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Freedom House’s 2015 “Freedom in the World” Index Released

Tuesday, April 21st, 2015

The 2015 edition of Freedom House’s annual “Freedom In The World” Index has just been published and it paints a grim picture of declining civil rights throughout the world. According to Freedom House, civil liberties and political rights declined for the ninth straight year while threats to democratic forms of systems reached levels that were never seen during the last 25 years. Among large countries, China and Russia maintained their positions near the bottom of the index ranking alongside some of the worst civil liberty offenders from Middle East and Africa.

Among the 195 countries evaluated by the organization, 89 were declared as free, 55 were found to be party free while 51 were rated as not free. Freedom House also discovered that civil liberties declined in many countries owing to increased surveillance, decreased personal autonomy and curbs on online communications. Middle East and North Africa accounted for the maximum number of countries that were rated as not free while Syria ranked at the bottom of the index. The index also listed North Korea, Somalia, Saudi Arabia, Central African Republic, Syria, Sudan, Equatorial Guinea, Uzbekistan, Eritrea and Turkmenistan as the “worst of the worst” among all the countries the were assessed.

Freedom House also says that civil rights and freedom declined in 61 countries while they improved in just 33 nations. What’s worse, the number of nations showing improvements declined to the lowest level since the nine year drop in global freedom began in 2007. Freedom House attributed this drop to the recent upticks in terrorist activities as well as the aggressive techniques used by the totalitarian regimes. The organization also cited factors like rollback of democratic process in Egypt, Russia’s intrusion into Ukraine, increased restrictions in Turkey as well as increased centralization of power and authority in China that contributed to the decline in democratic standards around the world.

As far as China was concerned, it was assigned a score of 7 for political rights and 6 for civil liberties (with 1 being considered as the best score and 7 the worst). The country secured an overall score of 6.5 which ranked it alongside Cuba and Gaza Strip on the freedom index. Freedom House attributed this poor score to state sponsored oppression, limits on freedom of expression, arrests of dissidents and curbs on political association. The country also scored low for its rule of law, electoral process and treatment meted out to minorities.

Freedom House also labeled the current Chinese leader Xi Jinping as the most powerful Community party leader to emerge in the last one and a half decades. The report cited examples of actions against civil organizations; increased online surveillance and suppression of religious minorities to show how the Chinese government is suppressing its own people and at the same time, increasing its power. The report also noted how China was flexing its muscles in the disputed territories along its maritime borders and bolstering its defenses in those areas. If we go by the Freedom House report, the future of freedom and civil rights in China seems pretty bleak.

April 21, 2015

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