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 rated as Free, where the people have the freedom of a wide assortment of political and human liberties.
· 62 (32%) live in only Partly Free countries, where law enforcement is weak
· 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 designated as Not Free, eight were marked with the Worst of the Worst possible ranking. These countries included: Burma, Equatorial Guinea, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Sudan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. The list includes the two territories, Chechnya and Tibet.
At a slightly lower level of rating were the countries, Belarus, Chad, China, Cuba, Eritrea, Laos, Saudi Arabia, Syria and Zimbabwe, alongside the two territories of South Ossetia (Georgia) and Western Sahara (Morocco). In these countries there is very little room for private discussion, while political opposition is harshly repressed. Any criticism toward the authorities is censored and penalized. The people’s lives are completely controlled by government and all invasive, with the threat of harsh payback for free thought, or action.
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.
During the last 30 years there has been a momentous increase of human freedom. Many autocratic leaders have found themselves on trial in international courts, while many are still in the process. Many states have discarded their tyrannical ways and opted for democracy, giving deference to fundamental civil freedom. There is global backing for the:
· values of democracy
· rule of law
· freedom of association
· freedom of speech,
· rights of the minorities
· plus many other fundamental universally recognized basic human rights.
Many of the countries that have measured and sustainable progress in long-term economic growth, also follow democratic practices.
However, Executive Director of Freedom House Jennifer Windsor, 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 includes closing down independent media, marginalizing political competitors, preventing independent think tanks and stopping NGOs from getting badly needed 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.