Freedom in Balkans – Part 1: Political rights and civil liberties

Article published on Jan. 14, 2009
community published
Article published on Jan. 14, 2009
Different aspects of freedom are fundamental value of human rights in Balkans as well globally. While starting of a year it’s good time to check the near past and make some benchmarking. Rankings or ratings are one kind of (process) benchmarking in which organizations or in this case states evaluate various aspects of their processes in relation to best practice.
In this 1st part of my "Freedom in Balkans" serial I make a short update about political rights and civil liberties.

In my article “Freedom in Balkans” I wrote about the freedom ratings with political rights, civil liberties, religious and press freedom in Balkans. Now Freedom House released the findings from the latest edition of Freedom in the World 2009, the annual survey of global political rights and civil liberties. The ratings reflect an overall judgment based on survey results and global events from Jan. 1st through Dec. 31st 2008. In my article mentioned I used one year older survey.

The survey a year ago showed that only Kosovo province (as UN protectorate) fell to category not free; Albania, Macedonia (FRY), Bosnia-Herzegovina and Montenegro were partly free category and Serbia, Romania, Croatia, Bulgaria and Slovenia were in the best free category.

The situation remained the same during year 2008 so no state changed category. Inside the category occurred following two changes:

Bulgaria’s political rights rating declined from 1 to 2 (1 represents the most free and 7 the least free rating) due to backsliding in the government’s efforts to combat corruption and organized crime, which prompted the European Union to suspend substantial aid payments in July. Macedonia had a downward trend –without number decline - due to increased harassment of and violence against political party members during the country’s June parliamentary elections, which domestic and international observers deemed the worst since independence.

So nothing radical happened during last year. The only peculiarity still is the result of Kosovo which is ranked as ‘not free’ and received scores the same as Sudan, Chad and Egypt in terms of political rights and civil liberties despite the fact that international community has been building democratic standards and human rights in its protectorate now over eight years. If the result is this I hope that new EULEX mission will apply some lessons learned in 2009.

More about methodology and global results from web sites of Freedom House.