Global Freedom Declining for Nearly Decade - FH

Society | January 24, 2014, Friday // 10:38|  views

Protesters warm themselves up by a fire during an anti-government protest in downtown Kiev, Ukraine, 24 January 2014. Photo by EPA/BGNES

In 2013, for the eighth year in a row, more countries registered declines in political rights and civil liberties than gains.

This is one of the sobering conclusions of the 2014 "Freedom in the World" report, released on Thursday by Freedom House.

The Washington, D.C.-based NGO divided 195 nations and 14 territories into three categories—"free," "partly free," and "not free"—and mapped its findings.

Even as the number of electoral democracies in the world increased, nations like the Central African Republic, Mali, and Ukraine suffered devastating democratic setbacks.

Thirty-five percent of the world's population, living in 25 percent of the polities on the planet, found themselves in countries that aren't free.

As the world enters a year in which more people will vote in elections than ever before, democracy appears to be in a holding pattern around the world—if not outright retreat.

Perhaps nowhere was the fall from freedom more visible than in Egypt, where angry protests gave way to a military coup and a crackdown on dissent.

Freedom in the World 2014 report author Arch Puddington argued that in many ways, Egypt was not alone.

“We are at a time right now where the leaders of the authoritarian community are more self-assured and arrogant than they’ve been in the past and there’s a kind of a loose coalition, alliance of the repressive countries,” said Puddington.

Almost no region fared worse than Eurasia, which saw increased persecution and media crackdowns in Russia and Ukraine. According to Freedom House, 78 percent of the region’s population lives in countries that are "not free.”

In the Middle East, Syria ranked among the 10 worst – or least free countries – while 83 percent of the region’s total population also live in countries rated as "not free."

In the Asia-Pacific, the report found China was even more intolerant in 2013. Overall, 43-percent of the region's population lives in countries rated as “not free."

In Africa, 35 percent of the region's population lives in countries rated as "not free."

?As for the United States, the country continues to rank among the freest in the world, but Freedom House said there is reason for Washington to be concerned.

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Tags: Ukraine, Russia, Washington, United States, Syria, Middle East, Egypt, Eurasia, democracy, 2014, Freedom in the World, freedom house, Asia-Pacific, China, Africa


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