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The latest from Freedom House:

Freedom House calls on the UN Human Rights Council to strengthen the mandate of the Independent Expert on Sudan to address the grave human rights situation in the country. The Independent Expert’s mandate is up for renewal at the Council's current session.

Over the past several weeks, the Chinese authorities—urged on by President Xi Jinping—have engaged in an unprecedented crackdown on what they consider “harmful information” disseminated via popular microblogging platforms and other social media. The speed of microblogging and the sheer size of the user base have long allowed these media to serve as a rare venue for comparatively open discussion of political and social matters in China, despite heavy censorship. The new campaign threatens to close off this crucial public forum and drive citizens into greater isolation.

The reported execution by firing squad last month of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s ex-girlfriend, along with 11 others, was a sad reminder that dictators still rule by brute force with little pretense of legitimacy. Most current autocrats, however, take on the trappings of democracy to claim a popular mandate for their regime and their actions, even as they trample the rights of their citizens. It’s time to call them out. It’s time for them to go. Read Dennis Blair and Daniel Calingaert's POLITICO op-ed.

The use of chemical weapons in Syria and brutal crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, which has claimed more than 1,000 lives, are deeply disturbing events, yet they are just the most glaring examples of a widespread assault on freedom taking place in countries around the world. At times this assault grabs news headlines, as when Russia’s law against “homosexual propaganda” prompted international criticism or a prominent dissident is put on trial. More often, savvy autocrats misuse laws and administrative procedures to subtly restrict civil society groups and silence their critics. Click here to read Daniel Calingaert's op-ed for CNN.

Photo Credit: Frontline Defenders

Freedom House welcomes the release from prison of human rights lawyer, Nasrin Sotoudeh, who was awarded the Sakharov Prize by the European Union in 2012, and fourteen other prominent political prisoners in Iran.

Freedom House deplores the provocative attempt to disrupt a screening of a fim about human rights defender Azimjan Askarov, and calls on the government of Kyrgyzstan and the international community to condemn attempts at stifling free speech through violence.