Worst of the Worst 2007

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Sudan, North Korea and Uzbekistan are prominent among the most repressive regimes in the world, according to a report released by Freedom House.

The study, “The Worst of the Worst: The World's Most Repressive Societies 2007,” named seventeen countries with the worst records for political rights and civil liberties, and pointed to thirteen countries which have been on the list for five years or more.

“Repressive regimes can be incredibly resilient, as this year’s list demonstrates,” said Arch Puddington, Director of Research at Freedom House. “Some of the countries on this list are global bullies; others are responsible for unspeakable humanitarian crises. In practically every case, these regimes are resistant to change and are indifferent to their citizens’ political rights, civil liberties and basic human needs.”

The report includes detailed summaries of political and human rights conditions in Belarus, Burma, China, Cote d’Ivoire, Cuba, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Laos, Libya, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Zimbabwe. Also included are three territories: Chechnya, Tibet and Western Sahara. Except for  Cote d’Ivoire, which is new to the list this year, and Belarus, Equatorial Guinea and Zimbabwe, all have been rated the “worst of the worst” since 2002 or earlier.

Within these countries and territories, state control over daily life is pervasive and wide-ranging, independent organizations and political opposition are banned or suppressed, and fear of retribution for independent thought and action is part of daily life.

“This study reminds us of the enormous challenges that confront the advocates of democracy in pressing for reform in these critical cases,” said Aili Piano, managing editor of the report. “These regimes have toughened and refined their techniques of control over the years, and are determined to suppress the opposition, no matter how small. It is thus essential for those who champion freedom to recognize that contributing to change in these settings will require commitment and a great deal of patience.”

The "Worst of the Worst" report is excerpted from Freedom House's forthcoming annual global survey, Freedom in the World 2007. The countries deemed the most repressive earn some of the worst numerical ratings according to the survey's methodology, which measures the state of political rights and civil liberties worldwide, and classifies countries as Free, Partly Free or Not Free.

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