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The latest from Freedom House:

A lo largo de tres días, una serie de  ataques ocurrieron en contra de los medios de comunicación en el estado de Chihuahua (frontera con Estados Unidos), demostrando que las agresiones contra el derecho de  libre expresión  persisten en México. Los sucesos incluyeron el ataque armado a dos edificios de empresas periodísticas y el asesinato del editor de un sitio de información digital. Freedom House insta a las autoridades del estado de Chihuahua a investigar ambos ataques y a asegurar la detención de los culpables. También hace un llamado a la Fiscalía Especial para la Atención de Delitos contra  la Libertad de Expresión (FEADLE)a involucrarse en las investigaciones si los casos están dentro de su jurisdicción.

My husband, Gao Zhisheng, is a lawyer who has always fought for the rights of the vulnerable social groups in China including working pro bono for poor people.  In China, the abused party is usually vulnerable social groups and the abusing party is usually the one with power.  In this context, lawyers defending the abused party come under huge pressure and face threats from the powerful.  Gao Zhisheng doesn’t fear the powerful. He spreads righteousness and human rights by taking advantage of his capacity as a lawyer.  His familiarity with the law and his eloquence have allowed him to win justice for many victims.  Because of his work, he has also won his reputation and the love of the people.  He was even praised by the official media and has won numerous prizes.

Over the course of three days, a series of armed assaults occurred against media in the state of Chihuahua that are a sign of the ongoing threat to freedom of expression in Mexico. Two media outlets faced gunfire and an online media editor was murdered by gunpoint. Freedom House urges authorities in the state of Chihuahua to conduct a thorough investigation into these attacks and arrest the perpetrators. We also call on the Special Prosecutor's Office of Cases Against Freedom of Expression to get involved if it determines the cases are of its competence.

Even as Egypt prepares to elect a new People’s Assembly to replace the chamber that was dissolved by court order in early 2012, the Islamist government is ushering crucial new laws on civil society organizations (CSOs) through the upper house of parliament, the Shura Council. Far from easing the already problematic restrictions of the Mubarak era, the proposed measures would expose CSOs to criminal penalties and arbitrary closure for a range of vaguely defined infractions.

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."

The start of President Obama’s second term is an excellent time to reinvigorate and reimagine America’s foreign policy agenda in the area of human rights and economic development. We need a new approach, and we need to do a better job of explaining to the American people the critical importance of an activist and engaged foreign policy.

 

Freedom House condemns the decision by a Bahraini court to reject the appeals for human rights activist Zainab Al-Khawaja, sentencing her to three months in prison. The court’s decision reflects the regime’s continued persecution of those who have peacefully opposed its repressive rule and further demonstrates its utter failure to engage in meaningful reform.

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