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


Deane Collinson 

Ahmad Attia 

Margaret McCuaig-Johnston 

Kate Robertson 

Visit the Canada Board and Committee page for further information. 


  • (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 >

  • (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 >

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

  • 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 >

  • 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 > 

  • 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 > 


  • 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 > 

  • 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 >

  • 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 >

  • Globally, an estimated 792 million people or 1 in 10 people, including 1 in 5 children, have a mental health condition. Gender is a major factor. More >

  • The 100-page report, “‘I Didn’t Feel Like a Human in There’: Immigration Detention in Canada and Its Impact on Mental Health,” documents how people in immigration detention, including those fleeing persecution and seeking protection in Canada, are regularly handcuffed, shackled, and held with little to no contact with the outside world. With no set release date, they can be held for months or years. Many are held in provincial jails with the regular jail population and are often subjected to solitary confinement. Those with psychosocial disabilities – or mental health conditions – experience discrimination throughout the process. More >

  • Qatar’s discriminatory male guardianship system denies women the right to make many key decisions about their lives, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. More >

  • The 18th annual Toronto Human Rights Watch Film Festival, in its second year of partnership with Hot Docs, will present five powerful and compelling films that will be completely digital for the first time since the Toronto HRWFF’s inception. This exciting virtual opportunity allows the festival to provide unprecedented access to free film screenings and programming across Canada. Nationwide audiences will be able to view films safely from home and learn about human rights issues and the demand for justice, dignity, compassion, and equality for all. 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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