Freedom House: Kosovo and Albania "partially free" countries despite progress

2024-02-29 07:38:00, Kosova & Bota CNA

Freedom House: Kosovo and Albania "partially free" countries despite

The "Freedom House" organization based in Washington has published its annual report in which it assesses that Kosovo and Albania remain "partially free" countries despite progress in several areas for the advancement of human rights and citizens' freedoms.

In the report on "Freedom in the World", this year Kosovo is evaluated with 60 points out of 100 maximum points, without changes from last year. In the past, the organization "Freedom House" has described Kosovo as a country in transition with a hybrid system of governance.

Meanwhile, in the Global Freedom index, Albania is rated with 68 points, marking progress by one point compared to last year's rating. Albania is also considered as a country in transition with a hybrid system of government.

The expert of the "Freedom House" organization for the Balkans, Alexandra Karppi, tells VOA that the situation in Kosovo cannot be separated from the dynamics of developments between Kosovo and Serbia.

"In recent years, Kosovo has made progress, which is reflected in the results, regarding the protection of human rights and civil liberties, more useful political processes, which have enabled citizens to participate more freely, and civil society more active activities. In any case, these things have marked progress in recent years," declared Mrs. Karppi.

The year 2023, according to her, was difficult for Kosovo.

"We have seen an increase in violence in the northern municipalities, which can put many processes in doubt, and can cause pressure on the government to ensure that it is providing protection to all citizens of Kosovo", emphasized Mrs. Karppi. "These are long-term processes. This is a protracted security situation."

According to her, "although there are concerns about the freedom of the media and the safety of journalists, great progress has been made in respecting the rights of minorities and religious rights."

"Kosovo remains one of the leading countries in the Western Balkans in some of the important and essential pillars of democracy."

Regarding Albania, Ms. Karppi highlighted the vetting process as an improvement, which, according to her, "has begun to make progress by forcing Albania to eliminate corruption in the field of justice."

According to Mrs. Karppi, this means that in Albania the courts are now in a better position to serve the citizens and are more efficient.

"This means that citizens' access to the justice system is improving significantly in Albania, and this progress should be appreciated," she added.

Expert Karppi says that the lack of transparency and dysfunctional governance continue to cause concern in Albania. She mentioned the progress of the local elections, during which, according to her, "an environment for freer and fairer elections has not been created."

"In general, Albania has progressed this year, giving citizens the opportunity to once again participate in democratic processes, adhering to the commitments for reforms made before the European Union".

The report, which assesses the progress of 195 countries and 15 territories through 2023, based on assessments in the field of political rights and civil liberties, described the overall global state of political rights and human liberties as, "a widely escalated situation". .

According to the organization "Freedom House", political rights have declined for 18 years in a row. A decline was noted in 52 countries, while only 21 countries showed improvement during 2023. Currently, of the 195 countries and territories assessed, according to the report, the majority of the world's population, about 80 percent, lives in countries that are classified as partially cheap or not cheap

In particular, the organization underlined that rigged elections, such as those in Ecuador, Cambodia, Poland, Turkey and other countries, and armed conflicts, some instigated by authoritarian regimes, as in the case of Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh and Russia over Ukraine, or the war between Israel and Hamas, which has caused numerous civilian casualties, have contributed to the general regression during 2023.

The organization "Freedom House" emphasizes that Serbia has recorded the biggest decline in Europe. It was evaluated with 57 points, dropping three points in the political rights and civil liberties category from last year. Serbia is also on the list of countries that, according to the organization, recorded the greatest decline in freedom in the last decade, with 21 points.

According to expert Karppi, the elections held in Serbia at the end of 2023, challenged by opposition parties "were only one of the reasons for the decline." Some other factors, according to Mrs. Karppi, include the lack of transparency about procurement, infrastructure projects and economic development policies, but also the denigrating campaigns against opposition leaders and critics of the Belgrade regime.

"Currently there is a fear of some kind of retaliation if you criticize this government harshly. So overall, a deteriorating picture," she added. "We are seeing a narrowing space for the protection of human rights and also a diminution of the functioning of democratic institutions".

This year, according to the report, the biggest drop was in the enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh, where 120,000 Armenian residents were forced to flee their homes under military pressure from Azerbaijan.

"The scope and scale of escalation is extensive and affects a fifth of the world's population," the organization's report said. "Almost everywhere, the erosion of rights has been caused by attacks on pluralism, the peaceful coexistence of individuals with different political ideas, religions or ethnic identities".

At the top of the list of the "Freedom House" organization is Finland with 100 points, followed by New Zealand and Sweden with 99 points./ Voa

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