U.S.-based non-governmental organization Freedom House published annual Freedom in the World report, assessing each country’s degree of political freedoms and civil liberties.
According to the report, Bosnia and Herzegovina is once again among ‘partly free’ countries, with the aggregate score of 55/100.
Four other countries in the region - Albania (68/100), Montenegro (67/100), Macedonia (58/100) and Kosovo (52/100) - have also been labelled as ‘partly free’ countries, together with the likes of Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia, Armenia, Pakistan, Indonesia, Mexico, Colombia, Ecuador and Paraguay, among others.
According to Freedom House, political rights and civil liberties around the world deteriorated to their lowest point in more than a decade in 2017, extending a period characterized by emboldened autocrats, beleaguered democracies, and the United States’ withdrawal from its leadership role in the global struggle for human freedom.
“For the 12th consecutive year, according to Freedom in the World, countries that suffered democratic setbacks outnumbered those that registered gains. States that a decade ago seemed like promising success stories - Turkey and Hungary, for example - are sliding into authoritarian rule”, wrote Freedom House President Michael J. Abramowitz.
Turkey is among a handful of countries whose status declined from ‘partly free’ to ‘not free’ “due to a deeply flawed constitutional referendum that centralized power in the presidency, the mass replacement of elected mayors with government appointees, arbitrary prosecutions of rights activists and other perceived enemies of the state, and continued purges of state employees, all of which have left citizens hesitant to express their views on sensitive topics”.
Furthermore, Freedom House claims that “reverberations from the 2015-16 refugee crisis continued to fuel the rise of xenophobic, far-right parties, which gained ground in elections in France, Germany, the Netherlands, and Austria”.
“Events in the Western Balkans demonstrated a need for continued engagement in the region by major democracies. (…) In Serbia, EU leaders’ tolerance of President Aleksandar Vucic’s authoritarian tendencies allowed him to further sideline the opposition and undermine what remains of the country’s independent media after winning the country’s presidency in April”, Abramowitz concluded.