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'Extreme risk' human rights country numbers soar

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: December 04, 2013

By Ellen Branagh

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The number of countries posing an "extreme risk" to human rights has soared by 70% in the past five years, according to experts.

UK-based risk analysis company Maplecroft said since 2008, the number of countries posing an extreme risk to the human rights of their populations has risen from 20 to 34 – a 70% rise.

The finding comes in the company's latest annual Human Rights Risk Atlas (HRRA), which analyses the frequency, severity and complicity risk of 31 separate human rights violations in 197 countries.

Countries that have dropped into the extreme risk category include Syria, which was ranked number one out of 197 countries this year; Egypt, which was 16th; Libya at 19th; Mali at 22nd and Guinea-Bissau at 74th.

At the other end of the scale, 41 countries are classified as posing a "low risk" of human rights violations, including the UK, which is ranked 165th.

Also among the 41 are Denmark (191st), Norway (189th), Finland (188th) and Sweden (184th) which makes Scandinavia the best performing region.

Maplecroft said regionally, the Middle East and North Africa (Mena) and Africa account for the majority of the 70% increase in high risk countries.

The number of countries in the region has risen from two to seven, driven by state repression of popular protests seen during and after the Arab Spring.

As well as Syria, Egypt and Libya, other "extreme risk" countries in the region include Iraq, Yemen, Iran and Saudi Arabia.

And in sub-Saharan Africa, Sudan (second), the Democratic Republic of Congo (third) and Somalia (fifth) remain among the five most extreme risk countries existing in the world.

Other countries which now fall into the category include Nigeria (10th), India (18th), the Philippines (27th) and Indonesia (30th).

According to the latest atlas, the highest risk countries in Asia include Pakistan (fourth), Afghanistan (sixth), Burma (eighth), China (15th), Bangladesh (17th) and India (18th).

Maplecroft's head of societal risk and human rights Lizabeth Campbell said: "Since 2008, global economic growth and investment has shifted to new markets prompting a demand for low-cost workers, water and land as well as other natural resources.

"In these economies, worker's rights continue to be compromised, rural and indigenous communities face land grabs and forced displacement and repressive or corrupt governments clamp down on freedom of expression to maintain their grip on power and economic control."

Maplecroft's seventh annual Human Rights Risk Atlas is designed to help business, investors and international organisations assess, compare and monitor human rights risks and trends across all countries, over a period of seven years.

The atlas includes interactive maps and indices for 31 human rights categories and scorecards for 197 countries covering human security, labour rights and protection, civil and political rights and access to remedy.

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