• The enormous US prison population, the world's largest, partly reflects harsh sentencing practices contrary to international law, such as disproportionately long prison terms and mandatory sentencing without parole. Those behind bars include a growing number of elderly people, whom prisons are ill-equipped to handle, and youth under age 18 held in adult prisons. Unauthorized immigrants and their families in the United States are vulnerable to abuses stemming from an outdated, ineffective immigration system that deprives them of basic rights, and increasing numbers are held in detention facilities. A number of abusive counterterrorism policies have continued under President Barack Obama, including detentions without charge at Guantanamo Bay.

  • An outreach team from Unity Of Greater New Orleans counsels a homeless man on housing options, January 2011.
    (New York) – Louisiana state laws and practices that prohibit access to sterile syringes and criminalize sex work contribute to an uncontrolled HIV epidemic and an extremely high AIDS death rate, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. The AIDS death rate in Louisiana is more than double the US average. New Orleans police regularly interfere with sex workers who carry condoms, putting them and their clients at risk of HIV.


US Domestic Policy

  • Apr 22, 2014
    (Washington, DC) – The Louisiana state legislature should swiftly repeal its discriminatory “crime against nature” laws, which are used to harass lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people, Human Rights Watch said today. On April 16, 2014, the Louisiana State House of Representatives voted 66 to 27 to reject House bill 12, which would have repealed the US state’s anti-sodomy law. The law was enacted in 1805.
  • Apr 21, 2014
    In light of recent reports that the Department of Justice is planning to expand its definition of prohibited racial profiling, Human Rights Watch writes to US Attorney General Holder to urge him to also end community mapping programs that propagate discriminatory profiling.
  • Apr 18, 2014
    Human Rights Watch writes to express support of California State Senate Bill (SB) 1010 which would reduce the disparities in penalties between crack and powder cocaine.
  • Apr 15, 2014
  • Apr 10, 2014
    A joint letter from civil liberties, human rights, and religious organizations wrote to Sec. of Defense Chuck Hagel expressing serious concerns over lack of basic information about detainees currently on hunger strike at Guantánamo, including critical details about how the military manages them.
  • Apr 10, 2014
  • Apr 10, 2014
    Every year, the state of Florida arbitrarily and unfairly prosecutes hundreds of children as adults, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. If convicted, these children suffer the lifelong consequences of an adult felony record for what are often low-level, nonviolent offenses.
  • Apr 9, 2014
  • Apr 9, 2014
    A bill making its way through the DC Council would be a significant step toward improving police response to sexual assault in the District of Columbia. The DC Council unanimously approved the bill, which adopts recommendations Human Rights Watch has been making for over a year, on April 8, 2014. It is scheduled for a second vote on May 6. If passed, it would go to DC Mayor Vincent Grey for his signature.
  • Apr 1, 2014
    If the United States government's logic were played out, we would have no reason to object to the government even placing video cameras in our bedrooms with a direct feed to a government computer, so long as the government promised not to look at the videos until it had a good reason for doing so.