In this top group, the protection of civil rights and liberties is woven tightly into the political culture. Though some discrimination appears, anti-discrimination laws are strong.
Civil rights are among the world’s most secure in most of these countries, although long pre-trial custody times in Sweden have been criticized, as has the treatment of terrorism suspects there and in Canada. Censure by Canadian human rights tribunals has threatened to chill right-leaning speech in that country.
Iceland’s fishery management system has been deemed a human rights issue by the UN, while the state’s use of personal data has raised privacy concerns in the Netherlands.
Some discrimination against women, foreigners, ethnic minority groups or Roma exists in each of these countries, though regulations and court action keep this to a minimum in formal settings.
Core civil rights are in general well-protected throughout this group, but a trend toward increasing suspicion of foreigners, or often of Islamic residents, has raised some concerns.
Anti-terrorism measures have led to complaints about infringements of civil rights or political liberties in the USA and Australia. The USA’s Obama retained many of the Bush administration’s policies, but did implement civil court proceedings for Guantanamo prisoners.
The Swiss anti-minaret referendum exposed a discriminatory undercurrent there, amplified by the largest party’s continued xenophobic rhetoric. Immigration laws are extraordinarily strict in Denmark.
Germany’s government has proved resistant to new anti-discrimination measures that would add bureaucratic burden, while Belgium’s language divide has led to linguistic discrimination and gaps in political liberties.
Wage discrimination is an issue for women across this group.
Immigrants, asylum seekers or even second-generation citizens face de facto discrimination by government institutions and in the workplace in France, the UK, Austria and Italy. Rising anti-Muslim rhetoric is particularly problematic in the latter two nations.
While discrimination remains a problem in Poland, particularly against gays and lesbians, that country’s new government made very substantial improvements relative to the SGI 2009 in terms of respecting civil rights and protecting civil liberties. However, it still had not implemented EU anti-discrimination policies.
The Czech Republic also made significant gains, in part due to citizens’ increasing awareness of their own rights and a new law criminalizing the denial of crimes against humanity under fascism and communism.
While the character of this group’s members varies substantially, they are marked by serious infringement of civil or political rights, either at the hands of the government or as a result of troubling social forces.
Government conflicts with indigenous ethnic groups have led to violations of otherwise well-protected civil rights and political liberties in Chile. The burakumin minority experiences discrimination in Japan, while Roma individuals, national minorities and homosexuals face discrimination or even violent attack in Hungary and Slovakia.
Freedom of worship for minority confessions is a persistent problem in Greece and Turkey. However, the secular elite’s control of Turkey’s courts has resulted in the repeated outlawing of parties viewed as Islamist or Kurdish.
Mexico’s civil institutions have been undermined by organized crime-related corruption, with widespread drug-related violence hampering citizens’ ability to articulate concerns. Excessive police force and official suppression of demonstrations are problems in South Korea, while Turkey’s government has increased prosecution of “thought crimes” and been accused of detainee abuse.