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.
Driven by a growing fear of its own people and their demands for better governance, the Sudanese regime is intensifying its assault on humanitarian organizations and human rights activists, both at home and abroad.
The world was outraged when a 14-year-old girl in Pakistan was shot in the head last week simply for being an ardent advocate for the right of girls to an education. Unfortunately, Malala's case is not an isolated one. In most parts of the world today, individuals and organizations working to advance social, political, and environmental justice face imminent danger as a result of their work. In the past two months alone, a 70-year-old activist in Cambodia was sentenced to 20 years in prison because he challenged the government's policy of confiscating local land for powerful corporate interests; in southern India, police used live ammunition on villagers protesting against a proposed nuclear power plant; a human rights lawyer opposing the creation of special economic development zones was shot dead in Honduras; and in the United Arab Emirates, an outspoken critic of inhumane treatment of political prisoners was assaulted in the street twice and faced government surveillance.
In April 2012, President Obama went all-in rhetorically when he asserted that preventing mass atrocities and genocide is a "core national security interest and a core moral responsibility of the United States." Such statements are in part an outgrowth of the American public's horror at the genocide and atrocities of recent decades in places like Bosnia, Rwanda, and Darfur. But as the limited U.S. response to the ongoing conflict in Syria illustrates, there is not yet a full understanding of the centrality of preventing mass atrocities to our national security.
A majority of Americans see democracy in the U.S. as weak and getting weaker, according to a national survey released by The Democracy Project, a joint initiative of Freedom House, the George W. Bush Institute, and the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement.
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.
Freedom House released an analysis of democracy in sub-Saharan Africa showing that the region has experienced notable increases in freedom over the past generation, although more setbacks than gains were seen in 2006.
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