Posts Tagged ‘Human Rights Watch report’

Thailand: Investigate Killings of Children

March 6, 2010

Soldiers at Checkpoint Shot at Truck Carrying Burmese Migrants

Human Rights Watch, March 5, 2010
The government needs to carry out an immediate investigation into why and how the army opened fire on this truck. Shooting into a truck apparently without concern for who could be killed or wounded is not acceptable. Those responsible need to face the consequences.
Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch

(New York) – The Thai government should promptly investigate the use of lethal force by Thai soldiers against Burmese migrants, which resulted in the death of three children, Human Rights Watch said today.

The army said soldiers fired on a pick-up truck carrying 13 undocumented migrant workers from Burma on February 25, 2010, after the driver failed to heed a signal to stop for inspection. Human Rights Watch has obtained photos showing that the truck was riddled with bullet holes.

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Egypt and Libya: A year of serious abuses of human rights

January 25, 2010

Human Rights Messengers Remain Particularly Vulnerable in Both Countries

Human Rights Watch, January 24, 2010

“Both Egypt’s and Libya’s human rights records will come under intense scrutiny by the UN Human Rights Council in 2010.  Egyptian security services need to understand that their thuggery confirms the international image of Egypt as a police state, while Libyan security forces continue to dominate political space in Libya in an atmosphere of fear.”

Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director

(Cairo, Egypt) – Egypt should revoke its draconian Emergency Law and revamp its abusive security forces as top priorities in 2010, Human Rights Watch said today in its comprehensive World Report 2010. Libya should free unjustly detained prisoners and reform laws that criminalize free speech and association, Human Rights Watch said.

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UK: Set Judicial Inquiry on Complicity in Torture

November 25, 2009

British Government should Stop Stonewalling

Human Rights Watch, Nov 24, 2009

(London) – The UK government should immediately order an independent judicial inquiry into the role and complicity of British security services in the torture of terrorism suspects in Pakistan, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today.

The 46-page report, “Cruel Britannia: British Complicity in the Torture and Ill-treatment of Terror Suspects in Pakistan,” provides accounts from victims and their families in the cases of five UK citizens of Pakistani origin – Salahuddin Amin, Zeeshan Siddiqui, Rangzieb Ahmed, Rashid Rauf and a fifth individual who wishes to remain anonymous – tortured in Pakistan by Pakistani security agencies between 2004 and 2007. Human Rights Watch found that while there is no evidence of UK officials directly participating in torture, UK complicity is clear.

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China: Uighur Detainees ‘Disappeared’ After Xinjiang Protests

October 21, 2009
Chines Government Should Account for Every Detainee
Human Rights Watch, October 20, 2009

Uighur women grieve for men who they claim were taken away by Chinese auhtorities after the July 5-7, 2009 protests in Urumqi, China on July 7, 2009.

© 2009 AP Photo/Ng Han Guan

Ku Huakua, a 25-year-old Han Chinese vegetable vendor was killed by a Uighur mob on the night of July 5th. His mother shows his photos in their home after returning from identifying his body. Urumqi, July 7, 2009.

© 2009 Alan Chin

The Chinese government says it respects the rule of law, but nothing could undermine this claim more than taking people from their homes or off the street and ‘disappearing’ them.

Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch

(New York) – The Chinese government should immediately account for all detainees in its custody and allow independent investigations into the July 2009 protests in Urumqi and their aftermath, Human Rights Watch said in a new report on enforced “disappearances” released today.

The 44-page report, “‘We Are Afraid to Even Look for Them’: Enforced Disappearances in the Wake of Xinjiang’s Protests,” documents the enforced disappearances of 43 Uighur men and teenage boys who were detained by Chinese security forces in the wake of the protests.

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Burma: End Repression of Buddhist Monks

September 22, 2009
Intimidation Intensifies Ahead of Second Anniversary of Crackdown
Human Rights Watch, September 21, 2009
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The stories told by monks are sad and disturbing, but they exemplify the behavior of Burma’s military government as it clings to power through violence, fear, and repression. The monks retain a great deal of moral authority, making principled stands by monks very dangerous for a government that doesn’t.

Brad Adams, Asia director

(Bangkok) – Buddhist monks in Burma face continuing repression, intimidation and harsh prison sentences two years after the military government’s brutal crackdown on peaceful demonstrations, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today.

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Report: Israeli Troops Killed Unarmed Gazans Carrying White Flags

August 14, 2009

Military Says Report Unfair, Insists Some Gazans Waved White Flags Illegally

by Jason Ditz,,  August 13, 2009

The latest in a long line of charges of war crimes by Israeli forces during January’s invasion of the Gaza Strip, a new report by Human Rights Watch cites investigations and reports of eyewitnesses who say Israeli soldiers shot 11 unarmed Palestinians, including five women and four children, who were waving white flags at them.

The report urged the Israeli military to conduct a thorough investigation into the charges, but this appears unlikely as the Israeli military publicly condemned Human Rights Watch for releasing the report. saying that it was unreliable because it included eyewitness accounts and accusing the US-based rights group of unfairly criticizing Israel for an invasion that killed well over 1,000 Palestinians, the vast majority of them civilians.

The Israeli military also claimed that on occasion Gazans had acted illegally in waving white flags, insisting that this had endangered the civilian population. It did not appear to provide any information to directly dispute the evidence of the particular incident, but merely appeared irked that Human Rights Watch didn’t present it to them before releasing it to the public.

Israel’s own probes into the Gaza War have largely stalled without result, most notably when it abandoned an investigation stemming from the direct public testimony of several of its own soldiers who reported indiscriminate killing of civilians just days after announcing it. The military declared that all the testimony was “hearsay” and that not a single claim was true.

Saudi Arabia: Counterterrorism Efforts Violate Rights

August 10, 2009

Indefinite Detention, Inappropriate Reeducation, and Flawed Trials

Human Rights Watch, August 10, 2009

Saudi Arabia’s response to terrorism for years has been to lock up thousands of suspects and throw away the key. The authorities made believe that religious counseling could replace trials, and now they are pretending that convictions after secret trials can legitimize continued detention.

Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch

(New York) – Saudi Arabia has detained indefinitely more than 9,000 people under its counterterrorism program since 2003, offering many religious “reeducation” instead of judicial review to attain their freedom Human Rights Watch said in a report issued today. Saudi Arabia only moved in October 2008 to try some detainees, announcing in July 2009 that it had convicted more than 300 on terrorism charges, in trials the report says were secret and unfair.

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Police brutalitiy in democratic India

August 4, 2009

Indian villagers’ tales of injustice

BBC News, Aug 4, 2009

In the wake of a Human Rights Watch report alleging widespread abuse by Indian police, BBC South Asia Correspondent Damian Grammaticas visits a village where residents say four innocent men were gunned down by officers.

Janaki and baby with pictures of her late husband

Janaki’s husband was shot dead by police two years ago

As we enter the village of Khanpurkalla, in Uttar Pradesh, a crowd gathers round.

There is a buzz of expectation and soon more than 100 people are jostling to get close, all wanting us to hear their story.

It is a tale of injustice, grief and neglect. People here believe the police, who are meant to protect them, are guilty of getting away with murder, quite literally.

According to the Human Rights Watch (HRW) report released today, their story is far from unusual. Indian police stand accused of human rights violations including arbitrary arrest, detention, torture and unlawful killings.

The village is reached down a bumpy track. It is home to former gypsies who have settled here, surrounded by lush, green sugar cane fields.

Water buffalo wallow in muddy canals. It is poor and appears tranquil enough, but there is real anger beneath the surface.

‘Good man’

A young woman comes forward carrying a child with one hand and a wedding photo in another. Tears flow down Janaki’s cheeks as she remembers the events of two years ago.

The picture shows Janaki in her wedding finery and her husband, 18-year-old Ram Darashi, digitally superimposed on a fancy mansion complete with marble and chandeliers.

It is a far cry from their bare cottage but says much about the hopes the young couple had.

Just a few months after the photo was taken Ram Darashi was shot dead with three friends by the police.

“He was a gentle man, a good man,” Janaki says. “He was not a criminal like the police say. Now he is gone, I have nothing. I want to kill myself, but I can’t because otherwise who will care for my child?”

On her lap, two-year-old Gulshan cries as she talks.

Ram Darashi, she says, had gone with three young men from the village to celebrate his wedding.

Rajender with photograph of his brother

Rajender is still angry over the death of his brother, Jitender

Riding two motorbikes they had gone to the foothills of the Himalayas, where they vanished.

Their bodies turned up in two different locations, all shot dead by police who claimed they were thieves resisting arrest.

Rajender, whose 18-year-old brother Jitender died alongside Ram Darashi, is seething at the injustice.

“When I see Janaki and I see how heartbroken she is, I feel like ending my life too,” he says.

“We just roam around in our grief looking for our lost loved ones.

“We should be allowed to kill the police the way they killed our boys, or at least the government should punish them to make an example of them so nobody ever does the same again.”

Ram Darashi and Jitender died in the town of Dehradun, while their two friends were killed about 45km (28 miles) miles away in Rishikesh.

Police in Dehradun say Ram Darashi and Jitender were criminals who mugged a woman and stole some jewellery in August 2006.

They say that when officers tried to stop the two men – because they matched the description of the attackers – they opened fire. The police shot back and the two died.

Vinod Kumar, senior superintendent of Dehradun police, moved to the town after the killings.

He told the BBC that the magistrates’ report said two guns and ammunition were found on the men, along with three gold chains and some money.

Amateur video shows Indian police beating a suspect

He said an investigation by police from another district found no evidence of wrongdoing by the officers who shot the men and they were given cash rewards for their actions.

But back in their village the families say Ram Darashi and Jitender had never broken the law, and the evidence does not stack up.

The men’s motorbike did not match that used in the mugging and when the families tried to lodge a complaint they were threatened and chased away by the police, they say.

Taking shortcuts

The HRW report includes accounts given by police officers in other areas who say they are often under pressure to show results when tackling crime.

One even admitted that he had been ordered to kill a man by his superior.

HRW says traditionally marginalised communities, like the gypsies of Khanpurkala, are “particularly vulnerable to police abuse”.

Sankar Sen, a former director of India’s National Police Academy, says police are often under great pressure to give results in unreasonably short time.

“Our criminal justice system is not functioning,” he says. “There is pressure on the police to adopt shotgun measures, to take shortcuts.”

“The moment you take human rights in your hands it is the innocent that suffer. Most complaints come from the poor and downtrodden. Resorting to violence brutalises the police,” he added.

Grieving Janaki says she has little hope of justice.

“No, there is nothing we can do,” she says ruefully. “The police officers are men with money, we are poor. We can’t do anything to stop them. They can do anything they want to us.”

Gaza: When Drones Become Indiscriminate

July 1, 2009

By Jerrold Kessel and Pierre Klochendler | Inter Press Service

JERUSALEM, Jun 30 (IPS) – The concerted effort of international human rights activists to rein in violations of laws of war was given a major impetus when Human Rights Watch researchers presented a report Tuesday on the unbridled use by the Israeli military of unmanned combat aerial vehicles (UCLAV), commonly known as drones, during Israel’s 22-day assault on Hamas in Gaza at the beginning of the year.

Entitled ‘Precisely Wrong’, the Human Rights Watch (HRW) report focuses on six cases of Israeli drone-launched missile attacks in which 29 Palestinian civilians, eight of them children, were killed. Based on cross-referenced eyewitness accounts corroborated by doctors, as well as ballistics and forensic evidence collected on the attack sites, the report asserts that “in none of the cases did HRW find evidence that Palestinian fighters were present in the immediate area of the attack at the time.

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Jordan: Torture in Prisons Routine and Widespread

October 9, 2008

Reforms Fail to Tackle Abuse, Impunity Persists

Human Rights Watch

(Amman, October 8, 2008) – Jordan should end routine and widespread torture in its prisons, Human Rights Watch said in a new report released today. Human Rights Watch called on the government to overhaul mechanisms for investigating, disciplining and prosecuting abusers, and in particular to transfer prosecutor’s investigations into prison abuse from police to civilian prosecutors.

" Torture in Jordan’s prison system is widespread even two years after King Abdullah called for reforms to stop it once and for all. The mechanisms for preventing torture by holding torturers accountable are simply not working. "
Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch

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The 95-page report, “Torture and Impunity in Jordan’s Prisons: Reforms Fail to Tackle Widespread Abuse,” documents credible allegations of ill-treatment, often amounting to torture, from 66 out of 110 prisoners interviewed at random in 2007 and 2008, and in each of the seven of Jordan’s 10 prisons visited. Human Rights Watch’s evidence suggests that five prison directors personally participated in torturing detainees.

“Torture in Jordan’s prison system is widespread even two years after King Abdullah called for reforms to stop it once and for all,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “The mechanisms for preventing torture by holding torturers accountable are simply not working.”

The most common forms of torture include beatings with cables and sticks and the suspension by the wrists from metal grates for hours at a time, during which guards flog a defenseless prisoner. Prison guards also torture prisoners for perceived infractions of prison rules. Human Rights Watch found evidence that at times Islamists accused or convicted of crimes against national security (Tanzimat) were punished en masse.

Prison officials say beatings and other ill-treatment are isolated incidents and that a prison reform program initiated in 2006 is improving prison conditions and accountability for abuse. Human Rights Watch’s research shows that while the reform program may well be improving the chief areas of its focus – health services, overcrowding, visitation, and recreation facilities – impunity for physical abuse remains the norm.

In October 2007, an amendment to the Penal Code made torture a crime for the first time, and in early 2008, the Public Security Directorate (PSD) assigned prosecutors to investigate abuses at seven prisons. But to date there have been no prosecutions under that law.

In February 2008, the PSD allowed the National Center for Human Rights to set up an office inside Swaqa prison. However, critical reporting about a prison riot there in April 2008 led the PSD to stop its cooperation with the center.

“Jordan has made some attempts to address the problem of torture in prison, but the bottom line is that the measures have been insufficient, and torture persists as a consequence,” Whitson said.

Two separate incidents involving the torture and abuse of large groups of detainees highlight failures in accountability. Despite extensive evidence that guards in Juwaida and Swaqa prisons tortured Islamist prisoners following a successful escape by two Islamist prisoners from Juwaida in June 2007, the Jordanian authorities failed to launch any investigation. In a third incident, the PSD, which directs security agencies including the prison service, did launch an extensive investigation into events surrounding the prison riot and fire on April 14, 2008 at Muwaqqar prison that left three prisoners dead. The investigators did not prosecute a guard who prisoners alleged had tortured some of them just prior to the fire, included some who died in it. An independent non-judicial investigation by the National Center for Human Rights found ill-treatment at the heart of the prison riot. Despite this evidence, the investigation concluded that no official had done anything wrong.

Part of the problem lies in the authority of prison officials to discipline internally, which is used as way of avoiding formal prosecution of torturers. For example, in 2007, while the PSD investigated 19 allegations of torture across Jordan, referring six to court for prosecution, the directors of three prisons, Muwaqqar, Qafqafa, and Swaqa, told Human Rights Watch that they had internally disciplined six guards for abuse without involving the PSD. Prison directors in Jordan have authority to settle abuse cases as “misdemeanors,” including ill-treatment, without resorting to the Police Court.

“The PSD’s reluctance to prosecute and punish torturers within its ranks stems from a misguided desire to preserve the reputation of the prison service,” Whitson said. “Instead, protecting guards who torture from prosecution tarnishes the image of the entire profession, including those guards who fulfill their duties without resorting to torture and abuse of prisoners.”

Furthermore, Human Rights Watch pointed out that it is police prosecutors and police judges who are responsible for investigating, prosecuting and trying their fellow officers for prison abuses, including torture, in the Police Court. Grievances officials, who investigate prison abuses, referred cases for prosecutions only in a small number of cases where there was overwhelming evidence.

Even where the government has prosecuted some egregious cases of torture, the Police Court’s verdicts have been flawed. In one case, the Police Court sentenced former Swaqa prison director Majid al-Rawashda to a fine of JOD 120 (around US$180) for ordering and participating in the beating of 70 prisoners in August 2007. The court found 12 other guards who had participated in the beatings not guilty because they were “following orders.” The court sentenced prison guards who had beaten Firas Zaidan to death in Aqaba prison in May 2007 to two-and-a-half years in prison. The court also reduced to two-and-a-half years the sentence of guards who had beaten Abdullah Mashaqba to death in Juwaida prison in 2004 because they were “in the prime of their youth.”

“The police and prison service cannot credibly investigate itself,” said Whitson. “Civilian prosecutors and judges should take over all investigations of prison abuse to end impunity for torturers and begin to provide redress for victims of torture.”

Since beginning its prison reform program in 2006, Jordan has sought international advice on improving prison conditions. The New York-based Kerik Group provided training and advised on prison management, equipment, and new construction, including a super-maximum security prison with 240 solitary confinement-only cells to be opened in late 2008. Currently, Austria’s Ministry of Justice is in an EU-sponsored “twinning project” with the PSD to reform the penitentiary system.

Human Rights Watch calls on Jordan’s donors to address the widespread torture, and to condition part of their assistance on the establishment of independent investigation and prosecution mechanisms.

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