Freedom House welcomes the release of Rimsha Masih on bail of one million rupees ($10,500) after being accused of blasphemy for allegedly burning pages with verses of the Koran. We remain gravely concerned for her safety and that of her family and call on authorities to ensure their protection as they continue to receive death threats and are in hiding.
The decision of a Cairo court on September 7 to acquit four senior policemen accused of killing civilians during the revolution last year raises serious concerns about the path of transitional justice in Egypt.
For some time, Latin America was identified as one of the success stories from the wave of democratic development that accompanied the waning years of the Cold War. Over the span of a relatively few years, a region notable for violent insurgencies, military juntas, oligarchies, and caudillo rule underwent a historic transformation that left practically every country with a freely elected government and a civic environment in which an array of liberties were respected. After the democratic upsurge, the lone holdout was Cuba, with its inflexible and increasingly anachronistic Communist dictatorship. Over the past decade, however, the commitment of governments in the region to democratic standards has wavered, in some cases considerably.
In the following letter, we urge the United States delegation to the United Nations to oppose the Bahraini government’s nomination of Saeed Mohammed al-Faihani for a seat on the United Nations Human Rights Council’s Advisory Committee. His position on the committee would undercut U.S. efforts to bolster the reputation and credibility of that body and undermine the independence of the Advisory Committee.
Freedom House denounces an appeals court decision in Bahrain to uphold prison sentences for 20 Bahraini opposition activists, including the life sentences for Abdulhadi al-Khawaja, Ebrahim Sharif, and six other prominent activists accused of “plotting to overthrow the government.” These harsh sentences further demonstrate the failure of the Bahraini government to follow through on reforms and reflect the ongoing repressive environment for those opposing the actions of the regime. Bahraini authorities must immediately release the activists and drop all charges against them.