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The latest from Freedom House:

The presidential election in Azerbaijan on October 9 was contorted by rigging, fraud, and other irregularities that blocked any chance for a rotation of power. But it revealed almost nothing new about the former Soviet republic’s hollowed-out governance institutions, as the lack of genuine democracy was well documented before the election. More remarkable is the international community’s mild response to this electoral sham—a disheartening testament to the West’s prioritization of strategic and economic relationships with the oil-rich Caspian Sea state over the protection of human rights and democratic values.

Freedom House is pleased to welcome Askat Dukenbaev as the Project Director for a new 3-year human rights program in Kyrgyzstan to promote access to justice, protection of vulnerable populations, and policy reform. The “Strengthening Human Rights in Kyrgyzstan” project aims to reinvigorate civil society and increase the government’s political will to adhere to its human rights commitments. Through human rights schools, support for key human rights initiatives, rapid response grants, policy forums, and advocacy, Freedom House will strive to ensure that human rights are respected by educating the public and enabling civil society to engage with the government of Kyrgyzstan to secure respect and protection for human rights

As political tensions rise in Guinea following parliamentary elections on September 28, Freedom House calls for a meaningful and constructive dialogue among all political parties. Without full participation in this dialogue, Guinea risks further democratic decline in an already fragile country.

Freedom House welcomes the announcement Wednesday, October 9th that the U.S. government is cutting off some aid to the Egyptian government, and urges the U.S. government not to resume this aid, and to consider limiting government-to-government assistance further, until the Egyptian military takes irreversible steps to return Egypt to a democratically-elected civilian government and address its intensifying human rights abuses.

Freedom House congratulates 16-year old activist Malala Yousafzai from Pakistan on receiving the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, a prestigious human rights award bestowed by the European Parliament to honor exceptional individuals and organizations that combat intolerance, fanaticism, and oppression. Past winners include notable figures such as Nelson Mandela and Kofi Annan.

Restrictions on free expression and assembly and reports of ballot stuffing and vote fraud have undermined the credibility of Azerbaijan’s presidential elections. Freedom House calls on the European Union to prioritize human rights and democracy in Azerbaijan at the Eastern Partnership Summit that will take place in November 2013 in Vilnius, and suspend negotiations on visa facilitation for Azerbaijani government officials.

On October 11 and 12, the AU will meet in an extraordinary summit to discuss pulling out of the Rome Statute, the agreement that created the ICC. Such a decision would have major implications both for ICC itself and for accountability for perpetrators of human rights abuses in Africa and around the world. The nearly three dozen African countries that are currently party to the Rome Statute must vote against this proposal and reaffirm their commitment to justice for victims, an end to impunity at the highest levels for the gravest crimes, and an international system that supports the rule of law.