Bolivia’s expulsion of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) this month is a troubling development on its own, but when viewed in the context of similar actions by other governments, it raises questions about the future of American foreign assistance in the face of authoritarianism.
On Thursday, the United Nations Human Rights Council voted to pass a resolution critical of the Sri Lankan government’s failure to take action to stop ongoing human rights violations and calling for an investigation into abuses committed during and in the aftermath of the country’s 26-year civil war. Despite a significant campaign by the Sri Lankan government to prevent its passage, twenty-five countries voted in support of the resolution while thirteen countries opposed and eight abstained. Freedom House welcomes the continued attention to the abuses committed by the Sri Lankan government, but is disappointed by the weakening of the resolution which removed a call for an international investigation.
Earlier this month, Sri Lankan president Mahinda Rajapaksa replaced Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayake with a political ally following a parliamentary impeachment process that was deemed unconstitutional. While the government claimed that Bandaranayake had abused her position for personal gain, her ouster was widely regarded as a Rajapaksa vendetta and yet another blow to judicial independence in the country. In the wake of this showdown between the branches of government, the judiciary has been reduced to little more than an appendage of the ruling party. According to the latest edition of Freedom in the World, Sri Lanka experienced declines in political rights and civil liberties indicators in 2012, adding to a multiyear deterioration. If January is any indication, the coming year promises more of the same.
Brutal attacks against bloggers, politically motivated surveillance, proactive manipulation of web content, and restrictive laws regulating speech online are among the diverse threats to internet freedom emerging over the past two years, according to a new study released today by Freedom House.
A majority of Americans see democracy in the U.S. as weak and getting weaker, according to a national survey released by The Democracy Project, a joint initiative of Freedom House, the George W. Bush Institute, and the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement.
On May 21, 2008, the UN General Assembly will elect 15 new Human Rights Council members. Twenty countries are candidates. Freedom House and UN Watch evaluated each candidate’s suitability for election to the Human Rights Council by examining its record of human rights protection at home and its record of human rights promotion at the UN.
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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