Press release March 30, 2023
Summit for Democracy: Six Countries Join United States in Pledging to Strengthen the Fight against Transnational Repression
New civil society effort to coordinate and advance effective policies around the world to counter transnational repression also announced.
Seven democratic governments endorsed a new declaration pledging to take greater steps to combat the authoritarian practice of transnational repression—when state authorities reach across borders to silence dissent among diaspora and exile communities using harassment, intimidation, and other brutal tactics. The Declaration of Principles to Combat Transnational Repression, signed by the governments of Australia, Germany, Kosovo, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovakia, and the United States, affirms that “transnational repression is a threat to democracy and human rights worldwide.” Signatories further “acknowledge transnational repression as an issue requiring urgent attention and response, and commit to working to address impunity, build resilience, and protect the vulnerable.”
Declaration commitments include: increasing awareness of the threat of transnational repression for officials at the national and subnational levels, including border enforcement, immigration, cybersecurity, and law enforcement personnel, so officials are better able to recognize threats, appropriately respond to them, and assist victims as needed; increasing outreach to potential targets of transnational repression, to inform them of their rights, and explain how they can report incidents; establishing clear procedures for the public to report to relevant domestic authorities attacks, threats, or harassment by foreign states or actors; and increasing accountability for perpetrators of transnational repression through measures including targeted sanctions and diplomatic consequences.
“Freedom House has documented a growing number of instances where governments are using violence and intimidation to reach beyond their borders to silence dissent,” said Michael J. Abramowitz, president of Freedom House. “Authoritarian rulers around the world are becoming more aggressive and more coordinated in their efforts to target civil society. It is all the more urgent for democratic governments to work jointly with one another and with civil society to push back.”
The declaration is an initiative of the Resisting Authoritarian Pressure cohort, which was established by Freedom House, the Lithuanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the Alliance of Democracies during the Year of Action following the first Summit for Democracy in December 2021. It remains open for future government signatures.
Freedom House also announced the formation of the Coordination Group to Counter Transnational Repression. Current members of the group include: Democracy for the Arab World Now, Doublethink Lab, Freedom House, Hong Kong Democracy Council, Human Rights Watch, Project on Middle East Democracy, Safeguard Defenders, The Freedom Initiative, and Uyghur Human Rights Project.
The group will work to identify policy solutions that can be advanced around the world. It will also serve as a resource for policymakers interested in strengthening protections against transnational repression, and amplify the work and impact of its members.
“We thank the civil society organizations and governments working to address this urgent threat to global democracy, and look forward to cooperating to drive positive change,” said Abramowitz. “This enhanced coordination and information sharing will sharpen efforts to combat transnational repression.”
For press or other inquires on the Declaration of Principles to Combat Transnational Repression and the Coordination Group to Counter Transnational Repression, please contact [email protected]. Read Freedom House’s latest research on transnational repression here. Learn more about Freedom House’s work related to the Summit for Democracy here.
Freedom House is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that works to create a world where all are free. We inform the world about threats to freedom, mobilize global action, and support democracy’s defenders.