Their News [Archives:2008/1162/Local News]

May 9 2008

Freedom House Supports Democracy and Human Rights Budget with Amendments

The next U.S. administration will inherit a $1.7 billion democracy assistance budget request for the next fiscal year that overall demonstrates a strong commitment to promoting democracy and human rights, according to a new Freedom House special report.

A Legacy of Support for Freedom, an analysis of the Bush administration's fiscal year 2009 budget request for democracy and human rights,urges Congress and the next administration to adopt the request with amendments in two critical areas.

“Freedom House applauds this request to increase funding for democracy and human rights by 20 percent,” said Freedom House Executive Director Jennifer Windsor. “Approving this request will provide the next administration, whether Republican or Democratic, an opportunity to redefine America's role in the world and to reiterate our values as a people and a government.”

While the 2009 request shows marked improvement over last year's proposal, Freedom House has identified shortcomings that are inconsistent with a world in which freedom has declined for the second year in a row:

– U.S. Democracy Promotion Centers: The request to cut global funding provided by the U.S. State Department's Bureau of Democracy Human Rights and Labor and USAID's Office of Transition Initiatives should be rejected. The DRL and OTI budgets suffer a combined $11 million drop from the previous year.

– Critical Countries: Requested funding cuts to Russia and China)countries with growing international influence and diminishing freedom domestically)will adversely affect the work of democracy and human rights advocates from these countries. Freedom House urges Congress restore funding for Russia to at least the fiscal year 2008 level of $40.6 million and increase funding for China to at least $20 million.

The report, the third in a series of U.S. budget analyses issued by Freedom House, also provides specific regional recommendations. These include:

– Europe and Eurasia: This in the only region in which the administration requested a cut in funding.In addition to restoring funding for Russia, Congress should earmark $18.7 million for civil society in Serbia to help expand support for pro-European policies amid resistance after Kosovo's independence.

– Near East: Freedom House urges Congress to fully fund democracy and human rights assistance for Egypt and consider conditioning a portion of Egypt's military assistance on political reform. Country specific funding should be provided for democracy activists in the Gulf while Tunisia and Algeria should each receive $1 million.

– Sub-Saharan Africa: The Bush administration requests a 37 percent increase over the fiscal year 2008 estimated levels for “governing justly and democratically.” Freedom House recommends that Congress maintain this funding across the region and allow the administration reasonable budgetary discretion in adapting to dynamic political developments that arise on the ground.

– East Asia and the Pacific: In addition to fully funding China's democracy advocates, Freedom House recommends that Congress restore funding to Timor-Leste in line with the 2008 level of $7.4 million and match the $4 million in funding for North Korea called for in U.S. House authorizing legislation.

– Central and South Asia: The administration's request does not adequately acknowledge challenges that democracy advocates face in Central Asia. Freedom House recommends that Congress restore $4 million in funding for civil society in Kazakhstan and $4 million to democracy initiatives and civil society strengthening in Uzbekistan.

– Western Hemisphere: Freedom House welcomes the $20 million requested increase in funding for the region, which recognizes increased challenges for human rights defenders and democracy advocates. However, Congress should add $2.5 million each for Ecuador and Paraguay to fund rule of law, human rights and civil society initiatives and appropriate at least $1 million for human rights work in Venezuela.

Freedom House is an independent nongovernmental organization that supports the expansion of freedom in the world.

Fourth Sana'a International Exhibition hopes to promote investment in Yemen

The Apollo International Exhibition Company, together with the Ministry of Industry and Trade, held a press conference entitled “Real Economic Partnership – Yemen”” about the fourth Sana'a International Exhibition for promoting commercial exchange between Yemen and other countries