Research Director, Freedom in the World and Freedom of the Press
February 2, 2015
African heads of state recently gathered in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s capital, for the 24th summit of the African Union. While discussions focused on high-profile continental crises such as the Boko Haram insurgency and the Ebola epidemic, an important phenomenon was, unsurprisingly, left off the agenda: the deteriorating situation for political and civil liberties in much of East Africa.
It was reported last week that Sri Lankan president Mahinda Rajapaksa, the current chair-in-office of the 53-nation Commonwealth, may not attend the annual Commonwealth Day celebrations in London on March 10. A recent UN human rights report and data from Freedom House’s Freedom in the World survey suggest that he has good reason to avoid the spotlight.
As 2012 winds down, it is time again to reflect on the year’s human rights developments. Unfortunately, the bad seemed to outweigh the good this year, as many authoritarians held on to power and continued upheaval in the Middle East threatened to derail any democratic progress.
Freedom House released an analysis of democracy in sub-Saharan Africa showing that the region has experienced notable increases in freedom over the past generation, although more setbacks than gains were seen in 2006.
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