It appears to be report season. Many NGOs have issued various reports in the last few months, either for the end of 2011 or the start of 2012, with rankings and/or assessments on various metrics of the countries of the world. Suffice to say, it's actually quite astounding how poorly most of the world is run. In my quest to find some sources and links via my good friend Jimmy's website Wikipedia, I came across a partial aggregation of some of these survey.
While these are not all the same surveys I'm highlighting below, the table and maps with their color-coding offer a quick visual summary of the world. It's worth noting that the only two countries in the uppermost level in all four of those surveys are New Zealand and Switzerland. Meanwhile, several countries managed to fill out the lower levels in all the surveys and unless I missed any, they are Cuba, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Iran, Libya, Myanmar (Burma), North Korea, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. (Somalia and Sudan were not assessed in all of the surveys, but had they been, both countries would probably be placed in the lowest grouping as well.) Through my own reading, I had already come across the Freedom House and Democracy Index reports. Additionally, I have seen a recent report from Human Rights Watch, another from Reporters Without Borders on press freedom, plus something I already wrote about from Transparency International on corruption.
I want to go over those five I found (again, not fully overlapping with the four listed here) and see where Turkmenistan ranks. (Hint: It did not do as well as New Zealand.)
* The Human Rights Watch released their 2012 World Report earlier this month. This report does not contain a strict ranking of countries, but instead has a six-page summary which states very clearly that Turkmenistan is "one of the world's most repressive countries." You can jump straight to the section on Turkmenistan here without a download.
* Freedom House also released their most recent report last month on 2012 Freedom in the World. Turkmenistan was rated as "Not Free" and received the lowest possible score (7 out of 7) in both political rights and civil liberties measurements.
* Reporters Without Borders also recently released their Press Freedom Index for 2011-2012 and Turkmenistan sneaked in at 177 out of 179. This is hardly surprisingly for a country where about 1% of the people have access to the internet and what is accessible is censored. Additionally, it should tell you something when the national newspaper always has a picture of the president on the front page above the fold every single day.
* The folks at the Economist Intelligence Unit (related to the Economist magazine) put out their Democracy Index for 2011 survey near the end of last year. Turkmenistan was ranked 165 out of 167 countries besting only North Korea and Chad though some countries were not assessed.
* I wrote about this before, but Transparency International released their 2011 Corruption Perceptions Index back in November. Turkmenistan tied with two other countries for 177 out of 182.
In my original entry, I noted that Turkmenistan has been moving the same direction in this survey for the past four years.
With less than two weeks until only the second post-Soviet era presidential election, I watch with eager interest.