Human Rights Watch Canada


About Us

Human Rights Watch is one of the world’s leading independent organizations dedicated to protecting the human rights of people around the world. In 2002 Human Rights Watch Canada was established to advance education on human rights issues both in Canada and around the world, and to increase support for the work of Human Rights Watch worldwide.

The Canadian office organizes several larger public and smaller private events throughout the year. This includes our Annual Toronto Human Rights Watch Film Festival, which demonstrates the power of film in raising awareness of human rights issues across the globe, and our Voices for Justice Dinner that celebrates human rights champions for their courageous activism.

We also engage with Canadian decision-makers in government and in other sectors as part of the organization’s advocacy work. If you are interested in learning more about our local activities, please contact the Toronto office at

Également, vous pouvez envoyer un courriel à notre bureau en français. Nos rapports canadiens sont publiés dans les deux langues. Notez les options de langue sur chaque page de rapport.

Our Work

Human Rights Watch is a nonprofit, nongovernmental human rights movement with a network of affiliates and offices around the globe. It includes roughly 400 staff members who are human rights professionals, including country experts, lawyers, journalists, and academics of diverse backgrounds and nationalities.

Established in 1978, Human Rights Watch is known for its accurate fact-finding, impartial reporting, effective use of media, and targeted advocacy, often in partnership with local human rights groups. Each year, Human Rights Watch publishes more than 100 reports and briefings on human rights conditions in some 90 countries, generating extensive coverage in local and international media. With the leverage this brings, Human Rights Watch meets with governments, the United Nations, regional groups like the African Union and the European Union, financial institutions, and corporations to press for changes in policy and practice that promote human rights and justice around the world. Would you be interested in finding out more about Human Rights Watch research on Canada, please go to the Canada country research page.

How we work

Investigate. Human Rights Watch is committed to systematically researching and analysing human rights conditions worldwide in order to uncover abuses. Researchers interview leaders, victims and witnesses so that they can form an accurate picture of what happened. They also review media and academic reports, domestic and international law and policy papers to gain a further understanding of the situation.

Expose. Human Rights Watch researchers publish their findings in the form of reports and articles. These are then made accessible to the public as well as local authorities in order to raise awareness of the abuses. The publications are available in multiple languages and formats and are often referenced in news articles worldwide.

Change. Following the identification and publication of human rights abuses, Human Rights Watch’s advocacy division work closely with local authorities and organisations in order to demand accountability and put an end to the abuses that they have discovered. The ultimate goal of Human Rights Watch is to ensure that human rights are upheld worldwide and to promote justice and change. 

Human Rights Watch is an independent, nongovernmental organization, supported by contributions from private individuals and foundations worldwide. To ensure our independence, we do not accept government funds, directly or indirectly. Donations made in Canada benefit our work worldwide.


Canadian Registered Charity 
Every registered charity is issued a nine-digit business number, with a program identifier of RR, and a four-digit reference number.

Human Rights Watch Canada's Charitable Registration number is 836252544 RR0001.

The charity's registration number must be written in full on all official donation receipts and must include the business number, the proper program identifier (RR), and the reference number.

Human Rights Watch Canada Board of Directors

Ahmad Attia 

Norman Deane Collinson (Chair)

Marusya Lazo

Maryse Roy (Treasurer)

Bruce Simpson

Visit the Canada Board and Committee page for further information. 


  • May 29, 2023

    WHAT: Toronto 2023 Voices for Justice Celebration Dinner

    WHEN: November 14, 2023

    Join us on the evening of November 14, 2023 for our Voices for Justice Celebration and become part of our global community dedicated to protecting and defending human rights.

    Human Rights Watch’s Voices for Justice Celebration in Toronto is an opportunity to celebrate some of the most important human rights achievements of the past year and the human rights defenders who speak out where there is silence.

    We hope you will join us and consider supporting our mission by becoming a sponsor. To learn more or to reserve your tickets or table, please visit

  • May 23, 2023

    A coroner’s inquest into the 2015 death of Abdurahman Hassan, a refugee from Somalia, has brought to light shocking details about Canada’s immigration detention system and abusive conditions in provincial jails. In response, 40 organizations have renewed their call on the federal government to stop incarcerating people in provincial jails for administrative immigration purposes.  The letter was also endorsed by former cabinet ministers Lloyd Axworthy and Allan Rock. More >

  • May 23, 2023

    Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will travel to Japan on May 19 for the Summit of the Group of Seven (G7), an annual gathering of some of the world’s wealthiest economies. This year, meeting in Hiroshima, G7 member states will be joined by the leader of a country that is undergoing a serious regression in human rights and constitutional protections. A country that continues to be a major blind spot for the Trudeau government: India. More >

  • May 23, 2023

    Freedom on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight for Freedom to open the festival on International Women’s Day

    (Toronto, February 8, 2023) - The Annual Human Rights Watch Canada Film Festival (HRWFF) in partnership with Hot Docs Cinema will be held from March 8 to 19, 2023; March 8-12 in-person at the Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema, and March 13-19 on Hot Docs’ digital platform. Following the tradition of past festivals, all tickets for both in-person and digital screenings are free and accessible to everyone in Canada with internet. More >


  • September 21, 2022

    (Halifax) – Nova Scotia’s confirmation that it will terminate its immigration detention contract with the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) is another win for migrant and refugee rights, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International Canada said today. The move follows a landmark decision by British Columbia on July 21 to terminate its own contract with the border agency. More >

  • September 8, 2022

    (Beirut) – Children with disabilities caught up in the Syrian war are at greater risk of harm and lack access to the health care, education, or humanitarian aid needed to protect their basic rights, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. The United Nations, the Syrian government, and concerned governments should urgently ensure protection and assistance to meet the needs of children with disabilities in SyriaMore >

  • June 10, 2022

    A major Canadian city has made a historic move to help protect the rights of migrants and asylum seekers. More >

  • June 8, 2022

    Earlier this week, the Canadian Men’s National Soccer team refused to play a friendly match against Panama until their grievances around their contract negotiation with the Canadian Soccer Association were met. The team is asking for fair compensation and financial transparency as a precondition for them to take the field. They also want equitable compensation for both men’s and women’s teams. More >

  • May 27, 2022

    As the one-year anniversary of a lethal heatwave in Western Canada approaches, the British Columbia and Canadian governments need to ensure that support is in place for those most at risk from climate change-exacerbated extreme heat. More > 

  • April 13, 2022

    We write in advance of the 90th pre-session of the Committee on the Rights of the Child relating to Canada’s compliance with the Convention on the Rights of the Child. This supplementary submission is primarily based on research conducted from 2019 onward. It focuses on the plight of Canadian children arbitrarily detained in northeast Syria and access to education for Canadian children during the Covid-19 pandemic. More > 


  • April 7, 2022

    The 19th annual Human Rights Watch Canada Film Festival (HRWFF), in its third year of partnership with Hot Docs, will present five films about key issues of the day to audiences in Toronto and, for the second time, digitally across Canada. The film festival is committed to amplifying courageous voices from around the world on both sides of the lens. More > 

  • February 4, 2022

    On January 28, a person held in immigration detention in the Canadian province of Quebec died after they were found in “medical distress.” The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), which operates the Laval Immigration Holding Center, disclosed the death two days later, but provided no details regarding the deceased’s identity or cause of death. More >

  • October 5, 2021

    Inadequate government support compounded risks for people with disabilities and older people during the recent extreme and foreseeable heatwave that killed hundreds of people in the Canadian province of British Columbia. More >

HRW Canada newsletter


Get in touch

T: +1 416 322 8448 Email:
Image in shades of red with a fence in front of seated people.

After success in BC, we have now moved to Quebec and Nova Scotia, which like most provinces, have a contract with the federal government that allows for immigration detainees to be held in provincial jails. Call on Quebec and Nova Scotia to cancel this contract!

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