A Global Overview Of Explosive Submunitions (PDF, 25 pages)
Human Rights Watch Memorandum To Delegates
Prepared for the Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW) Group of Governmental Experts on the Explosive Remnants of War (ERW) May 21-24, 2002
Peru: Human Rights After Fujimori
(March 20, 2002) -- Since the collapse of the corrupt Fujimori government in November 2000 the human rights situation in Peru has improved significantly. During Fujimori's last term in office (1995-2000), Vladimiro Montesinos, the de facto head of the National Intelligence Service (SIN) and a close Fujimori advisor, used a combination of bribes and extortion to control state institutions such as the armed forces, the police, the tax office, the electoral authorities, and the judiciary.
Antivehicle Mines with Sensitive Fuzes or Antihandling Devices
(February 25, 2002 ) -- Information in this backgrounder was originally distributed in Geneva, Switzerland on February 1, 2002 in memorandum for delegates to the fifth meeting of the Intersessional Standing Committee on the General Status and Operation of the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty. This backgrounder is a revised version of that memorandum and incorporates factual corrections and additional information received from delegates. More..
Background Paper on Geneva Conventions and Persons Held by U.S. Forces
(January 29, 2002) -- This background paper highlights the international law issues surrounding the status and treatment of Taliban and al-Qaeda fighters from Afghanistan in U.S. custody. It cites the need for a formal and individualized determination of prisoner of war status where that status is in doubt. This paper also sets out international law requirements governing prisoners of war and so-called "unlawful combatants," including humane treatment, interrogation and prosecution. More...
Cambodia's Commune Council Elections
As Cambodians head to the polls on February 3, for the first time ever they will be democratically electing their own local level representatives. For the last twenty years the leaders of Cambodia's 1,621 communes (administrative units consisting of four to seven villages) have been appointees of the ruling Cambodian People's Party (CPP). They are now to be replaced with popularly elected commune councils and commune chiefs.
Russian Federation: Serious Violations of Women's Human Rights in Chechnya
January 10, 2002: Submission to Members of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women
Second Review Conference of the Convention on Conventional Weapons Human Rights Watch Statement, December 31, 2001
Human Rights in Saudi Arabia: A Deafening Silence
Human Rights Watch Analysis of the 2001 Regular Report on Turkey
(December 2001) -- The report on Turkey, its fourth (including the Progress Reports that pre-dated Turkey's formal candidacy), has become an important annual measure of progress on the political elements of the Copenhagen Criteria for membership, which require "stability of institutions guaranteeing democracy, the rule of law, human rights, and respect for and protection of minorities." Unfortunately the 2001 report records little more than superficial signs of reform on these issues.
Morocco / Western Sahara: Freedom of Assembly on Trial
(November 21, 2001) On 21 November 2001 the Court of Appeal in Rabat acquitted 36 human rights defenders who had been sentenced earlier in the year to three months in prison for “participating in the organization of an unauthorized demonstration” on 9 December 2000. The rally had been called to demand an end to impunity for perpetrators of human rights abuses in the country. Although the decision to quash their sentences meant the activists were spared imprisonment, their trial and conviction confirmed the need for the Moroccan authorities to ensure that the right to freedom of assembly is guaranteed. At the time of writing, the appeal court’s written ruling had not yet been issued.
The Legal Prohibition Against Torture
(November 20, 2001) The U.S. government has admitted detaining some 1,100 people in the United States as part of its response to the attacks of September 11. The U.S. Department of Justice has refused to release the names of those detained, the locations where they are being held, any criminal or immigration charges filed or other basis for their detention, or the names of their attorneys. This unusual secrecy has impeded independent monitoring efforts to ensure that the rights of the detainees are being fully respected.
Press Backgrounder on Anti-Terrorism Legislation in India
(November 20, 2001) The Indian parliament is currently debating the enactment of legislation that would reinstate a modified version of the Terrorists and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act (TADA) of 1985 (amended 1987). TADA led to tens of thousands of politically motivated detentions, torture, and other human rights violations. In the face of mounting opposition to the act, India’s government acknowledged these abuses and consequently let TADA lapse in 1995.
No Questions Asked: The Eastern Europe Arms Pipeline to Liberia
(November 15, 2001) Following the release of a new United Nations report on sanctions violations in Liberia, the U.N. Security Council is weighing what further steps, if any, to take to address the violations. The report, prepared by a five-person independent panel of experts, presents fresh evidence of violations of an arms embargo and travel and diamond bans imposed on Liberia by the Security Council.
Questions and Answers on Human Rights in Colombia
(New York, November 6, 2001) This week President Andrés Pastrana will visit the United States on a trip that includes a scheduled meeting on November 11 with President George W. Bush. His agenda will include discussions about the new war on terrorism as well as continued U.S. funding for counternarcotics efforts in Colombia.
Cluster Bombs in Afghanistan
(October 31, 2001) -- The United States-led alliance began its air campaign in Afghanistan on October 7, 2001. While the Pentagon has been reluctant to talk of specific weapons used in the bombing, U.S. military sources have told Human Rights Watch that the Air Force began dropping cluster bombs within a matter of days. During the first week of the campaign, it is believed that Air Force B-1 bombers dropped 50 CBU-87 cluster bombs in some five missions.
No Safe Refuge
The Impact of the September 11 Attacks on Refugees, Asylum Seekers and Migrants in the Afghanistan Region and Worldwide
(October 18, 2001) -- Twenty years of foreign invasion and civil war, political turmoil, continuing human rights abuses and recent drought had already displaced more than five million of Afghanistan’s 27 million people before the September 11 attacks on the United States. Some four million refugees had been displaced to neighboring countries and across the world, while a further one million people had been internally displaced within Afghanistan. Severe drought had brought the country to the verge of famine and existing Taliban restrictions on relief agencies were severely hampering the delivery of assistance and civilian access to basic services.
China: Human Rights Concerns in Xinjiang
(October 18, 2001) -- Human Rights Watch is concerned that China's support for the war against terrorism will be a pretext for gaining international support-or at least silence-for its own crackdown on ethnic Uighurs in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region.
Egypt: Human Rights Background
(October 10, 2001) --Egypt has long been a key country for U.S. strategy in the Middle East and will soon host some 23,000 U.S. troops for long-scheduled military exercises, Operation Bright Star. Egyptian officials appear to be banking on this strategic linkage to deflect attention from the country's poor human rights record. More..
Afghanistan: Ethnically-Motivated Abuses Against Civilians
(October 7, 2001) -- Ethnic tensions in Afghanistan have been exacerbated by nearly a decade of conflict between armed factions rooted in different ethnic, religious, and tribal groups. Human Rights Watch has reported on widespread and serious violations of international human rights by all sides in the ongoing civil war in Afghanistan. As the country heads into a period that may involve realignment and large-scale conflict between the warring parties, the potential for ethnically-motivated violence against civilians is likely to rise as well.
Military Assistance to the Afghan Opposition
(October 6, 2001) -- To respond to the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon on September 11, 2001, the United States government has begun to put together what it calls a coalition against terrorism. As part of this approach, the United States has signalled support for the creation of a broad-based coalition to oppose the Taliban, the current rulers of most of Afghanistan. This opposition would include forces that presently constitute the United Front--also known under its former name the Northern Alliance--as well as Taliban defectors
Tajikistan: Background on Human Rights
(October 5, 2001) -- Tajikistan shares a 1,200 kilometer border with Afghanistan and is one of the countries identified by military planners as a possible base of U.S. military and humanitarian operations in the region. Tajikistan has been a low priority for U.S. foreign policy makers since its independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. Suddenly, it has become a strategic partner in the U.S. government's counter-terrorism campaign following the September 11 attacks on New York and Washington, D.C.. It is also a potential haven for tens of thousands of displaced people seeking to flee Afghanistan.
Freedom of Association at Risk
The Proposed NGO Bill and Current Restrictions on NGOs in Uganda
October 2, 2001
Uganda's parliament is due to consider a new draft law proposed by the government that aims to increase state control over the country's non-governmental organizations (NGOs), whose existence and activities are already subject to stringent legal restriction. As a party to both the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights, Uganda has an obligation to promote and protect freedom of association, including the right to form and join human rights and other NGOs. More..
Uzbekistan: Background on Human Rights
(New York, September 26, 2001) As the United States prepares to make Uzbekistan a key ally in its fight against terrorism, the deplorable human rights record of the Uzbek government is largely being ignored, Human Rights Watch said today.
Backgrounder on Indonesia: Accountability First
(September 2001)-- On September 19, 2001, Indonesian President Megawati Sukarnoputri will meet U.S. President George Bush. Support from Indonesia, the country with the world's largest Muslim population, for a U.S. "war against terrorism" is likely to be high on the agenda. U.S. sources have said that the Osama bin Laden network has penetrated Laskar Jihad, a radical Java-based Muslim militia that now has thousands of young fighters in Maluku, an archipelagic province east of Bali and north of East Timor.
Colombia: Current Human Rights Conditions
(Washington, September 10, 2001) The human rights situation in Colombia has deteriorated markedly over the past year. Underlying the worsening conditions is the Colombian government's continued failure to break ties between its security forces and the country's abusive paramilitary groups.
Memorandum to the U.S. Government Regarding Religious Persecution in Uzbekistan
August 10, 2001
This memorandum outlines Human Rights Watch's most pressing concerns about the systematic religious persecution of independent Muslims in today's Uzbekistan, where the government is pursuing a campaign of unlawful arrest, incommunicado detention, torture, unfair trials, and incarceration of non-violent believers. More..
Freedom of Expression and the Internet in China
(August 1, 2001) -- As the Internet industry continues to expand in China, the government continues to tighten controls on on-line expression. Since 1995, when Chinese authorities began permitting commercial Internet accounts, at least sixty sets of regulations have been issued aimed at controlling Internet content. The broadly-worded regulations represent a clear violation of the right to freedom of expression, and the government is devoting considerable time and resources to trying to implement them. More..
Colombia: Human Rights Watch Testifies Before Senate Testimony of José Miguel Vivanco
(July 11, 2001) Human Rights Watch believes that it is important for this Subcommittee to continue to support human rights in Colombia by including strong and workable human rights conditions in the legislation under consideration. Conditions create an effective and measurable mechanism to promote positive change for human rights in Colombia. More..
Memorandum: U.S. Policy in Central Asia
This memorandum outlines Human Rights Watch's most pressing concerns about recent U.S. foreign policy toward the independent Central Asian states, offered for the new administration's consideration as it sets in motion its policy toward that volatile region. More..
Powell Goes to Africa: A Human Rights Agenda
May 21, 2001
The crisis in Sierra Leone will be a focus of Sec. Powell's stop in Mali. The U.S. was instrumental in galvanizing the U.N. Security Council to support a special court for Sierra Leone, but the process has slowed considerably in recent months. The U.N. Secretary-General has set a deadline of May 23 for interested states to contribute to the U.N. fund for the court. Sec. Powell's visit comes at a critical moment for the U.S. to make a strong and public commitment to the special court. More..
Ethiopia: Targeting Human Rights Defenders
May 19, 2001
On Tuesday May 8, 2001, the police arrested Prof. Mesfin Woldemariam, the founder and first chairman of Ethiopia's Human Rights Council (EHRCO), and Dr. Berhanu Nega, an academic and human rights activist associated with EHRCO, on claims that they instigated student protests that took place in Addis Ababa University in mid April. More..
Rampant Human Rights Abuses and Occupation of the DRC by Foreign Armies
May 17, 2001
The link between rampant human rights abuses and the obviously man-made humanitarian disaster is becoming all too familiar, in particular throughout the areas controlled by the foreign occupying armies of Rwandan, Uganda, and Burundi, and the Congolese rebel groups backed by these regional powers. More..
Memorandum On Charges Against Indictees Currently Living in Serbia
At least nine individuals indicted by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), are currently believed to be residing in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY). The authorities in Belgrade have refused to arrest any of these war crimes suspects and surrender them to the custody of the ICTY in the Hague. The new Kostunica government has not even been willing to make a public commitment to do so in the foreseeable future. More..
The Oil Diagnostic in Angola: An Update
Human rights watch believes that should the oil diagnostic be implemented, it could mark a limited, but positive first step toward promoting transparency, accountability, and good governance in angola and, ultimately, greater respect for human rights. But there are pitfalls in the process that could impede the success of this program. This backgrounder details recent developments regarding the oil diagnostic and other issues related to oil and human rights in angola. More..
Questions & Answers : China and the Olympic Games 2008
1. What is Human Rights Watch's position on China getting the 2008 Olympics?
We think that the human rights record of a country should be taken into serious consideration by the International Olympic Committee in selecting the site for the 2008 Olympics, but we are not opposed a priori to China getting the Games. Experience with the 1995 U.N. Women's Conference in Beijing has shown that having thousands of people from around the world in China can focus attention on the country, including on the degree of state control and fear of political protest.
Venezuela's Implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
Human Rights Watch welcomes this opportunity to submit information to the Human Rights Committee regarding Venezuela's implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. We wish to draw the Committee's attention to certain deficiencies in Venezuela's application of the Covenant, based on our monitoring of human rights conditions in that country over the past several years, including through a research visit to the country in January 2001. More..
Indonesia: The Violence in Central Kalimantan (Borneo)
February 28, 2001
The violence in Sampit, Central Kalimantan, started on the night of February 17-18 when a Dayak house was burned down. Rumor spread that an ethnic Madurese was responsible, and immediately, a band of Dayaks went into a Madurese neighborhood and began burning houses. In the ensuing violence, a Dayak and a Madurese were killed. This sent the clash to a new level, and in a matter of days, the violence had spread to Kualakayan, a subdistrict 110 km north of Sampit, and to Palangkaraya, the provincial capital of Central Kalimantan, some 220 km away. More..
Chechnya: Backgrounder on the Case of Kheda Kungaeva
On March 27, 2000, Kheda Kungaeva, an eighteen-year-old woman, was taken from her home in Chechnya, beaten, raped, and murdered. (1) On February 28, 2001, the Rostov District Military Court will try Col. Yuri Budanov for Kungaeva's murder. It is the first and only case in which Russian authorities promptly and publicly acknowledged a crime, perpetrated by Russian federal forces against civilians in Chechnya, that constitutes a gross violation of international humanitarian and human rights law. More..
Sexual Violence within the Sierra Leone Conflict
(New York, 26 February 2001) Throughout the nine year Sierra Leonean conflict there has been widespread and systematic sexual violence against women and girls including individual and gang rape, sexual assault with objects such as firewood, umbrellas and sticks, and sexual slavery. In thousands of cases, sexual violence has been followed by the abduction of women and girls and forced bondage to male combatants in slavery-like conditions often accompanied by forced labor. These sexual crimes are most often characterized by extraordinary brutality and are frequently preceded or followed by violent acts against other family members. The rebel factions use sexual violence as a weapon to terrorize, humiliate, punish and ultimately control the civilian population into submission. More..
Yemen's Constitutional Referendum and Local Elections
If Yemeni voters cast a "yes" vote in the constitutional referendum on February 20, Field Marshall Ali Abdallah Saleh's term as president will be extended for two years and enable him to be re-elected in 2006 for another seven years. President Saleh seized power in 1978 and was first elected president by popular vote in 1999. More..
The Pastrana-Bush Summit
(New York, February 2001) -- When Colombian President Andrés Pastrana meets with President George W. Bush next Tuesday [February 27], the two leaders will discuss U.S. military aid to Colombia, including the issue of Colombia's progress on improving human rights. This background briefing outlines the key human rights problems in Colombia and includes sample questions to be put to the two presidents at their joint press conference. More..
Memorandum on Domestic Prosecutions for Violations of International Human Rights and Humanitarian Law in Chechnya
February 13, 2001
Russian authorities have concealed and obstructed the prosecution of Russian forces for violations of human rights and international humanitarian law in the Chechnya conflict. The failure to hold violators accountable can be expected to encourage Russian federal forces to continue to perpetrate abuses. More..
February 13, 2001
When George W. Bush visits President Vicente Fox in Mexico this Friday, the two leaders will discuss issues that have important implications for human rights in the region-including migration, trade and the war on drugs. This briefing outlines some of the human rights problems that should be addressed in their meeting and includes questions to be put to the two presidents at their joint press conference. More..
Bahrain's National Charter Referendum
On February 14-15, Bahraini citizens will cast "yes" or "no" votes for a National Charter drafted late last year on the instructions of the country's ruler, or amir (prince), Shaikh Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa. The Charter, a lengthy document that most observers expect to be approved overwhelmingly, calls for the establishment of a two-chamber legislature, with one chamber chosen by popular vote, and for Shaikh Hamad to become the country's first king. More..
Aristide's Return to Power in Haiti
When Jean-Bertrand Aristide is sworn in for a second term as Haitian president on Wednesday, February 7, he will face a number of pressing challenges in the areas of human rights and democracy. The country's democratic institutions, fragile to begin with, were seriously weakened over the course of 2000. More..
Rwanda - President Paul Kagame's Washington Visit
February 1, 2001
President Paul Kagame will be in Washington today to present his government's program of democratization, justice and reconciliation. He and his supporters claim substantial progress in restoring a nation devastated by a genocide that killed at least half a million Tutsi and thousands of Hutu opponents of the genocide. In fact, the situation is less impressive than it seems and any advances on the domestic front must also be put in the context of the government's record of egregious violations of the laws of war. More..
Backgrounder on the Democratic Republic of the Congo
January 31, 2001
Joseph Kabila, newly installed president of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), has inherited an intractable war, a near void of civil institutions, and a legacy of human rights abuses committed under the rule of his father, the late President Laurent Kabila. The new president has tried to spark renewed peace discussions and has stirred hope for improvements on the domestic political front. More..
Cambodia: Landmark Indigenous Land Rights Case To Be Heard in Ratanakiri Provincial Court
Legal Aid of Cambodia (LAC), Cambodian Association for Human Rights and Development (ADHOC), Oxfam Great Britain, and Human Rights Watch issue the following background briefing memo on a major land conflict in Ratanakiri province. More..
Background to the Hema-Lendu Conflict in Uganda-Controlled Congo
January 22, 2001
In the past two years, Ugandans have recruited and trained both Hema and Lendu to serve in the forces of the Congolese Rally for Democracy-Liberation Movement (RCD-ML), a rebel group which is backed by Uganda and which nominally controls this area. Within the last year, however, at least some Ugandan officers have reportedly favored the Hema: More..
Field Update on Chechnya
January 22, 2001
With major military clashes between Russian and Chechen forces ending in spring 2000, civilian lives in Chechnya are blighted by Russian forces who detain, torture, extort, and harass them on a daily basis; and by Chechen rebels who target civilians who cooperate with the Russian administration, and who bomb Russian positions in densely populated areas. More..
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2001 2000 1999
Backgrounders By Region
Europe and Central Asia
Middle East and Northern Africa