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Human Rights

For release: December 9, 2008
For press information, contact Gabrielle Maxey, 901/678-2843

In conjunction with International Human Rights day, the Cingranelli-Richards (CIRI) Human Rights Data Project has released its annual ratings of respect for 15 internationally recognized human rights by the governments of 195 countries.

The CIRI Human Rights Data Project is directed by Dr. David L. Richards of the University of Memphis and Dr. David L. Cingranelli of Binghamton University.

The widespread use of torture by governments around world continued in 2007, with 86 countries engaging in systematic torture of their citizens. This is the highest number of such countries in the history of the dataset, which contains information going back to 1981.

As has been the case since 2003, the use of torture in 2007 was worst in Asia, followed by Africa. In 2007, 48 countries systematically imprisoned their citizens for political or religious beliefs, the highest number to do so since 1998. Countries in northern Africa and south-central Asia were, on average, the worst such offenders.

However, the data indicate continued improvement in respect for women’s economic rights, especially in Latin America and the Caribbean.

The full CIRI dataset is available free of charge at

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