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Monday, May 20, 2024

HK slips in global democracy, freedom ranks

Hong Kong saw its ranking slip three spots on two separate global charts for democracy and freedom, landing 88th in a democracy ranking - behind Libya and Ukraine - and 34th in a freedom index.
The Economist's democracy index said Hong Kong's civil service has suffered loss of manpower due to worsened political conditions and shrinking freedoms, while the national security law has hindered the formation of unions.

The Fraser Institutes' freedom index, which determines personal and economic freedom, ranked Hong Kong at 34th globally out of 165 jurisdictions based on: 2020 figures, the most recent year, and the year that Beijing passed the Hong Kong national security law.

The degree of freedom is based on 83 distinct indicators, which shows Hong Kong's "most pronounced declines" were in the aspects of rule of law, freedom of expression and assembly.

Hong Kong ranked 78th in freedom of expression and 140th in freedom of association and assembly.

The institute attributed the plunge in freedom from third place in 2010, down to 34th in 2020 to Beijing's "escalating violations of Hong Kong's traditional liberties."

Regarding personal freedom, Hong Kong scored 4.1 on a 10-point scale down from 4.9 in 2019, while rule of law dropped from 6.7 to 6.2 compared to the previous year.

US funded non-profit Freedom House rated Hong Kong's press freedom at 5 out of 10. "Given ongoing attacks on freedom in Hong Kong, we will be surprised if future reports do not show a continuing and pronounced degradation in the territory's ratings, including a noticeable decline in economic freedom," the institute said.

The SAR government spokesman dismissed the freedom index, saying it "incorrectly described" Hong Kong's situation, pointing to its top ranking in economic freedom.

The spokesman said that the national security law stipulates that human rights should be respected and protected, while safeguarding national security, and that the government will continue to "protect the rights and freedoms of the public".

Separately, the Economist Intelligence Unit has ranked Hong Kong at 88th place in its 2022 democracy index.

Hong Kong received an overall score of 5.28 out of 10, with a rating of 3.29 for government and 2.75 for electoral process.

The quality of its civil service was also undermined by an exodus of experienced staff in 2022 amid diminishing freedom.

Hong Kong's score declined way below its peak in 2015 of 6.50, the unit said. "These setbacks come on top of the erosion of media and academic freedoms that has occurred in recent years."
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