November 26, 2020

Freedom House Releases “Freedom in the World Report 2018”

From Freedom House:

The [Freedom in the World Report 2018] report finds that 2017 was the 12th consecutive year of decline in global freedom. Seventy-one countries suffered net declines in political rights and civil liberties in 2017, with only 35 registering gains. Hong Kong’s diminishing political rights received another blow as four prodemocracy lawmakers were expelled from the legislature, protest leaders were sentenced to jail time, and pro-Beijing authorities worked to stamp out a movement calling for local self-determination.

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Source: Freedom in the World 2018

Over the period since the 12-year slide began in 2006, 113 countries have seen a net decline, and only 62 have experienced a net improvement.

Key Findings:

  • Of the 195 countries assessed, 88 (45 percent) were rated Free, 58 (30 percent) Partly Free, and 49 (25 percent) Not Free.
  • The United States saw declines in its political rights due to:
    • Growing evidence of Russian interference in the 2016 election campaign and a lack of action by the Trump administration either to condemn or to prevent a reoccurrence of such meddling
    • Violations of basic ethical standards by the new administration, including the president’s failure to divest himself of his business empire, his hiring of family members as senior advisers, and his appointment of cabinet members and other senior officials despite apparent conflicts of interest
    • A reduction in government transparency, including an unusual pattern of false statements by the administration, the president’s failure to disclose basic information such as his personal tax data, policy and other decisions made without meaningful input from relevant agencies and officials, and the removal of information on issues of public interest from government websites for political or ideological reasons
  • In China, Communist Party leader Xi Jinping further consolidated his hold on power at the 19th Party Congress in October, as internet censorship and surveillance reached new heights during the year. A multi-year crackdown on civil society continued with numerous criminal prosecutions of bloggers, activists, human rights lawyers, and religious believers and the death of Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Liu Xiaobo. Already intrusive restrictions on religious freedom and technological surveillance in Tibet and Xinjiang intensified, and thousands of Uighur Muslims were sent to extralegal political indoctrination centers.

  • The prosecutions of bloggers, activists, human rights lawyers, and religious believers and the death of Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Liu Xiaobo. Already intrusive restrictions on religious freedom and technological surveillance in Tibet and Xinjiang intensified, and thousands of Uighur Muslims were sent to extralegal political indoctrination centers.
  • The Communist Party leadership in Beijing also continued to expand its international influence by building up a propaganda and censorship apparatus with global reach. It used economic and other ties to influence democracies like Australia and New Zealand, compelled various countries to repatriate Chinese citizens seeking refuge abroad, and provided diplomatic and material support to repressive governments from Southeast Asia to Africa.
  • China ramped up its efforts to suppress democracy in Hong Kong, where four prodemocracy lawmakers were expelled from the legislature, protest leaders were sentenced to jail time, and pro-Beijing authorities worked to stamp out a movement calling for local self-determination.
  • Despite ongoing concerns of Chinese government efforts to influence policymaking, media coverage, and certain sectors of the economy, Taiwan remained home to a vibrant and competitive democratic system, among the freest in the world.
  • Hopes for democracy in Cambodia were dashed as Prime Minister Hun Sen oversaw a decisive crackdown on the country’s beleaguered opposition and press corps.
  • North Korea put global stability at risk by perpetuating long-running regional conflicts, fueling humanitarian crises, and rapidly expanding its nuclear arsenal.
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Source; Freedom of the World Report 2018

Worst of the Worst:

Of the 49 countries designated as Not Free, the following 12 have the worst aggregate scores for political rights and civil liberties, earning less than 10 points on a 100-point scale (beginning with the least free): Syria, South Sudan, Eritrea, North Korea, Turkmenistan, Equatorial Guinea, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Uzbekistan, Sudan, Central African Republic, and Libya.

Resources

Direct to Full Text Report (Including Links to Country Reports)

Direct to Full Text Report (24 pages; PDF)

Direct to Report Graphics (.zip)

About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.

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