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No Time to Waste: Evidence-Based Treatment for Drug Dependence at the United States Veterans Administration Department of Veterans Affairs

July 13, 2014 Comments off

No Time to Waste: Evidence-Based Treatment for Drug Dependence at the United States Veterans Administration Department of Veterans Affairs
Source: Human Rights Watch

The 39-page report states that more than one million US veterans take prescription opioids for pain, and nearly half of them use the drugs “chronically,” or beyond 90 days. Alcohol and drug dependence is strongly associated with homelessness and mental health conditions including post-traumatic stress syndrome and depression, psychological conditions that affect 40 percent of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans in VA care. Drugs or alcohol are involved in 1 of 3 Army suicides, and the VA estimates that 22 veterans commit suicide each day.

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Drones — Keep ‘Killer Robots’ Out of Policing

May 19, 2014 Comments off

Keep ‘Killer Robots’ Out of Policing
Source: Human Rights Watch

Fully autonomous weapons, or “killer robots,” would jeopardize basic human rights, whether used in wartime or for law enforcement, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today, on the eve of the first multilateral meeting on the subject at the United Nations.

The 26-page report, “Shaking the Foundations: The Human Rights Implications of Killer Robots,” is the first report to assess in detail the risks posed by these weapons during law enforcement operations, expanding the debate beyond the battlefield. Human Rights Watch found that fully autonomous weapons would threaten rights and principles under international law as fundamental as the right to life, the right to a remedy, and the principle of dignity.

Saudi Arabia: Activists Challenging Status Quo

January 7, 2014 Comments off

Saudi Arabia: Activists Challenging Status Quo
Source: Human Rights Watch

Activists in Saudi Arabia face a repressive and intolerant government as they advocate popular political participation, judicial reform, and an end to discrimination against women and minorities, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. Authorities have responded by arresting, prosecuting, and attempting to silence rights defenders and to quash their calls for change.

The 48-page report, “Challenging the Red Lines: Stories of Rights Activists in Saudi Arabia,” presents the stories of 11 prominent Saudi social and political rights activists and their struggles to resist government efforts to suppress them. The activists have used new media, including news websites and blogs, and social media tools such as Twitter and Facebook, to build relationships with one another, discuss ideas and strategies for change, and develop public platforms to disseminate their reform message.

In Harm’s Way: State Response to Sex Workers, Drug Users and HIV in New Orleans

January 1, 2014 Comments off

In Harm’s Way: State Response to Sex Workers, Drug Users and HIV in New Orleans
Source: Human Rights Watch

This 57-page report documents government violations of the right to health and other abuses of at-risk populations in New Orleans. It calls for changes in state and local laws and policies that stigmatize, discriminate against, and facilitate police abuse of sex workers and drug users, and interfere with health services for people at high risk for HIV. The report was released in advance of the third annual Southern Harm Reduction and Drug Policy Conference, which opens in New Orleans on December 12, 2013.

An Offer You Can’t Refuse: How US Federal Prosecutors Force Drug Defendants to Plead Guilty

December 10, 2013 Comments off

An Offer You Can’t Refuse: How US Federal Prosecutors Force Drug Defendants to Plead Guilty
Source: Human Rights Watch

The 126-page report details how prosecutors throughout the United States extract guilty pleas from federal drug defendants by charging or threatening to charge them with offenses carrying harsh mandatory sentences and by seeking additional mandatory increases to those sentences. Prosecutors offer defendants a much lower sentence in exchange for pleading guilty. Since drug defendants rarely prevail at trial, it is not surprising that 97 percent of them decide to plead guilty.

Raised on the Registry: The Irreparable Harm of Placing Children on Sex Offender Registries in the US

November 19, 2013 Comments off

Raised on the Registry: The Irreparable Harm of Placing Children on Sex Offender Registries in the US
Source: Human Rights Watch

Throughout the United States, people who commit sex offenses as children (also referred to in this report as “youth sex offenders”) must comply with a complex array of legal requirements that apply to all sex offenders, regardless of age.

Upon release from juvenile detention or prison, youth sex offenders are subject to registration laws that require them to disclose continually updated information including a current photograph, height, weight, age, current address, school attendance, and place of employment. Registrants must periodically update this information so that it remains current in each jurisdiction in which they reside, work, or attend school. Often, the requirement to register lasts for decades and even a lifetime. Although the details about some youth offenders prosecuted in juvenile courts are disclosed only to law enforcement, most states provide these details to the public, often over the Internet, because of community notification laws. Residency restriction laws impose another layer of control, subjecting people convicted of sexual offenses as children to a range of rules about where they may live. Failure to adhere to registration, community notification, or residency restriction laws can lead to a felony conviction for failure to register, with lasting consequences for a young person’s life.

This report challenges the view that registration laws and related restrictions are an appropriate response to sex offenses committed by children. Even acknowledging the considerable harm that youth offenders can cause, these requirements operate as, in effect, continued punishment of the offender. While the law does not formally recognize registration as a punishment, Jacob’s case and those of many other youth sex offenders detailed below illustrate the often devastating impact it has on the youth offenders and their families. And contrary to common public perceptions, the empirical evidence suggests that putting youth offenders on registries does not advance community safety—including because it overburdens law enforcement with large numbers of people to monitor, undifferentiated by their dangerousness.

US: Reassess Targeted Killings in Yemen

October 23, 2013 Comments off

US: Reassess Targeted Killings in Yemen
Source: Human Rights Watch

United States targeted airstrikes against alleged terrorists in Yemen have killed civilians in violation of international law, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. The strikes, often using armed drones, are creating a public backlash that undermines US efforts against Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).

The 102-page report, “‘Between a Drone and Al-Qaeda’: The Civilian Cost of US Targeted Killings in Yemen,”examines six US targeted killings in Yemen, one from 2009 and the rest from 2012-2013. Two of the attacks killed civilians indiscriminately in clear violation of the laws of war; the others may have targeted people who were not legitimate military objectives or caused disproportionate civilian deaths.

“Swept Away” — Abuses against Sex Workers in China

May 15, 2013 Comments off

“Swept Away” — Abuses against Sex Workers in China
Source: Human Rights Watch

This 51-page report documents abuses by the police against female sex workers in Beijing, including torture, beatings, physical assaults, arbitrary detentions, and fines, as well as a failure to investigate crimes against sex workers by clients, bosses, and state agents. The report also documents abuses by public health agencies, such as coercive HIV testing, privacy infringements, and mistreatment by health officials.

Death of a Dictator: Bloody Vengeance in Sirte

October 24, 2012 Comments off

Death of a Dictator: Bloody Vengeance in Sirte

Source Human Rights Watch

This 58-page report details the final hours of Muammar Gaddafi’s life and the circumstances under which he was killed. It presents evidence that Misrata-based militias captured and disarmed members of the Gaddafi convoy and, after bringing them under their total control, subjected them to brutal beatings. They then executed at least 66 captured members of the convoy at the nearby Mahari Hotel. The evidence indicates that opposition militias took Gaddafi’s wounded son Mutassim from Sirte to Misrata and killed him there.

Under the laws of war, the killing of captured combatants is a war crime, and Libyan civilian and military authorities have an obligation to investigate war crimes and other violations of international humanitarian law.

Growing Up Locked Down – Youth in Solitary Confinement in Jails and Prisons Across the United States

October 11, 2012 Comments off

Growing Up Locked Down – Youth in Solitary Confinement in Jails and Prisons Across the United States

Source: American Civil Liberties Union and Human Rights Watch

Every day, in jails and prisons across the United States, young people under the age of 18 are held in solitary confinement. They spend 22 or more hours each day alone, usually in a small cell behind a solid steel door, completely isolated both physically and socially, often for days, weeks, or even months on end. Sometimes there is a window allowing natural light to enter or a view of the world outside cell walls. Sometimes it is possible to communicate by yelling to other inmates, with voices distorted, reverberating against concrete and metal. Occasionally, they get a book or bible, and if they are lucky, study materials. But inside this cramped space, few contours distinguish one hour, one day, week, or one month, from the next.

A new report from the ACLU and Human Rights Watch, “Growing Up Locked Down: Youth in Solitary Confinement in Jails and Prisons Across the United States,” is based on interviews and correspondence with more than 125 young people in 19 states who spent time in solitary confinement while under age 18 as well as with jail and/or prison officials in 10 states.

Old Behind Bars

March 1, 2012 Comments off
Source:  Human Rights Watch
From Summary:
Life in prison can challenge anyone, but it can be particularly hard for people whose bodies and minds are being whittled away by age.
Prisons in the United States contain an ever growing number of aging men and women who cannot readily climb stairs, haul themselves to the top bunk, or walk long distances to meals or the pill line; whose old bones suffer from thin mattresses and winter’s cold; who need wheelchairs, walkers, canes, portable oxygen, and hearing aids; who cannot get dressed, go to the bathroom, or bathe without help; and who are incontinent, forgetful, suffering chronic illnesses, extremely ill, and dying.
Using data from the United States Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS), Human Rights Watch calculates that the number of sentenced federal and state prisoners who are age 65 or older grew an astonishing 94 times faster than the total sentenced prisoner population between 2007 and 2010. The older prison population increased by 63 percent, while the total prison population grew by 0.7 percent during the same period.
Some older men and women in prison today entered when they were young or middle-aged; others committed crimes when they were already along in years. Those who have lengthy sentences, as many do, are not likely to leave prison before they are aged and infirm. Some will die behind bars: between 2001 and 2007, 8,486 prisoners age 55 or older died in prison.
This report is the first of two that Human Rights Watch plans to issue on the topic of elderly prisoners in the US.[1] It presents new data on the number of aging men and women in prison; provides information on the cost of confining them; and based on research conducted in nine states where prisons vary significantly in size, resources, and conditions, offers an overview of some ways that prison systems have responded to them. The report tackles some policy considerations posed by incarcerating elderly inmates, and raises the human rights concerns that must be addressed if sound policies are to be developed for the criminal punishment and incarceration of older prisoners, both those who grow old in prison and those who enter at an advanced age.

Haiti: Earthquake Recovery Failing Women and Girls

September 1, 2011 Comments off

Haiti: Earthquake Recovery Failing Women and Girls
Source: Human Rights Watch

Women and girls in Haiti are facing gaps in access to available healthcare services necessary to stop preventable maternal and infant deaths, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. Serious gaps in access to healthcare services are harming vulnerable women and girls still displaced after the January 12, 2010 earthquake. Aid efforts that lack effective mechanisms for monitoring and reporting shortcomings compound the problem.

The 78-page report, “‘Nobody Remembers Us’:Failure to Protect Women’s and Girls’ Right to Health and Security in Post-Earthquake Haiti,” documents the lack of access to reproductive and maternal care in post-earthquake Haiti, even with unprecedented availability of free healthcare services. The report also describes how hunger has led women to trade sex for food and how poor camp conditions exacerbate the impact of sexual violence because of difficulties accessing post-rape care. It looks at how recovery efforts have failed to adequately address the needs and rights of women and girls, particularly their rights to health and security. Haitian authorities and donors should take concrete steps to improve access to services and to protect the human rights of these women and girls, Human Rights Watch said.

+ Full Report (PDF)

Failing its Families

February 24, 2011 Comments off

Failing its Families
Source: Human Rights Watch

This report is based on interviews with 64 parents across the country. It documents the health and financial impact on American workers of having little or no paid family leave after childbirth or adoption, employer reticence to offer breastfeeding support or flexible schedules, and workplace discrimination against new parents, especially mothers. Parents said that having scarce or no paid leave contributed to delaying babies’ immunizations, postpartum depression and other health problems, and caused mothers to give up breastfeeding early. Many who took unpaid leave went into debt and some were forced to seek public assistance. Some women said employer bias against working mothers derailed their careers. Same-sex parents were often denied even unpaid leave.

+ Full Report (PDF)

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