A worldwide human-rights survey names 17 countries where political rights and civil liberties are least respected, including North Korea, Sudan, Uzbekistan and Burma.
The US - based group Freedom House says most of the nations in its report have been on the annual list of "the world's most repressive societies" for five years or more.
In these places, the Freedom House report says, state control over daily life is pervasive and wide-ranging. Independent organizations and political opposition groups are banned or suppressed, and daily life is marked by fear of retribution for
In addition to North Korea, Sudan, Uzbekistan and Burma, Freedom House says other governments in its "most repressive" category are regimes are Cuba, Libya, Somalia and Turkmenistan.
Also on the list are Belarus, China, Ivory Coast, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Laos, Saudi Arabia, Syria and Zimbabwe.
The managing editor of the Freedom House report Aili Piano says governments listed in the survey toughened their techniques of control over the years.
Information for this report is provided by AP.