(HRW) – Donald Trump takes office today having vowed to enact policies that would threaten rights at home and abroad if actually implemented, Human Rights Watch said today. Human rights advocates, elected officials, and members of the public should press Read More
Ukraine (HRW) – Drop Ban, End Media Restrictions. An order from Ukrainian authorities banning the Russian independent television channel Dozhd TV (TV Rain) from broadcasting on Ukrainian cable networks violates freedom of expression and should be revoked, Human Rights Watch said Read More
Chechen Republic (HRW) – The speaker of Chechnya’s parliament has made serious threats against Gregory Shvedov, the editor of a critical online media outlet, placing him at great risk, Human Rights Watch said today. Russian authorities should publicly condemn these threats, Read More
(HRW) – Trump, European Populists Foster Bigotry, Discrimination The rise of populist leaders in the United States and Europe poses a dangerous threat to basic rights protections while encouraging abuse by autocrats around the world, Human Rights Watch said today in Read More
Pakistan (HRW) – Government Needs to Investigate, Protect Journalists and Activists. The Pakistani government should urgently investigate the apparent abductions of four activists who campaign for human rights and religious freedom, Human Rights Watch said today. The four men, Salman Haider, Read More
Protect Prisoners from Violence Behind Bars.
Brazil needs to seize control of its prison system from gangs and guarantee the safety of all detainees, Human Rights Watch said today.
“During the past several decades, Brazilian authorities have increasingly abdicated their responsibility to maintain order and security in prisons,” said Maria Laura Canineu, Brazil director at Human Rights Watch. “That failure violates the rights of prisoners and is a boon to gangs, who use prisons as recruiting grounds.”
On January 1 and 2, 2017, 60 detainees died in two prisons in the state of Amazonas, allegedly as a result of gang violence. Another 22 were killed in prisons in Roraima, Rondônia, and Acre in October 2016. Under Brazilian as well as international human rights law, Brazil’s government is obligated to protect prisoners from violence and abuse behind bars. Prisoners in Brazil are three times as likely to be homicide victims as members of the general population, according to the Ministry of Justice.
Rights at Risk as Calls for Jammeh’s Exit Intensify
The government of President Yahya Jammeh, defeated in Gambia’s December presidential election, has arbitrarily arrested opposition sympathizers and closed three independent radio stations in the past week, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International said today. Jammeh is required under Gambia’s Constitution to cede power to President-elect Adama Barrow by January 19, 2017.
Since December 31, intelligence agents have arrested and briefly detained at least six people for wearing or selling T-shirts bearing the logo of the #Gambiahasdecided movement, which has called for Jammeh to respect the election results and step down. Several senior members of the movement have fled Gambia after receiving credible threats from alleged National Intelligence Agency (NIA) officers. On January 1, 2017, intelligence agents forcibly closed three private radio stations, depriving Gambians of independent sources of information during this critical period.
Calls for Extrajudicial Killings of Palestinian Suspects Proliferate
Some senior Israeli officials have been encouraging Israeli soldiers and police to kill Palestinians they suspect of attacking Israelis even when they are no longer a threat, Human Rights Watch said today in an analysis of those statements. Other Israeli officials have failed to repudiate the calls for excessive use of force.
Human Rights Watch has documented numerous statements since October 2015, by senior Israeli politicians, including the police minister and defense minister, calling on police and soldiers to shoot to kill suspected attackers, irrespective of whether lethal force is actually strictly necessary to protect life.
Trial Begins for Newspaper Advisory Board, Writers, Editors in Istanbul
The prosecution of writers and journalists charged with terrorism and separatism for their association with a newspaper raises serious concerns for freedom of expression in Turkey, Human Rights Watch said today. The first trial hearing begins on December 29, 2016, for four defendants detained since August and five others who are also being tried.
The four jailed defendants are the well-known novelist Aslı Erdoğan, the writer Necmiye Alpay, and newspaper editors İnan Kızılkaya and Zana Kaya. The prosecutor’s indictment accuses the four – and five others who are at liberty – of “spreading propaganda” for and being members of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), and of attempting to destroy the unity of the state. If convicted of the latter offense, they would face life in prison without parole.
Investigate Alleged Abuses Against Alexandria Inmates
Egyptian Interior Ministry security forces stormed into prison cells attacking and injuring hundreds of political prisoners at Borg al-Arab Prison in Alexandria during the week of November 13, 2016, Human Rights Watch said today. The attacks came after prisoners protested poor conditions and humiliating treatment. Egypt’s prosecutor general should order a prompt and transparent investigation into the events and hold those officers responsible for abuse to account.
Families and lawyers of prisoners said that prison guards attacked the inmates in their cells with batons, sticks, teargas, and pepper spray, causing burns and fractures. One prisoner appears to have sustained some form of brain trauma, causing memory loss. Lawyers said the prisoners believed the Interior Ministry’s Central Security Forces probably provided support.
Murders, Rapes by 3R Armed Group in Northwest.
A recently formed armed group called “Return, Reclamation, Rehabilitation,” or 3R, has killed civilians, raped, and caused largescale displacement over the past year in northwest Central African Republic. United Nations peacekeepers in the area have been unable to fully protect civilians.
“The Central African Republic is on the international agenda, but its neglected northwest territory now presents an emerging crisis,” said Lewis Mudge, Africa researcher at Human Rights Watch. “The 3R armed group, which originally portrayed itself as a protector of the Peuhl, has used it increased strength to expand abusive attacks.”
Ruthless Assault on Press Freedom Shields State from Scrutiny
Turkey’s government has all but silenced independent media in an effort to prevent scrutiny or criticism of its ruthless crackdown on perceived enemies, Human Rights Watch said today. The assault on critical journalism sharpened in 2014 but accelerated after the failed coup attempt in July 2016, denying Turkey’s population access to a regular flow of independent information from domestic newspapers, radio, and television stations about developments in the country.
The 69-page report, “Silencing Turkey’s Media: The Government’s Deepening Assault on Critical Media,” documents five important components of the crackdown on independent domestic media in Turkey, including the use of the criminal justice system to prosecute and jail journalists on bogus charges of terrorism, insulting public officials, or crimes against the state. Human Rights Watch also documented threats and physical attacks on journalists and media organizations; government interference with editorial independence and pressure on media organizations to fire critical journalists; the government’s takeover or closure of private media companies; and restrictions on access to the airwaves, fines, and closure of critical television stations.
Government Forces Did Not Intervene, Respond.
An Iraqi government-backed militia on November 29, 2016, executed at least four men they suspected of affiliation with the Islamic State (also known as ISIS), Human Rights Watch said today. The men were killed without any judicial proceeding. Murder of prisoners in a conflict is a war crime.
Residents of the Shayalat al-Imam village said that Iraqi Security Forces were in the village when the Hashad al-Jabour militia executed the men and stood idly by while they witnessed at least one execution. The villagers did not see them take any steps to stop the killings or punish the killers. Some Hashad al-Asha`ri militias from Sunni tribes, including the Hashad al-Jabour, are members of the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), which are fighting alongside the Iraqi troops to retake areas of northern Iraq from ISIS.
Protect Civilians, Grant Access to Independent Monitors
Syrian government and allied forces should immediately take steps to protect civilians and captured fighters as the government retakes control of Aleppo after a deal was reached with armed opposition groups there, Human Rights Watch said today. This includes allowing the safe evacuation of civilians and aid deliveries, and protecting civilians from summary executions and arbitrary detention.
The United Nations General Assembly should urgently mandate a UN monitoring team to travel immediately to areas of eastern Aleppo, now under government control, to deter future abuses, document crimes that have been committed, and visit detention sites.
“It has been heart-wrenching to hear the desperate pleas for protection from civilians stuck in the inferno that is Aleppo,” said Lama Fakih, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “The Syrian authorities should ensure that civilians are allowed to safely leave the city and to go where they want.”
Stronger International Restrictions Needed
The mounting use of incendiary weapons, which cause horrific wounds to civilians, should prompt countries to strengthen the law restricting them, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today at a diplomatic meeting about these and other weapons.
The 30-page report, “Time to Act against Incendiary Weapons,” documents civilian harm from incendiary weapons used in Syria since 2012, focusing on their increased use during the past year’s joint operations by Syrian government and Russian forces.