Documents recovered from a sauna at deposed Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych’s abandoned palace have offered new insight into the murky relationship between foreign dictators and well-paid American consultants.
Since early February, Venezuela has been rocked by nationwide protests and clashes with police that have killed more than a dozen people. Initially motivated by frustration with a collapsing economy and soaring crime rates, demonstrators are now struggling to defend their basic human rights in the face of the government’s aggressive response, which includes not only deadly police violence but a determined effort to choke off all independent sources of information about the crisis.
Freedom House’s latest Freedom in the World report paints a bleak picture of democracy and human rights in Africa overall, with 88 percent of the population living in countries designated either Not Free or Partly Free. Nevertheless, there were a number of small victories on the continent during 2013, even in countries where the prevailing trend remains negative.
Turkey has a history of violating internet freedom, and abuses of media freedom in general are rising sharply. But if President Abdullah Gül signs the restrictive internet bill adopted by the parliament last week, he will take the country into uncharted territory.
The recent pressure on civil society and independent media in Kenya is not only a significant threat to democracy in a geopolitically important country, but also the predictable outcome of the international community’s failure to punish earlier, comparable state-driven repression in Ethiopia, another African nation that is viewed in Western capitals as a strategic partner.
This week, Tunisia’s National Constituent Assembly approved a new constitution, taking a crucial step forward in the democratic transition that began after the overthrow of President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali in January 2011. The constitution has been widely hailed for its guarantees of fundamental human rights and civil liberties, including freedom of conscience, due process, and freedom of worship. But if Tunisian activists had not lobbied vigorously for the last-minute passage of amendments to safeguard media independence, the new constitution might have been received as a major defeat for freedom of the press.