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Burma tops 'worst of the worst' list of human rights violators

Libya, just elected to the United Nations Human Rights Council, also appears on Freedom House's 'Worst of the worst' list of human rights violators.

By Staff writer / June 3, 2010

Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi gestures during his address at the 64th United Nations General Assembly at UN headquarters in New York September 23, 2009. Libya appears on Freedom House's 'Worst of the worst' list.

Mike Segar/Reuters/File

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Washington

The hit parade of the world’s worst human rights violators is out, and it reads like a rap sheet of the usual suspects.

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The “worst of the worst,” as Washington-based human rights watchdog Freedom House calls them, is comprised of nine countries and one territory: Burma, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Sudan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Tibet (under Chinese jurisdiction).

What Freedom House calls “shameful” is that one of those “worst” – Libya – was just elected to the United Nations’ premier human rights organization, the Human Rights Council. Moreover, three countries on the organization’s expanded list of countries with only slightly better human-rights records – China, Cuba, and Saudi Arabia – are already members.

IN PICTURES: World's worst human rights violators

“It’s a badge of shame that these countries sit on the council, but the shame really goes to the [UN] General Assembly countries that elected these egregious violators of rights in the first place,” says Paula Schriefer, Freedom House’s director of advocacy. She notes that Saudi Arabia, for example, was elected to the council with more than 150 votes out of the 192 General Assembly members.

In all, 20 countries and territories have such appalling human rights records as to be considered the world’s worst. Rounding out the list Freedom House issued Thursday are: Belarus, Chad, Guinea, Laos, Syria, and two territories: South Ossetia and Western Sahara.

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