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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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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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  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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Insist that Orbán Reverse Course at EU Council Hearing

It’s been thirty years since the people of Central and Eastern Europe overthrew the totalitarian communist system. Since then, there has been a lot to celebrate. But Europeans should not be complacent. Those gains are at serious risk today in…
European Union flags flutter outside the EU Commission headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, October 28, 2015.
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Government Should Remove Surgery Requirements from Law

A policy in the Czech Republic forcing transgender people to undergo sterilization surgeries to legally change their gender violates the right to health, according to the European Committee of Social Rights. Transgender…
Participants hold a giant rainbow flag during the Prague Pride Parade where thousands marched through the city centre in support of gay rights, in Czech Republic, August 13, 2016.
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New ‘Ageing Equal’ Campaign Calls Out Ageism Worldwide

Today, as the world marks the international day of older persons, Human Rights Watch is joining with older people and other groups to support the launch of the Ageing Equal campaign to raise global awareness of the human rights of older…
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First Move Toward Equal Marriage Rights in a Post-Communist Country

The Czech government expressed support on Friday for a same-sex marriage bill, sponsored by 46 members of parliament from various political parties. Czeslaw Walek, founder of the Czech marriage equality movement Jsme Fer (We…
Campaigners for same-sex marriage during Prague Pride, Czech Republic, August 12, 2017.
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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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Issue is on the Agenda for October’s Parliamentary Elections

If it was up to the thousands who participated in last week’s Prague Pride, it’s clear the Czech Republic would be joining the growing list of countries legalizing same-sex marriage. Marriage equality was a major theme during…
Campaigners for same-sex marriage during Prague Pride, Czech Republic, August 12, 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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UN Experts Should Address Issue During Review of Estonia’s Rights Record

This week, the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child will review Estonia’s child rights record. It is crucial that this include child statelessness. As of January 2016, about 6.1 percent of Estonia’s population…
Estonia's President Toomas Hendrik addresses the United Nations General Assembly in the Manhattan borough of New York, U.S. September 21, 2016.
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With rising tensions and attacks toward refugees in Greece, what can be done?

The situation on the Greek eastern Aegean islands housing the so-called refugee “hotspots” has taken a dangerous turn, with racially motivated attacks on the rise. The European Union needs to act to head off a full-blown…
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Seeking justice for the ongoing grave human rights abuses in Syria has proven largely elusive. Now the shield of impunity is beginning to crack. Several countries, including Sweden, Germany, and France are in the process of investigating some…
Syrian Man Carries Children After Barrel Bomb Attack
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Refugee Crisis and Universal Jurisdiction Cases in Europe

What’s the basis for European courts to try atrocities committed in Syria and Iraq? What is universal jurisdiction? Does universal jurisdiction mean that every country can investigate any grave international crime committed in Syria and Iraq? What…
Syrian Man Carries Children After Barrel Bomb Attack
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Estonia has again begun a new academic year. But what can Estonia do to help students in other countries who won’t be so lucky? Students such as 15-year-old “Amina,” who stepped outside of her classroom in northern Nigeria one morning to find a…
Children look through a destroyed classroom window at Yerwa Primary School, Maiduguri, Borno state, damaged by Boko Haram during attacks in 2010 and 2013. The school, established in 1915, was the first primary school in northeast Nigeria. © 2015 Bede Shep