World Report 2012

Events of 2011

This 22nd annual World Report summarizes human rights conditions in more than 90 countries and territories worldwide in 2011. It reflects extensive investigative work that Human Rights Watch staff has undertaken during the year, often in close partnership with domestic human rights activists.

The introductory essay examines the Arab Spring, which has created an extraordinary opportunity for change. The global community has a responsibility to help the long suppressed people of the region seize control of their destiny from often-brutal authoritarian rulers. Standing firmly with people as they demand their legitimate rights is the best way to stop the bloodshed, while principled insistence on respect for rights is the best way to help these popular movements avoid intolerance, lawlessness, and summary revenge once in power.

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  1. Online and On All Fronts

    Russia’s Assault on Freedom of Expression

    This report documents Russian authorities’ stepped-up measures aimed at bringing the internet under greater state control. Since 2012, Russian authorities have unjustifiably prosecuted dozens of people for criminal offenses on the basis of social media posts, online videos, media articles, and interviews, and shut down or blocked access to hundreds of websites and web pages. Russian authorities have also pushed through parliament a raft of repressive laws regulating internet content and infrastructure. These laws provide the Russian government with a broad range of tools to restrict access to information, carry out unchecked surveillance, and censor information the government designates as “extremist,” out of line with “traditional values,” or otherwise harmful to the public.

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