According to a report published by Washington D.C. based think-tank Freedom House, global declines in freedom have outweighed gains for the fourth year in a row.
The report, titled Freedom in the World 2010, is published annually and looks at political rights and civil liberties across the globe. According to Freedom House, the current decline in global freedom represents the longest continuous decline in the report's nearly 40-year history.
"The news for 2009 is cause for real concern," writes Arch Puddington, Freedom House Director of Research. "The decline is global, affects countries with military and economic power, affects countries that had previously shown signs of reform potential, and is accompanied by enhanced persecution of political dissidents and independent journalists. To make matters worse, the most powerful authoritarian regimes have become more repressive, more influential in the international arena, and more uncompromising."
This year 40 countries in Africa, Latin America, the Middle East and the former Soviet Union all became less free. We've highlighted some of the most important aspects of the report in the slideshow below.