Middle East and North Africa

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.
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..
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..
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..
Human Rights Defenders in the Barcelona Era

(November 2000) -- In a background paper marking five years of the Euro-Mediterranean common security project, Human Rights Watch criticized continuing government attacks against human rights defenders in the region. The group urged the foreign ministers meeting at the Marseilles summit today to make an "unambiguous commitment" to upholding freedom of expression and association, and to fulfill the commitment of the process begun in Barcelona in 1995 to make human rights and democratic freedoms an "essential element" of Euro-Mediterranean relations.

Elections in Egypt Oct 19, 2000

Elections for Egypt´s 454-member People´s Assembly began on October 18, 2000. Fifteen political parties are contesting 444 parliamentary seats, the remaining ten seats to be filled by presidential appointment. These are the first parliamentary elections in the country´s history to be held under full judicial supervision.

Civil and Political Rights Violations in Kuwait
Human Rights Watch's submission to the UN Human Rights Committee
July 2000

Human Rights Watch welcomes Kuwait's submission of its first periodic report on implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) but wishes to draw to the attention of the Human Rights Committee certain deficiencies relating to the report and to Kuwait's application of the Covenant.

Israel's Proposed "Imprisonment of Combatants not Entitled to Prisoner of War Status Law" June 2000

(June 2000) International humanitarian law categorically prohibits hostage-taking. On April 12, 2000 Israel's highest court ruled that the administrative detention of Lebanese nationals as "bargaining chips" -- hostages -- was illegal under Israeli domestic law, making Israel's continued detention of Lebanese nationals Sheikh `Abd al-Karim `Obeid (held since 1989) and Mustafa al-Dirani (held since 1994) as hostages a violation of Israeli domestic law as well. On June 11, 2000, in a transparent attempt to legitimize an illegal situation, the Israeli Cabinet unanimously approved draft legislation entitled "Imprisonment of Combatants not Entitled to Prisoner-of-War Status Law, 5760-2000".

Parliamentary Elections in Iran
February 15, 2000

(New York, February 15, 2000) -- Since the election of President Khatami in May 1997, Iranian reformists have spoken openly of respecting basic freedoms and the rule of law. In Iranian society generally, many petty social restrictions have been eased. The atmosphere surrounding the current parliamentary election campaign in Iran is notably freer than the last time around, in March 1996. But a number of human rights issues still impede a truly free and fair election in the Islamic Republic, and little has changed in the legal framework by which rights are protected in Iran.

Israeli High Court of Justice Torture Trial (May 1999)

On Wednesday, 26 May 1999 the Israeli Supreme Court, sitting as the High Court of Justice, will hear testimony challenging the legality of secret interrogation procedures used by the Israeli General Security Service (GSS). Since the government-appointed Landau Committee first provided official authorization for these procedures in 1987, GSS torture techniques have caused the death of at least one Palestinian detainee and many more cases of permanent injuries.
Human Rights and Algeria's Presidential Elections
April 1999

Human rights issues have occupied a prominent place in Algeria's election campaign, now in its final week. At rallies, in interviews, and in speeches broadcast on national radio and television, several of the seven presidential candidates have spoken about the need to ensure the rule of law and independence of the judiciary, to end the state of emergency, address the fate of Algerians who have "disappeared,"and improve the status of women within society.

Human Rights in Iran (September 17, 1998)

President Mohammed Khatami of Iran is scheduled to visit the United Nations next week. On the occasion of this newsworthy trip, Human Rights Watch has prepared the following backgrounder on the domestic situation in Iran. We also attach a recent press release on the Shi'a minority in Afghanistan, which may draw Iran into armed conflict outside its borders.


2001  2000  1999

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