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Last updated Friday, November 28, 2003

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Focus on Human Rights

Background on War in Iraq  (October, 2003)

Russian Federation / Chechnya: Renewed Catastrophe  (November, 2003)

Afghanistan: Human Rights Watch Key Documents  (November, 2003)

September 11 Attacks: Crimes Against Humanity
The Aftermath
 (September, 2003)

Côte d’Ivoire: Militias Commit Abuses With Impunity
(New York, November 27, 2003) Pro-government militias in Côte d’Ivoire are committing serious abuses against civilians, including killings and torture, Human Rights Watch said today. The Ivorian government and international peacekeeping forces must take steps to control the rise of these militias, which operate with impunity.
Tunisia: Chirac Should Raise Farhat Case
(New York, November 27, 2003) French President Jacques Chirac, on his official visit to Tunisia beginning December 3, should intervene to secure the release of Tunisian political prisoner Lotfi Farhat, Human Rights Watch said today in a letter to the French leader.
United States: Powell's North Africa Trip Should Focus on Rights
(New York, November 27, 2003) U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell should raise pressing human rights concerns in Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco during his visit to North Africa on December 2 and 3, Human Rights Watch said today.
Walk the freedom talk, Mr. Bush
(November 26, 2003) -- Mr. Bush now seems to recognize as well that it is not enough for the United States to be against terrorism. To succeed, he explained, Washington must also embrace a positive vision of "freedom," "liberty," and "democracy," especially in the Middle East. Yet this important message will fall flat if Mr. Bush does not move beyond stirring rhetoric and begin to live by these principles.
Mexico: Imminent Arrest of Ex-Police Officer for 1974 Abuses
(Washington, D.C., November 26, 2003) — The pending arrest of a former police office to face charges for past human rights abuses is a breakthrough for justice in Mexico, Human Rights Watch said today.
U.S.: Don’t Send Detainees Back to China
(New York, November 26, 2003) The United States should abandon reported plans to send Uighur detainees currently held at Guantánamo Bay to China, where they are likely to face mistreatment and possibly torture, Human Rights Watch said today.
Indonesia: Media Under Attack in Aceh
(New York, November 26, 2003) — The Indonesian government has blocked Indonesian and foreign correspondents from covering the military campaign in Aceh, where gross human rights violations are taking place, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today.
Sudan: Rebels, Religion and Oil
(November 25, 2003) -- Whatever it did for the balance of payments, oil did not bring peace. Sudan, Africa 's largest country by geography and one of its poorest, has been battered by civil war for thirty seven of the forty seven years since the British left. The government - military or elected, Islamist or secular - has always belonged to a minority population , the educated Arab-speaking Muslim elite from the northern Nile Valley. Sudan's thirty five million population - sixty to seventy percent African and thirty to forty percent non-Muslim - was economically, socially, and politically marginalised.
United States: Massachusetts Should Ensure Equal Access to Marriage
(New York, November 25, 2003) In the wake of a historic court decision last week barring discrimination based on sexual orientation in civil marriage, the state of Massachusetts should not create separate but unequal “civil unions” for same-sex couples, Human Rights Watch said today.
Colombia: Paramilitary Television Broadcast a “Travesty”
(New York, November 25, 2003) — The Colombian government’s television broadcast tonight of a paramilitary demobilization risks becoming a showcase for impunity, Human Rights Watch said today. In a live telecast featuring government officials and paramilitary fighters, the government will broadcast videotaped statements from paramilitary leaders who have been convicted of massacres, murders and other serious crimes, but remain at large.
Sudan: Oil Companies Complicit in Rights Abuses
(London, November 25, 2003) The Sudanese government's efforts to control oilfields in the war-torn south have resulted in the displacement of hundreds of thousands of civilians, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today.
Uzbekistan: No Progress on EBRD Benchmarks
(New York, November 25, 2003) Uzbekistan has made no real progress toward meeting the human rights benchmarks set by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development in its current country strategy for Uzbekistan, Human Rights Watch said today.
China: EU Should Set Benchmarks in Rights Dialogue
(Brussels, November 25, 2003)-- The European Union should demand clear progress on human rights from China during their bilateral human rights dialogue this week, Human Rights Watch urged today in an open letter. The meeting is scheduled for November 27-28 in Beijing.
Keeping Kids in Tiny Cells Downtown Is Cruel, and Probably Illegal
(November 24, 2003) -- The Men's Central Jail in downtown Los Angeles currently holds about 30 youths under the age of 18 -- twice as many kids as the combined total for all the other adult jails in California.
NGOs and Governments Say Human Rights Monitoring Urgently Needed in Nepal
(November 24, 2003) - Seven international human rights organisations have strongly endorsed the call by the Nepal's National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) and eight Governmental donor agencies and Embassies in Kathmandu for international monitoring of the human rights situation in Nepal and have urged the international community to fully support this appeal.
Iraq: Targeting of Civilians by Insurgents Must Stop
(New York, November 22, 2003) Insurgents in Iraq are committing war crimes by targeting Iraqi civilians perceived to be cooperating with the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA), Human Rights Watch said today.
Labor and the FTAA: A Cautionary Tale
(November 21, 2003) -- When trade negotiators and street protestors in Miami this week debate the impact of a Free Trade Area of the Americas on workers throughout the region, they should consider its precursor, the North American Free Trade Agreement, as a cautionary tale.
America´s Guilt: the Prisoners in a Legal Black Hole
(November 21, 2003) -- President Bush yesterday described more than 600 detainees at Guantanamo Bay as “illegal non-combatants picked up off of the battlefield”. But there is another glaring illegality here — which is entirely the responsibility of the US Government. At Guantanamo, hundreds have been held without charge for two years, abandoned in a legal black hole.
Turkey: Bombings Show Disregard for Civilian Lives
(New York, November 20, 2003) Bombings this week in Istanbul showed callous disregard for civilian life, Human Rights Watch said today.
United States: Bush-Blair Talks Must Ensure Fair Trials at Guantánamo
(New York, November 14, 2003) British Prime Minister Tony Blair should insist in his meeting next week with U.S. President George W. Bush that no detainee at Guantánamo Bay be tried in proceedings that fail to meet international standards of due process, Human Rights Watch said today.
Russia: Conscripts Denied Adequate Food and Health Care  (German)
(New York, November 14, 2003) Conscript soldiers in Russia performing their first year of compulsory military service are routinely denied adequate food and access to medical care, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today.
Sudan: Persecuted Journalist Flees Country
(New York, November 12, 2003) A prominent independent journalist has been forced to flee Sudan in the face of persecution by the Sudanese government, Human Rights Watch said today.
China: AIDS Treatment Plan Welcome But Must Protect Rights
(New York, November 11, 2003) - China's decision to provide HIV/AIDS medicines to the poor is a major breakthrough, but it could be undermined by a threatened crackdown on high-risk groups and continued discrimination by hospitals and clinics, Human Rights Watch said today.
Human rights: Abdullah’s greatest challenge
(November 8, 2003) -- Malaysia´s first new prime minister in more than 20 years, Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, faces scores of challenges after succeeding Mahathir Mohammed on Friday. But none will be greater than those necessary to transform Malaysia from an authoritarian regime into a nation that respects human rights and operates under the rule of law. A critical first step would be to protect those members of society whose rights have consistently been under attack: migrant workers and those who defend their rights.
United States: Stop Handing Over Detainees to Torturers
(Washington, D.C., November 7, 2003) - President George W. Bush should end the transfer of detainees to countries that routinely engage in torture, such as Syria, if he is to fulfill his pledge to champion democracy and human rights in the Middle East and honor the United States' international legal obligations, Human Rights Watch said today.
Egypt: Investigate Attack on Anti-War Protesters  (Arabic)
(New York, November 7, 2003) Egypt should investigate and discipline police and plainclothes security officials who beat demonstrators protesting the Iraq war and tortured some of those detained, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today.
Human Rights Watch Honors Global Rights Defenders
(New York, November 6, 2003) Leading human rights defenders from Egypt, Liberia and the United States will receive Human Rights Watch's highest honor at its annual dinner on Wednesday, November 12, in New York.
Human Rights Watch Honors Liberian Lawyer
(New York, November 6, 2003) On November 12, Human Rights Watch will give its highest recognition to Tiawan Gongloe, a leading Liberian human rights lawyer and torture victim. An August peace agreement ended fourteen years of civil war in the West African nation.
Los Angeles Juvenile Hall Chaplain Honored for Human Rights Work
(New York, November 6, 2003) Javier Stauring, a lay chaplain for detained youths in Los Angeles, is one of three individuals Human Rights Watch will honor on November 12 for their human rights work. Stauring mobilized a local interfaith coalition in June to protest abuses against youths in the Men’s Central Jail, leading the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors to declare that the jail was unfit for detainees under the age of 18.
Malaysia: Rights Activist Barred From Travel
(New York, November 6, 2003) The Malaysian government should allow human rights defender Irene Fernandez to travel abroad to attend meetings with other activists, Human Rights Watch said today. Fernandez, one of Malaysia’s most prominent advocates for the rights of migrant workers and women, was denied a passport on November 4.
U.S. Senate Passes Mentally Ill Offender Treatment and Crime Reduction Act
Human Rights Watch urges enactment of the Mentally Ill Offender Treatment and Crime Reduction Act. The legislation reflects a realization that a criminal justice approach, and particularly incarceration, may be both unnecessary and counterproductive in many cases of nonviolent misconduct by persons with mental illness.
Mexico: Highest Court Authorizes Prosecution of 'Dirty War' Cases
(Washington, D.C., November 5, 2003) — The Mexican Supreme Court decision to authorize the prosecution of the perpetrators of a 1975 case of forced disappearance is a major victory for accountability, Human Rights Watch said today.
Iran: U.N. Rights Rapporteur Must Meet With Prisoners
(New York, November 5, 2003) The visit to Iran of the U.N. Special Rapporteur on freedom of opinion and expression should fully investigate the cases of those jailed for peacefully expressing their views, Human Rights Watch said today.
Liberia: Guinea Flouts Arms Embargo
(New York, November 5, 2003) – The government of Guinea violated the United Nations arms embargo on Liberia and supplied weapons that Liberian rebels used to commit atrocities, Human Rights Watch charged in a briefing paper released today. (français)
Human Rights Watch Honors Egyptian Anti-Torture Activist
(New York, November 4, 2003) On November 12, Human Rights Watch will give its highest recognition to Dr. Aida Seif El Dawla, a psychiatrist and activist whose courageous work is breaking the silence surrounding torture in Egypt. Dr. Seif El Dawla’s pioneering work provides torture victims not just solace and care, but also the tools to work for justice.
Guatemala: Candidates Should Support Probe Into Violence
(Washington, D.C., November 3, 2003) Guatemala's presidential candidates should publicly commit themselves to supporting a commission to investigate political violence in Guatemala, Human Rights Watch said today.
Russia: EU Leaders at Summit Must Highlight Abuses
(Moscow, October 31, 2003) European Union leaders should use their summit with Russia next week to voice concerns about recent developments in Chechnya and neighboring Ingushetia, Human Rights Watch said today.
Britain must confront shameful trade that ruins Congolese lives
(October 31, 2003) -- Companies in Britain are among the 85 accused of ignoring fundamental principles and international standards of good practice as laid down in the Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, which spell out how companies should behave. And Britain has failed to investigate even one of them.
Thailand: Grant to Fight HIV Faces Rights Test
(New York, October 31, 2003) — A Global Fund for AIDS grant to a nongovernmental organization of drug users in Thailand could bolster the country's fight against HIV/AIDS, Human Rights Watch said today.
China's Epidemic of Secrecy
(October 30, 2003) -- Despite government promises of increased openness post-SARS epidemic, secrecy continues to be a hallmark of AIDS in China, where tens of thousands, maybe a million, maybe more -- impossible to know for sure -- have been stricken with HIV because officials conspired with private businesses to cash in on the highly profitable blood plasma of poor rural people.
Turkey: Acceleration of Reforms Needed Now for EU Bid
(Istanbul, October 30, 2003) In talks with Turkish government officials in Ankara this week, Human Rights Watch called for an intensive effort to complete legal and regulatory reforms necessary for Turkey’s progress toward membership in the European Union.
Afghanistan: Death Threats Imperil Constitutional Drafting Process
(New York, October 29, 2003) - A new wave of violence and intimidation is threatening the process underway in Afghanistan to draft a new constitution, Human Rights Watch said today in a letter to Afghan President Hamid Karzai.
Malaysia: New PM Should End Mahathir-Era Abuses
(New York, October 29, 2003) -- Malaysia's incoming prime minister Abdullah Badawi, due to take office on Friday, should signal his commitment to human rights by repealing the Internal Security Act, Human Rights Watch said today in a letter to the new Malaysian leader. The repeal of this repressive law should be the first step in opening Malaysia's tightly controlled political climate.
Saudi Arabia: Arrest of Protesters Belies Reform Pledges
(New York, October 29, 2003) Saudi Arabia's arrest of hundreds of peaceful protesters in a series of demonstrations and its continued denial of freedom of expression and assembly make a mockery of the kingdom's pledges of political reform, Human Rights Watch said today.
Venezuela: Official Press Agency Distorts Human Rights Watch’s Position
(Washington, October 28, 2003) Venezuela’s official government press agency has published an article that distorts Human Rights Watch’s position on freedom of expression, Human Rights Watch said today.
Nepal/Bhutan: Bilateral Talks Fail to Solve Refugee Crisis
(New York, October 28, 2003) The latest round of talks between the governments of Bhutan and Nepal to resolve the Bhutanese refugee crisis has failed to provide a solution, a coalition of five leading nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) said today. Donor countries should convene an international conference to devise a solution to the longstanding crisis.