About Special Reports
This article provides an overview of a number of key issues related to corruption that confront the countries of the former Soviet Union and the new members of the European Union. Findings from Nations in Transit, Freedom House's annual assessment of democratic development in the region, suggest that despite the passage of two decades since the collapse of the Soviet system, the non-Baltic former Soviet Union remains mired in institutionalized graft. Meanwhile, the new EU member states face their own persistent challenges as they struggle to combat political corruption.
Policing Belief: The Impact of Blasphemy Laws on Human Rights examines the human rights implications of domestic blasphemy and religious insult laws using the case studies of seven countries—Algeria, Egypt, Greece, Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan and Poland—where such laws exist both on paper and in practice. Without exception, blasphemy laws violate the fundamentalfreedom of expression, as they are by definition intended to protect religious institutions and religious doctrine– i.e., abstract ideas and concepts – from insult or offence. At their most benign, such laws lead to self-censorship. In Greece and Poland, two of the more democratic countries examined in the study, charges brought against high-profile artists, curators and writers serve as a warning to others that certain topics are off limits. At their worst, in countries such as Pakistan and Malaysia, such laws lead to overt governmental censorship and individuals are both prosecuted and subject to severe criminal penalties including lengthy jail sentences.