On March 22, the Organization of American States (OAS) held its 44th Special Session of the General Assembly to approve recommendations presented by the Permanent Council for strengthening the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR). Last week, Freedom House signed on to a declaration by almost 100 policy figures and former heads of state that urged the OAS to sustain the commission’s mandate to protect fundamental freedoms in Latin America. Freedom House trustee Diana Villiers Negroponte shares her views on the significance of the final resolution, agreed upon after 12 hours of deliberation by OAS foreign ministers, and what it means for the future of the IACHR as an independent watchdog in the region.
Authoritarian regimes around the world are exporting their worst practices and working together to repress their own citizens and undermine human rights standards internationally. They have collaborated extensively to strengthen their grip on power, often in the face of domestic discontent and international criticism. This cooperation, which might be dubbed “authoritarian internationalism,” presents a significant challenge to democracy around the world and has likely contributed to the decline in global freedom registered by Freedom House over the past seven years.
The prospective sale of independent Venezuelan television station Globovisión further restricts space for critical voices in Venezuela in advance of a critical election following the death of President Hugo Chavez. Freedom House is alarmed by the Venezuelan government’s efforts to exercise such control over the media and calls for authorities to cease its harassment of independent journalists.
Freedom House today released the following statement regarding the death of Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez:
“With the passing of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, Freedom House urges the government in Caracas to follow the steps laid out in the Venezuelan constitution which states that, in the case of a permanent absence of the president, the leader of the National Assembly should temporarily assume the presidency and elections must be called in 30 days. Freedom House calls on the government and the opposition to commit themselves to ensuring a fair and democratic campaign and election and a peaceful presidential transition. We extend our condolences to the family of Hugo Chavez for their loss."