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Last updated Friday, October 31, 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)

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.
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.
D.R. Congo: U.N. Must Address Corporate Role in War
(New York, October 27, 2003) The United Nations Security Council should insist that member states launch immediate investigations into the involvement of multinational corporations accused of profiteering from the war in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), said a leading group of nongovernmental organizations today.
Russia: Pretrial Detention Excessive in Espionage Case
(New York, October 27, 2003) Russia should immediately release Igor Sutiagin, an arms researcher jailed on espionage charges, Human Rights Watch said in a briefing paper released today, on the fourth anniversary of his imprisonment by Russia’s Federal Security Service.
Iran: Detained Professor Should Be Freed
(New York, October 24, 2003) Dariush Zahedi, an Iranian-American academic held without charge by Iranian authorities since July, should be released immediately and unconditionally, Human Rights Watch said today.
Zimbabwe: Food Used as Political Weapon
(New York, October 24, 2003) Zimbabwean authorities discriminate against perceived political opponents by denying them access to food programs, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today.
Iraq: Donors Should Insist on Rights Monitoring
(New York, October 22, 2003) - Donor governments must insist that human rights are monitored in Iraq to ensure that their assistance is having a positive impact on the ground, Human Rights Watch said today as an international donors conference begins in Madrid.
United States: Mentally Ill Mistreated in Prison
(New York, October 22, 2003) Mentally ill offenders face mistreatment and neglect in many U.S. prisons, Human Rights Watch charged in a report released today.
Iraqi Civilians Fall Victim to Hair Triggers
(October 21, 2003) -- The U.S. military does not keep statistics on the civilian deaths it has caused, saying it is "impossible for us to maintain an accurate account." But in two weeks of research last month, Human Rights Watch confirmed the deaths of 20 Iraqi civilians in Baghdad at the hands of American troops since the end of major combat operations in May. In total, we collected reports of 94 civilian deaths in Baghdad involving questionable legal circumstances that warrant investigation.
Iraq: Civilian Deaths Need U.S. Investigation
(New York, October 21, 2003) The U.S. military is failing to conduct proper investigations into civilian deaths resulting from the excessive or indiscriminate use of force in Baghdad, Human Rights Watch charged in a new report released today.
Burma: APEC Leaders Must Send Clear Message to Burma
(New York, October 18, 2003) -- Leaders of Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) nations at their meeting in Bangkok on October 20-21 must forge a common position to isolate and pressure the Burmese military government to respect human rights and return Burma to civilian rule.
Algeria: Human Rights Defender Acquitted in Retrial

(New York, October 17, 2003) The acquittal yesterday of Algerian human rights activist Salaheddine Sidhoum was a welcome step toward ending Algeria’s record of intimidating those who work to protect human rights, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch said today.
Thaksin's Potemkin Welcome for APEC
(October 17, 2003) -- If APEC's leaders offer the excuse that their meetings are about economics and not about human rights, they will effectively give the green light to Mr. Thaksin. They will also show APEC to be irrelevant to the basic needs of its citizens. This would violate one of APEC's own goals, which is "Making APEC Matter More."
Azerbaijan: Post-Election Clashes Turn Deadly   (Photo Gallery)
(Baku, October 17, 2003) Violent clashes between security forces and opposition protesters in Azerbaijan have left at least one civilian dead and hundreds wounded just one day after presidential elections, Human Rights Watch said today.
Chile: U.S. Jury Finds Chilean Ex-Officer Liable for Abuses
(Washington, D.C., October 16, 2003) -- In the first verdict handed down by a U.S. jury for crimes against humanity, a federal jury in Miami yesterday awarded $4 million in damages against a Chilean former army officer, marking an important breakthrough for accountability, Human Rights Watch said today.
Azerbaijan: Police Attack Protesters on Election Day
(Baku, October 16, 2003) Azerbaijani police and security forces beat opposition supporters in an unprovoked attack on the day of the presidential election, Human Rights Watch said today. At least three-dozen wounded have been trapped inside the headquarters of Musavat, one of Azerbaijan’s leading opposition parties.
Bolivia: Exercise Restraint in Response to Protests
(Washington, D.C., October 15, 2003) Bolivian President Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada must bar troops from using lethal force against protesters unless its use is absolutely necessary to protect life, Human Rights Watch said today.
Indonesia: Remove Abusive Soldiers from Aceh
(New York, October 15, 2003) The Indonesian government should remove from its military campaign in Aceh officers responsible for gross human rights violations in Indonesia and East Timor, Human Rights Watch said today in a briefing paper.
Labor Rights Protections in CAFTA
(October 14, 2003) -- In January 2003, U.S.-Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) negotiations began among the United States, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua. The final negotiating round is scheduled for early December 2003. CAFTA presents an important opportunity to raise labor standards throughout Central America. Free trade alone, however, cannot guarantee greater respect for workers’ rights. Instead, meaningful protections for workers’ human rights should be built into CAFTA.
Nepal/ Bhutan: Donors Must Push for Resolution to Refugee Crisis
Donor countries to Bhutan and Nepal should convene an international conference to resolve the long-standing Bhutanese refugee crisis, six leading nongovernmental organizations said in a joint letter.
Azerbaijan: Election Run-up Not Free and Fair
(Baku, October 13, 2003) Azerbaijan's presidential elections cannot be considered free and fair because of widespread abuse and bias favoring government candidates, Human Rights Watch said in a briefing paper released today.
Malaysia: Migrant Rights Advocate Should Be Acquitted
(New York, October 13, 2003) Malaysian human rights advocate Irene Fernandez should be cleared of all charges of maliciously publishing false news in a report that exposed abusive conditions in the country's immigration detention camps, Human Rights Watch said today.
Pakistan: Four Years After Coup, Rights Abuses Abound
(New York, October 10, 2003) -- Pervez Musharraf's four-year rule in Pakistan has led to serious human rights abuses, Human Rights Watch charged today in a letter to the Pakistani president.
Nobel Prize for Iranian Activist Welcomed
(New York, October 10, 2003) The Nobel Prize Committee's choice of Iranian rights defender Shirin Ebadi for this year's Peace Prize is a welcome sign of international support for all Iranians, and especially Iranian women, struggling to exercise their basic rights, Human Rights Watch said today.
Iran: EU Must Not Forget Political Prisoners
Freedom of Expression Remains at Risk in Iran
(New York, October 10, 2003) As European and Iranian officials and nongovernmental organizations met in a human rights dialogue about freedom of expression this week in Brussels, speaking out became even riskier in Iran, Human Rights Watch said today in a letter to European Union delegates.
Guatemala: U.N. Should Advance Investigative Commission
(Washington, D.C., October 9, 2003) The United Nations should move quickly to establish a commission to investigate political violence in Guatemala, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights said today in a letter sent to U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan.
Malaysia: End Intimidation of News Website
(New York, October 8, 2003) The Malaysian government should drop its case against the news website Malaysiakini, Human Rights Watch said today. On October 6, the government announced that it had forwarded its nine-month-long investigation to the attorney general for a decision on whether to prosecute.
Kyrgyzstan: Civil Society Groups Face Harassment
(New York, October 7, 2003) The Kyrgyz government should stop interfering with human rights and election-monitoring groups in Kyrgyzstan, Human Rights Watch said today.
China: Release Health Official Jailed for AIDS Report
(New York, October 7, 2003) -- China should immediately release a health official convicted for circulating a restricted government report on the Henan blood scandal, Human Rights Watch said today. The report blamed national authorities for the spread of HIV to villagers who sold their blood in the province.
Ukraine: EU Should Press for Rights Commitments at Summit
(New York, October 7, 2003) European Union leaders should use today’s summit with Ukraine to secure concrete human rights commitments from the Ukrainian government, Human Rights Watch said today.
Egypt: Crackdown on Homosexual Men Continues
(New York, October 7, 2003) A recent roundup in Cairo of men suspected of having sex with men, and the continued imprisonment of men already convicted, show that Egypt's crackdown on homosexuals continues unabated, Human Rights Watch said today.
Algeria: Free Jailed Human Rights Defender

(New York, October 4, 2003) Algerian human rights defender Slaheddine Sidhoum should be freed from prison and guaranteed a fair trial, Human Rights Watch said today in a letter to the Algeria’s minister of justice.
An invisible enemy
(October 3, 2003) -- Landmines pose an ever-present danger to everyone within the borders of Afghanistan; its citizens and the soldiers of the world charged with keeping peace for them. Last year, the Red Cross recorded 1,286 landmine deaths in Afghanistan, one of the highest mine tolls anywhere on Earth. Numerous other casualties are believed to have gone unreported.
Uganda: Security Force Executions Reported
(New York, October 3, 2003) -- The Ugandan government must immediately investigate the reported recent execution of four detainees by state security agents, Human Rights Watch said today. The authorities should also reveal the whereabouts of 10 others arbitrarily detained, and must charge or release them.
Thailand: Do Not Close Burmese Refugee Clinic
(New York, October 3, 2003)—The Thai government should not force a renowned health clinic on the Thai-Burma border to close or deport its predominantly ethnic Karen staff to Burma where they could face persecution, Human Rights Watch said today.
Azerbaijan: Intimidation of Election-Training Advocates
(Baku, October 2, 2003) The Azerbaijani authorities should immediately investigate the expulsion of an international election-training team from Nakhchivan and the beating of four women’s rights advocates there, Human Rights Watch said today. The events took place two weeks before Azerbaijan’s October 15 presidential elections.
Iran: Stop Punishing Student Activists
(New York, October 1, 2003) Iranian authorities should stop using university disciplinary committees as a means to punish students for participating in political protests, Human Rights Watch said today.
Israel: West Bank Barrier Endangers Basic Rights  (Français)
(New York, October 1, 2003) The United States should deduct the cost of the West Bank separation barrier from U.S. loan guarantees for Israel, Human Rights Watch said today.
Chadian Activist Fired by International Agency    (Français)
(New York, September 30, 2003) - Souleymane Guengueng, a torture victim and award-winning human rights activist from Chad, has been fired from his position with the World Bank-backed Lake Chad Basin Commission (LCBC), Human Rights Watch said today. The Commission apparently took the measure in reprisal for his campaign to bring to justice the former dictator of Chad, Hissène Habré.