Wednesday, December 28, 2005
ast week, Freedom House released its report on 2005's progress of freedom in the world. Showing measurable gains in the Middle East -- although it still lags behind other regions -- the current year's findings show 27 countries and one territory recording gains, and only 9 countries registering a setback. A change in their scores -- comprising a 1 - 7 score in two categories (Political Rights and Civil Liberties) -- does not necessarily mean a change in category, of which there are three: Not Free, Partly Free, and Free. But this year, Indonesia moved from Partly Free to Free, while Thailand and Philippines both regressed from Free to Partly Free -- two of only four countries which actually dropped a category. Eight countries and the territory of the Palestinian Authority advanced one category.
The charts and tables may be downloaded here (pdf 123 Kb), and the summary essay is here (pdf 69 Kb). You can also download the table for all countries from 1972 to the present (MS Excel file 368 Kb). A very interesting picture of the past 33 years.
Joshua Muravchik, writing a commentary in the LA Times (wai Tim Blair), says:
But here's the really interesting part. Of the nine countries that improved their ratings, no fewer than six are Muslim countries. Indonesia moved from "partly free" to "free," while Afghanistan, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Mauritania and the Palestinian Authority moved from "not free" to "partly free." Of the four countries that became less free in 2005, none was a Muslim country.He means the four countries which dropped a category, and the nine countries which advanced a category. In the Philippines and Thailand scores, they both dropped from "2" to "3" in Political Rights ("1" is most freedom, "7" is least freedom). Both maintained their "3" on Civil Liberties. Indonesia is up to "2" for PR and "3" for CL -- an increase in both fields over last year.
The lowest possible score of "7" for PR and "7" for CL were awarded to eight countries: Cuba, North Korea, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Libya, Syria, Sudan and Burma. Two territories also found themselves in the worst-rated group: Tibet and Chechnya.