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.



  • June 27, 2017

    Forced and Child Labor Linked to World Bank Group Investments in Uzbekistan

    This report details how the Uzbek government forced students, teachers, medical workers, other government employees, private-sector employees, and sometimes children to harvest cotton in 2015 and 2016, as well as to weed the fields and plant cotton in the spring of 2016. The government has threatened to fire people, stop welfare payments, and suspend or expel students if they refuse to work in the cotton fields.

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    Cover of the Uzbekistan report
  • June 15, 2017

    How Health and Education Pay the Price for Self-Dealing in Equatorial Guinea

    This report reveals that the government spent only 2 to 3 percent of its annual budget on health and education in 2008 and 2011, the years for which data is available, while devoting around 80 percent to sometimes questionable large-scale infrastructure projects. The report also exposes how, according to evidence presented in money laundering investigations carried out by several countries, senior government officials reap enormous profits from public construction contracts awarded to companies they fully or partially own, in many cases in partnership with foreign companies, in an opaque and noncompetitive process. 

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    Cover of the Equatorial Guinea report
  • October 20, 2016

    Azerbaijan’s Continuing Crackdown on Government Critics, Lawyers, and Civil Society

    This report documents the government’s concerted efforts to undermine civil society. Human Rights Watch found that in 2016, the authorities used false, politically motivated criminal and administrative charges to prosecute political activists, journalists, and others. The government has built a restrictive legal and policy framework to paralyze the work of independent groups. Lawyers willing to defend critics have faced retaliation and disbarment. Although the authorities released several human rights defenders and others in early 2016, many others remain in prison or fled into exile.

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    Cover of Venezuela report
  • September 27, 2016

    Mining and Human Rights in Malawi

    This report examines the impact of extractive industries on communities in some of Malawi’s first mining areas, in Karonga district located on the northwestern shores of Lake Malawi. Malawi’s government has promoted private investment in mining and resource extraction to diversify its economy. But environmental risks are common in resource extraction and mining significantly contributes to climate change, which in turn affects governments’ ability to realize the rights to health, water, and food.

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    Cover of Malawi report
  • October 15, 2015

    Climate Change, Environmental Threats, and Human Rights in Turkana County, Kenya

    This 96-page report highlights the increased burden facing the government of Kenya to ensure access to water, food, health, and security in the Turkana region. The region also presents an example of how climate change, with rising temperatures and shifting precipitation patterns, disproportionately affects already vulnerable people, especially in countries with limited resources and fragile ecosystems.

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  • June 22, 2015

    Reprisals against Critics of World Bank Group Projects

    This  report details how governments and powerful companies have threatened, intimidated, and misused criminal laws against outspoken community members who stand to be displaced or otherwise allegedly harmed by projects financed by the World Bank and its private sector lending arm, the International Finance Corporation (IFC). The World Bank and IFC have failed to take adequate steps to help create a safe environment in which people can express concern or criticism about projects funded by the Bank Group without risk of reprisal, Human Rights Watch found.

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  • June 25, 2014

    Rights Violations Linked to Resettlements for Tajikistan's Rogun Dam

    The 81-page report examines serious shortcomings in the government’s resettlement of 1,500 families since 2009. The Rogun Dam and Hydropower Plant stands to displace over 42,000 people before it is operational. The major problem, people said, was that they were not given enough compensation to replace their homes.

  • February 12, 2014

    Impunity for Killings and Other Abuses in Bajo Aguán, Honduras

    This 72-page repor examines 29 homicides and two abductions in Bajo Aguán since 2009, as well as human rights violations by soldiers and police. Human Rights Watch found that prosecutors and police consistently failed to carry out prompt and thorough investigations into these crimes, a failure that Honduran public prosecutors, police, and military officials acknowledged in interviews.

  • February 3, 2014

    The Impact of Mining on Human Rights in Karamoja, Uganda

    This 140-page report examines the conduct of three companies in different stages of the mining process: East African Mining, Jan Mangal, and DAO Uganda. Human Rights Watch found that companies have explored for minerals and actively mined on lands owned and occupied by Karamoja’s indigenous people.

  • July 22, 2013

    How the World Bank Should Safeguard Against Human Rights Violations

    This 59-page report draws on Human Rights Watch research from around the globe to document the harm caused to some of the world’s most vulnerable people by bank-financed programs.

  • June 18, 2012

    Abuses against the Indigenous Peoples of Ethiopia’s Lower Omo Valley

    This report documents how government security forces are forcing communities to relocate from their traditional lands through violence and intimidation, threatening their entire way of life with no compensation or choice of alternative livelihoods.

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  • February 29, 2012

    Forced Evictions, Unlawful Expropriations, and House Demolitions in Azerbaijan’s Capital

    This report documents the Azerbaijani authorities’ illegal expropriation of properties and forcible evictions of dozens of families in four Baku neighborhoods, at times without warning or in the middle of the night. The authorities subsequently demolished homes, sometimes with residents’ possessions inside.

  • January 16, 2012

    Forced Displacement and “Villagization” in Ethiopia’s Gambella Region

    This report in Ethiopia’s Gambella Region examines the first year of Gambella’s villagization program. It details the involuntary nature of the transfers, the loss of livelihoods, the deteriorating food situation, and ongoing abuses by the armed forces against the affected people.

  • September 7, 2011

    Forced Labor and Other Abuses in Drug Detention Centers in Southern Vietnam

    The 121-page report documents the experiences of people confined to 14 detention centers under the authority of the Ho Chi Minh City government. Refusing to work, or violating center rules, results in punishment that in some cases is torture.

  • October 19, 2010

    How Aid Underwrites Repression in Ethiopia

    This 105-page report documents the ways in which the Ethiopian government uses donor-supported resources and aid as a tool to consolidate the power of the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF).