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“I Became Scared, This Was Their Goal”: Efforts to Ban Gender and Sexuality Education in Brazil

May 12, 2022

Since around 2014, lawmakers at the federal, state, and municipal levels in Brazil have introduced over 200 legislative proposals to ban "indoctrination" or "gender ideology" in Brazilian schools. These proposals, which target gender and sexuality education, have been the subject of intense political and social debate in Brazilian society, with some bills ultimately passing, many still pending, and others withdrawn.This report is based on a review by Human Rights Watch of 217 of these bills and laws, and on 56 interviews with teachers and education experts, including representatives of state departments of education, unions, and civil society organizations.The report focuses on legislative and political attempts to suppress holistic and comprehensive approaches to education on gender and sexuality in primary and secondary public schools in Brazil. It contextualizes such attacks within the framework of the right to education, to information, and to health, as well as the related right to access comprehensive sexuality education (CSE), which they contravene.While Brazilian law and policy, both at the federal and state levels, require CSE instruction, most of the efforts by lawmakers and conservative groups described in this report aim to specifically ban the key concepts of "gender" and "sexual orientation" in all areas of school, including as they relate to the rights of girls, women, and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people. The report illustrates a campaign—at times coordinated, at times diffuse—to discredit and ban gender and sexuality education, bolstered by the administration of President Jair Bolsonaro, which has fully embraced the alleged justification for these bills, amplifying it for political effect, including during his 2018 presidential campaign.Interviews with 32 teachers from 8 states in Brazil revealed hesitancy or fear among some teachers when it comes to addressing gender and sexuality in the classroom due to legislative and political efforts to discredit such material, and at times harassment by elected officials and community members.

Intense and Lasting Harm: Cluster Munition Attacks in Ukraine

May 11, 2022

Intense and Lasting Harm reviews the use of cluster munitions in the international armed conflict in Ukraine since Russia's invasion on February 24, 2022. Russian armed forces have used at least six types of cluster munitions in hundreds of attacks that have caused hundreds of civilian casualties and damaged civilian objects, including homes, hospitals and schools. Ukrainian forces have appeared to use cluster munitions in at least one attack.The report charts civilian harm caused by the cluster munition attacks and the long-term dangers posed by unexploded submunitions. Many countries have already condemned the use of cluster munitions in Ukraine, demonstrating the growing stigma against these weapons.The report urges both Russia and Ukraine to immediately stop using cluster munitions. It also calls on them to join the 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions, which bans all use of the weapon and requires destruction of stockpiles, clearance of areas contaminated by cluster munitions remnants, and assistance to victims.

“How Can You Throw Us Back?”: Asylum Seekers Abused in the US and Deported to Harm in Cameroon

February 10, 2022

This report traces what happened to the estimated 80 to 90 Cameroonians deported from the United States on two flights in October and November 2020, and others deported in 2021 and 2019. People returned to Cameroon faced arbitrary arrest and detention; enforced disappearances; torture, rape, and other violence; extortion; unfair prosecutions; confiscation of their national IDs; harassment; and abuses against their relatives. Many also reported experiencing excessive force, medical neglect, and other mistreatment in Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) custody in the US.

No One Is Spared: Abuses Against Older People in Armed Conflict

February 1, 2022

This report describes patterns of abuses against older people affected by armed conflict in Burkina Faso, Central African Republic, Ethiopia, Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory, Mali, Mozambique, Niger, South Sudan, Syria, and Ukraine. It also draws on the situation of serious protracted violence in two English-speaking regions of Cameroon, Myanmar security force atrocities against older ethnic Rohingya in Rakhine State, and the experiences of older refugees in Lebanon displaced by conflict in Syria. It also includes abuses against older people in the 2020 armed conflict in the ethnic-Armenian-majority enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh.

Dismantling Detention: International Alternatives to Detaining Immigrants

November 3, 2021

As the harmful effects of immigration detention become more widely known and the appropriateness of detaining migrants is increasingly questioned, governments are looking at alternatives to detention as more humane and rights-respecting approaches to addressing the management of migrants and asylum seekers with unsettled legal status. This report examines alternatives to immigration detention in six countries: Bulgaria, Canada, Republic of Cyprus, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States to highlight viable, successful alternatives that countries should implement before resorting to detention. While the report provides an analysis of specific alternatives to detention (often referred to as ATDs) in each country, it is not intended to provide a comprehensive overview of all alternative programs available.Each country featured in this report has taken a different approach to alternatives to detention. Some focus more heavily on surveillance and others on a more person-centered, holistic approach. Ultimately, this report finds alternatives that place the basic needs and dignity of migrants at the forefront of policy, such as community-based case management programs, offer a rights-respecting alternative to detention while simultaneously furthering governments' legitimate immigration enforcement aims.

“They Treat You Like You Are Worthless”: Internal DHS Reports of Abuses by US Border Officials

October 21, 2021

This report examines allegations of abuse catalogued in internal US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) reports received by Human Rights Watch on September 24, 2021 via the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).The internal reports include testimony and descriptions of testimony regarding over 160 cases of misconduct and abuse of asylum applicants at the hands of officers within several DHS components, particularly CBP officers and Border Patrol agents. The records, though heavily redacted, demonstrate that asylum officers within US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), another component of DHS, have repeatedly provided internal reports on allegations of assault, sexual abuse, due process violations, denial of medical care, harsh detention conditions, and dehumanizing treatment at the border.

“The Only People It Really Affects Are the People It Hurts”: The Human Rights Consequences of Parental Notice of Abortion in Illinois

March 11, 2021

Illinois' Parental Notice of Abortion Act (PNA), in effect since 2013, requires a healthcare provider to notify an "adult family member" of any patient under 18 at least 48 hours in advance of providing an abortion. Under the law, only a parent, grandparent, step-parent living in the home, or other legal guardian over the age of 21 qualifies as an adult family member who may be notified. Young people who wish to obtain an abortion without notifying one of these qualifying adult family members can go through an alternative "judicial bypass" process to demonstrate to a judge that they are 1) sufficiently mature and well enough informed to make an abortion decision without parental involvement, and/or that 2) parental involvement is not in their best interests.This report, a collaboration between Human Rights Watch and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Illinois, examines the harmful consequences of Illinois' parental notification law. Based on in-depth interviews conducted with 37 people, as well as analysis of data and other information collected by the ACLU of Illinois between 2017 and 2020 about young people pursuing the judicial bypass process, the report shows that PNA undermines the safety, health, and dignity of young people under 18, whether they elect to notify a qualifying adult family member or to go through judicial bypass. Human rights experts have consistently called for the removal of barriers that deny access to safe and legal abortion and have commented specifically on parental involvement requirements posing a barrier to abortion care. This report includes a detailed analysis of international human rights law and concludes that PNA violates a range of human rights, including young people's rights to health, to be heard, to privacy and confidentiality of health services and information, to nondiscrimination and equality, to decide the number and spacing of children, and to be free from cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.

“Like I’m Drowning”: Children and Families Sent to Harm by the US ‘Remain in Mexico’ Program

January 6, 2021

The 103-page report, "'Like I'm Drowning': Children and Families Sent to Harm by the US 'Remain in Mexico' Program," is a joint investigation by Human Rights Watch, Stanford University's Human Rights in Trauma Mental Health Program, and Willamette University's Child and Family Advocacy Clinic. It examines the effects of the "Remain in Mexico" program on immigrants trying to enter through the United States' southern border, specifically focusing on the impact to children and families.

“An Open Prison without End”: Myanmar’s Mass Detention of Rohingya in Rakhine State

October 1, 2020

This report is based on research conducted by Human Rights Watch in the city of Yangon and Rakhine State, Myanmar, and Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh, since late 2018.We conducted interviews with 32 Rohingya living in the townships of Sittwe, Pauktaw, Myebon, Kyauktaw, and Kyaukpyu in central Rakhine State, and in the refugee camps in Cox's Bazar who had fled the central Rakhine camps. Because Human Rights Watch is restricted by the Myanmar government from visiting the central Rakhine camps, all interviews with people detained there were conducted by phone.Interviewees were informed how the information gathered would be used and that they could decline the interview or terminate it at any point. The majority of interviews were conducted directly in the Rohingya language. Some were conducted in Burmese with English interpretation. The names of Rohingya interviewees have been replaced with pseudonyms for their protection.We also conducted more than 30 in-depth interviews with staff from United Nations agencies, international and local humanitarian organizations, and Rohingya and Kaman civil society groups, in addition to activists, community leaders, and local and regional analysts. Follow-up interviews were conducted over the phone and via other secure means of communications. Because of concerns of official backlash and security considerations, we have withheld the names and details of sources.In researching this report, Human Rights Watch obtained, reviewed, and analyzed over 100 internal and public government, UN, and academic documents and reports related to the situation in central Rakhine State. 

"You Say You Want a Lawyer?" Tunisia's New Law on Detention, on Paper and in Practice

May 24, 2018

In 2016 Tunisia's parliament adopted the landmark law on the right of those taken intopolice custody to see a lawyer. As a result, detainees today are better protected against ill-treatment and forced confessions, but they still suffer from the authorities' failure to applythe law fully and consistently. This report gives a preliminary assessment of the implementation of the law, based on the interviews we conducted and the limited quantitative data available.

Understanding Menstrual Hygiene Management and Human Rights

August 27, 2017

The practitioner's guide explains how women's and girls' ability to manage their menstruation hygienically, and with normalcy and dignity, enables women and girls to enjoy certain human rights. For example, it addresses the rights to education, health, and water and sanitation, and how they relate to menstrual hygiene management. For years, human rights organizations have documented how periods, and the poor policy and programmatic support for managing menstruation, have a negative impact on women's and girls' human rights. Decisions about the operation of refugee camps, detention centers, schools, and workplaces that affect the way periods are dealt with directly affect human rights. With too little support to handle their periods, women and girls have reported staying home from school, missing work, banishment by families, and humiliating treatment in their communities. People who work in development and aid organizations may see this bad treatment but lack effective tools to address it. The new practitioners guide will help them use a human rights framework to bring these problems to light, and resolve them.

"We Can't Refuse to Pick Cotton": Forced and Child Labor Linked to World Bank Group Investments in Uzbekistan

June 26, 2017

Despite recent reforms, systematic forced labor was still rampant in 2017 in Uzbekistan's cotton sector, new research shows. A report by the Uzbek-German Forum for Human Rights (UGF), a German-based nongovernmental organization, found evidence of a state-sponsored system of forced labor in all regions they monitored during the 2017 harvest. Local officials, under pressure of a quota production system, continued to force people to pick cotton with little accountability. This research is consistent with findings in a 2016 joint report by UGF and Human Rights Watch documenting labor rights violations that underpin Uzbekistan's cotton industry, including in areas with World Bank funded cotton sector projects. The new report confirms that forced labor continued in World Bank project areas, contrary to the bank's loan agreements. While this should be grounds for project suspension, the bank remains heavily invested in projects that benefit Uzbekistan's cotton sector.