=> WASHINGTON, Jan 16: Political freedom is retreatin
WASHINGTON, Jan 16: Political freedom is retreating in large parts of the world including Russia, Iran, Pakistan, Venezuela, and China, the independent Freedom House human rights organisation reported on Wednesday.
There were reversals in political rights and civil liberties in one-fifth of the world’s countries in 2007, including some politically crucial states like Russia and Pakistan, Freedom House said in its annual global survey.
“This year’s results show a profoundly disturbing deterioration of freedom worldwide,” said Arch Puddington, director of research at the US-based Freedom House, a non-governmental democracy watchdog dating back three decades.
The number of countries that Freedom House labelled as “free” in 2007 stood at 90, representing 46 per cent of the global population, the report said.
While this number did not change from the previous year, large numbers of countries that were already designated “partly free” or “not free” saw serious regression away from democracy in 2007, the survey said.
Thirty-eight countries showed evidence of declines in freedoms, many of them in South Asia, the Middle East and from the former Soviet Union. Just 10 countries, including Thailand and Togo, showed positive shifts, it said.
Pakistan — already considered “not free” by the survey — got worse, with the government of President Pervez Musharraf attempting to consolidate power through suppression of democratic opposition.
There was increased political violence, notably the assassination of opposition leader Benazir Bhutto.