Every person, both in democratic and non-democratic countries, is born with certain unalienable rights; among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. People everywhere, especially today, want the freedom to not only to be their own leader, but also to excel and enjoy life the way they intend to. But even today, there are countries that lack the basic human rights and prevent their own people from excelling under one unquestionable monarch. Democracy is the most common type of rule because it seeks to safeguard freedom and choice by keeping people involved at every level. While it can’t be said that non-democratic countries always constrain people from basic freedom, it is too often the case, as is seen in these five non-democratic countries.
- Saudi Arabia
This is a prominent example of one of the many non-democratic countries that lack basic human rights. There is an absolute monarch in Saudi Arabia where the king, currently Salman of Saudi Arabia, serves as the country’s head of state, leader of the national government and commander-in-chief of the nation’s military. The people of Saudi Arabia are denied any substantial voice as authorities systematically discriminate against women and religious minorities, and judicial punishments are unbelievably inhumane. In 2015 alone, Saudi Arabia carried out 158 executions, 63 for non-violent drug crimes, according to the Human Rights Watch.
- North Korea
As one of the world’s most secretive and repressive societies, North Korea is an authoritarian state currently run by the supreme leader Kim-Jong Un. The government imposes harsh restrictions on freedom of information and movement by threatening the people with forced labor and public executions. A 2014 UN report documented extermination, murder, enslavement, torture, imprisonment, rape, forced abortion and other sexual violence in North Korea.
Vietnam is a one-party communist state where the president is the head of state and the prime minister is the head of government. Vietnam actively suppresses any religious rights and the only party that rules the country has a complete monopoly on political power. Basic rights, including freedom of speech, opinion, press, association and religion, are restricted. On a positive note, the government of Vietnam and the World Bank Group jointly prepared a report, Vietnam 2035, that lays out their goal of equity and a reform of the lower middle class.
Jordan, an Arab nation on the east bank of the Jordan River, is a constitutional monarchy where the Monarch is the head of state, the chief executive and the commander-in-chief of the armed forces. Jordan restricts freedom of expression and speech by prosecuting their citizens for ‘insulting an official body’ or speaking against the King. Jordan also discriminates against women by not allowing them to pass Jordanian citizenship to their children.
China is the biggest communist state where the government controls over 50 percent of the economy. Because of the government’s reluctance to allow western influences, it enforces strong internet censorship on the world’s top rated websites like Google, Facebook, Twitter and many others. Many fundamental human rights are limited, including freedom of expression, association, assembly and religion.
Other non-democratic countries include Turkmenistan, the U.K., Cuba, Iraq and many others. But whether a government is democratic or non-democratic, the priority should be for its citizens to enjoy basic human rights.
– Mayan Derhy