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a31: Study on World Freedom Released/Haiti (fwd)

From: Ralph Reid <ralph@gozing.com>

By VERENA DOBNIK, Associated Press Writer 
NEW YORK (AP) - An annual study of world freedom released Tuesday highlights
a gap between predominantly Islamic nations and other countries, rating only
one majority Islamic country, the African nation Mali, as ``free.'' 
The Freedom House study rated 192 nations based on the civil liberties and
political rights enjoyed by their citizens. 
Of those nations, 86 were given the highest rating of ``free.'' 
Afghanistan, Cuba, North Korea, Syria, Sudan and Iraq were among 48
countries - 28 of them Islamic - that received the organization's lowest
rating, ``not free.'' 
Fifty-eight countries - 18 of them Islamic - were rated ``partly free.'' 
``In the wake of the terrorist attacks against the United States on Sept.
11, it is imperative that policy-makers around the globe give serious
attention to the democracy gap in the Islamic world,'' said Bill Richardson,
chairman of Freedom House, a nonpartisan, nonprofit group founded nearly 60
years ago by Americans concerned about democracy, including Eleanor
By population, the ratings showed 41 percent of the world's people living in
``free'' countries, 23 percent in ``not free'' countries, and 35 percent in
``partly free'' countries. 
The overall breakdown in the ratings was similar to last year's results
because 17 countries registered significant gains in freedom and 17
registered setbacks. 
The report listed 17 states with significant setbacks in freedom, including
Liberia, Zimbabwe, Argentina, Egypt, Haiti, Jordan, Yemen, Nigeria and the
Central African Republic. 
The study also cites progress: Peru re-entered the ranks of the free
countries; the countries of Gambia and Mauritania improved from not free to
partly free; and gains were recorded for Croatia, Yugoslavia, Bahrain and
Congo, among others. 
The Freedom House study was conducted by a team of 14 people who met with
advisers and groups from around the world including political parties and
associations, human rights monitors, religious figures, academics and
The group rated the countries on a scale based on the countries' records in
granting citizens political rights, such as allowing them to form political
parties that compete for positions of power, and civil liberties, such as
respecting religious, ethnic, economic, gender and free press rights.