Understanding China, One Blog at a Time

An American in China

Global Civil Rights Decline Eight Straight Years, China To Blame?

Posted by w_thames_the_d on September 26, 2014


How much of this is China’s fault? They coddle dictators and offer an oppressive alternative to democracy. It’s the 1920’s all over again?

Freedomhouse.org

AN EIGHTH YEAR OF DECLINE IN POLITICAL RIGHTS AND CIVIL LIBERTIES

The state of freedom declined for the eighth consecutive year in 2013, according to Freedom in the World 2014, Freedom House’s annual country-by-country report on global political rights and civil liberties.

Particularly notable were developments in Egypt, which endured across-the-board reversals in its democratic institutions following a military coup. There were also serious setbacks to democratic rights in other large, politically influential countries, including Russia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, Turkey, Venezuela, and Indonesia.

Findings of the 41st edition of Freedom in the World, the oldest, most authoritative report of democracy and human rights, include:

  • Fifty-four countries showed overall declines in political rights and civil liberties, compared with 40 that showed gains.
  • For the eighth consecutive year, Freedom in the World recorded more declines in democracy worldwide than gains.
  • Some leaders effectively relied on “modern authoritarianism,” crippling their political opposition without annihilating it, and flouting the rule of law while maintaining a veneer of order, legitimacy, and prosperity.
  • Central to modern authoritarians is the capture of institutions that undergird political pluralism. They seek to dominate not only the executive and legislative branches, but also the media, judiciary, civil society, economy, and security forces.

There were some positive signs for the year:

  • Civil liberties improved in Tunisia, the most promising of the Arab Spring countries.
  • Pakistan showed gains due to successful elections and an orderly rotation of power.
  • In Africa, gains occurred in Mali, Côte d’Ivoire, Senegal, Madagascar, Rwanda, Togo, and Zimbabwe.
  • The addition of Honduras, Kenya, Nepal, and Pakistan raised the number of electoral democracies to 122.

Worst of the Worst: Ten countries were given the lowest possible rating of 7 for both political rights and civil liberties.

Central African Republic Somalia
Equatorial Guinea Sudan
Eritrea Syria
North Korea Turkmenistan
Saudi Arabia Uzbekistan

Middle East and North Africa

The Middle East and North Africa registered the worst civil liberties scores of any region. Gains: Iraq’s political rights rating improved as the result of greater political activity by opposition parties during provincial elections, and Tunisia earned an increase in its civil liberties rating. Declines: Egypt saw its status decline from Partly Free to Not Free. The Gaza Strip received a decline in its political rights rating.

Sub-Saharan Africa
In recent years, sub-Saharan Africa has been the most politically volatile region, with major democratic breakthroughs in some countries, and coups, insurgencies, and authoritarian crackdowns in others. This trend continued in 2013. Gains: Mali moved from Not Free to Partly Free due to successful elections and an improved security situation in the north. Côte d’Ivoire, Madagascar, Rwanda, Senegal, Togo, and Zimbabwe all saw ratings improvements. Declines: The Central African Republic dropped from Partly Free to Not Free because of a rebellion that ousted the president and parliament and suspended the constitution, and Sierra Leone’s status declined from Free to Partly Free due to persistent problems with corruption. Ratings declines were also seen in South Sudan and Uganda.

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