Forced Russification of the School System in Occupied Ukrainian Territories

The 63-page report “Education under Occupation: Forced Russification of the School System in Occupied Ukrainian Territories,” documents violations of international law by the Russian authorities in relation to the right to education in formerly occupied areas of Ukraine’s Kharkivska region, and other regions that remain under Russian occupation. Russian authorities have forced changes to the curriculum and retaliated against school staff who refused to make such changes with threats, detention, and even torture. Human Rights Watch also found that occupying authorities threatened parents whose children were learning the Ukrainian curriculum online.

Copies of textbooks arranged on a table


  • 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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  • May 2, 2023
    Forces from both Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan committed apparent war crimes in attacks on civilians during their brief but intense armed border conflict in September 2022. The families of victims deserve justice and reparations to pave the way for a rights-respecting resolution to this ongoing dispute.
    Collage of four equally sized images. Top left image of a burnt Tajik ambulance. Top right image damaged house with a window and two doors. Bottom left image of a man on a bicycle looking at a damaged house. Bottom right image of a burned-out car
  • November 21, 2022

    Experiences of Children Repatriated from Camps for ISIS Suspects and Their Families in Northeast Syria

    The 63-page report, “‘My Son is Just Another Kid’: Experiences of Children Repatriated from Camps for ISIS Suspects and Their Families in Northeast Syria,” documents the experiences of approximately 100 children who have been repatriated or returned to France, Germany, Kazakhstan, the Netherlands, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and Uzbekistan between 2019 and 2022. Human Rights Watch found that despite years of detention in life-threatening conditions with insufficient water, fresh food, and health care, and little to no access to education, many of the children appear to be adjusting well and performing well in school. Many have reintegrated smoothly and enjoy a wide range of activities with their peers, including football, skating, cycling, dancing, crafts, and music.

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  • March 6, 2019

    Abuses against Children Suspected of ISIS Affiliation in Iraq

    This report shows that Iraqi and KRG authorities often arrest and prosecute children with any perceived connection to ISIS, use torture to coerce confessions, and sentence them to prison in hasty and unfair trials. International law recognizes children recruited by armed groups primarily as victims who should be rehabilitated and reintegrated into society.  

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  • December 14, 2015

    Recruitment and Use of Child Soldiers in South Sudan

    This 65-page report names more than 15 commanders and officials from both the government Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) and the rebel SPLA-in Opposition, and their allies who have used child soldiers. The report is based on interviews with 101 child soldiers who were either forcibly recruited or joined forces to protect themselves and their communities. They said they lived for months without enough food, far away from family, and were thrown into terrifying gun battles in which they were injured and saw friends killed. Children also expressed deep regret that they had lost time they should have spent in school.

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  • June 22, 2014

    Recruitment and Use of Children by Armed Groups in Syria

    The 31-page report documents the experiences of 25 children and former child soldiers in Syria’s armed conflict. Human Rights Watch interviewed children who fought with the Free Syrian Army, the Islamic Front coalition, and the extremist groups ISIS and Jabaht al-Nusra, an Al-Qaeda affiliate, as well as the military and police forces in Kurdish-controlled areas.
  • June 19, 2014

    Abuses in PYD-run Enclaves of Syria

    The 106-page report documents arbitrary arrests of the PYD’s political opponents, abuse in detention, and unsolved abductions and murders. It also documents the use of children in the PYD’s police force and armed wing, the People’s Protection Units (YPG).

  • September 11, 2012

    Military Use of Schools in Yemen’s Capital

    This 46-page report details the occupation of schools by government security forces, militias, and opposition armed groups, risking the lives and education of tens of thousands of students. Forces on both sides used schools as barracks, bases, surveillance posts, and firing positions.

  • February 20, 2012

    Child Recruitment, Forced Marriage, and Attacks on Schools in Somalia

    This 104-page report details unlawful recruitment and other laws-of-war violations against children by all parties to the conflict in Somalia since 2010. The report is based on over 164 interviews with Somali children, including 21 who had escaped from al-Shabaab forces, as well as parents and teachers who had fled to Kenya.

  • September 5, 2008

    Children and the Chhattisgarh Conflict

    This 58-page Human Rights Watch report updates information on the use of children by all parties to the conflict, the harm they have suffered, and the adverse impact of the conflict on children’s education.
  • May 20, 2008


    The Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers was formed in May 1998 by leading nongovernmental organizations to end the recruitment and use of child soldiers, both boys and girls, to secure their demobilization, and to promote their reintegration into their communities.
  • October 23, 2007

    <table cellpadding="3" cellspacing="0"><tr><td><img src="; align="left" border="0" /></td> <td valign="top">This 86-page report details crimes against civilians by Congolese army soldiers, troops of renegade general Laurent Nkunda, and combatants of a Rwandan opposition force called the Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR).The report docum</td></tr></table>

  • July 16, 2007

    Child Soldiers in the Chad Conflict

    This 46-page report documents how the Chadian army, its allied paramilitary militias and rebel forces have used and recruited child soldiers in both northern Chad and along the eastern border with Sudan’s Darfur region.
  • June 1, 2007

    A Teenager Imprisoned at Guantanamo

    In this backgrounder, Human Rights Watch said that although Khadr was just 15 when he was arrested, the United States has completely ignored his juvenile status throughout his detention. The US government incarcerated him with adults, reportedly subjected him to abusive interrogations, failed to provide him any educational opportunities, and denied him any direct contact with his family.
  • February 1, 2007

    The Maoists’ Use of Child Soldiers in Nepal

    This 72-page report describes how the Maoists in Nepal have continued using child soldiers, and even recruited more children, despite signing a Comprehensive Peace Agreement with the Nepali government on November 21. The peace agreement commits both sides to stop recruiting child soldiers.