North Korea

25 million people
Press:
Not Free
Not Free

News & Updates

As Americans celebrate Independence Day and the world looks nervously toward uncertain political developments in Egypt, it's worth remembering the countries that have little to celebrate.  Click here to see a photo slideshow of the 'Worst of the Worst' countries.

Authoritarian regimes around the world are banding together to bypass international institutions and human rights norms that conflict with their abusive practices. Unlike the alliances of the Cold War era, these partnerships have few ideological underpinnings other than a shared rejection of democracy and the rule of law. But such cooperation has offered aid and solidarity to dictators under pressure, and created a marketplace through which repressive regimes can meet their technology, security, and energy needs without the headaches of transparency and accountability. And if the seven-year decline in global freedom recorded by Freedom House is any indication, authoritarianism is, sadly, a growth industry.

Each year at this time, Freedom House issues a report on the state of global media freedom. The overall findings for 2012 were bleak: Just 14 percent of the world's population lives in societies that enjoy vibrant coverage of public affairs, a legal environment that undergirds a free press, and freedom from intrusion by the government or other political forces.  The countries profiled are members of an ignoble club -- the 10 most serious violators of press freedom in the world.

Distinguished Fellow for Democracy Studies

Last month, the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) adopted a resolution establishing a Commission of Inquiry (COI) to look into conditions in North Korea. Given Pyongyang’s recent nuclear bombast and its loud threats to reduce South Korea to rubble and chase the United States from the region, it is no wonder that a human rights investigation of this kind has received little attention. There are, however, reasons to welcome the new effort to come to grips with North Korea’s regime of domestic repression.

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Signature Reports

Special Reports

Worst of the Worst 2011: The World's Most Repressive Societies

Freedom House has prepared this special report entitled Worst of the Worst: The World’s Most Repressive Societies, as a companion to its annual survey on the state of global political rights and civil liberties, Freedom in the World. The special report provides summary country reports, tables, and graphical information on the countries that receive the lowest combined ratings for political rights and civil liberties in Freedom in the World, and whose citizens endure systematic and pervasive human rights violations.

Worst of the Worst 2007

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.

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