Cape Verde is Sub-Saharan African state with most freedom for 4th year running – report

6 August 2007

New York, United States, 6 Aug – Cape Verde is the African country south of the Sahara with the highest levels of liberties and Sao Tome and Principe is also among one of the highest ranked states, American NGO Freedom House says in its annual survey of global liberties.

The two Lusophone island states are the only members of the Community of Portuguese Language Countries (CPLP) to merit the status of “free” in the survey made of 48 countries in “World Freedom in 2007”, published earlier this month by the American nonprofit organization.

Cape Verde scores maximum points in the categories of “political rights” and “civil liberties”, lying higher up the ranking than Ghana, Mauritius, Benin and Botswana. Cape Verde is also in the group of states with the highest levels of media independence, according to Freedom House.

Often referred to as the “fortunate islands”, Cape Verde has topped the US NGO’s freedom survey since 2004 and been in top spot for 16 years in the category of political rights.

The latest Freedom House report comes at a critical moment for Cape Verde’s foreign policy, with the islands’ membership process of the World Trade Organization entering its final stages and the expected presentation to the European Commission in November of a special partnership accord for Cape Verde.

A member of the African Union and the West African ECOWAS bloc, Cape Verde has sought a special relationship with the EU for many years and hopes to achieve this status during Portugal’s presidency of the 27-state bloc, which ends at the end of the year.

The annual Freedom House global report on liberty has been published for over 30 years and is considered as a key indicator on the spread of political and economic freedoms around the world.

A country is considered “free” by the US organization when there is “a widespread framework for open political competition, a climate of respect for civil liberties, significant independent civic life and freedom of the press.”

Last year, according to the survey, “Sub-Saharan Africa suffered more reverses than gains after several years of progress, in some cases impressive, towards democracy.”

Nevertheless, in recent decades “increases of freedom in Africa were significant, and continue today – although these are less far-reaching than in other regions of the world.”

Among countries where the situation has worsened most in the past year are Zimbabwe and the Congo Republic.

Guinea-Bissau is also among the states that have reversed the positive trend for more freedoms, lying mid-table in 2007 among “partially free” countries that comprise nearly half the total in the study.

Despite falling several places in recent years due to political instability, Sao Tome stays in the group of states labeled as “free”, lying in 8th place ahead of South Africa.

Sao Tome is evaluated favorably by Freedom House in all categories of political and economic liberty.

Among the other member states of the CPLP, Mozambique is the third-highest ranked by Freedom House, maintaining the status of “partially free” that it has had since the beginning of the 1990s.

Angola is the only Portuguese-speaking state to be included among the “non-free” group of nations, despite being the country in this group that is closest to climbing to the next category. (macauhub)