A Global Look at How Governments Repress Nationals Abroad

The 46-page report, “‘We Will Find You’: A Global Look at How Governments Repress Nationals Abroad,” is a rights-centered analysis of how governments are targeting dissidents, activists, political opponents, and others living abroad. Human Rights Watch examined killings, removals, abductions and enforced disappearances, collective punishment of relatives, abuse of consular services, and digital attacks. The report also highlights governments’ targeting of women fleeing abuse, and government misuse of Interpol.

Illustration of a map being used to bind someone's mouth


  • November 14, 2023

    Abuse of Imprisoned Women in Japan

    The 76-page report, “‘They Don’t Treat Us like Human Beings’: Abuse of Imprisoned Women in Japan,” documents the abusive conditions in many women’s prisons in Japan. Government policies towards women in prison violate international human rights conventions and contravene international standards such as the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules of the Treatment of Prisoners, known as the Mandela Rules. Prison authorities use restraints on imprisoned pregnant women, arbitrarily employ solitary confinement as a form of punishment, verbally abuse women in prison, deny incarcerated women’s opportunities to parent their child in prison, and fail to provide adequate access to health and mental health care.

  • November 9, 2023

    Attacks on Schools and Military Use of Schools in Ukraine

    The 71-page report, “Tanks on the Playground,” documents the damage and destruction of schools and kindergartens in four Ukrainian regions during the first months of the fighting. Most of the damage to educational facilities resulted from aerial attacks, artillery shelling, rocket strikes, and, in some cases, attacks using cluster munitions – causing significant damage to roofs, the collapse of walls, and major debris in classrooms. Russian forces frequently looted and pillaged schools they occupied, a war crime.

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  • November 9, 2023

    Abuses Against Migrants and Asylum Seekers Pushed to Cross the Darién Gap

    The 62-page report, “‘This Hell Was My Only Option’: Abuses Against Migrants and Asylum Seekers Pushed to Cross the Darién Gap,” is the first in a series of Human Rights Watch reports on migration via the Darién Gap. Human Rights Watch found that restrictions on movement from South American countries to Mexico and Central America, often promoted by the United States government, have helped contribute to sharp increases in numbers of people crossing the Darién Gap. This exposes migrants to abuses, including sexual violence, and empowers organized crime in the area.

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  • November 7, 2023

    Police Killings in Baixada Santista, São Paulo state, Brazil

    In the 19-page report, “‘They Promised to Kill 30’: Police Killings in Baixada Santista, São Paulo State, Brazil,” describes the important failures in the initial steps of police investigations. Law enforcement officers initiated the so-called Escudo (“shield”) operation in Baixada Santista, a metropolitan area on the coast of São Paulo state, on July 28, 2023, in response to the killing of an officer in the city of Guarujá. By September 5, when the operation ended, the military police had killed 28 people, making it one of the deadliest police operations in São Paulo state in 3 decades. Another three officers were also injured during the operation.

  • November 2, 2023

    Crackdown against Environmental Defenders in Uganda

    The 22-page report, “‘Working On Oil is Forbidden’: Crackdown Against Environmental Defenders in Uganda” documents the Ugandan government’s restrictions on freedom of expression, association, and assembly related to oil development, including the planned East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP). Civil society organizations and environmental defenders regularly report being harassed and intimidated, unlawfully detained, or arbitrarily arrested.

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  • October 18, 2023

    Local Communities Harmed by Reclamation Projects in the Maldives

    The 21-page report, “‘We Still Haven’t Recovered’: Local Communities Harmed by Reclamation Projects in the Maldives,” documents how the Maldives government has failed to consult local communities ahead of development projects, heed environmental impact assessment (EIA) mitigation requirements, and provide resources for ongoing monitoring of development projects in the northern island of Kulhudhuffushi and the southern atoll of Addu. These deficiencies have further harmed residents already at risk from the effects of changing weather patterns and rising sea levels, loss of biodiversity, coastal erosion, and increased flooding.

  • October 10, 2023

    Rwanda’s Extraterritorial Repression

    In the 115-page report, “‘Join Us or Die’: Rwanda’s Extraterritorial Repression,” Human Rights Watch documents a wide array of tactics that, when used together, form a global ecosystem of repression, aimed not only to muzzle dissenting voices but also to scare off potential critics. The combination of physical violence, including killings and enforced disappearances, surveillance, misuse of law enforcement – both domestic and international – abuses against relatives in Rwanda, and the reputational damage done through online harassment constitute clear efforts to isolate potential critics.

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  • September 28, 2023

    How the Shipping Industry Circumvents Regulations to Scrap Toxic Ships on Bangladesh’s Beaches

    The 90-page report, “Trading Lives for Profit: How the Shipping Industry Circumvents Regulations to Scrap Toxic Ships on Bangladesh’s Beaches” finds that Bangladeshi shipbreaking yards often take shortcuts on safety measures, dump toxic waste directly onto the beach and the surrounding environment, and deny workers living wages, rest, or compensation in case of injuries. The report reveals an entire network used by shipowners to circumvent international regulations prohibiting the export of ships to facilities like those in Bangladesh that do not have adequate environmental or labor protections.

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  • September 25, 2023

    IMF Social Spending Floors and the Covid-19 Pandemic

    The 131-page report, “Bandage on a Bullet Wound: IMF Social Spending Floors and the Covid-19 Pandemic,” analyzes loans approved from March 2020, at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, until March 2023 to 38 countries, with a total population of 1.1 billion, and finds that the vast majority are conditioned on austerity policies, which reduce government spending or increase regressive taxes in ways likely to harm rights. It also finds that recent IMF initiatives, announced at the beginning of the pandemic, to mitigate these impacts such as social spending floors are flawed and ineffective in addressing the harms caused by the policies. The report features a case study of Jordan, where a series of IMF programs have introduced sweeping economic reforms over the past decade, but mitigation measures have been inadequate to address the harm to rights.

  • September 18, 2023

    Sri Lanka’s Proposed Truth and Reconciliation Commission

    The 39-page report, “‘If We Raise Our Voice They Arrest Us’: Sri Lanka’s Proposed Truth and Reconciliation Commission,” documents abusive security force surveillance and intimidation of activists and campaigners from minority Tamil families of those who “disappeared” during Sri Lanka’s civil war. The authorities are using draconian counterterrorism laws to silence dissenting voices, including those calling for truth and accountability, while government-backed land grabs target Tamil and Muslim communities and their places of worship.

  • September 14, 2023

    Inadequate Housing and Social Support for Families Seeking Asylum in the United Kingdom

    The 100-page report, “‘I Felt So Stuck’: Inadequate Housing and Social Support for Families Seeking Asylum in the United Kingdom,” found that families seeking asylum face inhumane conditions in temporary housing, including rat infestation and mould. The families experience daily struggles to get food their children will eat, as well as mental and physical health problems and serious disruptions to their children’s education.

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  • August 21, 2023

    Saudi Arabian Mass Killings of Ethiopian Migrants at the Yemen-Saudi Border

    The 73-page report, “‘They Fired on Us Like Rain’: Saudi Arabian Mass Killings of Ethiopian Migrants at the Yemen-Saudi Border,” found that Saudi border guards have used explosive weapons to kill many migrants and shot other migrants at close range, including many women and children, in a widespread and systematic pattern of attacks. In some instances, Saudi border guards asked migrants what limb to shoot, and then shot them at close range. Saudi border guards also fired explosive weapons at migrants who were attempting to flee back to Yemen.

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  • August 14, 2023

    Haiti Needs an Urgent Rights-Based Response to Escalating Crisis

    The 98-page report, “Living a Nightmare: Haiti Needs an Urgent Rights-Based Response to Escalating Crisis,” documents abuses committed by criminal groups and state inaction in four metropolitan Port-au-Prince communes – Cabaret, Cité Soleil, Croix-des-Bouquets, and Port-au-Prince itself – between January and April 2023. In Haiti, the state is nearly absent, impunity reigns, and nearly half the population is acutely food insecure. Human Rights Watch also assessed the humanitarian, political, and judicial crises, plus abuses of previous international interventions and the enduring legacy of slavery, exploitation, and abuse by colonial powers.

  • August 3, 2023

    Repression of Civil and Political Rights Ahead of Zimbabwe’s August 2023 Election

    The 44-page report, “‘Crush Them Like Lice’: Repression of Civil and Political Rights Ahead of Zimbabwe’s August 2023 Election,” finds that the seriously flawed electoral process threatens the fundamental rights of Zimbabweans to freely choose their representatives. The electoral process has been undermined by the authorities’ adoption and use of repressive laws, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission’s lack of impartiality, the Zimbabwe Republic Police’s partisan conduct and use of intimidation and violence against the opposition, the opposition’s lack of access to voter rolls, and impunity for those responsible for election-related abuses.