scored impressive gains in recent times, we have also begun to experience a new drive to prevent the further spread of democracy and where possible, roll back some of the achievements that have already been registered”. This entails doing away with independent media, marginalizing political opponents, thwarting independent think tanks and stopping NGOs from getting important resources.
On top of all that, many of the worst human rights law-breakers have become a member of loose coalitions belonging to the United Nations, in order to turn aside the world’s eyes from their history of tyranny.