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AKIPRESS.COM - U.S.-based non-governmental organization The Freedom House, that conducts research and advocacy on democracy, political freedom, and human rights, has published its new report Freedom in the World 2015, where it rated two Central Asian nations - Kazakhstan and Tajikistan - as 'not free' states.
Freedom in the World 2015 found an overall drop in freedom for the ninth consecutive year. Nearly twice as many countries suffered declines as registered gains—61 to 33—and the number of countries with improvements hit its lowest point since the nine-year erosion began.
Kazakhstan received a downward trend arrow due to broad extralegal enforcement of its already strict 2011 law on religious activity, with raids by antiterrorism police on gatherings in private homes.
Authorities in Kazakhstan continued to harass and detain independent journalists in Kazakhstan throughout 2013, repeatedly blocking attempts by employees of publications that had been shut down to open new outlets. The government continued to strictly enforce a 2011 law on religion that criminalized about one third of previously legal organizations, as well as believers who continued to meet without registration; authorities frequently prosecuted beyond the boundaries of the law, sentencing religious adherents to forced psychiatric treatment, fining them for saying prayers or reading scripture, and restricting their foreign travel. In October, Kazakhstan announced that it would end military conscription by 2016.
Tajikistan received a downward trend arrow due to constant abuse of opposition parties at the local level in the run-up to parliamentary elections, the designation of the political reform and opposition movement Group 24 as an extremist entity in October, and the arrest and temporary detention of academic researcher Alexander Sodiqov on treason charges.
Of the 195 countries assessed, 89 (46 percent) were rated Free, 55 (28 percent) Partly Free, and 51 (26 percent) Not Free. All but one region had more countries with declines than with gains. Asia-Pacific had an even split.
In a new and disquieting development, a number of countries lost ground due to state surveillance, restrictions on internet communications, and curbs on personal autonomy.
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 Freedom in the World score of any country in over a decade.
The Worst of the Worst countries are the Central African Republic, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan.