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  • Wednesday, March 02, 2005


    World's Ten Worst Dictators

    Parade Magazine, the color insert found in many US Sunday papers, is one of the last places I would think to find an article on The World's Ten Worst Dictators. Some snippets:

    2. Kim Jong Il, North Korea.
    Age 62. In power since 1994.
    Last year’s rank: 1

    Kim Jong Il slipped from first place, but not for want of trying. North Korea still ranks last in Reporters Without Borders’ international index of press freedom, and it earned Freedom House’s worst score for political rights and civil liberties for the 33rd straight year (a world record). The Ministry of People’s Security places spies in workplaces and neighborhoods to inform on anyone who criticizes the regime, even at home. All radios and TV sets are fixed to receive only government stations. Disloyalty to Kim Jong Il and his late father, Kim Il Sung, is a punishable crime: Offenses include allowing pictures of either leader to gather dust or be torn or folded. The population is divided into “loyalty groups.” One-third belong to the “hostile class.” These people receive the worst jobs and housing and may not live in the capital, Pyongyang. Below the hostiles are the estimated 250,000 held in prison camps, some for crimes allegedly committed by relatives. Executions often are performed in public.

    9. Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe.
    Age 80. In power since 1980.
    Last year’s rank: 4

    After leading an anti-colonial war of liberation, Mugabe was elected Zimbabwe’s first prime minister, raising hopes for a new era of democracy. But he has turned increasingly dictatorial and run his country into the ground. Average life expectancy in Zimbabwe is 33 years—among the lowest in the world. One of Mugabe’s many repressive laws deems it a crime “to make an abusive, indecent or obscene statement” about him. He continues to hold elections, but opposition is discouraged. Looking toward a vote in March, the parliament passed a law banning from Zimbabwe any human-rights or civil-liberties group that receives money from abroad. In other words, independent election monitors will not be allowed.

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