Dictator Profiles

Nicolas Maduro


In Power Since: 2013

Nicolas Maduro’s government under the ruling United Socialist Party routinely harasses, intimidates, and detains anyone critical or opposed to his regime. Insulting Maduro directly or any of his officials can result in prison time and additional penalties. Maduro along with his influence over the judiciary has been able to rule by decree often undermining the legislature to advance his agenda through the implication of strict laws, regulations, and restrictions against his political opposition.

The majority of the media in Venezuela is state controlled. Privately owned media outlets and independent journalists that do operate within the country face constant harassment and intimidation from Maduro’s government if they speak out against his policies. The government can suspend or revoke business licences, imposing heavy fines, seize property, and even cancel broadcasts if the states public interest laws are violated. Political opposition groups operating in Venezuela are persecuted on a regular basis by Maduro’s government on the accusation of anti-government destabilization and are often detained without a fair trial while being subjected to torture.

Maduro’s government also controls Venezuela’s internet through a state run entity known as CONATEL. The government constantly monitors the private communications of internet users and persecutes anyone with an opposing political opinion. Grocery stores have been nationalized and the government imposes price controls on goods which has resulted in shortages of food and medicine. Freedom of assembly in Venezuela requires approval by the government and citizens who protest without a permit have been shot and killed by Maduro’s security forces.


Kim Jong-un

North Korea

In Power Since: 2011

Kim Jong-un is the youngest son to late North Korean dictator Kim Jong-il who unexpectedly died in 2011 prompting the younger Kim to become the country’s supreme leader. North Korea is a pure socialist/totalitarian state where the government controls the means of production and people’s personal lives on a daily basis. The North Korean regime is one of the most repressive in the world where freedom is virtually non existent. Kim Jong-un presides over a government that allows absolutely no freedom of speech, assembly, opposition parties, free press, or workers rights. All media is controlled by the state and religion is banned. Any individual caught in violation are sent to one of the many prison camps throughout the country for reeducation or execution.

Kim Jong-un’s regime is accused of committing gross human rights violations including torture, rape, mass starvation, forced abortion, and execution without a fair trial. The U.S. State Department reports that the North Korean government practices a method called collective punishment in which the government will imprison the entire family three generations back for one family members crime. Violators are often subjected to severe beatings, electric shock, forced to stand or sit for extended periods of time in uncompromising positions, and sometimes mothers are forced to watch the infanticide of their newborn child.

Because conditions in North Korea are so harsh, many citizens risk their lives to escape into China. North Korean refugees who make it into China often face the likelihood of discrimination, sexual violence, human trafficking, threat of arrest, and the possibility of being deported back to North Korea where they will be punished with life imprisonment or execution for leaving. Those defectors who make it into South Korea and tell the authorities their stories and accounts of how the North Korean government treats its people are often put on a target list for elimination for outspoken condemnation of the regime as enemies of the state.

Since coming to power, Kim Jong-un has continued North Korea’s nuclear weapons program of ballistic missile testing and launching long range missiles capable of reaching U.S. allies. Kim Jong-un has also purged his inner circle by executing or removing many senior level military officials from his fathers regime in order to consolidate his power. One such official was Kim Jong-un’s uncle Jang Sung-taek who he had executed along with his entire family on suspicion of plotting a coup against the regime. As a way to punish those abroad, Kim Jong-un had his half brother Kim Jong-nam assassinated in Malaysia for being a vocal critic of the regime.


Xi Jinping


In Power Since: 2013

Xi Jinping was selected to be China’s new dictator in 2013 by the Chinese Communist Party. As Xi was coming to power, many observers thought he was the leader China needed for reforming government corruption and state repression. Instead, under Xi’s leadership human rights in China have continued to get worse and restrictions on universal freedom have tightened. China still operates as a one party authoritarian state ruled by the Chinese Communist Party. Any citizen caught meddling in political affairs, involvement with a opposition group, or vocally critical of the Chinese government risks being detained and punished for their alleged offences against the regime.

Xi Jinping has continued to carry on China’s legacy of restricting the freedom of speech by cracking down on dissenting voices that are critical of the government. Numerous activists, journalists, and lawyers have been detained by the government and denied the right to a fair trial. Some activists have just disappeared unexpectedly or turned up mysteriously murdered while others have been placed in psychiatric hospitals and medicated against their will for political reasons. Citizens who are detained often endure torture such as sleep deprivation, electric shock, beatings, and rape.

According to the U.S. State Department, in 2015, three hundred human rights lawyers were targeted and detained by the government for speaking out about abuses and forced to confess and apologize on state television to charges of “picking quarrels and provoking trouble.”

Xi Jinping’s government has complete control over all online and print media outlets. The regime constantly monitors and blocks information deemed too politically sensitive or opposed to the government including social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Youtube.

The freedom of assembly to protest labor rights or government repression is forbidden in all Chinese provinces.Worker’s rights in China are routinely abused by the government as some citizens are involved in forced labor practices where individuals are subjected to long hours, little to no pay, and hazardous work conditions.

The Foxconn plant in China which makes Apple products had to install safety nets in the stairwells in order to prevent any more workers from jumping to their death. Eleven works at the plant jumped to their deaths due to the stressful conditions of their job site which involved living in a small garage sized bug infested commune with twenty other people while working fourteen hour days.  

Xi Jinping has also taken a harder stance on suppressing religious freedom in China by having crosses removed from churches and in some instances demolishing churches all together. Some churches in China are state sanctioned meaning they are only allowed to preach what the government views as acceptable. Other religious institutes operating in China are monitored by the authorities and if the size of the congregation exceeds into the thousands, the government will have the organization investigated and often shut down. The religion/spiritual movement Falun Gong is banned in China because the government sees it as a threat due to the fact that it has attracted millions of followers and its teachings contain an emphasis on moral superiority.

The Chinese government under Xi Jinping’s leadership continues to meddle in Hong Kong’s democratic institutions by becoming more involved in selecting the representatives and a chief executive that are seen as being pro Beijing. Since coming to power, Xi Jinping abolished China’s one child policy and instead replaced it with a two child policy in which couples must get permission from the government to have a third child. Any couple caught in violation of the law are forced to abort their child or pay a fine. The Tibetan people still endure a high level of discrimination and abuse from the Chinese authorities such as the practice of euthanasia in which Tibetan women are forcibly injected with sterile enhancing drugs so the Tibetan population cannot multiply.

Xi Jinping’s government still continues to aid and prop up the brutal North Korean regime of Kim Jong-un. Many observers believe that the Chinese government is directly responsible for the existence and continued escalation of the North Korean regimes nuclear capabilities and gross human rights violations.


Bashar al-Assad


In Power Since: 2000

Bashar al-Assad is the most unlikely of dictator’s. While attending medical school in London, England, Assad was summoned back to Syria by his father and residing dictator Hafez al-Assad to begin preparations for the presidency following the unexpected death of his brother Bassel al-Assad who was originally suppose to succeed his father. After the death of Hafez in 2000, Bashar became Syria’s new president as his name was the only one on the ballot. Many observers looked at Bashar as a reformed who could turn away from his fathers repressive policies and lead Syria towards a more open and transparent society. Those aspirations fell short as Assad became increasingly authoritarian in his policies and ruthless towards anyone opposing the regime.

Following the Arab Spring of 2011, Syria has been involved in a civil war that has left 400,000 dead and 6.1 million people displaced and counting. What started out as protests against the Assad government soon escalated into different groups fighting to oust Assad and gain control over Syria. Bashar al-Assad has managed to hold on to power thanks to Russian support and Iranian proxies operating in the region. The Islamic terrorist organization known as ISIS emerged in 2014 and quickly began occupying parts of Syria and established an Islamic Caliphate that has killed, enslaved, and tortured thousands of people in which the Assad regime uses in return to legitimize its claim of battling terrorism in order to win praise from the international community.

Bashar al-Assad’s government is guilty of gross human rights violations and crimes against humanity involving men, women, and children. The Assad regime uses its chemical weapons stockpile to routinely kill the opponent by conducting air assaults on civilian targets and dropping barrel bombs filled with chlorine gas on cities, schools, hospitals, churches, and water stations. The majority of the Syrian population has little to no access to food or water due to the destruction and the governments restriction of supplies to vulnerable areas leaving many people to die of starvation.

Aside from chemical weapons attacks, the Assad regime completely denies its citizens the right to free expression, assembly, or association. The government controls all forms of communication including the internet and has also restricted all NGO’s from operating within country. Journalists and activists are routinely targeted by the government for automatic detainment without access to a fair trial and systematically tortured.

As the Syrian civil war rages on, Assad has aggressively stepped up his crackdown on anyone that dares oppose his regime. Disappearances of opposition, arbitrary detainment, unlawful killings, mass executions, torture, and rape are a few of Assad’s tactics for dealing with the unrest. Political prisoners are regularly subjected to unspeakable torture under the Assad regime such as beatings with various objects, sexual assault, hanging detainees by the wrists and administering electric shock, cutting off body parts, putting people in stress positions for extended periods of time, forcing individuals to witness the rape of their family members.

Assad’s regime also uses physiological torture involving detaining people in cells with the corpses from previous victims. Assad’s security forces have been known to return corpses back to their family members showing the obvious signs of torture.


Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud

Saudi Arabia

In Power Since: 2015

King Salman of Saudi Arabia resides over a kingdom that is one of the worst abusers towards women’s rights and religious freedom. Women are treated like second class citizens and all religions except Islam are banned by the government. The Saudi government also has one of the highest execution rates than any other country. Citizens can be stoned to death for adultery and nonviolent offences such as apostasy, blasphemy, witchcraft, sorcery, homosexuality, and drug trafficking are all punishable by death usually by beheading or firing squad. Islam is the official religion in Saudi Arabia and the Quran serves as the country’s constitution. Political opponents, activists, journalists, or anyone critical or against the Saudi governments policies, human rights record, the king, his family, senior officials, Islam, or sharia law can be subjected to criminal charges for disrespecting the country’s norms.

Saudi women are forced to wear the abaya (long black cloak) in society at all times and women cannot be seen in public without being accompanied by a male guardian. Women have to get permission from their male guardian to travel, marry, or to receive medical treatment. King Salman issued a statement saying that women should not be denied access to government services because they do not have a male guardian while simply ignoring the many existing policies restricting a woman’s freedom. Saudi women are also banned from driving a vehicle and are segregated from males in public. The Saudi government does not recognize spousal rape as a crime and a woman’s testimony in the court system in only half that of a man’s. If a woman is raped in Saudi Arabia then she must provide at least four male witnesses or she will be convicted of having sex outside of marriage and punished. Women who flee Saudi Arabia or their family face honor violence and detainment if they are returned to the country against their will.

Couples of the opposite sex who are unrelated cannot be seen in public together and anyone caught disobeying the country’s policies risks being flogged (beaten) in public or detained. In order to keep Saudi Arabia’s strict moral conduct upheld, the Mutaween (Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice) or religious police roam the streets to enforce dress codes, sex segregation, and daily prayers. Citizens found in violation are often beaten and detained. In 2002, fifteen girls died in a school fire because they were not wearing the correct Islamic dress and without a male guardian to escort them outside. The religious police “mutaween” stood in front of the school house doors and prevented the girls from leaving the building.

In King Salman’s kingdom there are no Christian churches or synagogues. Anyone caught practicing another religion besides Islam can be convicted of apostasy and sentenced to death or lengthy prison terms and public lashings. The Saudi government practices Wahhabism which is a pure interpretation of Islam and the sharia (Islamic law) is the law of the land. Anyone who is critical of Islam can be charged with apostasy.

Freedom of speech, expression, press, assembly, and association are all highly restricted in Saudi Arabia under King Salman’s rule. Protesting the government is outlawed and political parties are banned. The media and internet are routinely monitored by the government while certain internet sites are blocked by the authorities as being considered objectionable. The Saudi government may issue penalties, close down communications, and arrest any individual who’s activity violates the governments reputation or incites disruption. Saudi Arabia relies on a counter terrorism law to crush any dissent against the government, for example the government can use the law to prosecute peaceful opposition activists for insulting the state.

King Salman’s regime continues to become involved in an ongoing border war against the Iranian backed Houthi rebels in Yemen that has resulted in civilian casualties including men, women, children. King Salman’s government is also one of the top financiers for the Taliban and Hamas while funding many international Islamic schools/institutions that teach anti-Western and anti-American indoctrination to their graduates who go on to become recruits for Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups.


Isaias Afwerki


In Power Since: 1993

Isaias Afwerki became Eritrea’s first ever president after gaining its independence from Ethiopia in 1991 and has held on to that title without ever being elected. Isaias arose to power through the militia ranks while fighting for Eritrea’s independence and was granted a leadership role by way of a U.N. referendum in which he assumed the presidency in 1993. Operating under the People’s Front for Democracy and Justice, Isaias established a dictatorship that has made him an unaccountable absolute ruler with unchecked power. Under Isaias’ leadership, Eritrea does not hold elections or have a constitution and the rule of law is none existent.

Eritrea is known as the North Korea of Africa because of its repressive policies and gross human rights violations. Thousands of Eritrea’s have fled the country to escape the governments forced military service, hash prison conditions, and total assault on freedom.

Eritreans do not have the ability to choose their own government in free and fair elections and because the country has no formal constitution, Isaias’ government has the authority to impose its will upon society by restricting all basic human rights and instituting crackdowns on anyone who refuses to adhere to the governments policies. Freedom of speech and expression are severely restricted. The government controls all aspects of print and electronic media. The freedom of association is banned as Isaias’ People’s Front for Democracy and Justice is the only governing party allowed to operate in the country. Internet access is routinely monitored as citizens are prohibited from criticizing the government.

Isaias’ government imposes a strict mandate of indefinite conscription to military service for every Eritrean man and woman between the ages of eighteen and fifty to attend the Sawa National Training and Education Center for military and continued educational training. The government can keep an individual indefinitely beyond the legal eighteen month obligation as long as they want. The training center is comprised of hash living conditions, insufficient food or healthcare, and sexual violence towards women is routine. Individuals who refuse to participate in the military service are either arrested or have to flee the country. The government usually conducts general sweeps and round ups for the training center where individuals are usually subjected to forced labor practices.

Arbitrary arrest is widespread in Eritrea due to individuals evading militia service, criticizing the government, or trying to leave the country. Isaias’ government has imposed a shoot to kill policy against any citizen caught trying to cross the border into Ethiopia. Isaias is also guilty of arresting and detaining all political opponents, activists, and journalists without access to a fair trial. Any individual who is detained endures extremely harsh prison conditions of overcrowding, torture, detainees being stuffed into metal shipping containers, poor sanitation/ventilation standards, and little to no access to food or healthcare. Political prisoners are often subjected to extrajudicial killings, systematic executions, rape, forced labor, and beatings. Most individuals usually die while is custody.

Isaias’ regime only recognizes four religious groups to operate within the country. The Eritrean Orthodox Church, Sunni Islam, the Roman Catholic Church, and the Lutheran Church of Eritrea. All religious organizations have to register with the government in order to operate within the country and are prohibited from being involved in politics. Unrecognized religious groups are often targeted by the government and subjected to arbitrary detention, torture, and forced to recant their religious beliefs. The Jehovah’s Witness are banned from operating in the country because of their refusal to participate in Eritrea’s mandatory military service.


Ayatollah Ali Khamenei


In Power Since: 1989

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei ascended to power after the death of then Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. Khamenei was a prominent political figure during the Iranian Revolution and the Iran-Iraq War by holding many government positions such as the presidency. During this time Khamenei survived an assassination attempt that caused him to loose the use of his right arm. Today, Khamenei is Iran’s Supreme Leader, head of state, and commander in chief of Iran’s armed forces, his views shape Iranian policy and he has significant control over the executive office, legislature, judiciary, military, and the media. Khamenei is able to rule by decree while making the final decisions and approvals on Iran’s domestic/foreign policy, economy, environment, and national planning policies.

Iran operates under a pure Islamic theocracy through a Shia Islamic political system that is governed by sharia law while having no official bilateral relations with western nations. Ayatollah Khamenei presides over a regime that is guilty of severe human rights abuses and restrictions on civil liberties, freedom of assembly, association, speech, religion, and the press; abuse of due process, capital punishment for petty crimes, arbitrarily and unlawful detainment, torture, killings, and cruel/degrading treatment of men, women, and children.

Khamenei’s government arbitrary kills citizens without a fair trail or due process. Iranians can be sentenced to the death penalty on charges of insulting both Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini and Ali Khamenei, apostasy, heresy, rape, adultery(by stoning), drug possession/trafficking, continuous alcohol use, same sex sexual activity, and invoking activity that jeopardizes the state and undermines the Islamic establishment. Juvenile execution is allowed in Iran as girls age nine and boys age thirteen can be put to death under the same penal code as adults. Homosexuality is illegal in Iran and is punishable by death usually by publicly hanging individuals from a crane.

The use of torture and abuse is common in prisons and detention facilities including electroshock, sleep deprivation, beatings, denial of medical treatment, forced virginity tests, and prolonged solitary confinement. The Iranian government uses forms of corporal punishment as well including the amputation of the limbs for stealing and floggings for violating the states Islamic norms. Arbitrary arrests are also common in Iran which mostly deals with anti-regime activities as plainclothes officers arrive unannounced at the homes or offices of the person being arrested and confiscate their personal property without warrants and hold them in detention facilities for long periods of time without charges, trails, or access to a lawyer.

Iran’s constitution and criminal code guarantees an individual the right to a fair trail, access to a lawyer, and to remain innocent until proven guilty. Under Ayatollah Khamenei, these rights do not exist as authorities determine verdicts in advance, defendants have no access to a lawyer or government held evidence. The Iranian regime charges political dissidents with vague crimes like anti-revolutionary behavior or crimes against Islam. In this case the government advises the judges to give precedence under the interpretation of sharia law in which a person may be found guilty based on the judges so called divine knowledge while other political dissidents are forced to confess through harsh interrogation sessions that often involve torture.

Iranian citizens are not able to bring lawsuits against the government for human rights abuses. The government is allowed to confiscate all property that is not in conformity with Islamic law. An individuals right to privacy is routinely infringed upon by the Iranian government by constantly monitoring social activities, telephone conversations, internet communications, opening mail, and entering homes and offices without a warrant.

Iran’s constitution also guarantees the right to free expression and a free press unless those rights infringe upon the fundamental principles of Islam. Any individual, opposition group, association involved in what the government deems as propaganda against the state for crimes such as criticizing the government, Islam, or speaking out against human rights abuses can be subjected to arrest and detention. Iranian’s are not permitted to publicly criticize the system in which they are governed, the supreme leader, Islam, the president, the cabinet or parliament. The government routinely monitors communications, movements, meetings, and individuals are often charged or detained for insulting the regime and crimes against national security for expressing ideas or images that are viewed as violations to the governments legal moral code.

All private forms of broadcasting are illegal in Iran, the government controls all television and radio broadcasting facilities. Some independent print media companies do exist in Iran, but are severely limited to their operations. In most incidents, the regime will jam satellite communications or harass or even threaten journalists’ and their families with violence for reporting about the government. Supreme Leader Khamenei appoints the head of the audio visual policy agency which is part of the Ministry of Culture that is responsible for reviewing all publications and may remove texts, ban certain books, and change the wording on materials that the government deems inappropriate.

Twitter and other social media platforms are banned in Iran expect for Supreme Leader Khamenei and other government officials. The internet in Iran is routinely monitored and information is collected on individuals who express their political views, religious beliefs, or opinions. Access to certain websites or information online is censored or blocked in Iran, some individuals practice self censorship for fear of government monitoring, harassment, and arrest for speaking out against the government. Khamenei has an office set up called the Supreme Council on Cyberspace which is in charge of regulating all internet content and digital systems.

Khamenei’s government maintains control over all forms of cinema, music, theater, and art and censors all academic platforms that exhibit non-Islamic ideas. Iranian authorities systematically target universities and suppress all forms of political activism and student organizations while removing faculty members and imprisoning students. Some students are even barred from attending or enrolling in a university because of their political/religious affiliation or activism against the government.

An individuals right to assemble is highly restricted by the government as citizens must obtain a permit to do so, but are closely monitored and harassed if the assembly harbors any find of anti-regime rhetoric even if a permit is issued. Iranian political parities, organizations, and associations have the right to establish a basis as long as such groups do not interfere or question the country’s system of government. Iranian’s do have the right to choose the president and parliament, however there are no elected bodies of the government such as the Guardian Council which vets and qualifies the candidates for the elections based on their allegiance to the state and Shia Islam.

Iran’s treatment of women is synonymous throughout the international community as Khamenei’s regime forces women to wear the appropriate attire while in public such as the hijab(cloth scarf covering the head) the manteau(long jacket) and the chador(a large full length cloth). Women who are found in violation of such appropriate attire may be subjected to flogging and fined. In Iran, the legal age of marriage for girls is thirteen, girls as young as nine have been reported married while thousands of girls are forced into marriage.

Iran’s constitution declares it to be an Islamic Republic with the official religion to be Islam and the doctrine to be followed is Shiism. The Iranian government allows religious minorities such as Christians, Jews, Sunni Muslims, and the Bahai community to operate and freely practice their religion in the country, however under Ayatollah Khamenei’s leadership many of these religious minorities are discriminated against on a regular basis. The government enforces its prohibition of proselytizing and can be punishable by death. All religious minority organizations have to register with the state in order to operate and are routinely monitored by the government to make sure their activities do not infringe upon the regimes policies.

Any religious organization that violates the country’s Islamic penal code is subjected to harassment, detention, confiscation of property, and property closure. Women of all religious groups have to adhere to the country’s Islamic dress code. Religious groups are often pressured by the government to prevent non-Muslims from converting Muslims to their faith by monitoring and closing their churches as a way to ensure that no such incident occurs while recent converts experience high levels of harassment, arrests, and surveillance.


Paul Biya


In Power Since: 1982

Ever since Cameroon’s independence from France and Great Britain, the country has only had two presidents in its entire history as a nation, Ahmadou Ahidjo and Paul Biya. Biya got his start in politics by working as a career bureaucrat under president Ahidjo and held many government positions including prime minister. Paul Biya assumed power when Ahidjo stepped down as president because of health issues. As required by the constitution Ahidjo handed over the presidency to Paul Biya. Over time, Biya strengthened his grip on power by replacing many of Ahidjo’s ministers and closest aids while abolishing the Cameroon National Union party and replacing it with the Cameroon People’s Democratic Movement. Today, Paul Biya’s Cameroon is described as a virtual dictatorship where control is tied up within the CPDM, freedom of speech and assembly are highly repressed by the government, and systematic killings occur against individuals who protest for more freedom.

Most troubling is the situation occurring in Southern Cameroon where Biya has sent in the military to crush protests against his rule. The Southern Cameroonians from the former British occupied region staged a movement to separate from the rest of Cameroon and form their own nation in an effort to escape Biya’s repressive regime. The protests were met with violence as Biya’s military forces moved in on unarmed individuals killing several people while turning peaceful communities into apocalyptic war zones. Biya also shut down the internet to stop all communications for organizing protests. The situation in Southern Cameroon has turned into an act of genocide as more and more people are being killed for standing in defiance to Paul Biya’s government.

The Biya regime uses a three tiered security force apparatus to crackdown on anyone who opposes the government known as the Rapid Intervention Battalion, the Motorized Infantry Battalion, and the gendarmerie. These security forces are instrumental in committing human rights abuses including unlawful killings, arbitrary arrests, disappearances, harassment, and torture. Biya’s police and military forces are also guilty of engaging in systematic abuse including beating individuals who have been detained that have often resulted in death.  Most of these security forces are poorly trained, ineffective, and corrupt.

Individuals detained by the government are often held in life threatening prison facilities that are overcrowded with little to no food or water, poor sanitary conditions, and inadequate medical care. It’s common for detained individuals to experience malnutrition, malaria, hepatitis, and scabies as a result of their living conditions.

Cameroon’s political system functions on a multi-party system of governance, however Paul Biya’s Cameroon People’s Democratic Movement party controls the majority in the parliament and the judiciary. Biya appoints all judges and members of the legal department and has the authority to dismiss them at will. Biya and the CPDM dominate the majority of the election results in Cameroon which are flawed with irregularities at the polls such as the inconsistent use of identification cards and the authorities refusal to grant opposition parties permission to hold political rallies and meetings. The CPDM also uses tactics involving the redistricting of key voting areas in favor of the ruling party, using government resources for campaign purposes, and interfering in the rights for candidates to organize and express their views during the campaign. Biya is also known for paying off various international observers to certify his election as legitimate.

Freedom of speech and expression are highly restricted in Biya’s Cameroon especially critics of the government. Journalists are often arrested, detained, or intimidated for reporting or criticizing government corruption. Some journalists have been threatened for their reporting while others have been offered bribes in money for favorable reporting. Cameroon does have independent news media outlets, but their journalists usually practice self-censorship in order to avoid repercussions for criticizing the government. Individuals who do openly criticize the government publicly or privately often face reprisals for their actions. The government can order sanctions and suspensions on any print media company that is critical of the president or any high ranking officials.

Byia’s government routinely infringes on the freedom of assembly by disrupting political activities, public demonstrations, and conferences by refusing to grant permits for assemblies while using force to suppress assemblies that were not issued permits. As a way to stifle discourse, the government requires permits or government notification in order to stage public protests, however acquiring approval from the government to grant the right for a public gathering is often delayed and difficult to obtain. If a public assembly is approved, the government will usually monitor all political meetings or protests and shut them down in order to prevent criticism of the regime.

Freedom of association is a complicated matter in Biya’s Cameroon. Political parties have a hard time being recognized as a legitimate organization and often operate in uncertainty because of long delays for approval from the government. Associations can be suspended if they are deemed as disrupting public order or a threat to national security. Associations can also be levied heavy fines for not registered with the government.

Biya’s government is littered with high levels of corruption including judicial authorities that often accept illegal payments from a detainee’s family in exchange for the release of their relative. The police are known to demand bribes at checkpoints and citizens who have influence within the government will often pay the police to arrest individuals whom they have a personal dispute with. Politically motivated cases are avoided and powerful political officials and business interests are often immune from any kind of prosecution. Biya will often launch government sanction operations in an attempt to crackdown on corruption when in fact the government uses these maneuvers to crackdown and target political rivals instead. The individuals caught up in these crackdowns are usually arrested without being formally charged and often die in prison.

The use of torture is rampant in Cameroon. Biya’s government inflicts certain torture techniques on individuals who have been detained such as “the goat” which is a stress position where the detainee’s arms and legs are tied behind their back while they are beaten on the ground. Another torture technique known as “the swing” is where a victims arms and legs are again tied behind their back while they are lifted and suspended on a bar fitted between two poles and repeatedly beaten.