21 January, 2007

Freedom House Report

Freedom House has released "Freedom in the World 2007", its annual report on political rights and civil liberties around the world. Charts and Graphs and an essay with explanations (both PDFs) are available at their site.

The UAE is rated "not free" (categories are "free", "partly free", and "not free"). The report lists two areas, civil liberties and political rights, both on a 1 (most free) to 7 (least free) scale. For the UAE it was 6 for political rights and a change from 6 last year to 5 this year for civil liberties. "Civil Liberties rating improved ... because of improvements in freedom of assembly."

Other GCC country scores:
Bahrain 5 Political Rights, 5 Civil Liberties (partly free - ratings didn't change, but given a "Downward trend arrow due to new legal restrictions on freedom of assembly.")
Kuwait 4 PR, 4 CL (partly free - "Civil Liberties rating improved from 5 to 4 because of the removal of longstanding legal restrictions on freedom of assembly.")
Oman 6 PR, 5 CL (not free)
Qatar 6 PR, 5 CL (not free)
Saudi Arabia 7 PR, 6 CL (not free)

I don't know anything about Freedom House, so I am not vouching for the accuracy of the report, just providing the info.


Anonymous said...

This report is a lie!
UAE is one of the most liberal countries in the middle east, for the following reasons

1)Hookers in every bar
2)Every dumbass who cannot make it in their country ends up there.
3)The most progressive police force, discriminates against everyone.
4)The most liberal drivers in the world. They use every lane at any speed.

Anonymous said...

The Freedom House is not as independent as it claims, but their ratings are not necessarily meaningless. They are one of several think-tank indicators of democracy and freedom around the world; and like other ones, its ratings should be approached with extreme caution. Among other things, they have been criticized for keeping close to the US foreign policy, receiving funding from the US government, and having neoconservatives among their board members. This link from wikipedia has some useful information about the institution.

Predictably, the Freedom House classifies Israel as the only free country in the Middle East and North Africa. However its rating of the Israeli occupied territories is very peculiar, to say the least! The territories, under Israeli military control since 1967, get an understandably “Not Free” classification; but for the past two years the Freedom House has given the Israeli occupation authorities a rating similar to that of the UAE (6 for political rights and 5 for civil liberties)! In explaining its change of rating for civil liberties in 2006 from 6 to 5, the Freedom House says:

The Israeli-Occupied Territories' civil liberties rating improved from 6 to 5 due to Israel's withdrawal of settlers and troops from the entire Gaza Strip and from four settlements in the West Bank.

An amazing conclusion! I bet the thousands of Palestinians regularly trapped at the Gaza-Egypt crossing like animals, often for weeks and months at a time, simply because Israel wouldn’t allow them in or out, would vouch for this tangible improvement in their civil liberties!

Anonymous said...

Whilst I agree that Freedom House does have tend to follow a little bit of an agenda - criticising it for saying Israel is the only free country in the Middle East is wrong.

It doesn't go down well here obviously, but can you name me one other 'free' country (using commonly held definitions) in the region?

Lebanon was the closest to it, but proves time and time again that politics is just an excuse for sectarianism, and that if you don't get political agreement from the parties in power, you act to overthrow them.

Anonymous said...

Why am I not surprised. I blame Etisalat !

debbie menon said...

there is freedom within,there is freedom without.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous @ 21 January 2007, 16:04-
Israel is democratic? Yes; Israel is free? Well, unless you reduce freedom to democracy, the answer is, no.

Anyway, it's interesting how you skidded around my comment and just completely ignored its main point, i.e. the classification of the Israeli Occupied Territories. The gist of my comment was about that and not about whether Israel itself was democratic or not (or "free" or not, in the cold war language of the Freedom House).

Slagothor said...

If you read the fine print, you will see that the "political rights" part is basically a measure of "democratization". Since we do not have democray here, we will score poorly on that measure. The report writers basically say that "democracy" = "free", and "not democracy" = "not free." The authors also claim that they have a non-cultural definition of "freedom", but perhaps that is debateable.

Perhaps a better measure would be to look at flows of people. Lot of people flow into the UAE, voluntarily.

Anonymous said...

Clearly the Freedom House tries to measure and rate two aspects of democracy (political right s and civil liberties), but there are other, perhaps more convincing and sophisticated alternatives. One candidate might be The Economist’s Intelligence Unit’s Democracy Index.
This link explains how their approach is different from that of Freedom House and gives a ranking of all countries, with Sweden on the top and North Korea at the bottom, using different categories and indicators. In this index, Israel is ranked 47 (out of 167), right behind Poland and ahead of Trinidad and Tobago, in the category of Flawed Democracies. I personally think this makes more sense!

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