One of the running jokes in Shards of Honor is that everyone on Beta Colony seems to deny having voted for "Steady Freddy" (the president). Furthermore, at one point Cordelia says this to a reporter:
"The government's doing a cover-up. What I know could blow the administration sky-high. […] If it were known I was talking to you, you might not get a chance at a second interview. No rough stuff—just a little quiet disappearance in the night, and the ripple of a rumor about 'gone for medical tests.' Know what I mean?" She was fairly sure he didn't—his media service dealt mainly in sex fantasies—but she could see a vision of journalistic glory growing in his face.
She's lying, of course, and she's not exactly emotionally stable at this point; but the implication seems to be that a real news reporter would know what she meant, and that the government really does disappear people for political offenses. (Beta Colony puts its criminals in creepy psychotherapy — The Warrior's Apprentice puts it, "the Betans didn't jail offenders, they cured them" — so "gone for medical tests", even if literally accurate, could also double as the analogue of our "held for questioning".)
Throughout the series, Beta Colony is presented as at least superficially liberal, democratic, free, tolerant, and civil-rights– and equal-rights–focused (with a few exceptions: having a child requires a license; weapons seem more tightly restricted there than elsewhere; etc.), but I wonder if the above are to be taken as hints that it's less free and democratic than it appears. Are there any indications one way or the other?