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The latest from Freedom House:

Freedom House condemns the escalating smear campaign against Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty journalist Khadija Ismailova and commends her vow to continue her investigative reporting. In the latest twist in the ongoing intimidation campaign against one of Azerbaijan’s leading investigative journalists, a video containing sensitive content from the journalist’s private life was posted on a website created only days earlier.

Freedom House welcomes the International Criminal Court (ICC)’s guilty verdict for Congolese warlord Thomas Lubanga, who recruited and used children as young as nine years old as personal bodyguards and soldiers in 2002 and 2003.  This is the first verdict handed down by the ICC since it was founded ten years ago, demonstrating that the institution does have the power to bring some of the world’s worst human rights offenders to justice.

Hadeel Kouki is a young Syrian activist who was detained and tortured by Bashar al-Assad’s regime for demanding her basic human rights. At the most recent session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, she spoke on behalf of Freedom House about her treatment by the regime and called on the Human Rights Council to take action to stop ongoing atrocities committed by the Syrian regime against its people.

Freedom House brought a delegation of frontline activists to the March 2012 session of the UN Human Rights Council to advocate for protection of human rights defenders and draw attention to violence against journalists.

By: Nicholas Bowen, Guest Blogger

Despite the recent focus on Iran’s nuclear program, the country’s deteriorating human rights situation has been the subject of mounting international concern for a number of years. The conservative presidency of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who first took power in 2005, has harmed Iranians’ interests through its divisive factional infighting, economic ineptitude, and deepening confrontation with both the democratic world and Iran’s Arab rivals. But a newly published United Nations report has highlighted the extent to which the regime’s policies have also degraded the country’s already poor human rights conditions during Ahmadinejad’s tenure.

The recent intimidation of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty journalist Khadija Ismailova was a striking reminder of the dire state of freedom of expression in Azerbaijan. On March 7, Ismailova received a letter threatening to ‘defame’ her unless she ‘behaved.’

Back in the 1980s, a Washington attorney named Paul Reichler generated some controversy when he signed on to represent the Sandinistas in various legal conflicts with the American government. Having led a successful guerrilla war against the longtime dictator, Anastasio Somoza, the Sandinistas had quickly moved to consolidate a system akin to a Marxist one-party state. From day one, the Sandinistas embraced an anti-Yankee rhetoric and committed themselves to the anti-imperialist struggle in the Americas. The United States responded by working to undermine Sandinista rule through, among other things, supporting the insurgent movement known as the contras.