Releases on Africa
September 27, 2012

(WASHINGTON) – U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, today commented on Freedom House’s “Freedom of the Net 2012” report.  The report examines worldwide freedom of expression on, or access to, the internet and digital media.  This year’s report determined that Iran and Cuba were the two greatest oppressors of internet freedoms. Statement by Ros-Lehtinen:

“It is not surprising that two of the world’s most violent, oppressive dictatorships ranked as the worst in this year’s Freedom House ‘Freedom of the Net’ report.  Iran and Cuba continue to stop at nothing to control and subjugate their populations through their violent tactics of intimidation and fear. These oppressive regimes seek to silence their people and deny them basic human rights by any means, including blocking access to the internet.

“In their effort to quell dissent and repress calls for democracy, the Iranian and Cuban regimes have detained and arrested individuals and bloggers that attempt to use the internet to bring attention to the constant human rights abuses occurring everyday in these countries. It is evident that both regimes fear their people having unlimited access to email and text messages that can improve their struggles to achieve freedom and democracy.  It is of no surprise that the report specifically cites that the Iranian regime has used social media sites and content-sharing as the basis for criminal persecution and in March 2012, dozens of bloggers in Cuba were placed under house arrest, detained, and harassed during the Pope’s visit in order to silence their voices and deny them their basic right to freedom of speech. 

“Freedom of expression is a founding principle of democracy and the United States should stand committed to preserving and promoting this ideal worldwide. I commend Freedom House for this report and urge all responsible nations to stand in solidarity with those who seek to speak their mind without fear of persecution or harassment.  We must press these violent and oppressive regimes to end these flagrant human rights violations and assist those who face harassment and subjugation so that their voices may be heard.”

NOTE: Ros-Lehtinen is the author of the Iran Threat Reduction and Syria Human Rights Sanctions Act (H.R. 1905; P.L. 112-158), which was signed into law by the President on August 10, 2012.  To address the Iranian regime’s efforts to repress internet freedom in Iran, that legislation includes Section 414, which requires the Secretary of State, no later than 90 days after the bill’s enactment, to submit to Congress a comprehensive strategy to promote internet freedom and access to information in Iran.


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