Democracy questions on 2017 State budget request



The Obama administration is preparing to defend its final State Department budget request at a time when democracy and human rights are under serious pressure around the world, Freedom House reports. 

The human rights and democracy watchdog compiled several questions for Secretary of State John Kerry, who will testify this week regarding the U.S. State Department’s budget request for fiscal year 2017 before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and both the Senate and House Appropriations Subcommittees on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Agencies.

Elections: Voters in places like Myanmar and Venezuela turned out in record numbers last year, rejecting entrenched incumbents and giving opposition parties an opportunity to implement much-needed reforms. How will this budget provide support for further progress in these countries, and how will it enable voters in other countries to finally make their voices heard through free and fair elections?

Civil society programs: In September 2013, President Obama launched the “Stand with Civil Society” initiative, but implementation has lagged, amounting to little more than rhetoric thus far. What concrete actions to support civil society will be taken through this budget?

Internet freedom: According to the Freedom on the Net report released last fall, internet freedom around the world has declined for the fifth consecutive year….How will this budget address ongoing threats to global internet freedom?

Russian propaganda: Russia continues its propaganda offensive, disseminating blatantly false information through its state-run media outlets ….How does this budget address Russia’s so-called “information warfare”?

Cuba: Even as the United States and Cuba work to normalize bilateral relations, human rights conditions in Cuba remain grim. The number of detentions targeting dissidents have increased over the last year….How will this budget address ongoing human rights challenges in Cuba?…

Azerbaijan: Since the summer of 2014, President Ilham Aliyev and his government have pursued the country’s most intense crackdown on human rights in decades. More than 100 journalists, religious activists, human rights defenders, civil society figures, and other prisoners of conscience are behind bars. ….. How does this budget address the ongoing abuses in Azerbaijan?…


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