Secretary of State John Kerry plans to use his current trip to Africa to encourage democratic development, peace, and security, and to promote bilateral trade and investment. The problem lies in the countries he has chosen to advance these policies—Ethiopia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Angola, some of the least democratic states on the continent.
Freedom House condemns the decision of Angolan courts and prosecutors to move forward with defamation changes against journalist and human rights advocate Rafael Marques de Morais. Their decision is a violation of the universally-recognized right to freedom of speech and a clear attempt to silence Angola’s independent civil society.
Civil Society, Freedom of Expression, Media Freedom, Rule of Law
The world was outraged when a 14-year-old girl in Pakistan was shot in the head last week simply for being an ardent advocate for the right of girls to an education. Unfortunately, Malala's case is not an isolated one. In most parts of the world today, individuals and organizations working to advance social, political, and environmental justice face imminent danger as a result of their work. In the past two months alone, a 70-year-old activist in Cambodia was sentenced to 20 years in prison because he challenged the government's policy of confiscating local land for powerful corporate interests; in southern India, police used live ammunition on villagers protesting against a proposed nuclear power plant; a human rights lawyer opposing the creation of special economic development zones was shot dead in Honduras; and in the United Arab Emirates, an outspoken critic of inhumane treatment of political prisoners was assaulted in the street twice and faced government surveillance.
The progress that sub-Saharan Africa has achieved in building democracy over the past generation is coming undone. After two decades of significant gains, the continent has experienced a steady decline in democracy over the last several years.
Freedom House released an analysis of democracy in sub-Saharan Africa showing that the region has experienced notable increases in freedom over the past generation, although more setbacks than gains were seen in 2006.