On January 31, 2017, Freedom House released its “Freedom in the World 2017” report, an annual report that rates political and civil rights around the world. For the 11th consecutive year, Freedom House found that every region in the world experienced a decline in freedom, stating that: “a total of 67 countries suffered net declines in political rights and civil liberties in 2016, compared with 36 that registered gains.” Ethiopia and Venezuela experienced two of the most dramatic declines in freedom due to various forms of systematic suppression of political dissent.
Since November 2015, the Ethiopian government has killed at least 500 people in their crackdown on Oromo protesters. The government’s decision to issue a six-month state of emergency has resulted in the arbitrary detention of individuals critical of the state, such as Ethiopian politician Dr. Merera Gudina.
For the first time, Venezuela was downgraded to “not free,” a score merited by the government’s efforts to block both the Presidential recall referendum, as well as the legislative branch’s attempts to pass laws enabling Venezuelans' access to international humanitarian aid, and the release of political prisoners. Read Freedom House’s interactive version of the “Freedom in the World 2017” report and their individual country reports here.