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Freedom watchdog slams violators including Myanmar, N.Korea

Published on 03/06/2010

Non-governmental US watchdog Freedom House said Thursday Myanmar, North Korea, Libya, Somalia and Sudan were among the worst violators of human rights worldwide.

In its 13th annual report published on the sidelines of a UN Human Rights Council meeting the organisation listed 17 countries and three territories with “extremely oppressive environments, with minimal basic rights and persistent human rights violations”.

Freedom House said Myanmar, Equatorial Guinea, Libya, North Korea, Sudan, Somalia, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tibet and Eritrea were the countries or territories with the worst record of political and civil liberties.

Eritrea was a newcomer in this group this year.

Runners-up were Belarus, Chad, China, Cuba, Guinea, Laos, Saudi Arabia and Syria.

“In this report we identify countries where individuals have almost no opportunity to enjoy the most fundamentals rights — regimes whose people experience heavy penalties for independent thought or action and where little or no opposition activity is permitted to exist,” said the NGO’s Paula Schriefer.

“Nine countries and one territory are judged to have the worst human rights conditions, receiving the lowest possible score of seven (based on a one to seven scale) on both political rights and civil liberties.”

It said an additional eight countries and two territories scored only slightly better, with a score of seven in political rights and six in the civil liberties category.

“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 fulfill their mandate and take actions to address the systemic abuses in these countries,” said Schriefer.

The annual report assesses rights violations in a total of 194 countries and 14 territories, such as Tibet which is part of China and South Ossetia which is disputed between Georgia and Russia.

It takes into account political liberties such as pluralism, freedom of the press, religion, free speech and the electoral process but also the possibility of moving around freely and access to education.