Human Rights Watch
World Report 2007
email to a friend   Email add to    Add to  (?) add to digg this article    digg  (?) RSS feed    RSS  (?)
Spacer Cover




Audio Commentary

Press Conference

Photography - Year in Review

News Release





Governments the world over will always be tempted to sidestep human rights, whether in their treatment of their own people or their relations with other governments. If their own values and institutions do not restrain them, external pressure is needed. Those who indulge this temptation must be made to pay a price until human rights are respected at home and find their proper place in the conduct of foreign policy.

But unless a new leader emerges in this time of diminished US credibility, the tyrants of the world will enjoy free rein. Both EU members and democratic governments of the developing world have found safety in numbers, the ease of hiding in the pack when the going gets rough. EU governments retreat behind consensus rules, other democratic governments behind regional networks. Neither technique for evading the burdens of leadership should be accepted, particularly at a time when China and Russia are mostly leading in the wrong direction.

It is time to transcend these excuses. New leadership on human rights could come from visionary governments of the developing world, a more nimble European Union, or if the new Congress finds its voice, a US government that recovers its ideals. One way or the other, the people of the world need meaningful leadership on human rights. The urgency of this need should not be underestimated—if the great treaty commitments of the twentieth century are not to give way to hypocrisy and empty promises in the twenty-first.

This Report

This report is Human Rights Watch’s seventeenth annual review of human rights practices around the globe. It summarizes key human rights issues in more than 70 countries worldwide, drawing on events through mid-November 2006.

Each country entry identifies significant human rights issues, examines the freedom of local human rights defenders to conduct their work, and surveys the response of key international actors, such as the United Nations, European Union, Japan, the United States, and various regional and international organizations and institutions.

This report reflects extensive investigative work undertaken in 2006 by the Human Rights Watch research staff, usually in close partnership with human rights activists in the country in question. It also reflects the work of our advocacy team, which monitors policy developments and strives to persuade governments and international institutions to curb abuses and promote human rights. Human Rights Watch publications, issued throughout the year, contain more detailed accounts of many of the issues addressed in the brief summaries collected in this volume. They can be found on the Human Rights Watch website,

As in past years, this report does not include a chapter on every country where Human Rights Watch works, nor does it discuss every issue of importance. The failure to include a particular country or issue often reflects no more than staffing limitations and should not be taken as commentary on the significance of the problem. There are many serious human rights violations that Human Rights Watch simply lacks the capacity to address.

The factors we considered in determining the focus of our work in 2006 (and hence the content of this volume) include the number of people affected and the severity of abuse, access to the country and the availability of information about it, the susceptibility of abusive forces to influence, and the importance of addressing certain thematic concerns and of reinforcing the work of local rights organizations.

The World Report does not have separate chapters addressing our thematic work but instead incorporates such material directly into the country entries. Please consult the Human Rights Watch website for more detailed treatment of our work on children’s rights, women’s rights, arms and military issues, business and human rights, HIV/AIDS and human rights, international justice, terrorism and counterterrorism, refugees and displaced people, and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people’s rights, and for information about our international film festivals.

Kenneth Roth is executive director of Human Rights Watch.