Populism, power, and anti-human rights agendas noted in HRW report

Human Rights Watch (HRW) released its 2018 World Report today, reviewing the state of human rights in more than 90 countries. WikiTribune has extracted some of the most important issues from the document below. But with 643 pages to read, we need your help. So please contribute to this. How does your country fare? What are the most important questions for human rights around the globe? Have any of these issues directly affected you? 

In the keynote essay for HRW’s 2018 World Report, Executive Director Kenneth Roth writes that “the surge of authoritarian populists appears less inevitable than it did a year ago.” According to Roth, over the last year a reaction in a broad range of countries has pushed back a wave of populism fanned by politicians “demonizing unpopular minorities, attacking human rights principles, and fueling distrust of democratic institutions.”

Yet he adds that many democracies have been “preoccupied with the internal domestic struggle over the populist agenda,” and consequently the U.S. and UK have been “less willing than before to promote human rights abroad.” Roth writes that this has lead to China and Russia trying to fill this vacuum, “by advancing an anti-rights agenda.”

Here’s some of the issues noted in individual countries. Submit an EDIT or go to the TALK page.


  • The “offensive on human rights that started after President Xi Jinping took power five years ago showed no sign of abating in 2017.”
  • “The near future for human rights appears grim.”
  • “Foreign governments did little in 2017 to push back against China’s worsening rights record at home and abroad.”
  • “China ranked 100th out of 144 countries for gender parity in 2017”


  • “Vigilante violence aimed at religious minorities, marginalized communities, and critics of the government … became an increasing threat in India in 2017.”
  • “Authorities in India continued to use sedition and criminal defamation laws against government critics.”


  • “[President Joko] Widodo’s government took small steps in 2017 to protect the rights of some of Indonesia’s most vulnerable people … But the Jokowi [Widodo] government has consistently failed to translate the president’s rhetorical support for human rights into meaningful policy initiatives.”
  • “Authorities continue to arrest, prosecute, and imprison people under Indonesia’s abusive blasphemy law.”


  • “Violence against women and girls – including rape, “honor” killings, acid attacks, domestic violence, and forced marriage – remained a serious problem.”
  • “Child marriage remained a serious concern, with 21 percent of girls in Pakistan marrying before the age of 18, according to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).”
  • “The government muzzled dissenting voices in nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and media.”


  • “The government increased its crackdown against political opposition and peaceful protesters and took new steps to stifle independent voices online.”
  • “In Chechnya, local authorities carried out a large-scale anti-gay purge, rounding up and torturing dozens of men because of their presumed homosexuality.”
  • “Despite persistently high rates of domestic violence, in February the Russian government enacted a law decriminalizing acts of domestic violence.”
  • “Reports persisted of discrimination against people with disabilities.”


  • “Across a range of issues in 2017, the US moved backward on human rights at home and abroad.”
  • President Donald J. Trump has “emboldened racist politics by equivocating on white nationalism.”
  • “[Trump] has repeatedly coddled autocratic leaders and showed little interest or leadership in pressing for the respect of human rights abroad.” (Read the WikiTribune story: Asian regimes act on Trump message that media is ‘enemy of the people’)
  • “An unarmed black person is five times as likely to be killed by police as an unarmed white person.”

This is an emerging story which needs expansion if you wish to EDIT to add information or discuss it in TALK.

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