Iranian authorities should immediately ensure the release of three journalists and a fourth person arrested in recent days, including the Tehran correspondent for TheWashington Post, unless they plan to bring recognizable criminal charges against them and guarantee them fair trials. The arrests are the latest in a series of actions that Iran’s security and intelligence forces, supported by elements within the judiciary, have taken against at least 10 journalists in recent months.
The Washington Post correspondent, Jason Rezaian, has dual Iranian and American nationality. The Washington Post reported his arrest together with his wife, Yeganeh Salehi, also a journalist, and two unnamed people, a photojournalist and her spouse, in a statement on July 24, 2014. Gholamhossein Esmaeili, the head of Tehran’s judiciary, confirmed Rezaian’s arrest on July 25, saying he had “been detained for some questions,” but gave no other explanation. He said the judiciary would issue further details after completing its investigation. Salehi is a correspondent for The National, an English-language news outlet based in the United Arab Emirates. The photojournalist and her spouse reportedly also have dual Iranian and American citizenship.
"We’re tired of war. I, for one, have had enough of bloodshed, death and destruction. But I also can no longer tolerate the return to a deeply unjust status quo. I can no longer agree to live in this open-air prison. We can no longer tolerate to be treated as sub-humans, deprived of our most basic human rights. We are trapped here, trapped between two deaths: death by Israeli bombs and missiles, and death by Israel’s blockade of Gaza."
Iraq’s security forces have killed at least 75 civilians and wounded hundreds of others in indiscriminate air strikes on four cities since June 6, 2014. Human Rights Watch documented 17 airstrikes, the majority in the first half of July. Barrel bombs were used in six of them.
"During the brief ceasefire on July 26, I traveled to Shoja’ea, a neighborhood in Gaza that was heavily bombarded by Israel a few days prior, resulting in close to 90 deaths in just one day. Dozens of houses and streets were destroyed. It looked like everything there was a target — humans, animals, and every stone. I felt like I was dreaming. I couldn’t believe how much destruction there was everywhere I looked. The people’s faces, some returning to their homes and some journalists, were pale and shocked. Many couldn’t find their homes and in some cases, even their streets, as the features of the neighborhood had changed completely.
Remains of missiles were everywhere, many of them unexploded. I spoke to someone who was stuck in Shoja’ea for eight days. He said that he couldn’t hear us clearly because his hearing was damaged by the explosions that were around him for so long. He said that he had very little to eat in the past few days, only olives and peppers, and had no connection with the outside world because the electricity and cell phone connections were both out.
After leaving Shoja’ea, I and several other journalists tried to enter the Khuzaa area in eastern Khan Younis, which was intensively bombed by Israeli tanks as well, but Israeli forces did not allow it. We heard warning gunshots and had to turn back. The stories of Khuzaa’s people will stay unshared with the the world for now.”
Uganda is failing to protect homeless children against police abuse and other violence. Street children throughout Uganda’s urban centers face violence, and physical and sexual abuse. National and local government officials should put an end to organized roundups of street children, hold police and others accountable for beatings, and provide improved access for these children to education and healthcare.
Police and other officials, including those from the Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA), have beaten, extorted money from, and arbitrarily detained street children after targeted roundups. In police cells children have faced further beatings and forced labor, including cleaning the cells and police living quarters. On the streets, homeless adults and older children harass, threaten, beat, sexually abuse, force drugs upon, and exploit street children, often with impunity.
When she was 12, Chimwemwe, from a rural village in southern Malawi, married a 17-year-old boy. She had started having sex with him when she was 10 because, she said, he gave her money and small gifts, while her parents could not afford to feed her or buy her clothes.
Chimwemwe, not her real name, became pregnant, and their families forced them to marry. When I interviewed her in September 2013, two years into her marriage, she said: “I’ve never experienced happiness in my marriage. I’ve never seen the benefit of being married.” Her husband beat her, she often went without food and she had almost died giving birth.
Chimwemwe dropped out of school in standard four (equivalent to fourth grade) but said she does not want to go back because “I feel I was not good with books.”
Torture remains a serious problem in Brazil despite recent measures to curb the practice, Human Rights Watch said today in a letter to the Brazilian Congress. Congress should approve a bill that would safeguard against ill-treatment of detainees by requiring officials to physically present them before a judge for a “custody hearing” within 24 hours of arrest.
Human Rights Watch found compelling evidence in 64 cases of alleged abuse since 2010 that security forces or prison authorities engaged in cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment against people in their custody. In 40 of these cases, the evidence supported the conclusion that the abuse rose to the level of torture. While these abuses often occur in the first 24 hours in police custody, detainees typically must wait for three months or more before they see a judge to whom they can directly report the abuse.
The US Senate should move swiftly to approve a surveillance reform bill introduced on July 29, 2014, by Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, Human Rights Watch said today. The bill, known as the USA Freedom Act, is a significant improvement over a companion bill that the US House of Representatives passed on May 22 and, if approved, has the potential to end bulk collection of phone records in the US.
“The NSA’s large scale collection of phone metadata has deeply undermined the public’s trust in government and is doing serious harm to basic freedoms and democratic accountability in the US,” said Cynthia Wong, senior Internet researcher at Human Rights Watch. “The Senate’s bill is a much-needed first step, and Congress should act quickly to approve it without letting it be diluted.”
"Despite the state’s ‘Stand Your Ground’ law, Alexander is facing 60 years in prison for having fired a warning shot in 2012 to stop her abusive ex-husband from attacking her. The bullet fired by Alexander, a Black working-class mother, hit no one and caused no injury. Nonetheless, she was arrested, jailed and convicted — until a mass movement forced her conviction to be thrown out in late 2013. The state’s prosecutor, Angela Corey, decided to retry the case and has repeatedly slandered Alexander to the mass media and even in the state’s legislature. While the state’s persecution of Alexander continues, the movement to win her freedom has not gone away."
The Snowden revelations on mass surveillance practices, especially by the US and UK, have triggered a global struggle over the right to privacy—and a report by the outgoing UN human-rights commissioner has set the terrain for the next phase.
What have the US and UK done in the past year to rein in mass surveillance? For the millions of global internet users, the answer is: not much. Despite worldwide outrage and debate, US talk of safeguards and reform has brought half-measures at best. The UK government has refused to answer the most basic questions about its intelligence gathering practices—and, in an astounding act of hubris, rushed through a law last week which extends surveillance powers.
The actions of the US and UK stand in stark contrast to a groundbreaking and forceful report released last week by the UN high commissioner for human rights, Navi Pillay, about privacy in the digital age. Many of her findings directly challenge US and UK arguments defending secret, mass surveillance.
Something similar is happening at the U.S.-Mexico border and on the Mediterranean. In both places, lifesaving and rights-respecting policies are being blamed for a surge in migrants and asylum seekers.
Italy started a rescue-at-sea operation called Mare Nostrum in response to the drowning of 360 boat migrants in October. In the first six months of this year, 65,000 boat migrants arrived in Italy, an eightfold increase over the same period in 2013.
And in the United States, in response to horror stories of the trafficking of children Congress passed an anti-trafficking law in 2008 that provided full hearings for unaccompanied children from noncontiguous countries. While waiting for claims for protection to be heard, they are released to families or other sponsors rather than being detained. So far this fiscal year, more than 57,000 unaccompanied Central American children have arrived at the U.S. border.
These are large numbers, but a little global perspective is warranted. Syria’s neighbors in the Mideast, for example, are hosting more than 2.5 million Syrian refugees. Based on absolute numbers, or on the ability to absorb newcomers as a factor of GDP and population, the industrialized countries do not bear nearly the refugee burden of a Kenya, Jordan, Thailand or scores of other nations.