Methodology

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Freedom in the World 2014 Methodology
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INTRODUCTION

Freedom in the World is an annual global report on political rights and civil liberties, composed of numerical ratings and descriptive texts for each country and a select group of related and disputed territories. The 2014 edition covers developments in 195 countries and 14 territories from January 1, 2013, through December 31, 2013.

The report’s methodology is derived in large measure from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1948. Freedom in the World is based on the premise that these standards apply to all countries and territories, irrespective of geographical location, ethnic or religious composition, or level of economic development. Freedom in the World operates from the assumption that freedom for all peoples is best achieved in liberal democratic societies.

Freedom in the World assesses the real-world rights and freedoms enjoyed by individuals, rather than governments or government performance per se. Political rights and civil liberties can be affected by both state and nonstate actors, including insurgents and other armed groups.

Freedom House does not equate legal guarantees of rights with the on-the-ground fulfillment of those rights. While both laws and actual practices are factored into the ratings decisions, greater emphasis is placed on implementation.

Countries and territories with small populations are not penalized for lacking pluralism in the political system or civil society if these limitations are determined to be a function of size and not overt restrictions by the government or other powerful actors.

Territories are selected for inclusion in Freedom in the World based on their political significance and size. Freedom House divides territories into two categories: related territories and disputed territories. Related territories are in some relation of dependency to a sovereign state, and the relationship is not currently in serious legal or political dispute. Disputed territories are areas within internationally recognized sovereign states whose status is in serious political or violent dispute, and whose conditions differ substantially from those of the relevant sovereign states. They are often outside of central government control and characterized by intense, longtime, and widespread insurgency or independence movements that enjoy popular support. Freedom House typically takes no position on territorial or separatist disputes as such, focusing instead on the level of political rights and civil liberties in a given geographical area.

HISTORY OF FREEDOM IN THE WORLD

Freedom House’s first year-end reviews of freedom began in the 1950s as the Balance Sheet of Freedom. This modest report provided assessments of political trends and their implications for individual freedom. In 1972, Freedom House launched a new, more comprehensive annual study called The Comparative Study of Freedom. Raymond Gastil, a Harvard-trained specialist in regional studies from the University of Washington in Seattle, developed the methodology, which assigned political rights and civil liberties ratings to 151 countries and 45 territories and categorized them as Free, Partly Free, or Not Free. The findings appeared each year in Freedom House’s Freedom at Issue bimonthly journal (later titled Freedom Review). Freedom in the World first appeared in book form in 1978 and included short narratives for each country and territory rated in the study, as well as a series of essays by leading scholars on related issues. Freedom in the World continued to be produced by Gastil until 1989, when a larger team of in-house analysts was established. In the mid-1990s, the expansion of the country and territory narratives demanded the hiring of outside analysts—a group of regional experts from the academic, media, and human rights communities—and the project has continued to grow in size and scope in the years since.

CHANGES TO FREEDOM IN THE WORLD 2014

The methodology is reviewed periodically, and a number of modest changes have been made over the years to adapt to evolving ideas about political rights and civil liberties. However, the time-series data are not revised retroactively, and any changes to the methodology are introduced incrementally in order to ensure the comparability of the ratings from year to year.

This year, the following changes were made to the narrative report format:

  • The Overview section, which had included an Executive Summary paragraph and a chronological review of historical events, now focuses on major political and other developments during the current edition’s coverage period.
  • The Political Rights and Civil Liberties section has been divided into 7 subsections that correspond to the 7 methodological subcategories (see below) used by the analysts to score their countries. The subcategory scores, and the resulting aggregate scores for political rights and civil liberties, are now listed at the beginning of each subsection, drawing a clearer connection between the scores and the descriptive text.

A few minor changes to the subquestions used by the analysts to score their countries were also made, including more specific references to LGBT rights.

RESEARCH AND RATINGS REVIEW PROCESS

Freedom in the World is produced each year by a team of in-house and external analysts and expert advisers from the academic, think tank, and human rights communities. The 2014 edition involved more than 60 analysts and nearly 30 advisers. The analysts, who prepare the draft reports and scores, use a broad range of sources, including news articles, academic analyses, reports from nongovernmental organizations, and individual professional contacts. The analysts score countries based on the conditions and events within their borders during the coverage period. The analysts’ proposed scores are discussed and defended at annual review meetings, organized by region and attended by Freedom House staff and a panel of the expert advisers. The final scores represent the consensus of the analysts, advisers, and staff, and are intended to be comparable from year to year and across countries and regions. The advisers also provide a detailed review of and commentary on a number of key country and territory reports. Although an element of subjectivity is unavoidable in such an enterprise, the ratings process emphasizes methodological consistency, intellectual rigor, and balanced and unbiased judgments.

RATINGS PROCESS

Freedom in the World uses a three-tiered rating system, consisting of scores, ratings, and status. The complete list of the questions used in the scoring process, and the tables for converting scores to ratings and ratings to status, appear at the end of this essay.

Scores – A country or territory is awarded 0 to 4 points for each of 10 political rights indicators and 15 civil liberties indicators, which take the form of questions; a score of 0 represents the smallest degree of freedom and 4 the greatest degree of freedom. The political rights questions are grouped into three subcategories: Electoral Process (3 questions), Political Pluralism and Participation (4), and Functioning of Government (3). The civil liberties questions are grouped into four subcategories: Freedom of Expression and Belief (4 questions), Associational and Organizational Rights (3), Rule of Law (4), and Personal Autonomy and Individual Rights (4). The political rights section also contains two additional discretionary questions. For additional discretionary question A, a score of 1 to 4 may be added, as applicable, while for discretionary question B, a score of 1 to 4 may be subtracted, as applicable (the worse the situation, the more points may be subtracted). The highest score that can be awarded to the political rights checklist is 40 (or a total score of 4 for each of the 10 questions). The highest score that can be awarded to the civil liberties checklist is 60 (or a total score of 4 for each of the 15 questions). The scores from the previous edition are used as a benchmark for the current year under review. A score is typically changed only if there has been a real-world development during the year that warrants a decline or improvement (e.g., a crackdown on the media, the country’s first free and fair elections), though gradual changes in conditions, in the absence of a signal event, are occasionally registered in the scores.

Political Rights and Civil Liberties Ratings – A country or territory is assigned two ratings (7 to 1)—one for political rights and one for civil liberties—based on its total scores for the political rights and civil liberties questions. Each rating of 1 through 7, with 1 representing the greatest degree of freedom and 7 the smallest degree of freedom, corresponds to a specific range of total scores (see tables 1 and 2).

Free, Partly Free, Not Free Status – The average of a country’s or territory’s political rights and civil liberties ratings is called the Freedom Rating, and it is this figure that determines the status of Free (1.0 to 2.5), Partly Free (3.0 to 5.0), or Not Free (5.5 to 7.0) (see table 3).

Trend Arrows – A country or territory may be assigned an upward or downward trend arrow to highlight developments of particular significance or concern. A trend arrow must be linked to a specific score change and can be assigned only when the score change is not large enough to trigger a broader ratings change. Most score changes do not warrant trend arrows; whether a country or territory should receive a trend arrow is left to the discretion of the analyst, in consultation with the expert advisers and Freedom House staff.

Electoral Democracy Freedom in the World assigns the designation “electoral democracy” to countries that have met certain minimum standards for political rights; territories are not included in the list of electoral democracies. According to the methodology, an electoral democracy designation requires a score of 7 or better in the Electoral Process subcategory and an overall political rights score of 20 or better. Freedom House’s term “electoral democracy” differs from “liberal democracy” in that the latter also implies the presence of a substantial array of civil liberties. In Freedom in the World, all Free countries can be considered both electoral and liberal democracies, while some Partly Free countries qualify as electoral, but not liberal, democracies.

RATINGS AND STATUS CHARACTERISTICS

POLITICAL RIGHTS

1 – Countries and territories with a rating of 1 enjoy a wide range of political rights, including free and fair elections. Candidates who are elected actually rule, political parties are competitive, the opposition plays an important role and enjoys real power, and the interests of minority groups are well represented in politics and government.

2 – Countries and territories with a rating of 2 have slightly weaker political rights than those with a rating of 1 because of such factors as political corruption, limits on the functioning of political parties and opposition groups, and foreign or military influence on politics.

3, 4, 5 – Countries and territories with a rating of 3, 4, or 5 either moderately protect almost all political rights or strongly protect some political rights while neglecting others. The same factors that undermine freedom in countries with a rating of 2 may also weaken political rights in those with a rating of 3, 4, or 5, but to a greater extent at each successive rating.

6 – Countries and territories with a rating of 6 have very restricted political rights. They are ruled by one-party or military dictatorships, religious hierarchies, or autocrats. They may allow a few political rights, such as some representation or autonomy for minority groups, and a few are traditional monarchies that tolerate political discussion and accept public petitions.

7 – Countries and territories with a rating of 7 have few or no political rights because of severe government oppression, sometimes in combination with civil war. They may also lack an authoritative and functioning central government and suffer from extreme violence or rule by regional warlords.

CIVIL LIBERTIES

1 – Countries and territories with a rating of 1 enjoy a wide range of civil liberties, including freedoms of expression, assembly, association, education, and religion. They have an established and generally fair legal system that ensures the rule of law (including an independent judiciary), allow free economic activity, and tend to strive for equality of opportunity for everyone, including women and minority groups.

2 – Countries and territories with a rating of 2 have slightly weaker civil liberties than those with a rating of 1 because of such factors as limits on media independence, restrictions on trade union activities, and discrimination against minority groups and women.

3, 4, 5 – Countries and territories with a rating of 3, 4, or 5 either moderately protect almost all civil liberties or strongly protect some civil liberties while neglecting others. The same factors that undermine freedom in countries with a rating of 2 may also weaken civil liberties in those with a rating of 3, 4, or 5, but to a greater extent at each successive rating.

6 – Countries and territories with a rating of 6 have very restricted civil liberties. They strongly limit the rights of expression and association and frequently hold political prisoners. They may allow a few civil liberties, such as some religious and social freedoms, some highly restricted private business activity, and some open and free private discussion.

7 – Countries and territories with a rating of 7 have few or no civil liberties. They allow virtually no freedom of expression or association, do not protect the rights of detainees and prisoners, and often control or dominate most economic activity.

The gap between a country’s or territory’s political rights and civil liberties ratings is rarely more than two points. Politically oppressive states typically do not allow a well-developed civil society, for example, and it is difficult, if not impossible, to maintain political freedoms in the absence of civil liberties like press freedom and the rule of law.

Because the designations of Free, Partly Free, and Not Free each cover a broad third of the available scores, countries or territories within any one category, especially those at either end of the range, can have quite different human rights situations. For example, those at the lowest end of the Free category (2 in political rights and 3 in civil liberties, or 3 in political rights and 2 in civil liberties) differ from those at the upper end of the Free group (1 for both political rights and civil liberties). Also, a designation of Free does not mean that a country or territory enjoys perfect freedom or lacks serious problems, only that it enjoys comparatively more freedom than those rated Partly Free or Not Free (and some others rated Free).


FREEDOM IN THE WORLD 2014

CHECKLIST QUESTIONS

The bulleted subquestions are intended to provide guidance to the analysts regarding what issues are meant to be considered in scoring each checklist question. The analysts do not need to consider every subquestion during the scoring process, as the relevance of each varies from one place to another.

POLITICAL RIGHTS (0–40 points)

A.        ELECTORAL PROCESS (0–12 points)

1.         Is the head of government or other chief national authority elected through free and fair elections?

  • Did established and reputable national and/or international election monitoring organizations judge the most recent elections for head of government to be free and fair? (Note: Heads of government chosen through various electoral frameworks, including direct elections for president, indirect elections for prime minister by parliament, and the electoral college system for electing presidents, are covered under this and the following sub-questions. In cases of indirect elections for the head of government, the elections for the legislature that chose the head of government, as well as the selection process of the head of government himself, should be taken into consideration.)
  • Have there been undue, politically motivated delays in holding the most recent election for head of government?
  • Is the registration of voters and candidates conducted in an accurate, timely, transparent, and nondiscriminatory manner?
  • Can candidates make speeches, hold public meetings, and enjoy media access throughout the campaign free of intimidation?
  • Does voting take place by secret ballot or by equivalent free voting procedure?
  • Are voters able to vote for the candidate or party of their choice without undue pressure or intimidation?
  • Is the vote count transparent, and is it reported honestly with the official results made public? Can election monitors from independent groups and representing parties/candidates watch the counting of votes to ensure their honesty?
  • Is each person’s vote given equivalent weight to those of other voters in order to ensure equal representation?
  • Has a democratically elected head of government who was chosen in the most recent election subsequently been overthrown in a violent coup? (Note: Although a peaceful, “velvet coup” may ultimately lead to a positive outcome—particularly if it replaces a head of government who was not freely and fairly elected—the new leader has not been freely and fairly elected and cannot be treated as such.)
  • In cases where elections for regional, provincial, or state governors and/or other subnational officials differ significantly in conduct from national elections, does the conduct of the subnational elections reflect an opening toward improved political rights in the country, or, alternatively, a worsening of political rights?

2.         Are the national legislative representatives elected through free and fair elections?

  • Did established and reputable domestic and/or international election monitoring organizations judge the most recent national legislative elections to be free and fair?
  • Have there been undue, politically motivated delays in holding the most recent national legislative election?
  • Is the registration of voters and candidates conducted in an accurate, timely, transparent, and nondiscriminatory manner?
  • Can candidates make speeches, hold public meetings, and enjoy media access throughout the campaign free of intimidation?
  • Does voting take place by secret ballot or by equivalent free voting procedure?
  • Are voters able to vote for the candidate or party of their choice without undue pressure or intimidation?
  • Is the vote count transparent, and is it reported honestly with the official results made public? Can election monitors from independent groups and representing parties/candidates watch the counting of votes to ensure their honesty?
  • Is each person’s vote given equivalent weight to those of other voters in order to ensure equal representation?
  • Have the representatives of a democratically elected national legislature who were chosen in the most recent election subsequently been overthrown in a violent coup? (Note: Although a peaceful, “velvet coup” may ultimately lead to a positive outcome—particularly if it replaces a national legislature whose representatives were not freely and fairly elected—members of the new legislature have not been freely and fairly elected and cannot be treated as such.)
  • In cases where elections for subnational councils/parliaments differ significantly in conduct from national elections, does the conduct of the subnational elections reflect an opening toward improved political rights in the country, or, alternatively, a worsening of political rights?

3.         Are the electoral laws and framework fair?

  • Is there a clear, detailed, and fair legislative framework for conducting elections? (Note: Changes to electoral laws should not be made immediately preceding an election if the ability of voters, candidates, or parties to fulfill their roles in the election is infringed.)
  • Are election commissions or other election authorities independent and free from government or other pressure and interference?
  • Is the composition of election commissions fair and balanced?
  • Do election commissions or other election authorities conduct their work in an effective and competent manner?
  • Do adult citizens enjoy universal and equal suffrage? (Note: Suffrage can be suspended or withdrawn for reasons of legal incapacity, such as mental incapacity or conviction of a serious criminal offense.)
  • Is the drawing of election districts conducted in a fair and nonpartisan manner, as opposed to gerrymandering for personal or partisan advantage?
  • Has the selection of a system for choosing legislative representatives (such as proportional versus majoritarian) been manipulated to advance certain political interests or to influence the electoral results?

B.        POLITICAL PLURALISM AND PARTICIPATION (0–16 points)

1.         Do the people have the right to organize in different political parties or other competitive political groupings of their choice, and is the system open to the rise and fall of these competing parties or groupings?

  • Do political parties encounter undue legal or practical obstacles in their efforts to be formed and to operate, including onerous registration requirements, excessively large membership requirements, etc.?
  • Do parties face discriminatory or onerous restrictions in holding meetings, rallies, or other peaceful activities?
  • Are party members or leaders intimidated, harassed, arrested, imprisoned, or subjected to violent attacks as a result of their peaceful political activities?

2.         Is there a significant opposition vote and a realistic opportunity for the opposition to increase its support or gain power through elections?

  • Are various legal/administrative restrictions selectively applied to opposition parties to prevent them from increasing their support base or successfully competing in elections?
  • Are there legitimate opposition forces in positions of authority, such as in the national legislature or in subnational governments?
  • Are opposition party members or leaders intimidated, harassed, arrested, imprisoned, or subjected to violent attacks as a result of their peaceful political activities?

3.         Are the people’s political choices free from domination by the military, foreign powers, totalitarian parties, religious hierarchies, economic oligarchies, or any other powerful group?

  • Do such groups offer bribes to voters and/or political figures in order to influence their political choices?
  • Do such groups intimidate, harass, or attack voters and/or political figures in order to influence their political choices?
  • Does the military control or enjoy a preponderant influence over government policy and activities, including in countries that nominally are under civilian control?
  • Do foreign governments control or enjoy a preponderant influence over government policy and activities by means including the presence of foreign military troops, the use of significant economic threats or sanctions, etc.?

4.         Do cultural, ethnic, religious, or other minority groups have full political rights and electoral opportunities?

  • Do political parties of various ideological persuasions address issues of specific concern to minority groups?
  • Does the government inhibit the participation of minority groups in national or subnational political life through laws and/or practical obstacles?
  • Are political parties based on ethnicity, culture, or religion that espouse peaceful, democratic values legally permitted and de facto allowed to operate?

C.        FUNCTIONING OF GOVERNMENT (0–12 points)

1.         Do the freely elected head of government and national legislative representatives determine the policies of the government?

  • Are the candidates who were elected freely and fairly duly installed in office?
  • Do other appointed or non–freely elected state actors interfere with or prevent freely elected representatives from adopting and implementing legislation and making meaningful policy decisions?
  • Do nonstate actors, including criminal gangs, the military, and foreign governments, interfere with or prevent elected representatives from adopting and implementing legislation and making meaningful policy decisions?

2.         Is the government free from pervasive corruption?

  • Has the government implemented effective anticorruption laws or programs to prevent, detect, and punish corruption among public officials, including conflict of interest?
  • Is the government free from excessive bureaucratic regulations, registration requirements, or other controls that increase opportunities for corruption?
  • Are there independent and effective auditing and investigative bodies that function without impediment or political pressure or influence?
  • Are allegations of corruption by government officials thoroughly investigated and prosecuted without prejudice, particularly against political opponents?
  • Are allegations of corruption given wide and extensive airing in the media?
  • Do whistleblowers, anticorruption activists, investigators, and journalists enjoy legal protections that make them feel secure about reporting cases of bribery and corruption?
  • What was the latest Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index score for this country?

3.         Is the government accountable to the electorate between elections, and does it operate with openness and transparency?

  • Are civil society groups, interest groups, journalists, and other citizens able to comment on and influence pending policies or legislation?
  • Do citizens have the legal right and practical ability to obtain information about government operations and the means to petition government agencies for it?
  • Is the budget-making process subject to meaningful legislative review and public scrutiny?
  • Does the government publish detailed accounting expenditures in a timely fashion?
  • Does the state ensure transparency and effective competition in the awarding of government contracts?
  • Are the asset declarations of government officials open to public and media scrutiny and verification?

ADDITIONAL DISCRETIONARY POLITICAL RIGHTS QUESTIONS:

A.        For traditional monarchies that have no parties or electoral process, does the system provide for genuine, meaningful consultation with the people, encourage public discussion of policy choices, and allow the right to petition the ruler? (0–4 points)

  • Is there a non-elected legislature that advises the monarch on policy issues?
  • Are there formal mechanisms for individuals or civic groups to speak with or petition the monarch?
  • Does the monarch take petitions from the public under serious consideration?

B.        Is the government or occupying power deliberately changing the ethnic composition of a country or territory so as to destroy a culture or tip the political balance in favor of another group? (-4 to 0 points)

  • Is the government providing economic or other incentives to certain people in order to change the ethnic composition of a region or regions?
  • Is the government forcibly moving people in or out of certain areas in order to change the ethnic composition of those regions?
  • Is the government arresting, imprisoning, or killing members of certain ethnic groups in order change the ethnic composition of a region or regions?
CIVIL LIBERTIES (0–60 points)

D.       FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION AND BELIEF (0-16 points)

1.         Are there free and independent media and other forms of cultural expression?  (Note: In cases where the media are state controlled but offer pluralistic points of view, the survey gives the system credit.)

  • Are print, broadcast, and/or internet-based media directly or indirectly censored?
  • Is self-censorship among journalists common, especially when reporting on politically sensitive issues, including corruption or the activities of senior officials?
  • Are libel, blasphemy, or security laws used to punish journalists who scrutinize government officials and policies or other powerful entities through either onerous fines or imprisonment?
  • Is it a crime to insult the honor and dignity of the president and/or other government officials? How broad is the range of such prohibitions, and how vigorously are they enforced?
  • If media outlets are dependent on the government for their financial survival, does the government withhold funding in order to propagandize, primarily provide official points of view, and/or limit access by opposition parties and civic critics? Do powerful private actors engage in similar practices?
  • Does the government attempt to influence media content and access through means including politically motivated awarding of broadcast frequencies and newspaper registrations, unfair control and influence over printing facilities and distribution networks, selective distribution of advertising, onerous registration requirements, prohibitive tariffs, and bribery?
  • Are journalists threatened, arrested, imprisoned, beaten, or killed by government or nongovernmental actors for their legitimate journalistic activities, and if such cases occur, are they investigated and prosecuted fairly and expeditiously?
  • Are works of literature, art, music, or other forms of cultural expression censored or banned for political purposes?

2.         Are religious institutions and communities free to practice their faith and express themselves in public and private?

  • Are registration requirements employed to impede the free functioning of religious institutions?
  • Are members of religious groups, including minority faiths and movements, harassed, fined, arrested, or beaten by the authorities for engaging in their religious practices?
  • Are religious practice and expression impeded by violence or harassment from nonstate actors?
  • Does the government appoint or otherwise influence the appointment of religious leaders?
  • Does the government control the production and distribution of religious books and other materials and the content of sermons?
  • Is the construction of religious buildings banned or restricted?
  • Does the government place undue restrictions on religious education? Does the government require religious education?
  • Are individuals free to eschew religious beliefs and practices in general?

3.         Is there academic freedom, and is the educational system free of extensive political indoctrination?

  • Are teachers and professors free to pursue academic activities of a political and quasi-political nature without fear of physical violence or intimidation by state or nonstate actors?
  • Does the government pressure, strongly influence, or control the content of school curriculums for political purposes?
  • Are student associations that address issues of a political nature allowed to function freely?
  • Does the government, including through school administration or other officials, pressure students and/or teachers to support certain political figures or agendas, including pressuring them to attend political rallies or vote for certain candidates? Conversely, does the government, including through school administration or other officials, discourage or forbid students and/or teachers from supporting certain candidates and parties?

             4.         Is there open and free private discussion?

  • Are people able to engage in private discussions, particularly of a political nature (in places including restaurants, public transportation, and their homes) without fear of harassment or detention by the authorities or powerful nonstate actors?
  • Do users of personal online communications—including private e-mail, text messages, or personal blogs with a limited following—face legal penalties, harassment, or violence from the government or powerful nonstate actors in retaliation for critical remarks?
  • Does the government employ people or groups to engage in public surveillance and to report alleged antigovernment conversations to the authorities?

E.        ASSOCIATIONAL AND ORGANIZATIONAL RIGHTS (0–12 points)

1.         Is there freedom of assembly, demonstration, and open public discussion?

  • Are peaceful protests, particularly those of a political nature, banned or severely restricted?
  • Are the legal requirements to obtain permission to hold peaceful demonstrations particularly cumbersome and time consuming?
  • Are participants of peaceful demonstrations intimidated, arrested, or assaulted?
  • Are peaceful protestors detained by police in order to prevent them from engaging in such actions?

2.         Is there freedom for nongovernmental organizations?  (Note: This includes civic organizations, interest groups, foundations, etc.)

  • Are registration and other legal requirements for nongovernmental organizations particularly onerous and intended to prevent them from functioning freely?
  • Are laws related to the financing of nongovernmental organizations unduly complicated and cumbersome?
  • Are donors and funders of nongovernmental organizations free of government pressure?
  • Are members of nongovernmental organizations intimidated, arrested, imprisoned, or assaulted because of their work?

3.         Are there free trade unions and peasant organizations or equivalents, and is there effective collective bargaining? Are there free professional and other private organizations?

  • Are trade unions allowed to be established and to operate free from government interference?
  • Are workers pressured by the government or employers to join or not to join certain trade unions, and do they face harassment, violence, or dismissal from their jobs if they do?
  • Are workers permitted to engage in strikes, and do members of unions face reprisals for engaging in peaceful strikes? (Note: This question may not apply to workers in essential government services or public safety jobs.)
  • Are unions able to bargain collectively with employers and able to negotiate collective bargaining agreements that are honored in practice?
  • For states with very small populations or primarily agriculturally-based economies that do not necessarily support the formation of trade unions, does the government allow for the establishment of peasant organizations or their equivalents? Is there legislation expressively forbidding the formation of trade unions?
  • Are professional organizations, including business associations, allowed to operate freely and without government interference?

F.         RULE OF LAW (0–16 points)

               1.         Is there an independent judiciary?

  • Is the judiciary subject to interference from the executive branch of government or from other political, economic, or religious influences?
  • Are judges appointed and dismissed in a fair and unbiased manner?
  • Do judges rule fairly and impartially, or do they commonly render verdicts that favor the government or particular interests, whether in return for bribes or other reasons?
  • Do executive, legislative, and other governmental authorities comply with judicial decisions, and are these decisions effectively enforced?
  • Do powerful private concerns comply with judicial decisions, and are decisions that run counter to the interests of powerful actors effectively enforced?

2.         Does the rule of law prevail in civil and criminal matters?  Are police under direct civilian control?

  • Are defendants’ rights, including the presumption of innocence until proven guilty, protected?
  • Are detainees provided access to independent, competent legal counsel?
  • Are defendants given a fair, public, and timely hearing by a competent, independent, and impartial tribunal?
  • Are prosecutors independent of political control and influence?
  • Are prosecutors independent of powerful private interests, whether legal or illegal?
  • Is there effective and democratic civilian state control of law enforcement officials through the judicial, legislative, and executive branches?
  • Are law enforcement officials free from the influence of nonstate actors, including organized crime, powerful commercial interests, or other groups?

3.         Is there protection from political terror, unjustified imprisonment, exile, or torture, whether by groups that support or oppose the system? Is there freedom from war and insurgencies?

  • Do law enforcement officials make arbitrary arrests and detentions without warrants or fabricate or plant evidence on suspects?
  • Do law enforcement officials beat detainees during arrest and interrogation or use excessive force or torture to extract confessions?
  • Are conditions in pretrial facilities and prisons humane and respectful of the human dignity of inmates?
  • Do citizens have the means of effective petition and redress when their rights are violated by state authorities?
  • Is violent crime either against specific groups or within the general population widespread?
  • Is the population subjected to physical harm, forced removal, or other acts of violence or terror due to civil conflict or war?

4.         Do laws, policies, and practices guarantee equal treatment of various segments of the population?

  • Are members of various distinct groups—including ethnic and religious minorities, LGBT people, and the disabled—able to exercise effectively their human rights with full equality before the law?
  • Is violence against such groups widespread, and if so, are perpetrators brought to justice?
  • Do members of such groups face legal and/or de facto discrimination in areas including employment, education, and housing because of their identification with a particular group?
  • Do women enjoy full equality in law and in practice as compared to men?
  • Do noncitizens—including migrant workers and noncitizen immigrants—enjoy basic internationally recognized human rights, including the right not to be subjected to torture or other forms of ill-treatment, the right to due process of law, and the rights of freedom of association, expression, and religion?
  • Do the country’s laws provide for the granting of asylum or refugee status in accordance with the 1951 UN Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, its 1967 Protocol, and other regional treaties regarding refugees? Has the government established a system for providing protection to refugees, including against refoulement (the return of persons to a country where there is reason to believe they fear persecution)?

G.        PERSONAL AUTONOMY AND INDIVIDUAL RIGHTS (0–16 points)

1.         Do citizens enjoy freedom of travel or choice of residence, employment, or institution of higher education?

  • Are there restrictions on foreign travel, including the use of an exit visa system, which may be issued selectively?
  • Is permission required from the authorities or nonstate actors to move within the country?
  • Do state or nonstate actors determine or otherwise influence a person’s type and place of employment?
  • Are bribes or other inducements needed to obtain the necessary documents to travel, change one’s place of residence or employment, enter institutions of higher education, or advance in school?

2.         Do citizens have the right to own property and establish private businesses?  Is private business activity unduly influenced by government officials, the security forces, political parties/organizations, or organized crime?

  • Are people legally allowed to purchase and sell land and other property, and can they do so in practice without undue interference from the government or nonstate actors?
  • Does the government provide adequate and timely compensation to people whose property is expropriated under eminent domain laws?
  • Are people legally allowed to establish and operate private businesses with a reasonable minimum of registration, licensing, and other requirements?
  • Are bribes or other inducements needed to obtain the necessary legal documents to operate private businesses?
  • Do private/nonstate actors, including criminal groups, seriously impede private business activities through such measures as extortion?

3.         Are there personal social freedoms, including gender equality, choice of marriage partners, and size of family?

  • Is violence against women, including wife-beating and rape, widespread, and are perpetrators brought to justice?
  • Is the trafficking of women and/or children abroad for prostitution widespread, and is the government taking adequate efforts to address the problem?
  • Do women face de jure and de facto discrimination in economic and social matters, including property and inheritance rights, divorce proceedings, and child custody matters?
  • Does the government directly or indirectly control choice of marriage partners and other personal relationships through means such as requiring large payments to marry certain individuals (e.g., foreign citizens), not enforcing laws against child marriage or dowry payments, restricting same-sex relationships, or criminalizing extramarital sex?
  • Does the government determine the number of children that a couple may have?
  • Does the government engage in state-sponsored religious/cultural/ethnic indoctrination and related restrictions on personal freedoms?
  • Do private institutions, including religious groups, unduly infringe on the rights of individuals, including choice of marriage partner, dress, gender expression, etc.?

4.         Is there equality of opportunity and the absence of economic exploitation?

  • Does the government exert tight control over the economy, including through state ownership and the setting of prices and production quotas?
  • Do the economic benefits from large state industries, including the energy sector, benefit the general population or only a privileged few?
  • Do private interests exert undue influence on the economy through monopolistic practices, cartels, or illegal blacklists, boycotts, or discrimination?
  • Is entrance to institutions of higher education or the ability to obtain employment limited by widespread nepotism and the payment of bribes?
  • Are certain groups, including ethnic or religious minorities, less able to enjoy certain economic benefits than others? For example, are certain groups restricted from holding particular jobs, whether in the public or the private sector, because of de jure or de facto discrimination?
  • Do state or private employers exploit their workers through activities including unfairly withholding wages and permitting or forcing employees to work under unacceptably dangerous conditions, as well as through adult slave labor and child labor?




* It is possible for a country’s or territory’s total political rights score to be less than zero (between -1 and -4) if it receives mostly or all zeros for each of the 10 political rights questions and it receives a sufficiently negative score for political rights discretionary question B. In such a case, it would still receive a final political rights rating of 7.