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New Law Restricts Right to Free Speech and Information on Social Media

This weekend the Ugandan government began to implement a troubling new set of tax rules requiring social media users – including of popular apps like WhatsApp, Twitter, and Facebook - to pay a daily fee of 200 Ugandan Shilling (US$0.05…
Ugandan lawmakers arrive at the parliament, in Kampala, Uganda September 21, 2017.
News

Respond to Youth Demands, Gain Respect in the World

(Beirut) – Middle East and North Africa (MENA) governments can respond to the popular demands of the region’s youth for reform by implementing five changes in 2018 to arbitrary, outdated legal systems that infringe upon citizens’ rights and liberties,…
Demonstration outside Parliament on December 6, 2016, with women in white dresses and wrapped in bandages, calling for the repeal of article 522 of the penal code.
News

Leading Bahraini Rights Activist Sentenced to Two Years in Prison

(Beirut) – Gulf governments have sustained their campaigns to silence peaceful critics during the first half of 2017, Human Rights Watch said today, updating an interactive website, created in November 2016, featuring targeted human rights activists. On…
Portraits of online activists in Gulf states.
News

Activists and Journalists Targeted for Criticizing Military, Militant Groups

(New York) – The Pakistani government should immediately end its crackdown on peaceful speech on the internet, Human Rights Watch said today. The authorities should cease intimidating internet critics of the military and government, and…
Pakistan: Internet Crackdown Intensifies PHOTO
News

Women, Religious Groups, Refugees Endure Violence, Intimidation

(New York) – Pakistan’s government did little to protect vulnerable groups and religious minorities from attack by militant groups in 2016, Human Rights Watch said today in its World Report 2017. The authorities clamped down on civil society groups for…
Supporters of the Gender Interactive Alliance dance and chant slogans as they pose with a national flag ahead of the Independence Day in Karachi, August 13, 2016.
News

Region-Wide Crackdown on Social Media Activism

(Beirut) – Gulf governments have attempted to silence peaceful critics in response to a wave of online activism in recent years, Human Rights Watch said in an interactive website that began operating today. The governments have responded to online…
Portraits of online activists in Gulf states.
Report
Summary I have no hope of getting justice in this crooked system. —Umar Daraz, Karachi, January 2016 How do you expect us to recover stolen items from hardened criminals? Do you think they will agree if we say, ‘Be nice to us and return…
News

Extends Problematic Press Provisions to Online Expression

(Beirut) – Kuwait’s new cybercrime law includes far-reaching restrictions on Internet-based speech that breach Kuwait’s obligations under international human rights law, Human Rights Watch said today. The National Assembly, which approved the law on June…
A lock icon, signifying an encrypted Internet connection, is seen on a browser in a photo illustration.
News

Lawmakers Should Reject Bill to Ensure Free Expression

(New York) – Pakistani lawmakers should reject a new cybercrime prevention bill which contains provisions which threaten rights of privacy and freedom of expression. In a joint statement published on April 20 and distributed to Pakistani members of…
News
Pakistan’s Supreme Court this week recognized the enormity of the country’s problem of enforced disappearances with a simple directive: identify the bodies. On February 10, the Supreme Court asked federal and provincial governments to ensure that “…
News

Updated in December 2014

(Updates highlighted in bold) Background There have been some encouraging reforms in Kuwait since its last UPR in 2010. For example, in January 2013 a judicial decision granted women the right to apply for posts as prosecutors, allowing them to…
News
Where is Sam Mugumya? This question is plaguing his family and Uganda’s opposition leadership. Sam, an ardent opposition party activist, disappeared from his home district of Rukungiri, on Uganda’s western border with Congo, in early November. His friends…
News

Upholds Restrictive Provision Used Against Journalists

(Beirut) – Kuwait’s Constitutional Court dealt a blow to free speech on December 2, 2013, in a case involving a journalist’s Twitter comments.The court rejected a challenge to article 25 of the penal code, which sets prison sentences of up to five years…
News

Expanded Prosecutions Over Religion Debates

(Sanaa) – A Kuwaiti court on November 18, 2013, sentenced a Kuwaiti man to five years in prison for a Twitter comment about Sunni/Shia theology. The sentence in the Kuwaiti Court of First Instance against Musab Shamsah was the second in less than a month…
News
The Stoic philosopher Epictetus warned of the dangers of casually bad-mouthing the ruler in ancient Rome: “A soldier, dressed like a civilian, sits down by your side, and begins to speak ill of Caesar, and then you too, just as though you had received…
News

20-Month Sentence Reflects Mounting Assault on Free Speech

(Beirut) – A Kuwaiti appeal court’s decision to uphold a 20-month prison sentence on a teacher for political comments she made on Twitter further erodes the right to free speech in Kuwait. On July 17, 2013, the court of appeals confirmed the conviction…