Skip to main content

This Human Rights Day, we’re focusing on the inspiring moments in a challenging and uncertain year. Women protesting for their freedoms in Iran and Afghanistan have shown the heart of resistance. A victory for reproductive rights in Colombia could help pave a path for women advocating in other countries. A trial on crimes against humanity in Syria proved to be a watershed event for torture survivors and international justice. In a reminder of the power of people and perseverance, here are some of our favorite inspiring human rights stories from 2022.

Iranians protesting in Tehran, Iran, on October 1, 2022.  © 2022 AP Photo/Middle East Images

Schoolgirls Leading Iran Protests for Freedom
Women and girls are leading protests across Iran, waving their head coverings and chanting “women, life, freedom!”, after the death of 22-year-old Mahsa (Jina) Amini following her arrest by morality policy in September. The protests and the young women at their center are a true story of bravery.

Abortion rights activists celebrate in front of Colombia’s Constitutional Court in Bogota, Colombia, February 21, 2022. © 2022 AP Photo/Fernando Vergara

How Colombia Could Inspire the Fight for Abortion Rights in the US
The United States Supreme Court may have overturned Roe v. Wade in June, but people living there can look to Colombia for motivation, as abortion rights were expanded there earlier this year.

Demonstrators protesting so-called “virginity tests” and sexual violence in Indonesian schools and universities during the Women's March rally in Jakarta, Indonesia, March 2020. © 2020 Andreas Harsono/Human Rights Watch

Indonesia Military Finally Ends Abusive ‘Virginity Test’
In a landmark move, Indonesia’s military has finally ended degrading “virginity tests” as part of the recruitment process for women.

Afghan women display placards and chant slogans a day after a suicide bomb attack at Dasht-e-Barchi learning center, in Kabul on October 1, 2022. © 2022 AFP via Getty Images

In Afghanistan, Resistance Means Women
Happy Human Rights Day to the brave women of Afghanistan who are standing up to the Taliban’s repression and demanding recognition of the right to education and the reopening of girls’ secondary schools. They are calling for respect for women’s fundamental rights and demanding women’s social and political participation in society. We stand with them.

Laborers remove scaffolding at the Al Bayt stadium in Al Khor, Qatar, Monday, April 29, 2019. © AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili

EU Parliament Backs Remedy Fund for Qatar Migrant Abuses
Ahead of the World Cup in Qatar this year, HRW and others worked to draw attention to the migrant workers who have been injured, had their wages stolen, or even died in unexplained ways while building the infrastructure around the games. Now momentum is growing around compensation for these workers and their families who have suffered.

From left, Syrian women Samaa Mahmoud, Mariam Alhallak and Yasmen Almashan hold pictures of relatives who were forcibly disappeared in Syria, before the verdict in front of the court in Koblenz, Germany, January 13, 2022.  © 2022 AP Photo/Martin Meissner

A German Court’s Conviction for State Torture in Syria
The conviction of a former Syrian intelligence officer for crimes against humanity by a German court was the latest in a groundbreaking step toward justice for serious crimes in Syria, and another meaningful moment for civilians who survived torture and sexual abuse in Syria’s prisons.

Children released from military detention in Nigeria in July 2018. © UNICEF/UN038572/Naftalin

Nigeria Agrees to End Military Detention of Children
Good news for kids: Nigeria’s agreement to transfer thousands of children out of military custody is an important milestone that will help prevent the military detention of children and ensure they receive needed support.

A protestor holds a sign outside a provincial jail in Toronto during a rally against immigration detention, 2022. © 2022 Samer Muscati/HRW

Big Wins in Campaign to End Immigration Detention in Canada
Our joint campaign to end the use of provincial jails for immigration detention in Canada has been gaining steam. Four provinces have now cancelled their immigration detention contracts with the government. It’s time Canada ended this devastating practice once and for all.

And from social media...

A huge first: Ketanji Brown Jackson became the first Black woman to serve on the US Supreme Court.

The 2022 Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to human rights defenders from Belarus, Russia, and Ukraine, giving well-deserved recognition to the activists fighting for rights and justice on behalf of populations under siege.


Follow us on TikTok!

@humanrightswatch From Iran to Colombia, this year has been a reminder of the power of people and perseverance. Happy #HumanRightsDay2022! #Iran #Afghanistan #Poland #China #Niger #Colombia #Kazakhstan #PapuaNewGuinea #Zambia #Malaysia #Russia #Ukraine #WomensRights #HumanRights ♬ original sound - Human Rights Watch

Your tax deductible gift can help stop human rights violations and save lives around the world.

Region / Country

Most Viewed