Ida Sawyer is the acting director of Human Rights Watch’s Crisis and Conflict division, and the deputy Africa director. She was previously the organization’s Central Africa director, overseeing work on the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Burundi, and the Central African Republic. From 2008 to 2016, she was based in Congo with Human Rights Watch, first in Goma and later in the capital, Kinshasa. She conducted research across Congo and in areas of neighboring countries affected by the Lord’s Resistance Army, and her research has been integral to numerous Human Rights Watch reports. In August 2016, Congolese authorities barred Ida from continuing to work in the country, following a series of Human Rights Watch publications on political repression.
Ida has authored numerous Human Rights Watch reports and other documents, and she has written for publications including The New York Times, The Washington Post, and Foreign Policy. Ida conducts high level advocacy with African officials and other international actors as well as outreach with national human rights groups.
Ida came to Human Rights Watch from Cairo, where she had worked as a freelance journalist. Her previous experience in Africa’s Great Lakes region includes work for Care International and the Charity for Peace Foundation in northern Uganda, as well as research in Congo on the cross-border dynamics of natural resource exploitation. Ida holds a Masters in international affairs, specializing in human rights, from Columbia University.