Freedom House released on Thursday ‘Worst of the Worst 2010: The World’s Most Repressive Societies’, its annual report identifying the world’s most flagrant human rights abusers. at a side panel during the 14th 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.
“By highlighting these countries, we hope to give human rights advocates a tool they can use to shine a light on these abuses at the world’s only global human rights body.”
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, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Tibet.
An additional 8 countries and 2 territories score only slightly better, with a score of 7 in political rights and a score of 6 in the civil liberties category: Belarus, Chad, China, Cuba, Guinea, Laos, Saudi Arabia, and Syria.
“While it is shameful that three of the ‘Worst of the Worst’ regimes now actually sit on the Council (China, Cuba and Saudi Arabia) and a fourth (Libya) was just elected, we nonetheless call on the member states of the Council to fulfil their mandate and take actions to address the systemic abuses in these countries,” continued Schriefer.
Since the Council was first established in 2006 to replace the widely discredited UN Commission on Human Rights, only a handful of “Worst of the Worst” states—Burma, Guinea, Somalia, Sudan and North Korea—have been the focus of resolutions or special sessions by the UN body.
Freedom House is an independent watchdog organization that supports democratic change, monitors the status of freedom around the world, and advocates for democracy and human rights.