About Special Reports
In September 2010, Cuban president Raul Castro announced the beginning of sweeping economic reforms, including the elimination of a million public sector jobs, the easing of restrictions on private enterprise, and the first Communist Party Congress since 1997. To explore what Cubans think about the announced reforms, Freedom House conducted in-depth interviews with 120 people in six provinces from December 2010 to January 2011. These interviews also assessed access to information and technology on the island, and explored Cubans’ values and beliefs, which Freedom House compared with the findings from other countries in the World Values Survey study.
Freedom House has prepared this special report entitled Worst of the Worst: The World’s Most Repressive Societies, as a companion to its annual survey on the state of global political rights and civil liberties, Freedom in the World. The special report provides summary country reports, tables, and graphical information on the countries that receive the lowest combined ratings for political rights and civil liberties in Freedom in the World, and whose citizens endure systematic and pervasive human rights violations.
During difficult budget times, it is natural that foreign aid should come under the same scrutiny as other parts of the budget. Indeed, a recent public opinion poll on budget priorities found that most Americans estimate that foreign assistance comprises 21% of the annual budget, and favor reducing it to around 11% of the total budget.Given the reality—that U.S. foreign aid currently makes up only about 1% of the federal budget—further cuts to what is already a miniscule part of the budget are both unwarranted and would appear to have little popular support.
In February 2010, under the auspices of Freedom House, David J. Kramer and two independent analysts, Robert Nurick and Damon Wilson, traveled to Ukraine to assess the state of democracy and human rights one year after the inauguration of Viktor Yanukovych as the country’s fourth president since independence. The team traveled to Kyiv, Kharkiv, and Lviv to meet with a wide range of government officials, political opposition figures, civil society actors, journalists, and students.
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.