CAIRO (AFP) - Human rights deteriorated across the Arab world in 2009 with torture widely practised in several countries, namely Egypt, an Arab watchdog said in a report released on Tuesday. The 230-page report by the independent Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies surveyed 12 countries and said that most of them repressed human rights activists, Press freedoms and discriminated against religious minorities. The state of human rights in the 12 countries - Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon, Morocco, Palestine, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia and Yemen - has worsened compared to 2008, the report said. Arab governments remained wedded to a broad array of repressive laws that undermine basic liberties, said the report, Bastion of Impunity, Mirage of Reform. Peaceful rotation of power through representative politics, and clean and competitive elections remained a dream in most countries covered by this report, it said. Egypt and Syria were singled out as leading offenders, with Cairo said to lead the region in practicing torture and Damascus for repressing rights activists. Egypt continued to top the list of countries in which torture is routinely and systematically practiced, it said, adding that dozens had died in the country of torture or excessive force by police. The report also found torture was routine in Bahrain, rampant in Tunisia and practised in Saudi Arabia against terrorism suspects. Human rights advocates faced harassment in several Arab countries, with Syria, which has jailed dozens of democracy activists, holding the worst record in this regard. Religious and ethnic minorities also continued to suffer discrimination in several Arab countries, the report said. Bahey eldin Hassan, the rights groups director, said the 12 countries surveyed were indicative of the region. We think that through analysing these countries we can get a general picture of the region, he said. Hassan said the report did not include recommendations because the governments would ignore them. These are not governments that are going through a reform process and are waiting for advice, he said. The rights groups representative in Geneva, Jeremie Smith, warned at a Press conference that Arab countries had exported attempts to undermine accountability to the United Nations Human Rights Commission. Arab governments have largely taken strategies that they have perfected at a national level to avoid accountability, and they have exported them to the United Nations system, he said.