Racism and Human Rights


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


Violence against the Macuxi and Wapixana Indians in Raposa Serra Do Sol and Northern Roraima from 1988 to 1994, June 1994
Indians who attempt to exercise the rights guaranteed to them in the Brazilian Constitution are frequently the victims of violent attacks and other human rights abuses. This report emphasizes that international human rights standards require the Brazilian government to protect the cultures of indigenous peoples and ensure that land conflicts be settled peacefully and with due process. (B607) 30 pp., $5.00/2.95

Final Justice: Police and Death Squad Homicides of Adolescents in Brazil, February 1994
Brazil's poor children and adolescents--particularly black or dark-skinned adolescent boys--have been targetted for violence, and their attackers largely enjoy impunity in committing abuses against them. It is apparent that the police, either on- or off-duty, are responsible for a significant proportion of the killings, and there is a severe lack of political will to investigate and prosecute those responsible for violence against children and adolescents who are perceived as criminals and threats to safety. (1231) 160 pp.,$15.00/12.95

Dominican Republic

A Troubled Year:Haitians in the Dominican Republic, October 1992
In 1992, the Dominican Republic expelled 6,000 Haitians and Dominicans of Haitian origin, regardless of their immigration status, and without due process of law. Tens of thousands of others fled to Haiti to avoid forced deportation. Within the year, the military coup in Haiti led thousands of Haitians and Dominico-Haitians to cross the border once again, to return to the country that only months earlier had grievously mistreated them, and where many were arrested and compelled to work on state-owned sugarcane plantations. (0820) 54 pp., $7.00/5.95

United States

Fingers to the Bone:United States Failure to Protect Child Farmworkers, June 2000
Hundreds of thousands of child farmworkers are laboring under dangerous and grueling conditions in the United States, Human Rights Watch charged in a report released today. HRW found that child farmworkers often work twelve- and fourteen-hour days, and risk pesticide poisoning, heat illness, injuries and life-long disabilities. The vast majority of child farmworkers are Latino. The laws governing minors working in agriculture are much less stringent than those for other sectors of the economy, Human Rights Watch said, allowing children to work at younger ages, for longer hours, and under more hazardous conditions than children in other jobs. "Fingers to the Bone:United States Failure to Protect Child Farmworkers," focuses on children aged thirteen to sixteen. Some of these young workers told Human Rights Watch that they work as many as seventy or eighty hours a week. Often, their workdays begin before dawn. (2491) 112pp., ISBN 1-56432- 2491, $10.00

Punishment and Prejudice: Racial Disparities in the War on Drugs, May 2000
The U.S. war on drugs has been waged overwhelmingly against black Americans, Human Rights Watch charged in a new report released today. This report includes the first state-by-state analysis of the role of race and drugs in prison admissions. All of the 37 states Human Rights Watch studied send black drug offenders to prison at far higher rates than whites. The ten states with the greatest racial disparities are: Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Maine, Iowa, Maryland, Ohio, New Jersey, North Carolina, and West Virginia. In these states, black men are sent to prison on drug charges at 27 to 57 times the rate of white men."Punishment and Prejudice" also documents how drug law enforcement has fueled the exploding U.S. prison population. During the 1990s, more than one hundred thousand people were admitted to prison on drug charges every year. Over 1.5 million prison admissions on drug charges have occurred since 1980. The incarceration of nonviolent drug offenders has propelled the nation's soaring incarceration rate, the highest in the western world. Human Rights Watch calls for changes in drug control strategies to minimize their racially disproportionate impact and to reduce the overincarceration of nonviolent offenders. (G1202) 39pp., $5.00

No Minor Matter: Children in Maryland's Jails, November 1999
U.S. lawmakers at both the state and federal levels have increasingly abandoned efforts to rehabilitate child offenders through the juvenile court system. Many states have responded to a perceived outbreak in juvenile violent crime by moving more children into the adult criminal system. Minority children--African-American youth in particular--are disproportionately sent to criminal court under these policies. These measures neither reduce crime nor lead to rehabilitation, and often lead to serious abuses when children are held in adult jails. (2432) 169 pp., $15.00

Detained and Deprived of Rights: Children in the Custody of the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service, December 1998
In this report, Human Rights Watch charges the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) with violating the rights of unaccompanied children in its custody. The report finds that roughly one-third of detained children are held in punitive, jail-like detention centers, even though most children in INS custody are being detained for administrative reasons while their case is pending, not as a punishment for criminal behavior. (G1004), $5.00

Losing the Vote: The Impact of Felony Disenfranchisement Laws in the United States, October 1998
Once the privilege of wealthy white men, today all mentally competent adults have the right to vote with only one exception: convicted criminal offenders. Nearly all U.S. states deny to vote to convicted adults in prison, and a majority disenfranchise those on probation or parole. In fourteen states, even citizens who have fully served their sentences remain barred for life from voting. The racial impact of these laws is particularly egregious. Thirteen percent of all African American men -- 1.4 million -- are disenfranchised. If current trends continue, the rate of disenfranchisement for black men could reach 40 percent in the states that disenfranchise ex-offenders. (G1003) 27pp., $5.00

Shielded from Justice: Police Brutality and Accountability in the United States, July 1998
Police brutality is one of the most serious, enduring and divisive human rights violations in the United States. Unjustified shootings by police, severe beatings, fatal chokings, and unnecessarily rough treatment of detainees occur in cities throughout the country. This report represents more than two years of research in fourteen U.S.cities. (1835) 450 pps, $20.00

Cold Storage: Super-Maximum Security Confinement in Indiana, October 1997
Prisoners in super-maximum security facilities spend an average of twenty-three hours a day in small, often windowless cells, facing years of extreme social isolation, enforced idleness, and extraordinarily limited recreational or educational opportunities. While recognizing legitimate security considerations in the housing of prisoners who break prison rules, Human Rights Watch concludes that security cannot justify conditions that constitute cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment. (1754) 92 pp., $10.00

High Country Lockup: Children in Confinement in Colorado, September 1997
Like many states, Colorado is moving away from programs and toward ever-increasing punishment. Too many children are being held prisoner in Colorado, and as a result they live in crowded conditions that are sometimes unsafe and frequently devoid of activities that would prepare them to be useful citizens when they are released. Minority children, who are over-represented in youth correction centers, are often placed in the most restrictive, most punitive facilities. (219-X) 09/97, 120 pp., $10.00

Slipping through the Cracks:Unaccompanied Children Detained by the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service, April 1997
The U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) violates the rights of hundreds of unaccompanied children each year, some as young as eight, contrary to international law as well as INS regulations. (2092) 128 pp., $10.00/8.95

Cruel and Usual: Disproportionate Sentences for New York Drug Offenders, March 1997
In the past decade, the U.S. Congress and many state legislatures have established harsh criminal penalties for a wide range of drug offenses, often using mandatory minimum prison sentences. Opponents point to data showing the laws have had little impact on the demand for or the availability of drugs. Instead, they have resulted in the unnecessary confinement of low-level nonviolent offenders (most of whom are poor African-Americans and Hispanics), a staggering growth in prison populations, and a waste of public resources. This report critiques the human rights impact of these laws. (B902) 39 pp., $5.00/2.95

All Too Familiar: Sexual Abuse of Women in U.S. State Prisons, December 1996
Women prisoners in U.S. state prisons, when sexually abused, cannot escape from their abusers. Grievance or investigatory procedures, where they exist, often do not work, and correctional employees continue to engage in abuse because they believe they can get away with it. This report reflects research into sexual abuse of women in prison conducted from April 1994 to November 1996 in state prisons throughout the U.S. (1533) 360 pp., $20.00/14.95

Race and Drug Law Enforcement in the State of Georgia, July 1996
The impact of crime control policies on minorities is among the most important, disturbing and contentious social issues facing the United States. As one expert has noted, "Urban black Americans have borne the brunt of the War on Drugs. They have been arrested, prosecuted, convicted, and imprisoned at increasing rates since the early 1980s, and grossly out of proportion to their numbers in the general population or among drug users." This report examines drug law enforcement in Georgia in light of CERD and the requirement of non-discrimination, focussing primarily on the years 1990 to 1995. (G804) 21pp., $3.00/1.95

Modern Capital of Human Rights?: Abuses in the State of Georgia, June 1996
When Atlanta set out to host the 1996 Summer Olympic Games, its application stated that "for many," the city is "the modern capital of human rights." In this report we offer an assessment of how Atlanta, and the state of Georgia, comply with international human rights standards. Among other findings, Georgia's death penalty law has led to capital punishment primarily for the poor and for African-Americans, and drug laws are enforced disproportionately against black drug offenders. (169X) 208 pp.,$15.00/12.95

Children in Confinement in Louisiana, October 1995
The state of Louisiana has one of the highest rates of incarceration of children in the U.S. The conditions in which these children are confined violate numerous international human rights standards including the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and the United Nations Rules for the Protection of Juveniles Deprived of Their Liberty. (1592) 152 pp., $10.00/8.95

Human Rights Violations in the U.S.: A Report on U.S. Compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, January 1994
The American Civil Liberties Union and Human Rights Watch prepared this report -- the first of its kind--covering race and sex discrimination, prisoners' rights, police brutality, the death penalty, immigration rights, language rights, religious liberty, and freedom of expression. (1223) 216 pp., $15.00/12.95

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