The region's countries are split into the free and partly free rankings.
By Biljana Lajmanovska for SETimes in Skopje -- 25/01/2013
The quality of elections is one factor evaluated by the report. [AFP]
Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece, Serbia, Slovenia and Montenegro are ranked as "free" in this year's Freedom House "Freedom in the World" report, while Macedonia, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo are ranked as "partly free."
"Democracy in the Central and Eastern Europe, including the Balkans … has remained relatively unchanged during the European financial crisis. That's impressive, and I think that it is a testimony in part to the role the European Union has played in this region," Arch Puddington, vice-president for Research at Freedom House, told SETimes.
On global level, the freedom in the world fell for the seventh year in a row. Political rights and civil liberties have improved in Libya and Egypt, but have decreased significantly in Russia, Nigeria and 25 other countries.
The report evaluates the countries based on the quality of the elections they organise, the right of the citizens to organise themselves into political parties, the rights of the minorities, judiciary, rule of law and other categories.
The report defines the "partly free" countries as ones where "there is limited respect of political rights and civil liberties and that suffer from the climate of corruption, weak rule of law, ethnic or religious conflicts and a political situation where a single party dominates although there is a level of pluralism."
In Central and Eastern Europe, most of the countries (76 percent) are ranked as "free" and the others are "partly free."
"For Macedonia, being a partly free country it means that … the [country's] legislation in some way corresponds to democratic standards and demands, but in reality the practice shows opposite motions that are far from implementing the present legislation," Mirjana Najchevska, a professor at the Institute for Social Political and Legal Research in Skopje, told SETimes.
"Corruption, inefficiency of the judiciary, slow procedures -- these are all remarks that show weaknesses in normal functioning of the key institutions. If the legal state is not functioning, then this is the first precondition for not respecting human rights," Osman Kadriu, professor of law at FON University in Skopje, told SETimes.
Even in Balkan countries ranked as free, the situation in respect to human rights is far from ideal.
Experts warn that in order to improve its rating, and the respect of human rights in general, Macedonia and other countries in the region must take seriously the remarks in reports such as the one prepared by Freedom House.
"For the benefit of our own country, we should accept these critical remarks and they should serve us as a recommendation how to behave. The state authorities should use them as a helping hand on what to do in order to improve the situation with human rights," Kadriu told SETimes.
Shkelzen Dragaj, a spokesperson for the Kosovo Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports, told SETimes that efforts are being made.
"Big attempts are being done to respect the rights of any individual. There are cases or situations when they are violations, but it mainly happens because of the lack of the tradition of the state and the rule of law," Dragaj told SETimes.
"But generally we try to be especially careful not to have any violation of the human rights," Dragaj added.