• 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 Unauthorized immigrants and their families in the United States are vulnerable to abuses stemming from an outdated, ineffective immigration system that deprives them of basic rights, and increasing numbers are held in detention facilities.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.

Reports

US Domestic Policy

  • Jul 25, 2014
    The United States has failed to comply with key protections under the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD), Human Rights Watch said today. The US, which ratified the treaty in 1994, will appear before the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination for a periodic review of its record on August 13 and 14, 2014, in Geneva.
  • Jul 24, 2014
    The public debate over the recent surge in child migrants across the US border with Mexico should spur Congress to reform US immigration policy, Human Rights Watch said today, releasing a multimedia feature jointly with Time magazine and Platon/The People’s Portfolio.
  • Jul 22, 2014
  • Jul 22, 2014
    Since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, the U.S. government has prosecuted more than 500 people in the United States for terrorism-related offenses, an impressive tally that suggests law enforcement is keeping Americans safe. But examine many of these cases closely, as Human Rights Watch and Columbia Law School’s Human Rights Institute did, and you begin to see that there’s often less to the alleged terrorist plots than meets the eye.
  • Jul 21, 2014
    The US Justice Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) have targeted American Muslims in abusive counterterrorism “sting operations” based on religious and ethnic identity, Human Rights Watch and Columbia Law School’s Human Rights Institute said in a report released today. Many of the more than 500 terrorism-related cases prosecuted in US federal courts since September 11, 2001, have alienated the very communities that can help prevent terrorist crimes.
  • Jul 18, 2014
    A decision by the US Sentencing Commission on July 18, 2014, will give 46,000 federal inmates serving unnecessarily long sentences for drug offenses a chance to seek sentence reductions. The decision would make a recent amendment to the guidelines for calculating sentences for drug offenses fully retroactive, covering inmates already sentenced as well as future offenders.
  • Jul 18, 2014
  • Jul 10, 2014
  • Jul 7, 2014
    Human Rights Watch submitted a statement to the United States Sentencing Commission in response to the Commission’s May 6, 2014 request for comments on whether its recent amendment to lower the base offense levels keyed to drug quantities should be made retroactive. We strongly support retroactive application. There is no justification for requiring formerly sentenced federal inmates to continue serving prison terms imposed under a sentencing structure the Commission has rightly discarded.
  • Jul 2, 2014
    Human Rights Watch wrote to President Barack Obama to express our serious concern that his proposals for addressing the recent increase in apprehended migrants, particularly unaccompanied minors, at the US-Mexico border, may lead to further serious harm to vulnerable children and families, in violation of international law.