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Freedom House notes decline of political rights and civil liberties in annual survey

Global declines in freedom have outpaced gains in 2009, reports Freedom House in its latest annual survey of the rights situation in 194 countries and 14 territories worldwide: "Freedom in the World 2010."

Authoritarian states including Iran, Russia, Venezuela and Vietnam became more repressive, says the report. Declines in freedom also took place in countries that had previously showed positive trends, including Bahrain, Jordan, Kenya, and Kyrgyzstan.

In this year's investigations, the number of electoral democracies fell to the lowest level since 1995. The most repressive region in the world is the Middle East. Asia showed the most significant improvements with successful elections held in India, Indonesia and Japan. But declines were shown in Afghanistan after a seriously flawed presidential poll and in the Philippines with the massacre of civilians and journalists.

In sub-Saharan Africa, Freedom House cited Eritrea and the Democratic Republic of Congo as two of the worst countries for both political rights and civil liberties. In Western Europe anti-immigration policies have appeared in response to an increase in immigrants from Muslim countries, creating a decline in freedom in Switzerland and Malta.

"In 2009, we saw a disturbing erosion of some of the most fundamental freedoms - freedom of expression and association - and an increase in attacks on frontline activists in these areas," said Freedom House. "From the brutal repression on the streets of Iran, to the sweeping detention of Charter 08 members in China and murders of journalists and human rights activists in Russia, we have seen a worldwide crackdown against individuals asserting their universally accepted rights over the last five years."

Freedom in the World 2010

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