HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH
World Report 1999
Impunity in Cambodia: How Human Rights Offenders Escape Justice
A Report by Adhoc, Licadho, and Human Rights Watch
June 1999 (C1103)
In this report, three human rights organizations urged the Royal Cambodian Government to end impunity for perpetrators of human rights violations in Cambodia. Two Cambodian organizations, Adhoc and Licadho, joined with an international human rights organization, Human Rights Watch, to document the failure of the government at all levels to prosecute civilian and military authorities for killing and torture. During a two-month investigation into impunity in Cambodia, the rights organizations found that a major cause of the problem was a lack of political will by the government to prosecute known human rights abusers. Adding to the problem is the lack of neutrality and independence of the judicial and law enforcement systems, as well as a low level of professionalism in these bodies. The report also identifies as a problem the excessive use of lethal force and misuse of weapons by law enforcement officials. The report was based in part on a study by Adhoc and Licadho that found that between January 1997 and October 1998 at least 263 people were allegedly killed by police, military, gendarmes, militia, or civil servants.
(D1103) 6/99, 41pp., $5.00
Ticking Time Bombs: NATO's Use of Cluster Munitions in Yugoslavia
June 1999 (D1106)
The announcement by the U.S. Defense Department at the end of April of a move toward the use of more Aarea weapons in Operation Allied Force, and the reports of a growing shortage of precision-guided weapons, point to an increased use of unguided (dumb) weapons by North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) forces in the war against Yugoslavia, including so-called cluster bombs. Human Rights Watch is concerned that the use of cluster bombs raises questions of humanitarian law, and that the use in particular of the CBU-89 Gator scatterable mine would directly violate the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty, which bans the production, use, trade, and stockpiling of antipersonnel landmines. The extensive use in armed conflict of cluster bombs, which contain large numbers of submunitions, uniquely threatens the civilian population. These submunitions which are expendable because they are designed simply to make them plentiful and individually less expensive are dispersed over large areas, creating a grave lingering danger for the noncombatant civilian population. This is because cluster bomb submunitions have been shown to have a significant dud, or failure, rate.The duds in effect become antipersonnel landmines, incapable of distinguishing between combatants and innocent civilians.
(D1106) 6/99, 18pp., $3.00
Toxic Justice: Human Rights, Justice, and Toxic Waste in Cambodia
May 1999 (C1102)
In November 1998, nearly 3,000 tons of Taiwanese toxic waste were dumped in a field in the southern port of Sihanoukville. At the time, there was no law banning such dumping, but Minister of Environment Mok Mareth said publicly and repeatedly that toxic waste imports were prohibited in Cambodia and a national policy to that effect was in force. Local people panicked: thousands fled the city. Others in Sihanoukville exercised their constitutional rights and in December held two days of public demonstrations, blaming government corruption for the presence of the toxic material. The demonstrators did not obtain permission to protest publicly, however, and when some of them grew violent, ransacking several buildings, police made several arrests. The local authorities sought to blame incitement of the riots on two human rights defenders, Kim Sen and Meas Minear, staff members of the Cambodian human rights group Licadho, or Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights. Arrested in December, the two were held for a month and charged with committing robbery and property damage. No convincing evidence has been presented against them, but they still face up to ten years in prison if convicted.
(C1102), 5/99, 23pp., $3.00
Nigeria: Crackdown in the Niger Delta
May 1999 (A1102)
In this twenty-five page report, Human Rights Watch also draws attention to the crisis among Nigeria's oil producing communities, where serious human rights violations have continued unabated, despite the relaxation of repression elsewhere in Nigeria since the death of former head of state General Sani Abacha in June 1998. This report is an update to The Price of Oil, a 200-page Human Rights Watch report on corporate responsibility in the oil producing communities in Nigeria released in February 1999. The report also examines the military response to initially peaceful demonstrations against oil production in the Niger Delta in late December and early January, concluding that more than one hundred people, mostly unarmed, were killed by soldiers. Human Rights Watch urges that those responsible be prosecuted or disciplined. It also recommends that Nigeria's government initiate an immediate, inclusive and transparent process of negotiation with freely chosen representatives of the peoples living in the Niger Delta to resolve the issues surrounding the production of oil.
(A1102), 5/99, 27pp., $5.00
U.S.: Red Onion State Prison: Super-Maximum Security Confinement in Virginia
April 1999 (G1101)
The treatment of inmates at Red Onion State Prison, Virginia’s first super-maximum security facility, raises serious human rights concerns.1 The Virginia Department of Corrections is responsible for safely and humanely confining all its inmates, even those deemed to be violent, disruptive or to pose other security risks. Like many corrections departments across the country, Virginia’s has endorsed the confinement of purportedly dangerous inmates in extremely restrictive, highly controlled facilities. Absent thoughtful leadership and careful policies, the potential for human rights abuses at such "supermax" facilities is great. At Red Onion, unfortunately, the Virginia Department of Corrections has failed to embrace basic tenets of sound correctional practice and laws protecting inmates from abusive, degrading or cruel treatment.
(G1101) 05/99, 24pp., $3.00
Arsenals on the Cheap: Nato Expansion and the Arms Cascade
April 1999 (D1105)
As the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) celebrates its 50th anniversary and welcomes its three new members—the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Poland—one of the likely consequences of the Alliance’s enlargement eastwards remains largely unexplored: a firesale of stocks of old weapons. These arms will continue to fan the flames of violent conflict around the world, and embolden human rights abusers. To be sure, cheap and obsolete weapons have been in high demand by combatants with dismal records on human rights. This lethal trade will only increase when more weapons are freed up by former Warsaw Pact countries downsizing their military forces and striving to upgrade their arsenals to meet NATO standards. The signs of this trend have been visible since the early 1990s when Warsaw Pact standard weapons, particularly small arms, were acquired by combatants in Africa and elsewhere, at times in violation of international or regional arms embargoes.
(D1105) 4/99, 21pp., $3.00
Turkey: Violations of Free Expression in Turkey
April 1999 (2262)
This report examines the state of free expression in Turkey. It focuses largely on the print and broadcast media, and to a lesser extent on freedom of speech in politics. The report deals with the period from 1995 to the present; when necessary, however, earlier periods are also explored. Given the plethora and ideological breadth of the media and of political parties in Turkey, this study cannot hope to deal with each and every newspaper, author, or political group. Rather, it uses representative cases to highlight violations of the internationally-protected right to free expression. The press in Turkey—in the vernacular of psychiatry—suffers from multiple personality disorder. When reporting on the vast majority of issues, such as domestic party politics or the economy, the media today is lively and unrestricted—indeed often sensational. Nearly all points of view are expressed, from radical Islamist to Kurdish-nationalist and dyed-in-the-wool Kemalist. The boundaries of criticism are nearly limitless when reporting on most issues.
(2262) 4/99, 130pp.
Broken People:Caste Violence Against India’s "Untouchables"
March 1999 (2289)
Some 160 million people in India live a precarious existence, shunned by much of society because of their rank as "untouchables" or Dalits—literally meaning "broken" people—at the bottom of India's caste system. Dalits are discriminated against, denied access to land, forced to work in degrading conditions, and routinely abused, even killed, at the hands of the police and of higher-caste groups that enjoy the state's protection. Dalit women are frequent victims of sexual abuse. In what has been called India's "hidden apartheid," entire villages in many Indian states remain completely segregated by caste. National legislation and constitutional protections serve only to mask the social realities of discrimination and violence. This report also documents the government's attempts to criminalize peaceful social activism through the arbitrary arrest and detention of Dalit activists, and its failure to abolish exploitative labor practices and implement relevant legislation.
(2289) 3/99, 310pp.
Bulgaria: Money Talks -- Arms Dealing with Human Rights Abusers
March 1999 (D1104)
Bulgaria has earned a reputation as an anything-goes weapons bazaar where Kalashnikov assault rifles, mortars, antitank mines, ammunition,explosives and other items are available for a price — no matter who the buyers are or how they might use the deadly wares. In the 1990s Bulgaria has been a weapons source for armed forces in Iraq, the former Yugoslavia, Angola, and Rwanda, among other countries. It has beenimplicated repeatedly in weapons sales to regions of armed conflict, countries under international or regional arms embargoes, and armed forces known to commit gross violations of human rights and international humanitarian law. Bulgaria is an important source of small arms and light weapons, but it has also sold a considerable amount of surplus heavy weapons from its arsenal.
(D1104) 04/99, 56pp., $7.00
Leave None to Tell the Story: Genocide in Rwanda
March 1999 (1711)
In 1994 a small elite chose genocide to keep power in Rwanda. They usedstate resources and authority to incite--or force--tens of thousands of Rwandans to kill the Tutsi minority. Within one hundred days, they slaughtered more thanhalf a million people, three quarters of the Tutsi of Rwanda. The major international actors, France, the U.S., Belgium, and the U.N., failed to heed the warnings of coming disaster and refused to recognize the genocide when it began. They withdrew the troops that could have saved lives and made littleprotest against the genocide, lest condemnation lead to calls for action. 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. It describes opposition to the killing campaign and how it was broken. In the words of survivors, it relates how they resisted and escaped. Using diplomatic and court documents, the study details the transformation of international indifference into tardy criticism. By showing how even feeble censure caused changes in the genocidal program, the study suggest what might have been the result had the world promptly and firmly cried "Never Again."
(1711) 03/99, 807 pp.,
ISBN 1-56432-171-1, $35.00
Croatia: Second Class Citizens -- The Serbs of Croatia
March 1999 (D1103)
On January 15, 1998, the United Nations transferred authority over Eastern Slavonia, Baranja and Western Sirmium (hereafter, Eastern Slavonia) to the Croatian government, bringing the last remaining Serb-held territory of Croatia back under Croatian control Despite positive developments in terms of the repeal of some discriminatory legislation, and a generally stable security situation, Serbs remain second class citizens in Croatia. They are frequently unable to exercise the most basic rights: to live in their own homes, to receive pensionsand social security benefits after a lifetime of work, to be recognized as citizens in the country of their birth, and in many cases, to return to andlive freely in Croatia. As a result of discriminatory laws, and above all discriminatory practices, Croatian Serbs do not enjoy their civil rights asCroatian citizens. This is particularly true for Serbs living in the four former United Nations Protected Areas (UNPAs) in Eastern Slavonia andWestern Slavonia, the Krajina, and Banija-Kordun (former Sector North), which formed the self-declared "Republika Srpska Krajina," and whichare the focus of this report.
(D1103) 03/99, 62pp., $7.00
Indonesia/EastTimor: The Violence in Ambon
March 1999 (C1101)
On January 19, 1999, as Muslims around the world were celebrating the end of the fasting month, a fight broke out on the island of Ambon, in Maluku (Molucca) province, Indonesia, between a Christian public transport driver and a Muslim youth. Such fights were commonplace, but this one escalated into a virtual war between Christians and Muslims that is continuing. Much of the central part o fthe city of Ambon, the capital of Maluku province, and many neighborhoods (kampung) in other parts of Ambon island and the neighboring islands of Ceram, Saparua, Manipa, Haruku, and Sanana have been burned to the ground. Some 30,000 people have been displaced by theconflict, although the figure is constantly shifting. The death toll by early March was well over 160 and rising rapidly as army reinforcements, brought in to restore order, began firing on rioters armed with sharp weapons and homemade bombs. Questions as to who was accountable for the violence in Ambon and surrounding islands focused on three issues: Who started it? Why did it escalate so fast? What, if anything, could the government have done to halt it? And what should the government be doing now?
(C1101) 03/99, 31pp., $5.00
Famine in Sudan: The Human Rights Causes
February 1999 (1932)
This report charges that the Sudanese government's abusive tactics, and the predatory practices of rebel forces and government-sponsored tribal militia, have turned this famine into a disaster requiring the largest emergency relief operation in the world in 1998,and the largest airlift operation since the Berlin airlift. The government spends about one million dollars a day on the war, roughly the same amount the international community spent on relief at the height of the famine. It also urges the warring parties to end looting and attacks on civilians, as well as the diversion of civilian relief aid. It calls on the Sudan government and rebel authorities to punish those guilty of such abuses. And it asks that the international community actively support U.N. human rights monitors for Sudan, either inside the country or on its borders, who would be tasked to promptly inform the world of human rights abuses, especially those that might lead to another famine. Finally, the report calls on the government of Sudan to honor the promise it made to the U.N. Secretary-General in 1998, to provide humanitarian access to rebel areas of the Nuba Mountains which have been besieged for ten years by the government.
(1932) 02/99, 224 pp.,
ISBN 1-56432-193-2, $15.00
A Week of Terror in Drenica: Humanitarian Law Violations in Kosovo
February 1999 (2270)
This report documents serious violations of international humanitarian law committed by Serbian and Yugoslav government forces in Kosovo’s Drenica region during the last week of September 1998. As Yugoslav President Slobodan Miloševic wrapped up a summer-long offensive against the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), special forces of the Serbian police (MUP) and Yugoslav Army (VJ) committed summary executions, indiscriminately attacked civilians, and systematically destroyed civilian property, all of which are violations of the rules of war and can be prosecuted by the International War Crimes Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY). These atrocities took place in the face of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1199, passed on September 23, 1998, which demanded an immediate cessation of all actions by the Yugoslav and Serbian security forces against civilians.
(2270) 02/99, 110 pp.
ISBN 1-56432-227-0, $10.00
Democratic Republic of Congo -- Casualties of War Civilians, Rule of Law, and Democratic Freedoms
February 1999 (A1101)
With the disintegration of the rule of law in Congo and elsewhere in the region, Congo has become the battle ground for the interests of its neighbors and a Congolese political and military elite—all at the expense of Congolese civilians. In this context, neither the Congolese government and its allies, the RCD and its backers, nor the myriad of militia and rebel groups in Congo have made respect for human rights a priority. Without firm action from international players in the region and elsewhere, the results for the Congolese are likely to be more abuses and a further degradation of the situation. This report is based on Human Rights Watch field investigations in November and December of 1998 to eastern and western Congo as well as other countries in the region.
(A1101) 2/99, 32pp., $5.00
The Price of Oil: Corporate Responsibility and Human Rights Violations in
Nigeria’s Oil Producing Communities
February 1999 (2254)
This report is an exploration of human rights violations related to oil exploration and production in the Niger Delta, and of the role and responsibilities of the major multinational oil companies in respect of those violations. The Niger Delta has for some years been the site of major confrontations between the people who live there and the Nigerian government security forces, resulting in extra-judicial executions, arbitrary detentions, and draconian restrictions on the rights to freedom of expression, association, and assembly. These violations of civil and political rights have been committed principally in response to protests about the activities of the multinational companies that produce Nigeria’s oil. Although the June 1998 death of former head of state Gen. Sani Abacha and his succession by Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar has brought a significant relaxation in the unprecedented repression General Abacha inflicted on the Nigerian people, and General Abubakar appears committed to ensuring the installation of an elected civilian government in May 1999, human rights abuses in the oil producing communities continue and the basic situation in the delta remains unchanged.
(2254) 01/99, 224 pp.,
ISBN 1-56432-225-4, $15.00
The Enron Corporation: Corporate Complicity in Human Rights Violations
January 1999 (1975)
This report focuses on a subsidiary of the Enron Development Corporation in India: the Dabhol Power Corporation (DPC). It details the development of the Dabhol Power project from its inception in 1992 through 1998 in order to illustrate an unbroken continuum: the immense influence that Enron exercised over the central and Maharashtra governments; to describe the company's interaction with villagers,whose legitimate concerns for their livelihood and environment were ignored or dismissed, leading them eventually to oppose the project; to make clear that various avenues to address their concerns about the project,judicial proceedings and direct dialogue with the company,had been exhausted in ways that raised questions rather than answering them. The local opposition that formed to protest the project's lack of transparency, its human impact, its threat to villagers' livelihoods, and its potential to do environmental damage was the affected population's last recourse. The opposition was met with serious, sometimes brutal human rights violations carried out on behalf of the state's and the company's interests. The relationship between the controversies surrounding implementation of the project, the efforts to challenge its development, and violations of human rights are all described in detail here because each is an integral part of a complex, disturbing situation.
(1975) 1/99, 176 pp.,
ISBN 1-56432-197-5, $15.00
Systemic Injustice: Torture, "Disappearance," and Extrajudicial Execution in Mexico
January 1999 (1983)
Torture, "disappearances," and extrajudicial executions remain widespread in Mexico, despite numerous legal and institutional reforms adduced by successive Mexican governments as evidence of their commitment to protecting human rights. Indeed, reforms have taken place, but they have failed to abate, much less resolve, these serious, seemingly intractable problems. In part, this is because political leaders have been unwilling to ensure that existing human rights-related laws are applied vigorously; authorities are more likely to close ranks and deny that even well-documented abuses ever took place than they are to insist that those responsible be brought to justice. The problem, however, runs far deeper than official toleration of abuses and impunity. Human rights violations also stem from the justice system’s ineffective protection of individual guarantees and its lax approach to human rights abuses. Through willful ignorance of abuses or purposeful fabrication of evidence, prosecutors routinely prosecute victims using evidence obtained through human rights violations, including torture and illegal detention, and judges avail themselves of permissive law and legal precedent to condemn victims while ignoring abuses.
(1983) 01/99, 136 pp.,
ISBN 1-56432-198-3, $10.00
Greece:The Turks of Western Thrace
January 1999 (D1101)
This report examines the situation of the ethnic Turkish minority of Thrace, a region of Greece. It serves as a follow-up to two earlier reports issued by Human Rights Watch, Destroying Ethnic Identity: The Turks of Greece (August 1990) and "Greece: Improvements for Turkish Minority; Problems Remain" (April 1992). Ethnic Turks have resided in Thrace since at least the fourteenth century, and they are Greek citizens. In 1923, under the Treaty of Lausanne, the Turkish minority of Thrace was granted a wide array of rights to ensure protection of their religion, language, culture, and equality before the law. In addition, as Greek citizens, ethnic Turks also enjoy the protection of Greek law, as well as of the European Convention of Human Rights. Despite such protections, however, ethnic Turks suffer a host of human rights violations. The Greek state has for the most part been unable to accept the fact that one can be a loyal Greek citizen and, at the same time, an ethnic Turk proud of his or her culture and religion. Turks are viewed by the state with suspicion, the strength of which largely reflects the state of Turkish-Greek relations.
(D1101) 1/99, 38pp., $5.00
Deepening Authoritarianism in Serbia: The Purge of the Universities
January 1999 (D1102)
Under the pretext of "depoliticizing" the campuses, the Serbian parliament in May 1998 enacted a law that removed basic protections for academic freedom and destroyed the autonomy of universities in Serbia. Over the past seven months, leaders of the ruling parties have put their own political allies in charge of the campuses and have suspended or fired many of the most respected professors and researchers in Serbia. The de facto government takeover of the universities is part of a broader effort by Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic to shut down dissent, autonomous inquiry, and free expression in Serbia. With the attention of the international community focused on preventing further bloodshed in conflict-ridden Kosovo, Milosevic and his political allies have used their control of the Serbian parliament to enact and implement draconian new laws severely restricting independent media and freedom of expression (D1102) 01/99, 32pp., $5.00
Reports from 1998