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.



  • Bahrain Death Sentences Follow Torture, Sham Trials

    The 61-page report, “‘The Court is Satisfied with the Confession’: Bahrain Death Sentences Follow Torture, Sham Trials,” based primarily on court records and other official documents, found serious and persistent human rights violations underlying the convictions and death sentences of cases of eight men examined for the report. The men are among 26 who are currently on death row, their appeals exhausted. Trial and appeal courts cavalierly dismissed credible allegations of torture and ill-treatment during interrogation instead of investigating them, as required by international and Bahraini law. The courts routinely violated defendants’ rights to fair trials, including the right to legal counsel during interrogation, the right to cross-examine prosecution witnesses, and through reliance on secretly sourced reports.

  • How US Underfunding Public Housing Harms Rights in New York, New Mexico, and Beyond

    The 63-page report, “‘We Deserve to Have a Place to Live:’ How US Underfunding Public Housing Harms Rights in New York, New Mexico, and Beyond,” examines the impact of a decline in federal funding for public housing, which has been accompanied by a modest increase in investment in affordable housing programs that rely on the private sector, such as voucher and subsidy programs. Human Rights Watch found that budget cuts have led to deteriorating living conditions in public housing in New York City, as well as in northern New Mexico, and have reduced the public housing stock nationwide. It also finds that other affordable housing programs, which rely on the private sector, have often failed to guarantee long-term affordability for people with the lowest incomes.

  • The Health Impacts of Plastic Recycling in Turkey

    The 88-page report, “‘It’s as If They’re Poisoning Us’: The Health Impacts of Plastic Recycling in Turkey,” documents the consequences of the Turkish government’s ineffective response to the health and environmental impacts of plastic recycling on the right to health. Air pollutants and toxins emitted from recycling affect workers, including children, and people living near recycling facilities.

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  • Impact of the Armed Conflict in Syria on Children with Disabilities

    The 71-page report, “‘It Was Really Hard to Protect Myself’: Impact of the Armed Conflict in Syria on Children with Disabilities,” details the abuses faced by children with disabilities, including a heightened risk during attacks and a lack of access to the basic support services they need. The absence of inclusive and universal programs – including in education, delivery of humanitarian aid, and mental health and psychosocial support services – compounds the difficulties children with disabilities in Syria already experience.

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  • “Filtration” and the Crime of Forcibly Transferring Ukrainian Civilians to Russia

    The 71-page report, “‘We Had No Choice’: ‘Filtration’ and the War Crime of Forcibly Transferring Ukrainian Civilians to Russia,” documents the transfers of Ukrainian civilians. The transfers are a serious violation of the laws of war that constitute war crimes and potential crimes against humanity. Russian and Russian-affiliated authorities also subjected thousands of Ukrainian citizens to a form of compulsory, punitive, and abusive security screening called “filtration.”

  • Anti-LGBT Conversion Practices, Discrimination, and Violence in Malaysia

    The 71-page report, “‘I Don’t Want to Change Myself’: Anti-LGBT Conversion Practices, Discrimination, and Violence in Malaysia,” documents that government officials have fostered a hostile climate in which LGBT and gender diverse people face discrimination and punishment because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. Human Rights Watch and Justice for Sisters examined how criminal penalties, conversion practices that seek to change people’s sexual orientation or gender identity, and anti-LGBT rhetoric from government officials all undermine LGBT people’s basic rights.
  • Human Rights Watch / ACLU Joint Submission Regarding the United States’ Record Under the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination

    The United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination should direct the United States government to take immediate, tangible measures to dismantle structural racism in the United States, Human Rights Watch and the American Civil Liberties Union said today, releasing a joint report to the committee.

  • Morocco’s Playbook to Crush Dissent

    In the 129-page report, “They’ll Get You No Matter What: Morocco’s Playbook to Crush Dissent,” Human Rights Watch documents a range of tactics that, when used together, form an ecosystem of repression, aiming not only to muzzle dissenting voices but to scare off all potential critics. The tactics include unfair trials and long prison terms for nonspeech criminal charges, harassment and smear campaigns in state-aligned media, and targeting dissidents’ relatives. Critics of the state were also subjected to video and digital surveillance, and in some cases to physical intimidation and assault that the police failed to investigate properly.

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  • El Salvador’s Need for Legal Gender Recognition

    The 40-page report, “‘We Just Want to Live Our Lives’: El Salvador’s Need for Legal Gender Recognition,” exposes the pervasive discrimination that trans people experience due to a mismatch between their gender and their identity documents. The researchers focused on discrimination in four key areas: health, employment, voting, and banking. Human Rights Watch and COMCAVIS TRANS found that a lack of accurate documents, often in combination with anti-trans bias, seriously impedes the realization of these rights for trans people.

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  • Spain’s Failure to Protect Rights Amid Rising Pandemic-Linked Poverty

    The 63-page report, “‘We Can’t Live Like This’: Spain’s Failure to Protect Rights Amid Rising Pandemic-Linked Poverty,” documents the enduring weaknesses in Spain’s social security system. Efforts by the authorities to supplement a weak safety net have fallen short, leaving people unable to afford essentials. The violations of people’s rights to food, social security, and an adequate standard of living could worsen as global food and fuel costs spiral. This research is the first in a series of investigations in Europe into people’s right to an adequate standard of living in the context of the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and rapidly increasing living costs across the globe.

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  • Cuba’s Systematic Repression of July 2021 Demonstrators

    The 36-page report, “Prison or Exile: Cuba’s Systematic Repression of July 2021 Demonstrators,” documents a wide range of human rights violations committed in the context of the protests, including arbitrary detention, abuse-ridden prosecutions, and torture. The government’s repression and its apparent unwillingness to address the underlying problems that drove Cubans to the streets, including limited access to food and medicine, have generated a human rights crisis that dramatically increased the number of people leaving the country.

  • Perpetual Rights Risks from Unrehabilitated Coal Mines in South Africa

    The 45-page report, The Forever Mines: Perpetual Rights Risks from Unrehabilitated Coal Mines in Mpumalanga, South Africa documents the threats to communities from coal mines that have not been properly cleaned up, the failure of the national government to make progress on addressing the impacts of abandoned coal mines, and the inaction of industry to address the ongoing problems.

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  • The Deadly Impact of Failure to Protect

    The 86-page report, “Combatting Domestic Violence in Turkey: The Deadly Impact of Failure to Protect,” found failure to enforce court orders leaves women open to continuing abuse from current or former husbands and partners. In some cases, women have been killed despite having obtained restraining orders intended to protect them. The research took place against the backdrop of Turkey’s July 2021 withdrawal from the Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combatting Violence against Women and Domestic Violence, known as the Istanbul Convention.

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  • Children’s Rights Violations by Governments that Endorsed Online Learning During the Covid-19 Pandemic

    The 99-page report, “’How Dare They Peep into My Private Life?’: Children’s Rights Violations by Governments that Endorsed Online Learning during the Covid-19 Pandemic,” is grounded in technical and policy analysis conducted by Human Rights Watch on 165 education technology (EdTech) products endorsed by 49 countries. It includes an examination of 294 companies found to have collected, processed, or received children’s data since March 2021, and calls on governments to adopt modern child data protection laws to protect children online.

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  • Efforts to Ban Gender and Sexuality Education in Brazil

    The 77-page report, “‘I Became Scared, This Was Their Goal’: Efforts to Ban Gender and Sexuality Education in Brazil,” analyzes 217 bills and laws presented between 2014 and 2022 designed to explicitly forbid the teaching or sharing of gender and sexuality education, or ban so-called “gender ideology” or “indoctrination,” in municipal and state schools. Human Rights Watch also documented a political effort to discredit and restrict gender and sexuality education, bolstered by the administration of President Jair Bolsonaro, who has personally amplified this message for political effect, including as recently as March 2022.