The Maldives is one of two countries to be dropped from Freedom House’s list of electoral democracies, in its annual survey of political rights and civil liberties.
The other, Mali, is a landlocked nation in West Africa which experienced a coup d’état on March 21 and is now battling a surge in Islamic extremism, harsh sanctions and foreign military intervention.
Freedom House is an independent, non-government watchdog organisation dedicated to the expansion of freedom around the world. The NGO assesses and scores countries for political rights and civil liberties each year, and labels them ‘free’, ‘partly free’, or ‘not free’.
The Maldives’s political rights rating shifted from three to five (higher is less free) during 2012, “due to the forcible removal of democratically elected president Mohamed Nasheed, violence perpetrated against him and his party, the suspension of the parliament’s summer session, and the role of the military in facilitating these events,” Freedom House stated. Civil liberties remained at a score of four.
The country remained listed as “partly free” for the third time, after being upgraded from ‘not free’ in 2009 following the 2008 presidential election.
According to Freedom House’s definition, a partly free country “is one in which there is limited respect for political rights and civil liberties. Partly free states frequently suffer from an environment of corruption, weak rule of law, ethnic and religious strife, and a political landscape in which a single party enjoys dominance despite a certain degree of pluralism.”
Approximately 46 of the world’s population live in ‘free’ countries, while 47 live in those designated ‘not free’. “Noteworthy gains” in freedom were made in Egypt, Libya, Burma, and the Côte d’Ivoire. Lesotho, Senegal, Sierra Leone, and Tonga moved from ‘party free’ to ‘free’.