More than a third of the world's population, or about 2.6 billion people, live in countries and territories affected by repression, corruption and serious human rights violations, and the worst situation is in Syria, Tibet and Somalia, the US-based rights group Freedom House said in its annual report on political rights and civil liberties on Wednesday. Croatia was rated a free country.
2015 was marked by mass migrations, crackdowns on freedom of thought, xenophobia and terrorist attacks, and was the tenth consecutive year of decline in global freedom, the Freedom in the World 2016 report says.
Of the 195 countries assessed, 86 (44 percent) were rated Free, 59 (30 percent) Partly Free, and 50 (26 percent) Not Free.
Croatia has been rated a Free country since 2001. In the latest report it received an average rating of 1.5 (1 = most free and 7 = least free), including 1 for political rights and 2 for civil liberties. Croatia's rating has remained unchanged for the last five years.
Compared with Croatia's neighbours, Slovenia received the highest rating of 1, and Serbia and Hungary were given a rating of 2, which includes them among Free countries. Montenegro scored 3 and Bosnia and Herzegovina 3.5 and were rated Partly Free, along with Macedonia, Albania, Ukraine, Turkey, Kosovo and Moldova. Belarus and Russia were rated Not Free.
Most of the countries rated Not Free are located in the Middle East, Africa and Eurasia.
The United States was rated Free, but the report noted that the situation there had deteriorated, citing "a disturbing increase in the role of private money in election campaigns", a legislative gridlock, lack of government openness, racial discrimination and dysfunctions in the criminal justice system.
A decline in freedom was recorded in 72 countries, the largest since the 10-year slide began, while the situation improved in 43 countries, including Burkina Faso, Myanmar, Nigeria and Sri Lanka.
"In many countries with authoritarian governments, the drop in revenues from falling commodity prices led dictators to redouble political repression at home and lash out at perceived foreign enemies," said Arch Puddington, Freedom House's senior vice president for research. "Democratic countries came under strain from terrorist attacks and unprecedented numbers of refugees—problems emanating from regional conflicts such as the Syrian civil war," he added.