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Fresh Action Needed Six Years After Gui Minhai’s Kidnapping

This week marks the sixth anniversary since Chinese authorities abducted Gui Minhai, a Swedish book publisher, from his home in Thailand in 2015. After enduring a forced confession on state media and a sham trial, Gui was briefly freed in 2017, before…
Protesters stick photos of Gui Minhai, left, and other missing booksellers outside the Liaison Office of the Central People's Government in Hong Kong on January 3, 2016.
News

Respect for Rights Should be Prerequisite for Closer Ties, More Trade

European Union officials have a chance to send a clear message when they meet for an EU summit this week: the deplorable human rights situation in Turkey should have consequences for the country’s relationship with the EU. During a visit to Turkey’…
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan arrives for a meeting with European Council President Charles Michel at the European Council building in Brussels, Monday, March 9, 2020.
News

Governments Should Bolster Respect for Landmark Arms Ban

Governments should reinforce the global ban on chemical weapons by suspending the rights and privileges of Syria, a party to the treaty that has violated it with impunity for years.  This week, states that are parties to the Chemical Weapons…
A civil defense member breathes through an oxygen mask, after what rescue workers described as a suspected chemical attack in the town of Khan Sheikhoun in rebel-held Idlib, Syria April 4, 2017.
News

Government, University Authorities Should Allow Peaceful Dissent

A Turkish court today ordered the release of two student protesters detained since February 4. Şilan Delipalta and Anıl Akyüz were arrested for joining an unauthorized protest against President Erdogan’s controversial appointment of an unelected…
Police forcefully detain a protester  who is crying on the ground while the police stand over her at a demonstration.
News

Council Meeting Offered Little Hope to Turkey’s Human Rights Defenders

The bolder Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan gets, the quieter the European Union (EU). The conclusion of last week’s EU summit showed, as last year under the German Presidency, that when it comes to Turkey, geopolitics and migration have…
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is seen walking near the Turkish and European Union flags.
News

All Countries Should Urgently Repatriate Citizens

On the surface, it seems like a happy ending: a 4-year-old Canadian girl is flown home to Canada on Sunday after living the first half of her life under the Islamic State (ISIS) and the second in a squalid detention camp in northeast Syria. But her…
A 4-year-old Canadian girl after her rescue from a detention camp
News

Limited Community Outreach Blunts Impact of Accountability Efforts

A German court in the town of Koblenz this week will render its first verdict in a historic trial of two former Syrian officials for atrocities during Syria’s decade-long brutal armed conflict. The two accused in the case are an alleged former…
Photos of Syrians who have been detained or disappeared set up by Families for Freedom, as part of a protest in front of the court in Koblenz, July 2, 2020. 
News

Follows Netherlands Government’s Decision to Halt Adoptions

A recent inquiry in the Netherlands into intercountry adoptions uncovered such damning abuses that the government froze all overseas adoptions. Following the Dutch investigation, the Swedish Family Law and Parental Support Authority, the agency…
Vy över Sveriges parlament (riksdag) i Stockholm den 9 april 2006.
News

Floundering Government Finds New Ways to Confiscate Wealth of Syrian Citizens

On February 2, Syria’s Ministry for Media and Information posted a video in which Colonel Elias al-Bitar, head of the army’s Exemptions and Reserves Branch, informed the country of an amendment that allows authorities to seize the property of “…
A Syrian flag flies in the city of Maarat al-Numan, near Idlib, Syria, February 12, 2020.
News

A Positive Step, but Thousands Still Held Incommunicado

On November 4, local news outlets reported that the Syrian government had released over 60 individuals from detention facilities in southern Syria and Damascus. While not the first such release, the news is a positive development in an area where…
A checkpoint in the Syrian city of Daraa.
News

Ottawa Should Repatriate 46 Others Held in Northeast Syria

After months of inaction, the Canadian government announced Monday that it had repatriated a 5-year-old orphan, Amira, who was trapped in a camp for Islamic State (ISIS) suspects and family members in northeast Syria. Amira’s overdue rescue should not…
A girl stands in front of a chainlink fence
News

New Government Policy Prevents Syrians from Returning Home

The Syrian government insists that each Syrian national entering Syria must exchange US$100 for Syrian pounds at the official rate. The policy was put in place in July, ostensibly to help the government replete its foreign currency reserves amid an…
Members of the Lebanese General Security Directorate oversee Syrian refugees boarding a bus to take them home to Syria, in the northern Beirut suburb of Burj Hammoud, Lebanon, Thursday, Jan. 24, 2019. © 2019 AP Photo/Bilal Hussein
News

Encouraging Signs They Are Set to Take More Leading Role

The Nordic countries proudly express steadfast commitment to human rights as a priority in foreign policy, but have been disappointingly inconsistent in practice. Sweden launched a feminist foreign policy in 2014 – a laudable approach that failed…
An Icelandic flag hangs outside a shop in Reykjavik, October 27, 2016.
News

Education Not Prioritized at Annual Donor Conference

June 30 was possibly the most important day of 2020 for Syrian refugee children. At the annual pledging conference for the “Future of Syria and the Region,” dozens of governments and multilateral donors pledged US$7.7 billion in humanitarian aid for…
Hanan, a Syrian refugee in Jordan, created learning ‘blocks’ for her children from discarded cigarette cases.
News

Ensure EU Donor Relief Reaches Vulnerable Communities

Today, the ministerial phase of the fourth Brussels Conference on “Supporting the future of Syria and the region” begins, presenting an important opportunity for donor countries to support humanitarian efforts in Syria and neighboring countries. But…
Medical workers oversee the disinfection of streets to prevent the spread of coronavirus in Qamishli, Syria, March 24, 2020.
News

Government Should Bring Home All Children and their Mothers from ISIS Camps

The French government this week announced it had returned 10 children from camps for families of Islamic State (ISIS) suspects in Northeast Syria. The children were reportedly handed over to officials from the French foreign ministry who traveled to…
A girl stands in front of a chainlink fence
News

Russia Should Support Medical Aid via Syria-Iraq Border to Prevent Covid-19 Spread

The UN Security Council – including Russia – needs to act quickly to reauthorize medical aid deliveries from Iraq to Syria’s northeast to prevent further spread of Covid-19 that could devastate the region.    The council needs to move…
A medic checks the temperature of a man inside a health isolation centre which has been established on the Syrian-Turkish borders in order to place people coming from Turkey to Idlib as a preventive measure against the spread of COVID-19.
News

More Aid is Essential to Fight Covid-19 in War-Torn Areas

To help prevent a catastrophic outbreak of Covid-19 in Syria, the World Health Organization (WHO) should stand firm in urging the United Nations Security Council to ensure medical and other humanitarian aid can be delivered to Syria over an Iraq…
Medical workers oversee the disinfection of streets to prevent the spread of coronavirus in Qamishli, Syria, March 24, 2020.
News

Civilians Need to be Protected as Coronavirus Cases Spread in Syria

After almost a decade of conflict, and with new cases of Covid-19 recorded across the country, at least four million people, a quarter of whom are displaced in camps, await the next disaster in northwest Syria. While much of the world was…
A surgical operation room is damaged after an airstrike hit a hospital in the town of Ariha, in Idlib province, Syria, January 30, 2020.
News

New Draft Law Would Force Social Media Companies to Submit to Censorship

  Update: On April 14, Human Rights Watch learned from members of Turkey’s parliament that the government has withdrawn draft amendments to control social media companies for the present Not content with simply…
People check their phones at a market in central Istanbul, Turkey, July 18, 2019.