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Social Media Platforms Should Not Yield to Pressure

The final days of 2021 were marked by a particularly vicious escalation of Russia’s crackdown on independent reporting and activism. Amid a flurry of new “foreign agent” designations, arrests of political activists, and appalling court rulings…
An iPhone screen shows the Telegram account of OVD-Info
News

Apple and Google Should Account for Limiting Access to Election Information

Apple and Google capitulated to Russian authorities last week when they removed access to the Navalny Smart Voting app on the eve of the weekend’s parliamentary election. The move helped undermine Russian voters’ ability to access information about…
Police officer wearing face mask stands on duty at the polling station on July 1, 2020 in St. Petersburg, Russia.
News

Recounts Harrowing Experience Fleeing during Latest Escalation

Abeer al-Harakli, a 28-year-old disability rights defender from Gaza, addressed the United Nations earlier this month at the 14th session of the Conference of States Parties to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. She described…
Abeer al-Harakli, a disability rights defender from Gaza, addressing the United Nations in a video message at the 14th session of the Conference of State Parties to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, United Nations, New York, June 17, 2021. 
News

Robust Data Security Safeguards Should Be Put in Place

Last week, Russian media reported a major personal data leak of Covid-19 patients admitted to Moscow hospitals, as well as Muscovites who had been ordered to self-quarantine, or fined over violating the self-quarantine regulations. According to the…
A woman wearing a face mask looks at her smartphone as she walks through a street in Moscow, Russia, November 23, 2020. 
News

People with Disabilities Find Strength Despite Discrimination

“I think I wouldn’t have achieved so much in my life without my disability,” said Doaa Qashlan, a university graduate and disability rights activist living in Gaza. Doaa, who was born with a physical disability and uses a wheelchair or an electric…
Doaa Qashlan speaks to Human Rights Watch during an interview in Gaza, November 18, 2020.
News

Parliament Should Reject Bill, Ensure Access to Information Online

On November 19, a draft law was submitted to Russia’s parliament that would give authorities power to block websites that have censored Russian state media content. The bill claims these websites violate Russians’ right of access to information.…
A man checks his smartphone while waiting to board a subway in Moscow, Russia, December 23, 2019. 
News

Ensure Transparency, End Institutional Care

Serbia has taken a positive step to better protect people from Covid-19 by agreeing to release data on the total number of Covid-19 infections and deaths inside social care institutions. People inside institutions are some of the most at-risk during…
A room in the Veternik Institution for children and adults with disabilities where 540 persons, including children with disabilities live. Up to eight people live in one room. © 2015 Emina Ćerimović for Human Rights Watch
News

Activists File an Application to European Court of Human Rights

Activist Alyona Popova and politician Vladimir Milov have lodged a complaint over Russia’s use of  facial recognition technology during protests to the European Court of Human Rights. Their lawyer, Kirill Koroteyev, said this would be the…
Two surveillance camera are seen in a street in Moscow, Russia
News

Entire Country’s Personal Data to Be Stored in One Place

Update: On June 8, President Putin signed the bill into law. The law will enter into force incrementally, starting January 1, 2022. A new law for creating a “uniform federal database” in Russia infringes on the right to privacy and weakens…
A Russian state flag waves on top of a hammer and sickle at the State Duma, lower parliament chamber, headquarters in Moscow, Russia
News

COVID-19 Provides Excuse to Extend; New Monitoring Technology

Moscow’s officials are forging ahead with installing one of the world’s biggest surveillance camera systems equipped with facial recognition technology, despite protests from activists. The system is ostensibly to help in the fight against…
Two surveillance camera are seen in a street in Moscow, Russia
News

UN Committee Finds New Evidence of Violence in Institutions

A recent review of Serbia finds that the government is failing to protect women with disabilities in institutions from violence. In its report, the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW Committee) also…
A room in the Veternik Institution for children and adults with disabilities where 540 persons, including children with disabilities live. Up to eight people live in one room. © 2015 Emina Ćerimović for Human Rights Watch
News

Crackdown on Social Media Broadens

Update: On April 2 a Yeysk court fined Alexander Korovainy 5,000 rubles ($77) for his Facebook post under Article 20.33 for distributing materials from an “undesirable” organization. Last month, Alexander Korovainy shared an image on his…
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News

Human Rights Watch Appeals Expulsion Order of Staff Member

This week, I attended a Jerusalem District Court hearing for Human Rights Watch’s appeal of the Israeli government’s decision to revoke the work permit of, and expel, our Israel and Palestine director, Omar Shakir.  Thirty…
HRW's Israel and Palestine director Omar Shakir in Ramallah, May 2018.
News

Concerns Over Government’s Increased Control of Online Speech

An acquaintance living in the United States asked me if it was true that Russia is about to “cut off its Internet” from the rest of the world. He sounded panicked - his family still lives in Russia. He was concerned about recent reports…
The Google app logo is seen on a smartphone in this picture illustration taken September 15, 2017.
News

Government, Media Should Support Inclusion, not Fiction

A new Russian film, “Temporary Difficulties,” features a character named Sasha, born with cerebral palsy. A doctor tells his parents, “You can give him away and no one will judge you for it.” Although the film takes place during the…
201810europe_russia_disabilities_concert
News

Opposition Politician Alexei Navalny and Campaigners Sentenced

This afternoon, a court in Moscow sentenced the press secretary of Russia’s leading opposition politician, Alexei Navalny, to 25 days in jail for “repeated violation” of regulations on public rallies, an administrative offense. …
Policemen detain opposition supporters during a protest ahead of President Vladimir Putin's inauguration ceremony, Moscow, Russia May 5, 2018.
News

The Russian Government Versus Telegram Messaging Service

Last weekend, I attempted to buy new sneakers online for my 5-year-old, but Amazon’s website was down. My husband wanted to look up traffic updates on Google, but Google Search was down. I tried to check in online for my Monday morning flight, but the…
Tanya Lokshina’s own paper plane for Internet freedom. Moscow, April 22, 2018.
News

Moscow Court Rules to Block Access to Telegram Messenger in Russia

This morning, Moscow’s Tagansky District Court issued a ruling to block access to Telegram, a popular messaging service with close to ten million users in Russia, and close to 200 million worldwide, for failure to hand encryption keys…
A man poses with a smartphone in front of a screen showing the Telegram logos in this picture illustration taken in Zenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina November 18, 2015.
News

Two Israeli Civilians With Psychosocial Disabilities Held Incommunicado

April 4 was the fifth day of Passover, the weeklong Jewish holiday commemorating freedom from slavery, but Avera Mangistu’s parents – who were protesting outside the Israeli prime minister’s house – were keenly aware that their son was…
Avera Mangistu’s parents and disability rights activists at a protest tent in Jerusalem.
News

Discriminatory Ruling Breaks Up Family

A Russian court ruled earlier this month that 40-year-old Yulia Savinovskikh is unfit to foster two children with disabilities, claiming that because she allegedly exudes a “style of male behavior,” she violated Russian family legislation as well…
“Sometime and somewhere there used to be summer,” Yulia Savinovskikh posted to Facebook in November 2017 after guardianship agency officials removed two foster children from her care.