Political Terror Scale
M. Gibney, L. Cornett & R. Wood
To provide a judgement of human rights conditions as reported by the US State Department and Amnesty International. The “terror” in the PTS refers to state-sanctioned killings, torture, disappearances and political imprisonment.
University of North Carolina Asheville.
Used by scholars to examine the relationship between human rights and aid or development.
Expert coding of primary sources from US State Department and Amnesty International
Country Coverage: 188+ countries globally.
Year Coverage: 1997 - present (updated annually)
University of North Carolina Asheville
Countries are coded on a scale of 1-5 according to their level of terror the previous year, according to the description of these countries provided in the Amnesty International and US State Department Country Reports.
Countries fall into one of five ‘terror’ levels that make up the index:
- Countries under a secure rule of law, people are not imprisoned for their views,and torture is rare or exceptional. Political murders are extremely rare.
- There is a limited amount of imprisonment for non-violent political activity. However, few persons are affected, torture and beatings are exceptional.
- There is extensive political imprisonment, or a recent history of such imprisonment.Execution or other political murders and brutality may be common. Unlimited detention, with or without a trial, for political views is accepted.
- The practices of 3 are expanded to larger numbers. Murders, disappearances,and torture are a common part of life. In spite of its generality, on this level terror affects those who interest themselves in politics or ideas.
- The terrors of level 4 have been expanded to the whole population. The leaders of these societies place no limits on this means or thoroughness with which they pursue personal or ideological goals.
Undertaking statistical assessments of the relationship between the states of political terror, development and aid. This is an ordinal scale – distances between levels are not equal but a country at level 1 is doing better than a country judged to be at level 2.
The data will not provide guidance as to the causes of political terror. Users should look for trends rather than short term changes. As with other scales it is not the case that the data represents orders of magnitude of terror. This means that one cannot say that a rating of 4 = 2 x 2, for example.
One assumes that the data sources are fair and representative. The scales reliably indicate the judgements on human rights conditions as represented by the United States Department of State and Amnesty International.