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This week I had expected to be writing about a defamation case brought by Kyrgyzstan’s National Security Committee against an independent journalist in Osh, in southern Kyrgyzstan. To my surprise, the committee withdrew its complaint, and the court…
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This week, the European Union’s top court invalidated the EU’s data retention law, calling into question whether blanket data retention can ever be consistent with human rights requirements. This decision is a major victory for digital rights groups which…
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Preventing needless suffering of the terminally ill in India

In January, years of joint advocacy by Human Rights Watch and Indian palliative care groups culminated in the Medical Council of India recognizing palliative care as a specialization of medicine and approving an MD Palliative Care program. Over time, this…
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The search engine stops censoring information and ideas in China

Last month, Google - one of the world's most important technology companies - stood up to the Chinese government by making it clear that it will not be complicit in censoring information and ideas. For years, corporations - including Google, Yahoo!,…
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Damascus Declaration Trial a Transparent Bid to Silence Critics

(Damascus) – Syria’s sentencing of a dozen leading democracy advocates to more than two years in prison is the latest evidence of Syria’s repression of opposition groups. The democracy activists, including doctors, lawyers, writers, and an artist, were…
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On May 30, Egypt’s General Public Prosecutor ordered the release of Abd al-Monim Mahmud, a prominent TV journalist and blogger who was arrested April 14 for criticizing torture. Immediately following his arrest, Human Rights Watch publicly called for his…
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Dutch Immigration Minister Rita Verdonk has granted special asylum rights to lesbian and gay Iranians. According to the ministry’s October 18 statement, the decision was motivated by Human Rights Watch’s forthcoming report on serious and systematic abuse…
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Citing Human Rights Watch’s work, Dutch members of parliament successfully pressured Immigration Minister Rita Verdonk not to deport lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) asylum-seekers back to Iran, where they face the threat of torture, ill-…
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Human Rights Watch has played a critical role in persuading the Chilean government to move forward with legal reforms aimed at scrapping the country's repressive laws on "insult to authority" (known as desacato). Such laws, which criminalize strongly…
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A Human Rights Watch press release expressing concern about an upsurge in harassment of media in Albania has triggered a lively debate on press freedom in the country.
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In 1999, the Chinese government banned Falungong, a variant of an ancient exercise and meditation system. The government labeled Falungong an "evil cult" and began an aggressive and often violent campaign against its practitioners which continues…
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Human Rights Watch and partner NGOs scored a victory for free expression in Turkey with the February 13 acquittal of Turkish publisher Fatih Tas. Tas had been charged with dispensing "separatist propaganda" for publishing a book by Noam Chomsky that…
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On June 22, King Mswati III of Swaziland issued a royal decree that allows banning of publications without appeal, eliminates bail for some crimes, and increases the punishment for defamation. The royal edict was issued shortly after the banning of two…
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Freedom of expression in Chile remains shackled by military-era restraints. Although the country has recently made strides in prosecuting the abuses of the Pinochet dictatorship, the same repressive defamation laws that the military regime regularly…