Oh look: No free press. Repressive government

Nice little piece by Freedom House: Worst of the Worst 2012: The World’s Most Repressive Societies

More than 1.6 billion people—23 percent of the world’s population—have no say in how they are governed and face severe consequences if they try to exercise their most basic rights, such as expressing their views, assembling peacefully, and organizing independently of the state. Citizens who dare to assert their rights in these repressive countries typically suffer harassment and imprisonment, and often are subjected to physical or psychological abuse. In these countries, state control over public life is pervasive, and individuals have little if any recourse to justice for crimes the state commits against them.

In this year’s Worst of the Worst report, nine countries were identified by Freedom House as being the world’s worst human rights abusers in calendar year 2011: Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. Two disputed territories, Tibet and Western Sahara, were also in this category. All of these countries and territories received Freedom in the World’s lowest ratings: 7 for political rights and 7 for civil liberties (based on a 1 to 7 scale, with 1 representing the most free and 7 the least free). Within these entities, political opposition is banned, criticism of the government is met with retribution, and independent organizations are suppressed.

PR and CL stand for political rights and civil liberties, respectively; 1 represents the most free and 7 represents the least free rating. The ratings reflect an overall judgment based on survey results. ▲ ▼ up or down indicates a change in political rights, civil liberties, or status since the last survey.

You should be aware that each of the countries listed in the Worst of the Worst are also at the dead bottom of the Press Freedom Index as well.

And I bet, if we look at the listing of most corrupt countries list from Transparency International, I  bet we would see these same countries popping up again as being highly corrupt.

Yep. At best some are just in the bottom half of the corruption scale. But most are right at the bottom.

No surprise really.

Dictators hate anyone looking over their shoulders. And “Over the shoulder looking” is just what a free and independent press does.

Oh, and why should U.S. John and Jane Smith be concerned?

Without independent media operating in these countries how are we do know what is really going on there? The interests of the United States and its citizens depend on factual information.

The information needed can be as diverse as threats to a source of goods the U.S. need (Libya, Saudi Arabia, Syria) to unrest in an area that might require pose a threat to U.S. interests or allies (Laos, Turkmenistan, North Korea, Somalia). Or it could be out of humanitarian reasons.

What ever the reason, without a free press in these countries all we have to go on are reports from people with political or economic agendas or governments. It would be nice to know what is going on from some more impartial sources.

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Filed under Censorship, Corruption, International News Coverage, Press Freedom, Story Ideas

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