Political rights and civil liberties declined around the world in 2013 for the eighth consecutive year, the annual report released by Freedom House said.
"Freedom in the World" said 54 countries lost ground while only 40 became more open and democratic. The report cited Egypt, where a military coup displaced an elected president, and China, where the government has cracked down on dissent.
Freedom House, which has its headquarters in Washington, is a non-governmental organization founded in 1941 to foster political liberty.
"Some leaders effectively relied on 'modern authoritarianism,' crippling their political opposition without annihilating it, and flouting the rule of law while maintaining a veneer of order, legitimacy and prosperity," the report said. "Central to modern authoritarians is the capture of institutions that undergird political pluralism. They seek to dominate not only the executive and legislative branches, but also the media, judiciary, civil society, economy, and security forces."
The report identified the 10 most oppressive countries as the Central African Republic, Somalia, Equatorial Guinea, Sudan, Eritrea, Syria, North Korea, Turkmenistan, Saudi Arabia and Uzbekistan.
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