Racism and Human Rights


Human Rights Watch publications that address issues of discrimination based on race, caste, ethnicity, and other forms of descent.


Second Class Citizens:Discrimination Against Women Under Botswana's Citizenship Act, September 1994
The government of Botswana continued to enforce provisions of the Botswana Citizenship Act that discriminated on the basis of sex, in defiance of a 1992 Botswana Court of Appeal decision holding those provisions unconstitutional and contrary to international human rights standards. (A607) 20 pp., $3.00/£1.95


Neglecting Justice in Making Peace , April 2000
Continuing abuses of civilians by all parties, the growing regionalization of the Central African conflict, and the threat of increased violence from extremist organizations underscore the urgency of ending the war in Burundi. But a peace without accountability for past crimes offers little hope for future stability within Burundi or the larger region. More than one hundred thousand civilians have been slain in Burundi, both by Hutu and by Tutsi. Many of these killings are crimes against humanity and some have been described as genocide by a U.N. commission of inquiry. They must be prosecuted promptly and effectively by an international tribunal as well as by Burundian courts. Some Burundians and foreign observers now propose yet another international investigation as well as a Burundian Truth and Reconciliation commission. Such commissions may add greater detail to what is already known of this tragic past, but they serve a different purpose from that of prosecutions and must not become a pretext for delaying them. (A1202) 18pp, $3.00

Emptying the Hills: Regroupment Camps in Burundi, July 2000
Although the government of Burundi has promised Nelson Mandela that it will close its squalid "regroupment" camps, that promise has not yet been fulfilled, Human Rights Watch charged in this report. The former South African president is leading a new round of the Burundi peace talks, opening tomorrow. Burundian rebel groups, who are of critical importance to any efforts to end the six-year civil war, have said they will attend the talks only if the regroupment camps are closed. The 35-page report, "Emptying the Hills," says that the Burundian government forced as many as 350,000 civilians into the camps. Although Burundi president Pierre Buyoya promised Mandela to close the camps by July 31, some tens of thousands of people are still living in them. The report also details abuses of the National Liberation Forces (Forces Nationales pour la Libération, FNL), a rebel group fighting the Burundian government. (A1204) 38pp, $5.00

Proxy Targets: Civilians in the War in Burundi, March 1998
The civilian population of Burundi feels trapped between the two sides in the civil war. The armed forces have driven the rural Hutu population into regroupment camps by indiscriminately attacking civilians, burning their homes, and engaging in extensive rape and torture. The Hutu rebel groups have engaged in attacks on civilians and summary executions, targeting in particular Tutsi and Hutu whom they consider collaborators.(1797) 136 pp., $10.00

Côte d'Ivoire

The New Racism: The Political Manipulation of Ethnicity in Côte d'Ivoire, August 28, 2001
Leading government officials in Côte D'Ivoire have incited a violent xenophobia that is threatening to destabilize the country. The New Racism: The Political Manipulation of Ethnicity in Côte d'Ivoire, describes atrocities committed during presidential and parliamentary elections in October and December 2000, and is based on extensive interviews of victims and witnesses in Abidjan in late 2000 and early 2001. The report documents more than 200 killings, as well as torture, rape, and arbitrary detention. The political and social climate remains volatile today as intolerance and xenophobia continue to shape daily life. 70 pp.

Democratic Republic of Congo/Zaire

Eastern Congo Ravaged: Killing Civilians and Silencing Protest, May 2000
The Rwandan army and its Congolese allies have massacred and raped civilians in eastern Congo, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. Their opponents, Hutu and Mai Mai armed groups, are also committing atrocities against the civilian population.The RCD launched a rebellion against the government headed by Laurent Kabila in August 1998. They vowed to restore democracy and respect for human rights within the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) but the RCD-Goma and its Rwandese allies have regularly slaughtered civilians in massacres and extrajudicial executions. In cases where the RCD or its allies admit that the killings took place, they often seek to justify them as unintended consequences of combat with armed groups, but they seem in many cases to have committed the abuses deliberately to punish civilians for their supposed support of enemies of the RCD. Opposition armed groups, known generally as Mai-Mai or Interahamwe, fight against the RCD, sometimes with apparent support from the Kabila government. These armed groups have targeted civilians in massacres and extrajudicial executions and have engaged in widespread pillage and rape. In many cases, they perpetrate abuses against those whom they believe are supporting the RCD or its allies. (A1203) 40pp, $5.00

Casualties of War: Civilians, Rule of Law, and Democratic Freedoms, February 1999
The Congolese government has violated the rights of its citizens through: incitement to ethnic hatred, resulting in hundreds of deaths; internment of Tutsis through arrest and trial procedures that violate due process; and suppression of freedom of expression, association, and assembly. The rebel Congolese Rally for Democracy have committed war crimes by killing civilians in massacres, have caused people to "disappear," and have carried out arbitrary arrests without regard to due process. (A1101) 2/99, 32pp., $5.00 ,

What Kabila is Hiding: Civilian Killings and Impunity in Congo, October 1997
The Rwandan Patriotic Army (RPA) and the Alliance of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Congo-Zaire (ADFL) carried out massive killings of civilian refugees and other violations of basic principles of international humanitarian law during attacks on refugee camps in the former Zaire that began in late 1996. Gross violations of international humanitarian law have been committed by all parties to the conflict. (A905) 10/97, 42pp., $5.00

Transition, War and Human Rights, April 1997
While there have been human rights abuses committed by both rebel and Zairian troops, the Zairian forces have engaged to a vast extent in pillaging and destruction, including widespread reports of rape. With the insertion of ethnically based militias and mercenaries, the war threatens to launch the country into a period of generalized violence. (A902), 63 pp., $7.00/£5.95

Attacked by All Sides:Civilians and the War in Eastern Zaire, March 1997
Nearly 100,000 people, most of them Rwandans once resident in the camps of eastern Zaire, have fled to a site near Ubundu, where their further flight is blocked by the Zaire River. Among them are thousands of unarmed noncombatants as well as soldiers of the former Rwandan army and militia responsible for the genocide of Tutsi in Rwanda in 1994. The ruthless disregard of the rights of civilians, including the right to life, by all armed parties in this conflict raises fears that the noncombatants at Ubundu and elsewhere will once more be attacked, with large-scale loss of life. (A901) 14 pp. $3.00/£1.95 ,

Forced to Flee: Violence Against the Tutsis in Zaire, July 1996
The region of North Kivu in eastern Zaire has been the site of recurrent inter-ethnic violence since 1992, often carried out with the complicity of regional and national leaders and government security forces. The 1993 explosion of violence pitted the mostly Zairian Tutsis and Hutus against other Zairian ethnic groups in the region. Then the influx of some 720,000 largely Hutu refugees from Rwanda after the genocide broke down the Hutu-Tutsi alliance, leading to attacks against the Tutsi population by both sides.(A802) 29 pp. $5.00/£2.95

Inciting Hatred: Violence Against Kasaiens in Shaba, June 1993
For three years, President Mobutu has blocked a peaceful movement for democratic change in Zaire, dividing the opposition to his rule. His efforts are now bearing fruit as ethnic and regional violence emerge in a number of regions throughout the vast central African country. (A510) 25 pp., $3.00/£1.95


Freedom of Expression & Ethnic Discrimination in the Educational System: Past & Future, January 1993
(A501) 9 pp., $3.00/£1.95


Failing the Internally Displaced: The UNDP Displaced Persons Program in Kenya, June 1997
Between 1993 and 1995, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) administered a program to return 300,000 persons who had been driven off their land by state-sponsored "ethnic" violence. The Kenyan government had instigated the violence to punish and disenfranchise ethnic groups associated with the opposition, while rewarding its supporters with illegally obtained land. This report confirms the fundamental importance of incorporating human rights considerations into international programs for the internally displaced. (2122) 160 pp., $15.00/£12.95

Divide and Rule: State-Sponsored Ethnic Violence in Kenya, November 1993
One of the most disturbing developments in Kenya over two years preceeding this report was the eruption of violent clashes between different ethnic groups. However, far from being the spontaneous result of a return to political pluralism, there was clear evidence that the government was involved in provoking this ethnic violence for political purposes and took no adequate steps to prevent it from spiralling out of control. (1177) 112 pp., $10.00/£8.95

Seeking Refuge, Finding Terror: The Widespread Rape of Somali Women Refugees in North Eastern Kenya, October 1993
Since 1992, approximately 300,000 Somalis fled across the 800 mile Kenya-Somali border, most of them women and children. Many were the victims of violence, including rape, as they fled war-torn Somalia. They came to Kenya to escape these dangers only to face similar abuse while enroute to or living in the refugee camps. (A513) 25 pp., $3.00/£1.95


Mauritania's Campaign of Terror: State-Sponsored Repression of Black Africans, April 1994
This report documents the range of human rights abuses that the black Africans have suffered in Mauritania under an undeclared military occupation of the Senegal River Valley and the campaign to eliminate black culture in Mauritania, orchestrated by the white Moor rulers. The most egregious violations, such as massacres, torture, and slavery, have been accompanied by more insidious forms of de facto discrimination against the black Africans. (1339) 168 pp., $15.00/£12.95


The Search for Security and Human Rights Abuses, April 2000
The Rwandan government is using the pretext of security to cover human rights abuses against Rwandan citizens, Human Rights Watch said in this report. The report details cases of assassination, murder, arbitrary detention, torture and other abuses perpetrated chiefly by soldiers of the Rwandan Patriotic Army, and by members of a government-backed citizens' militia called the Local Defense Force. Rwandan military intelligence operatives recently forced five Tutsi, mostly soldiers or former soldiers, to return to Rwanda against their will after they had fled to neighboring countries. Authorities have linked these cases to the existence of a supposed "army of the king." In another surprising development, authorities arrested some forty Hutu in the usually anti-monarchist northwest on charges of belonging to a secret monarchist association. Human Rights Watch details killings and other abuses committed by members of the Local Defense Force, civilians recruited and armed by the government. Supposedly under the supervision of local authorities, the members of the Local Defense Force commit abuses without punishment in those areas where authorities are afraid of them or have benefitted from their crime. (A1201) 30pp, $5.00

Leave None to Tell the Story: Genocide in Rwanda, March 1999
In 1994 a small elite chose genocide to keep power in Rwanda. They used state resources and authority to incite--or force--tens of thousands of Rwandans to kill the Tutsi minority. Within one hundred days, they slaughtered more than half a million people, three quarters of the Tutsi of Rwanda. This study, based on Rwandan government records,dissects the deceptive discourse of genocide and shows how ordinary administrative structures and practices were turned into mechanisms of murder. (1711) 807 pp., $35.00

Shattered Lives: Sexual Violence during the Rwandan Genocide and its Aftermath, September 1996

South Africa

Unequal Protection: The State Response to Violent Crime on South African Farms, August 22, 2001,
The South African government is failing to adequately protect residents of commercial farming areas from violent crime. Black farm residents are most severely affected by this failure, and black women are most vulnerable of all.

Order online, (2637) 230 pp., $20.00/£17.90

Violence against Women in South Africa: State Response to Domestic Violence and Rape, November 1995.
South African women continue to face extraordinarily high levels of violence which prevent them from enjoying the rights they are guaranteed under the new dispensation. When victims of violence, they face a judicial and police system that routinely denies them redress, treats them with indifference or hostility, and black women in particular face racial prejudice in their interactions with the authorities. (1622) 144 pp., $10.00/£8.95


Famine in Sudan: The Human Rights Causes, February 1999
This report charges that the Sudanese government's abusive tactics, and the predatory practicesof rebel forces and government-sponsored tribal militia, turned this famine into a disaster requiring the largest emergency relief operation in the world in 1998. The civil war is waged by means that expressly violate human rights and humanitarian law. (1932) 224 pp., $15.00

Eradicating the Nuba, September 1992
(A4XX) 6 pp., $3.00/£1.95

Refugees in Their Own Country: The Forced Relocation of Squatters & Displaced People from Khartoum, July 1992
(A408) 25 pp., $3.00/£1.95

The Secret War Against the Nuba, December 1991
(A315) 12 pp., $3.00/£1.95


Tanzania -- In the Name of Security: Forced Round-Ups of Refugees in Tanzania,
Tens of thousands of Burundian refugees were rounded up by the Tanzanian army and confined to camps in the western part of the country. This report contains testimonies from Burundian refugees, many of whom had built homes, farms, and livelihoods in the government-provided settlements for over two decades, who spoke with regret about their destroyed communities, empty looted homes, and ruined crops. (A1104), 7/99, 36pp., $5.00

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