Freedom at Issue: Insights on the global struggle for democracy | Freedom House

Freedom at Issue:

Insights on the global struggle for democracy

Meeting in Maputo, Mozambique, on August 18, the leaders of the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) extended indefinitely their 18-month suspension of the SADC Tribunal. Delivering a major blow to hopes for the rule of law in the region, the 15 SADC member states also determined that a successor court, if ever constituted, would have no authority to hear cases brought against national governments by individuals, businesses, or organizations on human rights or any other matter. Instead, only governments would have access to the tribunal, and only for the purpose of resolving intergovernmental disputes over the terms of the SADC treaty.

Photo Description: Punjab governor Salmaan Taseer, assassinated in 2011

The current case of Rimsha Masih displays all that is wrong with Pakistan’s notorious blasphemy law.

This article originally appeared in the American Interest on August 23, 2012. See the original here.

During a visit to Cairo in late July, U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta praised the relationship between newly elected President Mohamed Morsi and Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, the longtime Defense Minister who had ruled Egypt after Hosni Mubarak’s fall from power. Ten days ago, Morsi radically changed that relationship, announcing the retirement of Tantawi and several other senior military officials in a move that caught almost all observers, including the Obama Administration, by surprise.

The death on Monday of Ethiopian prime minister Meles Zenawi has been the occasion for fulsome tributes from world leaders, including President Barack Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, European heads of government, and a number of African dignitaries. However, Meles leaves behind a complicated record that includes notable achievements as well as consequential errors, particularly with respect to democracy.

We have compiled an abridged version of the Freedom in the World chapter on Ethiopia for the year 2011 in light of Zenawi's death.


A complex series of events in recent months has transformed the vast region of Northern Mali from a site of occasional, low-intensity ethnic conflict within an otherwise functional democracy into a lawless arena for competition among rival militant groups.

by Arch Puddington and Morgan Huston*

The Reverend Leon H. Sullivan is remembered today as one of the most respected leaders of the American civil rights movement. For many decades, he served as pastor of Zion Baptist Church in Philadelphia, a northern city with a reputation for hostility to racial change. From early on, Sullivan identified lack of economic opportunity as a crucial element of racial inequality. Thus among his first campaigns was an economic boycott directed at major corporations in Philadelphia that refused to interview young black job applicants. “Selective patronage,” Sullivan called it.

The news that the government of Ecuador granted political asylum to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has quite properly triggered numerous commentaries on the irony—or better yet, hypocrisy—of Assange seeking help from Ecuadorean president Rafael Correa, one of the world’s leading adversaries of press freedom. Assange made his bid for asylum after the British authorities agreed to deport him to Sweden, where he has been charged with sexually assaulting two women.

We've included in this blog post a shortened version of the Ecuador chapter from Freedom of the Press 2012, which covers the year 2011.

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) is co-chair of the Congressional Caucus for Freedom of the Press.

A version of this commentary was initially published in the San Diego Union Tribune on August 10:

Freedom of the press is one of the pillars of democracy, but an unrestricted media is no longer a reality south of our border. In Mexico, journalists increasingly have to decide between ignoring the violent drug cartels altogether, or putting their safety and that of their families at risk. It is a choice no reporter would envy and none should be required to make.

The final results of the London Olympics are in, and those who root for democracy in other contexts can take pride in the outcome. Nearly two-thirds of the total medals—and of gold medals—were won by countries that are designated as Free in Freedom in the World. Countries designated as Not Free grabbed slightly more than a quarter of all medals and around 30 percent of gold medals.

A recent study conducted by Freedom House and the Broadcasting Board of Governors evaluated a comprehensive range of mobile technologies—from smartphone devices including iPhone, Nokia, and Droid, to the applications and security protocols that are installed on them—to determine how secure one can really be on a mobile phone. The purpose of the effort was to assess the dangers of using mobile phones in countries where privacy rights are not respected, and where the rule of law and due process are faulty or nonexistent. Mobile phones, rather than internet-enabled computers, are often the communications method of choice in these countries, which makes them a top priority for government surveillance. The findings of the study were quite worrying.