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Potential Complicity in Unlawful Detention of ISIS Suspects, Children

Denmark, Finland, Norway, and Sweden should promptly repatriate their nationals unlawfully held in life-threatening conditions in northeast Syria, Human Rights Watch said in a letter to the four governments today.…
Children fly a kite at al-Hol camp in northeast Syria. 
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The European Court of Human Rights found on 19 September that Finland violated its positive duty to protect the right to life of nine students and a teacher in a mass shooting at their vocational institute. It is only the second time that the court…
School #1 in Beslan, North Ossetia. 2004.
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Returns to Abusive Migrant Detention Centers Put Lives at Risk

Three young people are facing terrorism charges in Malta for refusing to be returned to almost certain detention and abuse in Libya. The “El Hiblu 3,” as they are known, appeared in a preliminary court hearing in Valetta on July 30; their trial is yet…
Migrants on a Libyan Coast Guard boat in the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Libya, January 15, 2018.
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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.
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End Arbitrary Detention on Tourist Ferry Boats

Update: As of May 28, Malta was detaining 425 people on four tourist cruise boats just outside its territorial waters. (Milan) – The Maltese government should immediately allow more than 160 people detained on two private tourism vessels just off…
The Europa II, a tourist ferry sets sail from Marsamxett Harbour, Valletta, Malta.
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  In 2020, you should be watching for a growing trend of national legislatures requiring companies to live up to their responsibilities to workers, communities, and the environment. Millions of adults and children around the world suffer…
Children pan for gold
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Failing Diplomatic Talks Show Need for a Different Path

(Geneva) – Almost three in every four people responding to a new poll in 10 European countries want their governments to work for an international treaty prohibiting lethal autonomous weapons systems, Human Rights Watch said today. At…
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New Momentum for African LGBT Movements

(Johannesburg) – The High Court in Botswana ruled on June 11, 2019 that laws criminalizing consensual same-sex relations were unconstitutional, Human Rights Watch said today. The ruling upheld the rights of the country’s lesbian, gay,…
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Following his meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel last week, French President Emmanuel Macron tweeted that he wanted “to make the Mediterranean a chance and not a fear.” But does he mean Europeans’ fears of foreigners,…
Migrants are seen onboard the charity ship Lifeline at Boiler Wharf in Senglea, in Valletta's Grand Harbour, Malta June 27, 2018.
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Italy and Malta’s Move Puts Lives in Danger

After a nerve-wracking stand-off and intense negotiations, 629 people rescued in the Mediterranean Sea by the Aquarius, a rescue ship run by two nongovernmental groups, SOS MEDITERRANEE and MSF, are finally heading towards Spain. Spain’…
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Plan Would Link EU Funds to Rule of Law, Functioning Judiciary

It’s not every day the European Commission proposes something truly ground-breaking. But yesterday, when the EU announced a new plan to link EU funds given to member states to the health of their judiciary, it did just that.…
European Union flags flutter outside the EU Commission headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, October 28, 2015.
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After everything that lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people experienced in 2017 — from roundups and torture in Chechnya to antigay witch hunts in Egypt and Indonesia, closure of queer-friendly health facilities in…
The Indian Supreme Court building in New Delhi, India.
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At first glance, 2017 seems to have been a good year for marriage equality the world over. But the year ends on a negative note. Let’s start in Europe. In Germany and Malta, two European Union member states, legislation came…
Same-sex couple get married at a registry office in Germany.
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Country’s High Court Rules in Favor of Transgender Man

In a legal first for Botswana, the country’s High Court has ruled that a transgender man should be allowed to hold official documents that reflect his gender identity. The judgment is a huge victory for transgender people in Botswana,…
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When people ask me what rising sea levels and hurricanes have to do with human rights, I tell them about my work trip to the Maldives back in 2008. At the time, the small island nation was undertaking democratic reforms and leading the diplomatic…
Maldivian Minister of Fisheries and Agriculture Ibrahim Didi signs a declaration calling on countries to cut down carbon dioxide emissions ahead of a major UN climate change conference in the Maldives, October 17, 2009. The Maldivian president and ministe
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29th session of the Universal Periodic Review, January 2018

The Botswana government has made progress implementing the recommendations it accepted during its last Universal Periodic Review (UPR) in 2013. The government signed the Safe Schools Declaration in June 2017, an international commitment that provides…
Delegates arrive for the 34th session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland, February 27, 2017.
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Malta used to be known as a very conservative country, where social opinion, reflected in politics and policies, was heavily influenced by the Roman Catholic Church. Divorce was outlawed, abortion was—and remains— criminalized in all cases, and the law…
Boris Dittrich, Human Rights Watch LGBT Rights Advocacy Director, with Monsignor Scicluna, Archbishop of Malta, June 9, 2017.
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Other Council of Europe Countries Should Back LGBT Rights

As of March 1, Finland will allow same-sex couples to marry, bringing to thirteen the number of European countries with marriage equality laws.Nils Muiznieks, the Council of Europe’s Commissioner for Human Rights, in a statement on February 21, affirmed…
LGBT Rainbow Flag
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Opposition to Withdrawal by States

The African Union made headlines Tuesday for purportedly agreeing to mass withdrawal from the International Criminal Court. The reality is more complex. The decision by AU member states welcomes the announced withdrawals by South Africa,…
A general view shows the headquarters of the African Union (AU) building in Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa, January 29, 2017.