April 18-19 the Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs, the Internet Infrastructure Foundation (.SE) and the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) will host the first Stockholm Forum on Internet Freedom for Global Development. The Stockholm Forum aims to deepen the discussions on how freedom and openness on the Internet promotes economic and social development worldwide. (more…)
JHS is publishing a new report in cooperation with the think-tank Freedom Research Association on how the refugee crisis is covered in Turkish media. Read more
The economic problems are so long gone in Venezuela that debts have become a real threat to the country. The value of the currency decreases rapidly and inflation is going up. Foreign imports have ceased, resulting in empty shelves in stores around the country. Read more
The authorities in the city of Viciebsk have taken another repressive action against Vitsebsky Kurier, the oldest and currently only one independent newspaper in Eastern Belarus.
Late at night the Police stopped a car and violently arrested the newspaper’s chief editor and a journalist who had 10 000 copies of the latest edition of the newspaper in the car. (more…)
Today the authorities in the town of Shklou, Belarus, sentenced Mikola Statkevich, former oppositional presidential candidate, to a three-year prison term in “closed regime”. (more…)
On January 6, 2012 a new amendment to a law restricting Internet access in Belarus came into force. According to the Global Legal Monitor (of the Law Library of the US Congress) the law “imposes restrictions on visiting and/or using foreign websites by Belarusian citizens and residents. Violation of these rules is recognized as a misdemeanor and is punished by fines of up to US$125”. (more…)
On March 4, Russia will hold presidential elections. “The whole setting is undemocratic” writes Anders Åslund, senior fellow at the Peterson Institute in Washington DC: Many individual candidates have been refused registration on bogus grounds. Two million signatures are required for individual candidates to be allowed to run. Previously, such candidates have been disqualified despite having collected two million signatures. The government maintains media control. “These elections cannot be judged as legitimate” writes Anders Åslund.
In mid-November a delegation from the Jarl Hjalmarson Foundation visited Cairo and Alexandria. The purpose of the visit was to research possibilities for future cooperations in the region. Thomas Gür, who was part of the delegation, describes the complex political landscape that reveals itself when the Arab Spring turns into fall and winter.
When we visited Egypt the country faced its first round of elections to the parliament’s lower house – an election which was held in approximately a third of the constituencies on 28 November. The second round of elections took place in mid-December and the third will be held early January. Another three rounds of elections will later be held to the parliament’s upper house in March of 2012.
The complexity of the electoral process is a result of an Egyptian election law which states that there must be a judge present at every polling station to ensure that the process is conducted in a right manner. And since there are three times as many polling stations as there are judges in the country, elections to parliament’s two chambers are held in three rounds each. After the elections a committee of 100 people will be appointed to write Egypt’s new constitution.
This process is tainted with serious weaknesses – not least as the results of each election are made public which influences the following elections. The complexity of it however reflects that these are the first free elections since before the military coup in 1952. (more…)
The European People’s Party (EPP) calls upon the European Union, the OSCE and the Council of Europe to declare the State Duma elections in Russia, on 4th December 2011, as non-free and not meeting some OSCE commitments on generally accepted democratic standards. The mass arrests follwing the elections are also critiziced.
In a statement dated December 8, 2011, the EPP calls upon the European Union, the OSCE and the Council of Europe to monitor the presidential elections in Russia [ March 4, 2012] carefully.
The EPP points to the fact that the Russian authorities persistently refused “to register new political parties under the pretext of various technical formalities”.
The EPP declares that Russian authorities must “stop non-compliance with their obligations in the sphere of human rights and democracy under the framework of the OSCE and CoE, changing the rules and practices of the process of registering political parties, in order to provide for unimpeded access for political forces to the presidential elections of 2012”.
Opportunities for electoral fraud were definitely present, said four moderate MPs who visited Russia during the Duma elections on December 4. On Thursday the team shared their experiences and analysis at a breakfast seminar arranged by the Jarl Hjalmarson Foundation.
In particular, the election observers pointed out, there were ample opportunities to cheat during the so-called mobile voting (for elderly at home) and at the many unattended ballot boxes in the more than 90,000 polling stations around the country. Ulrik Nilsson mentioned electoral lists where United Russia had beforehand been marked with a cross. Stefan Caplan noted that at some of the polling stations, he visited, there were more ballots than voters, after polling closed!
“United Russia’s grip of the Russian soul is decreasing significantly”, said Ulrik Nilsson at the breakfast seminar when he was asked about what the election results might lead to.
He and other observers gave the audience a unique insight into what happened in a number of the many polling stations. The images showed flaws in the system which allows for cheating and fraud.
Lack of valsekretess was also something that many of the observers noted. How ballots reviewed by election officials (all have a ballot where you check for the party you vote for) and how many people voted together. (more…)
On December 4 voting to elect the State Duma of the Russian Federation took place. Facing the collapse of public confidence and support, the ruling group was forced to organize the most dirty and fraudulent elections in the post-Soviet history. Campaign and the voting itself were accompanied by an unprecedented level of violations and abuses by the authorities. Manipulations of the public opinion, pressure on citizens, independent observers and members of election commissions, buying and rigging votes were undertaken at a scale unseen before. .
On 21-24 November, the leadership of the oppositional National Independance Party of Azerbaijan visited Brussels, to build contacts, knowledge and exchange ideas.
The visit program included meetings with Moderate Party members of the European Parliament, the Swedish Ambassador to the EU, deputy secretary general of the European People’s Party and the European External Action Service’s expert on Azerbaijan. Some of the issues on the agenda were the challenges regarding democratic development and freedom of the media in Azerbaijan,and the conflict over Nagorno-Karabach.