Human Rights Watch 2008 Report: Democracy Charade

The annual publication of Human Rights Watch World Report is always a sobering reality check about the level of suffering in the world, but also a call to action and new opportunity to demand changes in how governments are operating, whether they are sham democracies that oppress their people, or (relatively) legitimate democracies that, out of perceived self-interest, allow such abuses to exist, or even reward the perpetrators.

The established democracies are accepting flawed and unfair elections for political expediency, Human Rights Watch said today in releasing its World Report 2008. By allowing autocrats to pose as democrats, without demanding they uphold the civil and political rights that make democracy meaningful, the United States, the European Union and other influential democracies risk undermining human rights worldwide.

States claiming the mantle of democracy, including Kenya and Pakistan, should guarantee the human rights that are central to it, including the rights to free expression, assembly and association, as well as free and fair elections. But in 2007 too many governments, including Bahrain, Jordan, Nigeria, Russia and Thailand, acted as if simply holding a vote is enough to prove a nation