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15-Year-Old Joins over 1,000 Children at Risk of Covid-19 in Detention Centers

Bangladesh authorities on Saturday arrested a 15-year-old for “defaming” Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wazed in a Facebook post. It was an especially egregious move in a wave of arbitrary arrests targeting critics of the ruling party with the harsh and…
Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina meets with officials in Tokyo, May 29, 2019.
News

Blocking Access Could Cost Lives

UPDATE: Ethiopia announced that it would restore phone and internet service to western Oromia after a three-month shutdown. (New York) – Intentionally shutting down or restricting access to the internet violates multiple rights and can be…
202003bhr_coronavirus_kashmir_internet shutdowns
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Urgently Act to Prevent COVID-19 Outbreak in Refugee Camps

(New York) – The Bangladesh government’s internet blackout and phone restrictions at Rohingya refugee camps are obstructing humanitarian groups from addressing the COVID-19 threat, Human Rights Watch said today. The shutdown is risking the health…
Rohingya refugees wait at a crowded relief distribution point at the Kutupalong refugee camp in Ukhia, Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh, March 24, 2020.
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Refusal to Restore Communications Threatens Public Health

Every time you place a call in Ethiopia, you get an educational message about coronavirus prevention – but that only helps if you can make a call. Millions of Ethiopians living under a months-long government-imposed shutdown of internet and…
A volunteer provides hand sanitizer to passengers entering a bus
News

Netra News Latest to be Blocked in Free Speech Crackdown

(New York) – Bangladesh authorities are blocking access to online news sites in violation of the right to free speech and access to information, Human Rights Watch said today. The government has also adopted advanced methods to block or conduct…
Bangladeshi photojournalists and journalists form a human chain infront of National Press Club protesting the attacks on them during the students' ongoing protest demanding safe roads, in Dhaka, Bangladesh on August 7, 2018.
News

Abrar Fahad’s Brutal Murder Highlights Impunity for Abuses

On October 6, Abrar Fahad, 21, was summoned from his dorm room at the Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET) to Room 2011, known among students as the “torture cell.” The room is run by members of the Chhatra League…
Bangladesh Student Union stage a torch light procession rally to protest the murder of Abrar Fahad, a student of Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET), who was allegedly beaten to death by Bangladesh Chhatra League men.
News

Poet, Lawyer, Activists Jailed in Free Speech Crackdown

(New York) – Bangladesh authorities made a series of new arrests in their crackdown on the right to free speech, Human Rights Watch said today. The arrests were based on vague charges such as “hurting religious sentiment” or undermining “law and…
A Bangladeshi reads a news report that makes mention of Facebook along with other social networking service, on his mobile phone in Dhaka, Bangladesh, Thursday, Dec. 20, 2018.
News

Criminalizing Speech Won’t Solve Problem

Hate and dangerous speech is a serious and growing problem in Ethiopia, both online and offline. It has contributed to the growing ethnic tensions and conflicts across the country that have created more than 1.4 million new internally…
Internet café in Lalibela, Amhara Region, Ethiopia.
News

Ahead of Elections, Government Won’t Tolerate Criticism

(New York) – The Bangladesh government has embarked upon intensive and intrusive surveillance and monitoring of social media ahead of national elections, raising concern over a chilling effect on speech, Human Rights Watch said today. Draconian new laws…
Police in Bangladesh have registered hundreds of complaints under the Information and Communication Technology Act, including against authors of social media posts and journalists criticizing the political leadership and the ruling Awami League party.
News

Digital Security Act is Overly Broad, Ripe for Abuse

(New York) – The Digital Security Act passed by the Bangladeshi parliament last week, despite vehement opposition from the country’s journalists, strikes a blow to freedom of speech in the country, Human Rights Watch said today. The law, which…
Bangladesh's President Abdul Hamid (3rd R) and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina (2nd L) walk near female members of the Bangladesh army at the national parade ground in Dhaka on December 16, 2015.
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Periodic Rights Review Response Ignored Main Concerns

(Geneva) – The Bangladesh delegation to the United Nation’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) in Geneva on May 14, 2018, failed to respond to pressing human rights concerns in the country, Human Rights Watch said today. The law minister,…
Tear gas is seen while police takes their position in the street Dhaka, Bangladesh, February 8, 2018. REUTERS/Mohammad Ponir Hossain
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Cabinet Approves New Law That is Overly Broad and Ripe for Abuse

(New York) – The Bangladeshi government should review and reform the proposed Digital Security Act (DSA) instead of enacting the law in its current form, Human Rights Watch said today. On January 29, 2018, the cabinet approved a…
Bangladesh's President Abdul Hamid (3rd R) and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina (2nd L) walk near female members of the Bangladesh army at the national parade ground in Dhaka on December 16, 2015.
News

Spyware Industry Needs Regulation

Ethiopian authorities have carried out a renewed campaign of malware attacks, abusing commercial spyware to monitor government critics abroad, Human Rights Watch said today. The government should immediately cease digital attacks on activists and…
Surveillance computer hacker business
News

Government Asks Facebook to Play a Direct Role

It is a challenge for governments to manage the onslaught of social media that can incite public violence. But too often, a state crackdown is aimed more at silencing critics than maintaining public order. This is certainly the case in Bangladesh.…
Screenshot of the "Moja Losss?" Facebook page.
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Says Hostile to Privacy, Democratic Freedoms

This week, the European Union’s top court once again found that blanket data retention mandates are hostile to privacy and democratic freedoms, and incompatible with EU law. Such mandates require service providers to store data on all of the provider’s…
News
Last June, Facebook locked the account of “Happy Addis”, an Ethiopian LGBT activist who runs Facebook groups for gay Ethiopians. The reason? His Facebook profile does not list his real name. But Happy Addis had good reason not to want his real name…
Facebook real name
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Leaked Documents Show Need to Regulate Surveillance Sales

Update: Hacking Team provided further comment to this release, which can be found here. (New York, August 13, 2015) – The Italian spyware firm Hacking Team took no effective action to investigate or stop reported abuses of its…
Internet café in Lalibela, Amhara Region, Ethiopia.
News

Protect Bloggers, Prosecute Those Targeting Free Speech

(New York) – Bangladesh authorities should unequivocally declare their commitment to free speech instead of proposing self-censorship, Human Rights Watch said today. The killing of secular blogger Niladri Chakrabarti on August 7…
Niladri Chakrabarti
News

Spyware Firm Should Address Alleged Misuse

(New York) – The Ethiopian government has renewed efforts to silence independent voices abroad by using apparent foreign spyware, Human Rights Watch said today. The Ethiopian authorities should immediately cease digital attacks on journalists, while…
News
An open Internet offers both benefits and risks for human rights. It has allowed activists anywhere to have global impact and hold institutions accountable. But digital technologies have enabled surveillance on an unprecedented scope and scale. When…