Nepal’s political rights rating improved from 4 to 3 due to the functioning of a stable government for the first time in over five years following 2013 elections and significant progress by the main political parties towards the completion of a draft constitution, according to freedom1 House’s annual report on the condition of political rights and civil liberties. According to ‘freedom1 in the World 2015’ with its subtitle ‘Discarding Democracy: Return to the Iron Fist’ released by the Washington-based leading democracy watchdog today, of the 195 countries assessed, 89 (46 per cent) were rated ‘free’, 55 (28 per cent) ‘partly free’, and 51 (26 per cent) ‘not free’.

The report of 2015 has rated Nepal ‘partly free’ with 3 score in political rights and 4 score in civil liberties compared to each 4 scores in political rights and civil liberties last year.

Each country’s score is based on two numerical ratings— from 1 to 7 — for political rights and civil liberties, with 1-3 representing ‘free’, 3-5 ‘partly free’ and 6-7 ‘not free’.

In South Asia, India is the only country to be ranked ‘free’ with 2 score for political rights and 3 score for civil liberties while Afghanistan is ‘not free’ (each 6 score for both categories). The rest of six countries, including Nepal, are rated ‘partly free’ with different scores.

Nepal has obtained 3 and 4 scores in political and civil liberties followed by Bhutan (3 and 4), Bangladesh (4 and 4), Maldives (4 and 4), Pakistan (4 and 5) and Sri Lanka (5 and 5) respectively.

More aggressive tactics by authoritarian regimes and an upsurge in terrorist attacks contributed to a disturbing decline in global freedom1 in 2014, says the annual report on the condition of political rights and civil liberties. The report finds an overall decline in freedom1 for the ninth consecutive year. The report also singled out terrorism for its impact on freedom1 in 2014. From West Africa through the Middle East to South Asia, radical jihadist forces plagued local governments and populations. Their impact on countries such as Iraq, Syria, Pakistan and Nigeria was devastating, as they massacred security forces and civilians alike, took foreigners hostage, and killed or enslaved religious minorities, including Muslims they deemed apostates.

“Acceptance of democracy as the world’s dominant form of government —and of an international system built on democratic ideals — is under greater threat than at any other point in the last 25 years,” said Arch Puddington, vice president for research. Ratings for the Middle East and North Africa region were the worst in the world, followed by Eurasia. Syria, a dictatorship mired in civil war and ethnic division and facing uncontrolled terrorism, received the lowest freedom1 in the World score of any country in over a decade.

Of the 51 countries and territories designated as ‘not free’, 12 have been given the worst-possible rating of 7 for both political rights and civil liberties. The ‘Worst of the Worst’ countries are the Central African Republic, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. The Worst of the Worst territories are Tibet and Western Sahara.

(Source: The Himalayan Times daily, 29 Jan 2015)