Friday, February 04, 2011

Objective assessment of Human Rights throughout the Middle East

I have surveyed some of the economic problems faced by Arab countries here.

What about their Human Rights status?

The Political Terror Scale allocates countries to 5 bands, with 1 being the best performers, and 5 being the worst. African countries are here, and other ME countries here.

From the PTS data, we can rank all Arab countries' Human Rights performance.

The data is derived from reports by Amnesty International and the US State Department. Where they agree, one band is given. Where there is disagreement, the AI figure is given first.

This is what each band represents:

Political Terror Scale Levels

: Countries under a secure rule of law, people are not imprisoned for their view, and torture is rare or exceptional. Political murders are extremely rare.

: There is a limited amount of imprisonment for nonviolent political activity. However, few persons are affected, torture and beatings are exceptional. Political murder is rare.

: There is extensive political imprisonment, or a recent history of such imprisonment. Execution or other political murders and brutality may be common. Unlimited detention, with or without a trial, for political views is accepted.

: Civil and political rights violations have expanded to large numbers of the population. Murders, disappearances,and torture are a common part of life. In spite of its generality, on this level terror affects those who interest themselves in politics or ideas.

: Terror has expanded to the whole population. The leaders of these societies place no limits on the means or thoroughness with which they pursue personal or ideological goals.

For Arab countries, these are the results for 2009:

Israel Occupied Territories      5
Iraq                                     5/4
Iran                                     4
Saudi Arabia                          4
Syria                                   4
Yemen                                4
Egypt                                  4/3
Tunisia                                3
Turkey                                3/4
Jordan                                3
Libya                                  3
Morocco                              3
Algeria                                3/2
Bahrain                               2/1
Qatar                                  2/1
UAE                                   2/1
Oman                                 1

So, well done to Oman, and the worst human rights offender in the region, according to professional assessments by Amnesty and also by their friends in the US State Department, is - Israel.

Incidentally, the UK finds itself in band 2, worse than Bahrain, Qatar, UAE and Oman, and the USA finds itself unranked by the State Department, and ranked 3 by AI.

The great advantage of these objective measurements is that the status of a country can be measured at a glance, instead of relying either on spin from politicians and the corporate media.

It is Green Party policy that the UN should adopt a scale of this kind, and publish each year an assessment of all the countries in the world. All this needs is development and extension of the UN's Universal Periodic Review.

The UN Global Human Rights Index, when it comes in, will not cure HR abuses at a stroke, but will provide a continuous, universal pressure on all governments to attend more closely to improving their Human Rights performance.

There is another approach to setting out the data, the CIRI Human Rights Data Project, but I find the PTS easier to use.

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