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The Work of Human Rights Watch
The Americas division of Human Rights Watch responded to crises throughout the hemisphere, while focusing the bulk of our attention on a core group of countries with the most serious human rights problems. We

sought, in each country where we worked, to address the most essential human rights problem: police brutality in Argentina, freedom of expression in Chile, violations of international humanitarian law in Colombia, prison conditions in Brazil, torture and impunity in Mexico, torture in Peru, and overall human rights conditions and the U.S. embargo in Cuba. Several of these projects resulted in published reports. In our reports, and in subsequent advocacy, we provided detailed practical recommendations to address fundamental human rights issues.

In December 1997, we released in English and Spanish a report on torture in Peru; shortly thereafter one of our chief recommendations, promulgation of legislation abolishing torture and specifying appropriately severe penalties, was accomplished. In June 1998 we also published a Spanish-language translation and update of our 1997 report on prison conditions in Venezuela. In October 1998, we released a report in English and Spanish on violations of international humanitarian law in Colombia—the first comprehensive study on the subject. We presented the report to the new president, Andrés Pastrana, and urged him to integrate human rights and humanitarian law conditions into his peace discussions with guerrillas.

Also in October, we released in Spanish a detailed study of police brutality in Argentina, in conjunction with an Argentine human rights group, the Center for Legal Studies (Centro de Estudios Legales, CELS). In Brazil, we followed up on our previous work on police brutality by addressing the nation’s other most serious and widespread human rights crisis: conditions in a wide range of detention facilities, with a report in preparation at this writing. The executive director released the reports on Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Peru, and Venezuela in those countries’ respective capitals, discussing their findings with government officials, the press, human rights organizations, U.S., European, and Latin American diplomats.

For a listing of relevant reports and missions, see the Appendix on Missions. Partial listings also follow each country chapter.













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