Senator Robert Menendez expressed concern with the state of media freedom in Latin America at a panel hosted by Freedom House, and reiterated his concerns at a press conference with Senator Marco Rubio.
After decades of repression, Libyans are increasingly eager to contribute to the advancement of their country; Freedom House was inspired by their motivation and enthusiasm during a recent training in Libya.
After a smooth start in the early post-apartheid period, South Africa’s ruling party, the African National Congress (ANC), is increasingly afflicted by contradictions between its idealistic principles and the baser behaviors of many of its officeholders. These behaviors currently include threats to institute tighter controls over the judiciary and the ANC’s civil society critics, especially the independent media. A discernable trend toward intolerance of judicial brakes on executive power, and also toward a general aversion to any criticism of executive policies and actions, raises troubling questions about the future of democratic governance in South Africa.
Burma’s April 1 by-elections are a crucial step toward assuring the international community that the country is making meaningful progress toward democratic reform. Freedom House welcomes the decision to allow foreign observers to monitor the election as a positive step toward safeguarding the transparency and legitimacy of the election process. However, we remain concerned about reports of fraud and harassment in the lead up to elections, including the March 23 deportation of Somsri Hananuntasuk, executive director of the Asian Network for Free Elections (ANFREL), a regional network of civil society organizations promoting democratization.
Last week, the authorities in Belarus executed two young men who had been convicted of an April 2011 subway bombing in Minsk. While the deeply flawed trial and the swift, primitive nature of the men’s deaths may have disturbed the international community, they were not unusual for Belarus, which has consistently hovered close to the worst possible ratings on issues like the rule of law in Freedom House’s annual Freedom in the World and Nations in Transit reports.
President David J. Kramer recently testified before the U.S. House Committee on Foreign Affairs about repression and corruption in Russia, highlighting the abuses of a regime that he called “thoroughly corrupt, rotten and rotting.”
In an alarming move to restrict freedom of expression, the government of Swaziland has proposed a law that will make it illegal to criticize King Mswati III on Facebook and Twitter. Justice Minister Mgwagwa Gamedze proposed the legislation, informing the Swazi Senate they would take a “tough” stance on those who criticize the king via social media and “set an example.”