iOS app Android app

Human Rights Watch
GET UPDATES FROM Human Rights Watch
 
Human Rights Watch is one of the world’s leading independent organizations dedicated to defending and protecting human rights. By focusing international attention where human rights are violated, we give voice to the oppressed and hold oppressors accountable for their crimes. Our rigorous, objective investigations and strategic, targeted advocacy build intense pressure for action and raise the cost of human rights abuse. For more than 30 years, Human Rights Watch has worked tenaciously to lay the legal and moral groundwork for deep-rooted change and has fought to bring greater justice and security to people around the world.

Human Rights Watch investigates and documents major human rights issues in more than 90 nations and territories worldwide, with a staff of more than 200 researchers and country experts. Our contributions to Huffington Post are centralized here.

Here is a list of Human Rights Watch HuffPost bloggers:

Joe Amon

Clive Baldwin

Sophie Richardson

Kenneth Roth

Ken Roth

Joe Amon

Clive Baldwin

Heba Fatma Morayef

Andrea Prasow

Minky Worden

Laura Pitter

Reed Brody

Maria Burnett

Zama Coursen-Neff

Jamie Fellner

Eric Goldstein

Maria McFarland

Megan McLemore

Alison Parker

Meghan Road

Jim Ross

Letta Tayler

Sarah Leah Whitson

Shantha Rau Barriga


Arvind Ganesan

Christoph Wilcke

Aisling Reidy

Sophie Richardson

Gerry Simpson

Chris Albin-Lackey

Entries by Human Rights Watch

Watch: Survivors Describe Mosque Massacre in Iraq

(0) Comments | Posted November 3, 2014 | 10:02 AM

Militias, Local Police Killed 34 at Friday prayer

(Erbil) – Victims of a massacre in a mosque in Diyala province by Iraqi pro-government militias and security forces recognized the attackers and knew them by name. The Iraqi government should promptly make public any investigation of the attack on the...

Read Post

Video: Child Brides in Tanzania

(0) Comments | Posted October 29, 2014 | 1:23 PM

(Nairobi) – Child marriage in Tanzania limits girls’ access to education and exposes them to serious harms. Human Rights Watch documented cases in which girls as young as seven were married. The government should set 18 as the minimum marriage age for girls and boys as a first...

Read Post

Watch: Nigerian Victims of Boko Haram Abductions Tell Their Stories

(18) Comments | Posted October 27, 2014 | 9:21 AM

(London) – Women and girls abducted by the Islamist group Boko Haram are forced to marry, convert, and endure physical and psychological abuse, forced labor, and rape in captivity. The group has abducted more than 500 women and girls since 2009, and intensified abductions since May 2013, when Nigeria...

Read Post

Video: Trapped, Exploited, and Abused in the UAE

(0) Comments | Posted October 23, 2014 | 9:53 AM

(Manila) – Migrant domestic workers in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) are beaten, exploited, and trapped in forced labor situations, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. The UAE government, about to take up an influential new role in the International Labour Organization (ILO), has failed to...

Read Post

Watch: Widespread Use of Cluster Bombs in Ukraine

(14) Comments | Posted October 21, 2014 | 10:31 AM

(Berlin) – Ukrainian government forces used cluster munitions in populated areas in Donetsk city in early October 2014. The use of cluster munitions in populated areas violates the laws of war due to the indiscriminate nature of the weapon and may amount to war crimes.
During a week-long investigation...

Read Post

Police Abused People in Custody in Every Region of Vietnam

(0) Comments | Posted September 16, 2014 | 12:48 PM

Pervasive Deaths, Injuries in Police Custody

Bangkok – Police throughout Vietnam abuse people in their custody, in some cases leading to death, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. The Vietnamese government should take immediate action to end suspicious deaths in custody and torture of detainees...

Read Post

Video: Caste Forced to Clean Human Waste in India, in 2014

(1) Comments | Posted August 25, 2014 | 8:46 AM

(New Delhi) – The Indian government should end “manual scavenging” – the cleaning of human waste by communities considered low-caste – by ensuring that local officials enforce the laws prohibiting this discriminatory practice, Human Rights Watch said in a new report released today. The government should implement existing legislation aimed...

Read Post

Watch: One Year On, No Justice for Chemical Attacks Victims in Syria

(0) Comments | Posted August 21, 2014 | 4:51 PM

(New York) – Justice remains elusive for the victims of the chemical weapons attacks on Ghouta, near Damascus, which killed hundreds of people, Human Rights Watch said today, on the anniversary of the August 21, 2013, attacks.

The attacks were the most significant use of chemical agents since the Iraqi...

Read Post

Watch: Egypt Killings in Rab'a Likely Crimes Against Humanity

(0) Comments | Posted August 12, 2014 | 10:28 AM

(Cairo) – The systematic and widespread killing of at least 1,150 demonstrators by Egyptian security forces in July and August 2013 probably amounts to crimes against humanity, Human Rights Watch said today in a report based on a year-long investigation. In the August 14 dispersal of the Rab’a...

Read Post

'Torture' No Longer a Four-Letter Word?

(0) Comments | Posted August 8, 2014 | 6:46 PM

By Laura Pitter

Is some sense of sanity finally slipping into the torture debate in the U.S.? Yesterday, after years of criticism for failing to call it by its name, the New York Times finally decided it would use the word “torture” to describe when U.S. interrogators use pain...

Read Post

Gaza's Schools on the Battlefield

(0) Comments | Posted July 31, 2014 | 1:35 PM

On July 30 a school in the Jabaliya refugee camp in Gaza run by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) came under attack.  At least 15 people died and scores more were wounded, including women and children who were sheltering there. It was the second UN school hit...

Read Post

Watch: FBI Targets American Muslims in Abusive Counterterrorism "Sting Operations"

(2) Comments | Posted July 23, 2014 | 11:36 AM

(Washington, DC) –The US Justice Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) have targeted American Muslims in abusive counterterrorism “sting operations” based on religious and ethnic identity. Many of the more than 500 terrorism-related cases prosecuted in US federal courts since September 11, 2001, have alienated the very...

Read Post

Nigeria: Boko Haram Kills 2,053 Civilians in Six Months

(0) Comments | Posted July 15, 2014 | 6:21 PM

(Abuja) – The Islamist insurgency Boko Haram in Nigeria killed at least 2,053 civilians in an estimated 95 attacks during the first half of 2014. The figures are based on detailed analyses of media reports as well as field investigations. The killings and other abuses were part of widespread...

Read Post

Iraq: Campaign of Mass Murders of Sunni Prisoners

(0) Comments | Posted July 11, 2014 | 7:35 PM

(Baghdad) – Iraqi security forces and militias affiliated with the government appear to have unlawfully executed at least 255 prisoners in six Iraqi cities and villages since June 9, 2014. In all but one case, the executions took place while the fighters were fleeing Islamic State of Iraq...

Read Post

Watch: Rampant Killings of Shia by Extremists in Pakistan

(0) Comments | Posted June 30, 2014 | 12:57 PM

(London) – Pakistan’s government should take all necessary measures to stop Sunni extremist groups in Balochistan province from committing further killings and other abuses against Hazara and other Shia Muslims, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today.
The 62-page report, “‘We are the Walking Dead’:...

Read Post

Video: Kenya Battery Recycling Factory Poisons Community

(0) Comments | Posted June 25, 2014 | 5:39 PM

(Nairobi) – Thousands of people in a poor urban district outside Mombasa face serious health consequences from toxic lead from a battery recycling plant, Human Rights Watch said today. The crisis is the result of the Kenyan government’s failure to adequately regulate the lead smelter in the Owino Uhuru...

Read Post

Watch: Syria Armed Groups Send Children into Battle

(0) Comments | Posted June 23, 2014 | 12:27 PM

Non-state armed groups in Syria have used children as young as 15 to fight in battles, sometimes recruiting them under the guise of offering education. The groups have used children as young as 14 in support roles. Extremist Islamist groups including the Islamic State of Iraq and Sham (ISIS)...

Read Post

Iraq: A Desperate Flight From ISIS's Advance

(1) Comments | Posted June 19, 2014 | 10:47 AM

The sweltering tent housing Hussein, his wife, and five young children contained almost nothing but foam mattresses and dust. Aid workers had dropped off a giant bag of laundry detergent, but there was no water for drinking, much less for washing. The family also had received a grill, but had...

Read Post

Can Modi End Rampant Sexual Abuse in India?

(5) Comments | Posted June 4, 2014 | 12:41 PM

According to the police, three suspects arrested after an uproar over the rape and deaths of two teenage girls in Badaun, in India’s northern Uttar Pradesh state, have confessed to their crime. Meanwhile, in western Maharashtra state, the owner of a charity was arrested after five children residing...

Read Post

Watch: Former Hitman Describes Contract Killings in Philippines

(0) Comments | Posted May 21, 2014 | 12:15 AM


(Manila) -- The Philippine government should investigate an alleged “death squad” implicated in several hundred killings in Tagum City on the southern island of Mindanao, Human Rights Watch said in a new report released today. Official police records obtained by Human Rights Watch show 298 killings between January 2007 and March 2013 that provincial police attributed to the “Tagum Death Squad,” and for which no one has been prosecuted.


The 71-page report, “‘One Shot to the Head’: Death Squad Killings in Tagum City, Philippines,” details the involvement of local government officials -- including Tagum City’s former mayor, Rey “Chiong” Uy -- and police officers in the extrajudicial killings of alleged drug dealers, petty criminals, street children, and others over the past decade. The report draws heavily on interviews and affidavits from three self-proclaimed members of the death squad in Tagum City who took part in its killing operations. It also examines the failure of the Philippine government to seriously investigate the death squad and bring those responsible to justice. 


“Tagum City’s former mayor helped organize and finance a death squad linked to the murder of hundreds of residents,’” said Phelim Kine, deputy Asia director. “Rey Uy called these citizens ‘weeds.’ He and other city officials and police officers underwrote targeted killings as a perverse form of crime control.”


Since 1998, when he was first elected Tagum City’s mayor, Rey Uy,  along with close aides and city police officers, hired, equipped, and paid for an operation that at its height consisted of 14 hit men and accomplices. Many were on the city government payroll with the Civil Security Unit, a City Hall bureau tasked with traffic management and providing security in markets and schools.


Human Rights Watch interviewed more than three dozen people, including surviving victims and their families, witnesses to killings, police officers, and former death squad members. The former death squad members described how those who refused to carry out orders, sought to quit, or otherwise fell into disfavor were themselves likely to become death squad victims.


“There is compelling evidence of the involvement of Tagum City police and former Mayor Rey Uy mayor in a death squad that operated during Uy’s 1998-2013 tenure as mayor,” Kine said.  “The Tagum death squad’s activities imposed a fear-enforced silence in Tagum City that allowed the killers and their bosses to literally get away with murder.”  


The 12 killings Human Rights Watch documented typically occurred outdoors, on the streets, and often in broad daylight. The hit men, wearing baseball caps and sunglasses and armed with .45 caliber handguns, would arrive and depart on government-issued motorcycles. Former death squad members told Human Rights Watch that they would routinely inform local police via text message of an impending targeted killing, so the police would not interfere. After the killing, the police in turn would notify them if any witnesses had identified them.


Those targeted were primarily people that Mayor Uy had declared to be the “weeds” of Tagum society, namely suspected petty criminals and drug dealers, as well as street children. The death squad drew its targets from the “order of battle” or OB, a list of names coming from various sources, including local community leaders, neighborhood watchmen, and police intelligence officers. Names of drug suspects were provided by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency and the Department of the Interior and Local Government.


The Tagum Death Squad also apparently carried out “guns-for-hire” operations that Uy was either unaware of or did not specifically commission, such as the killing of  a journalist, a judge, at least two police officers, and a tribal leader as well as local politicians and businessmen. In several cases, the death squad’s handlers would fabricate drug allegations against the target of a contract killing to justify to Uy their murder.


Former Tagum Death Squad members told Human Rights Watch that the unit was paid 5,000 pesos (US$110) for every killing, which the members would divide among themselves. They said that on at least two occasions, Uy personally paid the death squad members for two killings. A former hit man who was himself attacked by his former colleagues surrendered to the Davao del Norte provincial police and later agreed to testify in a case filed against Uy and others. Targeted killings have continued but with less frequency since Uy stepped down as mayor in June 2013. 


The Tagum Death Squad was initially a crime-fighting group patterned after the death squad in nearby Davao City, which propelled that city’s mayor, Rodrigo Duterte, to national fame. In February 2011, Uy issued an explicit warning to “criminal” elements in the city advising them to “go somewhere else.” A senior official of the governmental Commission on Human Rights described these murders as “silent killings” because they were hardly ever reported in the media.


Local and national authorities have failed to seriously investigate the vast majority of Tagum City’s killings, Human Rights Watch said. While police routinely cite a lack of witnesses to explain the absence of prosecutions, victims’ relatives and witnesses say they fear testifying, largely due to the perceived links of the death squad to local officials.


On April 28, 2014, the media reported that the Philippines National Bureau of Investigation had recommended the prosecution of four security guards employed by the Tagum City government for their alleged role in the abduction, torture, and murder of two teenage boys in February 2014. The current Tagum City mayor, Allan Rellon, reportedly told the media that he was “bewildered” by the allegations, saying that, “As a local chief executive, I abhor any form of summary killing.”


President Benigno Aquino III has largely ignored extrajudicial killings by death squads in Tagum City and other urban areas. He has failed to condemn local anti-crime campaigns that promote or encourage the unauthorized use of force to rid city streets of “undesirables.” A much-vaunted initiative by the administration to address impunity – the creation in 2012 of a so-called “superbody” to expedite the investigation and prosecution of cases of extrajudicial killings – has remained largely inactive even as new cases were reported by Philippine human rights groups.


Other national institutions responsible for law and order, namely the Department of Justice, the Philippine National Police, the Ombudsman’s Office, and the Commission on Human Rights have largely been inactive in combatting death squads.


Human Rights Watch has previously published a 103-page report, “You Can Die Any Time: Death Squad Killings in Mindanao,” on a ‘death squad’ active in Davao City and the government’s failure to investigate the involvement of police and local government officials in targeted killings.  


Human Rights Watch called on the Aquino administration to direct the responsible government agencies to take measures to stop the killings in Tagum City and elsewhere, thoroughly investigate death squad killings and the death squads themselves, and bring justice to the victims' families. Immediate attention should be given to the situation in Tagum City and the role of former and current government officials and members of the police in abuses.


“The Philippine government’s failure to act decisively against death squad killings has certainly contributed to the horrific death toll in Tagum City, “ Kine said. “President Aquino needs to send a loud and urgent message that deploying death squads as a ‘crime control’ measure is unlawful and needs to stop.”


Selected accounts from former death squad members...

Read Post