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Freedom House exposes world's worst human rights abusers

(Freedom House/IFEX) - Geneva, June 1, 2011 - Freedom House today released "Worst of the Worst 2011: The World's Most Repressive Societies", its annual report identifying the world's most flagrant human rights abusers, at a press conference during the 17th session of the UN Human Rights Council.

The report, which identifies countries earning the lowest scores in Freedom in the World, Freedom House's annual report on political rights and civil liberties, was designed as a resource for human rights advocates. This year's report identifies 17 countries and 3 territories whose citizens live in extremely oppressive environments, with minimal basic rights and persistent human rights violations.

"In this report we identify countries where individuals have almost no opportunity to enjoy the most fundamental rights - regimes whose people experience heavy penalties for independent thought or action and where little or no oppositional activity is permitted to exist," said Paula Schriefer, director of advocacy at Freedom House. "Sadly, the utter lack of political space for reform in these countries has allowed entrenched nondemocratic regimes to persist year after year. More than half of the countries on this list have never experienced any significant level of political rights and civil liberties and in fact, those countries that rank the lowest in our report this year are quite literally the same as last year."

Nine countries and one territory are judged to have the worst human rights conditions, receiving the lowest possible score of 7 (based on a 1 to 7 scale, with 1 representing the most free and 7 representing the least free) on both political rights and civil liberties: Burma, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Sudan, Tibet (China), Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan.

An additional 8 countries and 2 territories score only slightly better, with a score of 7 in political rights and a second-worst score of 6 in the civil liberties category: Belarus, Chad, China, Côte d'Ivoire, Cuba, Laos, Saudi Arabia, and South Ossetia (Russia), Syria and Western Sahara (Morocco).

"The fact that the people of Libya and Syria continue to put themselves at tremendous risk in the face of horrific repression and violence in an attempt to end the regimes of their dictators should serve as a reminder of how precious basic freedoms are," continued Schriefer. "While we have been pleased by a recent improvement in the response of the Council to the ongoing abuses taking place in these countries, Freedom House would like to see more decisive UN action on other countries as well."

Since the Council was first established in 2006 to replace the widely discredited UN Commission on Human Rights, a small but increasing number of "Worst of the Worst" states - Burma, Libya, Syria, Somalia, Sudan and North Korea - have been the focus of resolutions or special sessions by the UN body.

Download the report:
worst_of_the_worst.pdf (1119 KB)

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