Worst of the Worst: Freedom House Report for 2009 released in Genera


According to the report, Burma, Equatorial Guinea, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Sudan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan again ranked as the worst human rights abusers; inhabitants of two territories, Chechnya and Tibet, were also included on the roster of worst abusers. South Ossetia, a disputed province of Georgia, is included in the report for the first time as a disputed territory. A total of 17 countries and four territories are profiled in the report. These countries are drawn from the 42 countries and nine territories that are currently ranked Not Free in Freedom in the World 2009, Freedom House’s annual survey of political rights and civil liberties.

In Europe according to Freedom House’s assessment, Belarus is furthest behind in terms of democratic freedoms. Last year, the USA and EU softened their stand on Belarus in response to the releasing of (some) political prisoners. However Arch Paddington, Director of the Freedom House Research Department sees no grounds for this.  “We view Belarus as a dictatorship of the old style where Alexander Lukashenko does what he feels like. I think he did some very superficial things in order to get the USA and EU to remove sanctions however I don’t see the changes as significant. And I am certainly not satisfied with the way that Belarus held the last elections”, Mr Paddington told Radio Svoboda on the phone from New York.  He believes that the West’s policy towards Belarus is considerably influenced by Minsk’s relations with Moscow.

As far as the Russian Federation is concerned, Freedom House found the greatest problems in Chechnya which is discussed in a separate section of the report. It is good, of course, that there is no war, however the local leadership is a Kremlin puppet administration which deals brutally with its opponents.

Ukraine retains its ranking as a free country.

"The countries and territories in Worst of the Worst are precisely the ones that the Human Rights Council should focus on," said Paula Schriefer, Freedom House director of advocacy, at a press conference for the release of the report in Geneva. "In these countries, regimes control the daily lives of citizens by denying them basic human rights such as freedom of speech, freedom of assembly and freedom of belief."

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