Tuesday, June 25, 2019


Lebanon hosted 1.5 million refugees from Syria, but kept its border closed to people fleeing the ongoing conflict in neighbouring Syria. It also hosted tens of thousands of other refugees, most of them long-term Palestinian refugees who continued to face discriminatory laws that excluded them from accessing certain services and jobs. The penal code continued to discriminate against women in law and practice. Police harassed and abused lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people, especially in refugee and migrant communities.
Peaceful activists and others were detained for social media posts that criticized political, religious or economic authorities. Death sentences were passed; there were no executions. A law was passed to create a national commission to investigate the whereabouts of thousands of persons who went missing or were forcibly disappeared during the 19751990 armed conflict in Lebanon.

On 6 May, Lebanon held long-awaited parliamentary elections initially scheduled for 2013; a proportional representation system was applied for the first time. On 24 May, the new parliament named Saad Hariri to serve a third term as prime minister. He was
not able to form a government before the year’s end due to political feuds.
In April, a conference held in the French capital, Paris, to support Lebanon’s development and reform pledged the country an aid package worth over US$11 billion, comprising US$10.2 billion in loans and US$860 million in grants.
In September, parliament held an exceptional session and passed 15 of 28 draft laws that had been put to vote. Most related to the aid package, but parliament also ratified the Arms Trade Treaty and approved a controversial waste management law despite serious concerns about its implications for people’s health and the environment. Access to essential services, including electricity and water, remained severely curtailed across the country.

Lebanon hosted 1.5 million Syrian refugees, including 950,334 registered with UNHCR, the UN refugee agency, according to update it issued on 30 November. A government decision of May 2015 continued to bar UNHCR from registering newly arrived refugees. Refugees continued to return to Syria throughout 2018 either spontaneously or in groups organized by the Lebanese General Security. UNHCR verified through interviews at its reception centres that, as of 30 November, 4,996 individuals had returned on their own to Syria in 2018, but acknowledged that this number did not reflect the total number of spontaneous returns. It said on 17 December that, so far that year, it had been present at over 70 group returns facilitated by the General Security, involving a total of 9,895 people.
In August, the government facilitated birth registration for Syrian refugees by waiving a requirement that children born in Lebanon between January 2011 and February 2018 had to be registered within a year of birth and that parents had to obtain court documents to register the children. The move was expected to enable more than 50,000 unregistered Syrian children to acquire the necessary documents.
Syrian refugees continued to face financial and administrative difficulties in obtaining or renewing residency permits, exposing them to a constant risk of arbitrary arrest, detention and forcible return to Syria. They also continued to face severe economic hardship.
In January, 15 Syrians – children, women and men – froze to death near the Masnaa border crossing in eastern Lebanon as they were attempting to enter the country irregularly.
Lebanon also hosted tens of thousands of other refugees, most of them long-term Palestinian refugees. Palestinian refugees remained subject to discriminatory laws that exclude them from owning or inheriting property, accessing public education and health services, and working in at least 36 professions. At least 3,000 Palestinian refugees who do not hold official identity documents faced further restrictions, denying them the right to register births, marriages and deaths.

Since Lebanon passed an anti-torture law in September 2017, the National Human Rights Institute, which is mandated to oversee the law’s implementation, among other tasks, remained inactive. The government failed to allocate it an independent budget or trigger the process for nominating the five members needed to form the National Preventive Mechanism against torture.
In March, a military court acquitted actor Ziad Itani of charges of spying for Israel, and released him. He had spent three and a half months in unlawful detention. The court also charged the former head of the Internal Security Forces’ cybercrimes bureau of fabricating evidence against the actor and falsely accusing him. Ziad Itani reported that he had been tortured in detention; he said that men in civilian clothes had beaten him, tied him in a stress position, hung him by his wrists, kicked him in the face, threatened to rape him, and threatened to hurt and prosecute his family. The authorities failed to investigate the allegations.

legislation, including the penal code and personal status codes, continued to discriminate against women.

Women’s rights organizations reported that provisions of the penal code that criminalized adultery were discriminatory in practice, with more women being charged under the law than men. They also reported that the law was sometimes used by husbands and other male family members to seek revenge.
Reproductive health services specifically needed by women, such as those relating to abortion, were still criminalized. In practice, abortions were obtained generally through medication and in private clinics. However, the high cost of abortions and the lack of information about them remained barriers to women in vulnerable situations, particularly refugee and migrant women.
Civil society organizations reported that police continued to harass and detain sex workers, even though the selling of
sex is not illegal. A health NGO, SIDC (Soins Infirmiers et Développement Communautaire), reported that, in a survey of 50 women engaging in transactional sex, 45 claimed discrimination or abuse in public health care settings and 10 reported that they had faced physical abuse in detention centres or police stations.
Women migrant workers continued to suffer discriminatory practices under the kafala (sponsorship) system restricting their rights to freedom of movement, education and health, including sexual and reproductive health.

RIGHTS OF LESBIAN, GAY, BISEXUAL, TRANSGENDER AND INTERSEX PEOPLE According to reports, police continued to harass and abuse LGBTI people, especially in refugee and migrant communities, sometimes resorting to Article 534 of the penal code, which criminalizes “sexual intercourse contrary to nature”.
In May, the Internal Security Forces (ISF) banned several activities organized by Beirut Pride to mark the International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia, and detained the organizer overnight. The ISF cited security concerns following threats by an Islamist group.
In October, the General Security (GS) attempted to shut down a conference of LGBTI activists from the Middle East and North Africa region, organized by the Arab Foundation for Freedom and Equality (AFE). After failing to make the AFE’s executive director sign a pledge to cancel all conference activities, GS officers ordered the hotel to shut down the conference. The GS did not explain their concerns, although the action followed threats by an Islamist group.
In July, a district court of appeal ruled that same-sex consensual sex was not a criminal offence.

Different security forces arrested and interrogated several human rights defenders, peaceful political activists and other individuals for social media posts criticizing political, religious or economic authorities. Those targeted had their legal rights violated, including the right to a lawyer. In the course of the interrogations, security officers revealed that they had accessed some of their personal data, such as messages they had sent and received on messaging services and transcripts of phone calls they had made. Most were freed without charge after a short period of detention, but several of the activists arrested were blackmailed into signing pledges that they would refrain from certain activities as a precondition for their release.

In February, the Central Bank revealed that several banks had nearly exhausted their quota of stimulus funds allocated
for the entire year. As a result, the subsidized loan programme was frozen and there were serious doubts about its future and that of the Public Corporation for Housing, the only official body managing the right to housing for middle- and low-income citizens.
In September, parliament approved an exceptional allocation of US$66 million to finance housing loans, and gave the government six months to draft a sustainable housing policy.

In November, parliament passed a law creating a national commission to investigate the whereabouts of thousands of persons who went missing or were forcibly disappeared during
the 1975-1990 armed conflict in Lebanon. Associations of families of the victims concerned, along with partner organizations, had campaigned for such a development for over three decades.

In September, the closing arguments concluded in Prosecutor v. Ayyash et al., the case relating to the 14 February 2005 attack which killed 22 individuals, including former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, and injured 226 others. At the end of the year, the judges had yet to issue their verdict.

Courts continued to hand down death sentences; no executions were carried out.

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Sunday, June 23, 2019


Militias, armed groups and security forces continued to commit with impunity crimes under international law and gross human rights violations and abuses, including war crimes, throughout the year. Clashes between competing militias resulted in an increased number of civilian casualties. Thousands of people were held indefinitely without any judicial process following arbitrary arrest, including many detained since 2011. Torture and other ill-treatment were widespread in state prisons and detention centres controlled by militias
and armed groups. Militias and armed groups contributed to the collapse of law enforcement and the judiciary by harassing judges and lawyers. They were also responsible for kidnappings for ransom, as well as arbitrary arrests and abductions of those identified as political opponents. Thousands of Libyan families remained internally displaced. Refugees, asylum-seekers and migrants suffered serious human rights violations and abuses, including rape and extortion, at the hands of state officials, militias and smugglers. The authorities failed to protect women from gender-based violence by militias and armed groups, and women activists were targeted with gender-based violence and smear campaigns. Courts handed down death sentences, but no executions were reported.

The security situation remained volatile. Militias, armed groups and security forces affiliated to the internationally recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) in the west and the selfproclaimed Libyan National Army (LNA) in the east continued to operate outside the rule of law. The GNA, established under the 2015 UN-brokered Libyan Political Agreement, remained weak as it continued to struggle to exert effective control on the ground.
Four main militias operating under the Ministry of Interior dominated the capital, Tripoli, carving out territorial influence and power, infiltrating government institutions and building economic strongholds.

The political stalemate continued. International calls for UN-backed elections agreed at a summit in Paris, France, in May were overshadowed by the outbreak of conflict in Tripoli in late August. Other international efforts, including a conference held in Palermo, Italy, in November, made little progress, while renewing commitment for elections to take place in the first half of 2019. In mid-May, the LNA, led by General Khalifa Hafter, launched an offensive against the eastern city of Derna, following a blockade it had imposed on the city for a year. The LNA sought to consolidate its power and expel the Derna Security Force (previously known as the Derna Shura Council).
In June, Ibrahim Al-Jodhran, former commander of the Petroleum Facilities Guard, a militia group that between 2013 and 2016 controlled the Oil Crescent region – a coastal area and the source of Libya’s main oil exports – launched a military operation to reclaim the region from the LNA. LNA forces quickly regained control of the area. On 15 September, the UN Security Council imposed sanctions on Ibrahim Al-Jodhran, imposing a travel ban and freezing his assets for a series of acts, including attempting to export Libyan oil illegally and attacking oil installations.

Militias, armed groups and security forces continued to commit with impunity crimes under international law and gross human rights violations abuses in the context of armed hostilities, including war crimes, throughout the year. Clashes between competing militias resulted in hundreds of civilian casualties including deaths, most due to attacks that were indiscriminate, and made it difficult for people to access basic facilities such as hospitals and schools. Renewed conflict in Tripoli in late August and September cost 115 civilians their lives, according to Ministry of Health figures. The LNA’s assault on Derna in May involved intensive aerial and artillery bombardment and led to ferocious fighting on the ground where civilians were killed or injured as a result and exacerbated an already dire humanitarian situation.
The International Criminal Court (ICC) continued to have jurisdiction over crimes under international law committed in Libya since 15 February 2011, under a referral made by the UN Security Council in 2011. On 4 July, the ICC issued a second arrest warrant against Mahmoud al-Werfalli, a former field commander of the Special Forces Brigade (Al-Saiqa) affiliated to the LNA, for the war crime of murder, after he was filmed on 24 January extrajudicially executing 10 people. The killings took place just hours after two car bombs were detonated at the Biaa Radwan mosque in the centre of the eastern city of Benghazi. The first warrant for his arrest was issued in August 2017.

 Militias, armed groups and security forces affiliated to the ministries of interior and defence under the Tripolibased UN-backed GNA and the easternbased LNA continued to arbitrarily arrest and indefinitely detain thousands of people without charge. Many detainees had been held since 2011 and most were held with no judicial oversight or means to challenge the legality of their detention.
In the west, militias operating as security forces under the GNA regularly conducted arbitrary arrests and abductions of people from their homes and workplaces, targeting victims on the basis of their regional origin, perceived political opinions, profession or perceived wealth in order to extract cash ransoms.

Detainees in Matiga prison on Tripoli’s eastern outskirts, run by the Special Deterrent Forces (Radaa), a militia group affiliated to the GNA and on the government’s payroll, were held indefinitely without a judicial process. They were kept in overcrowded cells with insufficient food and water and denied access to medical services. On 29 April, Radaa forces arrested Suleiman Qashout, a prominent TV anchor, for organizing a media award ceremony that the militia perceived as contradicting their social values. Radaa forces also used arbitrary detention to exert political pressure on
opponents. Fares Al-Jodhran, a relative of Ibrahim Al-Jodhran, was held throughout 2018 without charge in Matiga prison.

On 15 March, an unknown militia abducted Masoud Erhouma, the military prosecutor of the GNA, in front of his house in Tripoli’s Salah Eddine area. In April, news sources reported that he had escaped. On 28 March, an unidentified militia abducted Abdulrauf Beitelmal, head of the Tripoli Municipality Council, from his home. He was held for a day before being released.
On 4 April, Salem Ghereby and Omar Khalifa, both former Guantánamo detainees, were deported from Senegal to Libya, after which their whereabouts were unknown. No official charges were brought against them.

Armed groups and militias aligned with the GNA and LNA harassed, abducted and attacked journalists, human rights defenders and other activists, forcing many to flee the country.
On 11 January, members of the Bab Tajoura militia, affiliated to the GNA, abducted Mariam al-Tayeb, a journalist based in Tripoli, near her home because of views she expressed on social media. The group took her to their headquarters, where they beat her until she momentarily lost consciousness. They freed her several hours later following a campaign on Facebook calling for her release.

In January, a woman activist from Benghazi who had used social media to criticize Khalifa Hafter and the LNA was forced to leave Libya along with her entire family when the LNA’s Military Intelligence Unit sought to arrest her for her posts.
On 31 July, the GNA-affiliated militia Al-Nawassi brigade, based in Tripoli, arrested four international journalists – Ahmed Elumami (a Reuters correspondent), Hani Amara (a Reuters cameraman) and brothers Mahmoud Turkia and Hamza Turkia (AFP photographers) – while they were covering a story on migration at Abu Sitta naval base in Tripoli. They were released 10 hours later.

In August, journalist and photographer Musa Abdul Kareem was killed in unclear circumstances and his body dumped on the side of a road in the southern city of Sabha, his hometown. Reports indicate that, weeks before his death, he had coauthored an article published in Fasanea, a Sabha-based newspaper he edited, around ongoing criminality in the city.

 The judicial system remained dysfunctional and ineffective. Courts and prosecutors’ offices were unable to provide recourse for victims of human rights violations or bring to justice those suspected of criminal responsibility for such abuses. Perpetrators of serious human rights abuses continued to operate without fear of being held to account for their crimes.
Libyan authorities launched initiatives to integrate militias and armed groups into an institutionalized security sector. These attempts overlooked the groups’ records of serious human rights abuses and disregarded the need to ensure accountability for past crimes. Militias and armed groups acted as de facto police, abducting individuals they accused of criminal offences and detaining them unlawfully.
In March, Saddik Essour, the head of investigations in the office of the public prosecutor, announced that 205 arrest warrants had been issued for Libyans and foreign nationals suspected of involvement in a smuggling network for migrants heading to Europe. No further steps were taken to implement the warrants.
In central Libya, armed groups abducted judge Abdelsalam Al-Senoussi and prosecutor Ismail Abdelrahman, along with two security officers, from a courthouse in the town of Waddan on 22 July in retaliation for the detention of two people on smuggling charges. All the abducted men were released after two days.

Torture and other ill-treatment were widespread in prisons, detention centres and unofficial places of detention, with victims having no possibility of any form of protection or redress. Victims recounted mock executions, beatings and floggings with a rubber hose; many were left with clear signs of torture, including broken limbs.

Thousands of Libyan families remained internally displaced due to the ongoing clashes and hostilities as well as the lack of access to basic services, targeted violence, threats and human rights violations that continued to occur throughout the country. Many had been in a protracted state of displacement since 2011. The UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights of internally displaced persons reported a dire humanitarian situation throughout Libya in which the most vulnerable internally displaced persons had few mechanisms to support themselves and had their access to essential household goods – such as food – reduced due to insecurity, inflation and limited availability of cash in the country. She also noted that many faced serious protection concerns and that state authorities linked to either the GNA or LNA were doing very little to bring an end to their displacement.

On 1 February, Tawerghan families internally displaced since 2011 travelled from the east, south and west of Libya, attempting to return to the town of Tawergha following a decree issued by the Presidential Council - the body created under the Libyan Political Agreement to carry out the functions of the head of state - on 26 December 2017 to initiate a return process. Armed groups blocked the families from returning to their homes, using violence and intimidation, on the pretext that other parts of the agreement had not been fully implemented. Some 202 Tawerghan families subsequently set up camps in the area of Qararat al-Qataf, around 50km south-west of Tawergha, and in Harawa, east of Sirte.
On 3 June, representatives of the city of Misrata and the town of Tawergha signed a reconciliation pact ensuring safe return for the Tawerghan people. However, the GNA did not enforce the agreement.
On 10 August, a militia belonging to the Ghnewa brigade, a GNA-affiliated militia based in Tripoli, attacked the Tariq Al-Mattar camp for internally displaced people in Tripoli, home to over 500 Tawerghan families. The attack resulted in the forced eviction of around 1,900 internally displaced people from the camp by the militia and the arbitrary arrest of 94 residents by the brigade.

The situation for refugees, asylumseekers and migrants in Libya remained bleak. Militias and armed groups subjected them to arbitrary arrest and abduction, as well as sexual and other violence and extortion both inside and outside facilities they ran. On 7 June, the UN Security Council sanctioned four Libyan nationals for involvement in human trafficking and smuggling migrants, freezing their assets and imposing travel bans and other measures.
Libyan authorities continued to unlawfully detain refugees, asylumseekers and migrants, mainly those intercepted at sea, in centres recognized by the authorities, formally operated under the Ministry of Interior and run by the Department for Combatting Illegal Migration (DCIM). These centres were, however, largely controlled by militias who did not necessarily adhere to the central authorities’ chain of command. Refugees, asylum-seekers and migrants were kept in appalling conditions. They were also subjected to forced labour, torture and other ill-treatment, and verbal abuse by guards, often to extract money from their families in exchange for their release. Women in particular were subjected to rape in official centres and while being held by armed groups, often resulting in unwanted pregnancies.
There was no judicial oversight over these detention centres. Refugees, asylumseekers and migrants were held without any judicial process. They could not challenge their detention and were not offered legal counsel. The DCIM often held women, men and children together, breaching international standards on detention.
Libya, which is not a party to the 1951 UN Refugee Convention, continued to refuse to recognize UNHCR, the UN refugee agency. In the absence of a national asylum framework, the authorities did not recognize the status of refugees. Previously, they had recognized people from certain countries as in need of international protection and released them from detention to UNHCR. In 2018 this practice was halted and the authorities refused to release anyone from detention except those being evacuated by international organizations to third countries or those who paid a bribe.

Libyan authorities failed to protect women, including journalists, bloggers, human rights defenders and other activists, from gender-based violence at the hands of militias and armed groups or ensure that they were able to express themselves freely.
Women who spoke out against corruption or the violent actions of militias or the LNA were subjected to threats, abduction and gender-based violence by them. Such women were also subjected to genderrelated slurs by militias and smear campaigns on social media, including allegations of adultery and engaging in sex work. Harmful gender stereotypes and social stigma attached to women’s activism normalized these forms of abuse and forced many women to withdraw from the public space altogether.
On 27 December, police forces affiliated to the Ministry of Interior in Benghazi raided a café in the city where a group of nearly 20 young girls, most with their mothers, were attending a gathering they had organized on Twitter. The police arrested the manager and staff on grounds of “immoral behaviour”.

Courts imposed dozens of death sentences. In January, a military court in Misrata sentenced Salah Gadhafi to death by firing squad for his involvement in violence in the 2011 uprising in Libya. No executions were reported.


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Friday, June 21, 2019


The authorities continued to unduly restrict the rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, including by prosecuting and imprisoning government critics under criminal defamation laws. Members of the Bidun minority continued to face discrimination and were denied the right to a nationality. Migrant workers remained inadequately protected against exploitation and abuse. Courts continued to hand down death sentences; no executions were reported.

 Kuwait led mediation efforts to resolve the Gulf crisis that erupted in June 2017, when Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) severed relations with Qatar. Kuwait remained part of the Saudi Arabia-led coalition engaged in armed conflict in Yemen (see Yemen entry).
The government terminated the employment contracts of over 3,000 foreign employees in the public sector under a nationalization policy.
In September, the government established the National Committee on International
Humanitarian Law; its purpose will be to review judicial verdicts and legislation relating to international humanitarian law in light of the Geneva Conventions.

 The rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly remained curtailed. The authorities prosecuted government critics under provisions of the Penal Code that criminalize speech deemed offensive to the emir or disparaging to neighbouring countries. In August, the government proposed a law that would punish with five years in prison anyone who defames or disparages the crown prince or his deputy Blogger and online activist Abdullah Saleh was sentenced in his absence to a total of 25 years’ imprisonment in different cases simply for expressing views on social media deemed “insulting” to Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and the UAE. In February, the Court of Cassation upheld the prison sentences of 13 people for publicizing or reciting extracts of a speech by former opposition member of parliament Musallam alBarrak, for which he was sentenced to two years in prison in 2015. In May, Hamad al-Naqi, who had received a 10-year prison sentence in 2012 for “insulting the Prophet Muhammad and the Sunni Muslim rulers of Saudi Arabia and Bahrain on social media”, was pardoned and released after serving half his sentence.
In June, Kuwait’s minister of social affairs dissolved the board of directors of the Kuwait Liberal Society for participating in a forum on free thought with a Dutch political party, joining the Arab Liberal Federation (a network of political parties) and fundraising during the month of Ramadan without prior official permission. A member of the Society was sentenced to six months in jail for a Twitter post.
In July, the Court of Cassation upheld the convictions of 16 opposition politicians, human rights defenders and peaceful demonstrators, including eight former or current members of parliament, on charges relating to their participation in a 2011 protest. The convictions were based on politically motivated charges after trials that violated international standards of fairness and contravened the rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly. Trial observer Pete
Weatherby, who was part of a legal team monitoring the trial, was blocked from entering the country.

In March, a law was passed that allows Bidun to join the military. Parliament also approved a draft law that would grant Kuwaiti citizenship to up to 4,000 Bidun, but it had not been enacted by the end of the year.
The authorities continued to withhold citizenship from more than 100,000 Bidun long-term residents of Kuwait, who remained stateless and unable to access a range of public services. In June, the minister of education rejected a parliamentary proposal to register children of Bidun at public schools. According to the ministry’s regulations, registration is only allowed for Bidun children born of Kuwaiti mothers, and children and grandchildren of Bidun categorized as “martyrs” after being killed during the Iraqi invasion of 1990.
 In October, the Council of Ministers approved the reinstatement of Kuwaiti nationality for several individuals, including government critics, whose citizenship had been revoked several years earlier.

 Migrant workers continued to face exploitation and abuse under the kafala (sponsorship) system, which ties a worker’s visa to their employer
and prevents them from changing jobs without the employer’s consent. Migrant domestic workers, mostly women, remained especially at risk and exposed to physical, sexual and psychological abuse by their employers.
In February, the Philippines imposed a ban on the deployment of Filipino workers to Kuwait following the murder of a Filipina domestic worker by her employers. It also facilitated the voluntary repatriation of thousands of migrant workers. Following months of diplomatic crisis, the ban was lifted in May after Kuwait and the Philippines signed a bilateral agreement regulating some working conditions for domestic workers.

Women continued to face discrimination in law and practice. In particular, the law accords women fewer rights than men in family matters such as divorce, child custody, inheritance, nationality rights and domestic violence.
Courts continued to hand down death sentences for offences including murder and drug trafficking; no executions were reported.

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Wednesday, June 19, 2019


People were subjected to prolonged pretrial detention, solitary confinement and torture and other ill-treatment. Freedom of expression was curtailed: journalists and activists critical of the government or King Abdullah were detained; access to the internet was restricted; and online content was censored. Proposed amendments to the cybercrime law that would further threaten freedom of expression stalled after demonstrations against the legislation. The authorities opened a shelter for women at risk of family violence in the name of “honour”.
However, women’s rights continued to be restricted in law and practice, including in relation to abortion, guardianship, marriage and inheritance. The rights of migrant workers continued to be violated and insufficiently protected in law. Jordan continued to offer sanctuary to around 2.7 million refugees, though the rights of some of them were violated. Death sentences were passed; there were no executions.

Jordan remained part of the US-led military coalition fighting in Iraq and Syria against the armed group calling itself Islamic State (see Iraq and Syria entries), and of the Saudi Arabia-led coalition engaged in the armed conflict in Yemen (see Yemen entry).
The UN Human Rights Council held the third Universal Periodic Review of Jordan on 8 November. Jordan accepted 131 recommendations, agreed to examine another 21 and rejected 74 others related to, among other issues, ratification of human rights treaties, abolition of the death penalty, “honour” killings, repeal of the Crime Prevention Law, nationality rights, prevention of torture in detention and protection of migrant workers.
On 30 May, trade unions called a strike to protest against amendments to the 2014 tax law presented by the government of Hani Al-Mulki and supported by the International Monetary Fund. The next day, the government raised fuel and electricity prices, triggering further protests. On 1 June, King Abdullah ordered a freeze on price hikes, but protests continued. On 4 June, Al-Mulki resigned and the next day King Abdullah appointed Omar AlRazzaz as prime minister. The protests ended after Al-Razzaz announced that the new government would withdraw the amendments. In September, the government presented an amended tax law; it exempted lower-paid individuals from filing tax returns, but still prompted strong public criticism.
DETENTION The General Intelligence Directorate (GID) continued to subject people to prolonged pre-trial detention, solitary confinement and torture and other illtreatment, according to the National Centre for Human Rights (NHRC) and other organizations. Detainees held in GID prisons were not allowed unsupervised visits, even by lawyers.

Administrative governors continued to issue thousands of administrative detention orders under the 1954 Crime Prevention Law, which allows detention of up to one year without charge or trial or any means of legal remedy.

 The authorities continued to harass, intimidate, detain and imprison activists and journalists who voiced criticism of the government or King Abdullah. Several journalists were summoned for interrogation and detained for days without charges being brought against them. The authorities also enforced bans on the distribution of selected books for religious, moral and political reasons; restricted or disrupted access to the internet; and censored online content.
In September, the House of Representatives, the lower house of parliament, referred a number of draft amendments to the cybercrime law to its legal committee for review. They included provisions that threatened freedom of expression. One contained an overly broad definition of online “hate speech”, which would criminalize statements that spread rumours against
people with the aim of damaging their reputation in the absence of incitement to violence and carry harsh sanctions. In December, following demonstrations against the law, the government suspended the process to subject the amendments to further examination.

 Following a long-standing campaign by Jordanian women’s rights organizations, including Mizan – Law Group for Human Rights, the Ministry of Social Development opened Amneh House shelter for women at risk of family violence in the name of “honour”. By the end of the year, 16 women were living in the shelter. The shelter’s regulations, published in May, guaranteed that no one could be held in the shelter against their will. Civil society organizations were still debating whether the shelter would end the long-standing practice of imprisoning women at risk in “protective custody” through the (mis)use of powers set out under the Crime Prevention Law of 1954.
While celebrated reforms had been made to the Penal Code in 2017, no further action was taken to modify discriminatory provisions. Articles 321 and 322 continued to criminalize abortion, even in cases of rape, and Article 282 criminalized adultery. As of 27 October 2018, seven women were in prison on adultery charges.
Some provisions of the Penal Code also contributed to other forms of discrimination against women in practice. According to the women’s rights organization Sisterhood Is Global International (SIGI) – Jordan, a provision penalizing the failure to pay back contractual debts has led to the prosecution of women who were being pressured or deceived by family members to take loans. SIGI also reported that, among the 17 women on death row at the end of 2018, some had been sentenced for killing their abusive husband in self-defence.
The Personal Status Law continued to discriminate against women and girls,
including in the areas of guardianship, marriage, divorce, common marital property and inheritance. In practice, guardianship established was interpreted widely to restrict women’s autonomous decision-making on issues of marriage and residence until the age of 30. The police continued to act on demands by guardians to forcibly return women “absent” from their guardian’s home.
In the context of poor enforcement of alimony payments following decisions of Shari’a courts, an alimony fund provided for in a 2010 amendment to the Personal Status Law became available in early 2018 and benefited at least 400 divorced women whose former husbands had not made maintenance payments.

While positive measures were adopted in 2017 to combat human trafficking and improve occupational safety, they remained insufficient to ensure the protection of migrant workers’ rights. Migrant domestic workers continued to be inadequately protected from abuse by their employers and agents, and remained at risk of arbitrary detention by the state. According to activists with access to detention facilities, scores of women migrant domestic workers were administratively detained in 2018, mostly because they had been unable to pay visa overstay fees.
Non-Jordanian domestic workers who were not married reported giving birth at home to avoid losing custody of their children and faced barriers registering their children or travelling with them to their home countries. It is illegal in Jordan to give birth outside of wedlock and migrant women were less able than their Jordanian counterparts to access family or community support to circumvent legal threats.

 In September, the government cancelled the requirement of five years’ uninterrupted residence for women married to non-Jordanians as a condition for their children to access certain rights and benefits, and took the positive step of accepting as official ID the card issued to these children by the Department of Civil Status and Passports. The rights and benefits were related to education, health care, employment, investment, property ownership and obtaining driving licences, in addition to permanent residence.
Citizenship laws continued to discriminate against children of Jordanian mothers and non-Jordanian fathers, who unlike children of Jordanian fathers married to non-Jordanians, were denied Jordanian citizenship.

Jordan hosted over 670,000 Syrian refugees registered by UNHCR, the UN refugee agency, of whom some 125,000 lived in camps, in addition to over 13,000 Palestinian refugees from Syria and over 2 million long-term Palestinian refugees, among others.
Of 37,000 Syrian refugees in Azraq camp, nearly 9,500 remained in Village 5, an area fenced off from the rest of the
camp. Most people in this area had been transferred there in 2016 on the basis that they would be screened and then relocated outside Village 5. Their status remained unclear. Unlike refugees in other parts of the camp, those in Village 5 were not allowed to leave the area, visit relatives in other parts of the camp, obtain temporary leave permits or access work outside the camp.
In March, the Ministry of Interior launched a campaign to rectify the status of Syrian refugees living informally in urban areas. The campaign targeted Syrians who had left refugee camps without permission to settle in host communities or who had arrived in Jordan across informal border crossings and not registered with UNHCR. The rectification allowed them to benefit from the protection and assistance provided by UNHCR and to receive a Ministry of Interior service card.
The NCHR stated in August that Syrian refugees had been facing an increasing risk of deportation since the beginning of 2017 and that authorities were returning refugees to Dara’a governorate despite the lack of infrastructure and security there.

In September, Jordan appealed against the International Criminal Court (ICC) ruling that Jordan had failed to comply with its obligations as a state party to the Rome Statute of the ICC for not executing the court’s request for the arrest and surrender of Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir when he visited Jordan in 2017. The ICC had issued two arrest warrants for Al-Bashir on charges of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity in Darfur, Sudan.

Courts continued to hand down death sentences; no executions were carried out.

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Monday, June 17, 2019


New legislation entrenched discrimination against non-Jewish citizens. Israeli forces killed more than 290 Palestinians, including over 50 children; many were unlawfully killed as they were shot while posing no imminent threat to life. Israel imposed an illegal blockade on the Gaza Strip for the 11th year in a row, subjecting approximately 2 million inhabitants to
collective punishment and exacerbating a humanitarian crisis. Freedom of movement for Palestinians in the West Bank remained restricted through a system of military checkpoints and roadblocks. Israeli authorities unlawfully detained within Israel thousands of Palestinians from the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT), holding hundreds in administrative detention without charge or trial. Torture and other ill-treatment of detainees, including children, remained pervasive and was committed with impunity. Israel continued to demolish Palestinian homes and other structures in the West Bank and in Palestinian villages inside Israel, forcibly evicting residents. The Israeli justice system continued to fail to adequately ensure accountability and redress for victims of grave violations of international humanitarian and human rights law. The authorities continued to deny asylum
seekers access to a fair or prompt refugee status determination process; hundreds of African asylum-seekers were deported and thousands were threatened with deportation. Conscientious objectors to military service were imprisoned.

The Israeli authorities continued to expand illegal settlements and related infrastructure in East Jerusalem and elsewhere in the occupied West Bank, including by legalizing outposts built without state authorization on private Palestinian land. They held local elections in October across Israel and in illegal settlements including in occupied East Jerusalem and the occupied Golan Heights.

Negotiations between Israeli and Palestinian authorities remained stalled. On 15 May, the USA moved its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in violation of international law. Two police investigations recommended that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu be indicted over corruption allegations. The attorney general had not yet ruled on the recommendations by the end of the year.

Waves of armed hostilities broke out between Israel and Palestinian armed groups in the Gaza Strip. Israeli forces launched dozens of air strikes on Gaza, killing 46 people. Palestinian armed groups launched hundreds of rockets into Israel, killing one Palestinian civilian. On 13 November 2018, after two days of intense hostilities by both sides, a ceasefire between Israel and Palestinian armed groups, brokered by Egypt, was announced. Individual Palestinians, most unaffiliated to armed groups, attacked Israelis in the West Bank and in Israel, killing at least 13. Attacks by settlers on Palestinians resulted in the death of a Palestinian woman.
Israel reportedly conducted scores of air strikes inside Syria.

 Israel continued to pass legislation that discriminates against non-Jewish citizens, particularly Palestinians. The Basic Law: Israel as the Nation-State of the Jewish People, passed in July, described the Israeli state as being only for the Jewish people, confirming the status of the almost one fifth of the population who are Palestinian citizens of Israel as second-class citizens.

 Israeli military and security forces killed at least 195 Palestinians, including at least 41 children, in demonstrations in Gaza and the West Bank. Many were unlawfully killed as they were shot while posing no imminent threat to life.
Israeli forces killed scores of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip during sustained
protests that started in March for the right to return of refugees to land from which they were displaced 70 years earlier, and against the Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip. According to the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, 180 were killed, among them 35 children, three paramedics and two journalists. While some protesters engaged in violence, including by burning tyres, unleashing incendiary kites and balloons towards Israel or throwing stones and Molotov cocktails in the direction of Israeli soldiers, social media videos, as well as eyewitness testimonies gathered by Amnesty International, Palestinian and Israeli human rights groups, show that Israeli soldiers shot and killed journalists, medical staff, bystanders and unarmed protesters who posed no threat to life; many were at distances of around 150-400m from the fence separating Gaza and Israel when they were shot. Some of these unlawful killings appeared to be wilful, which would constitute war crimes. Israeli forces also injured at least 13,458 Palestinians, many of them seriously, including more than 7,000 shot by live ammunition, according to the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights. In May, the UN Human Rights Council established a commission of inquiry into the killings and other abuses in the OPT since the protests began.
On 27 July, Majdi Ramzi al-Satri, 12, was killed after being shot in the head by a live bullet fired by Israeli security forces while standing 50m away from the fence, during his participation in a protest in Rafah.
Israeli air strikes and shelling killed at least 13 Palestinian civilians in the Gaza Strip not directly participating in hostilities. On 28 October, an Israeli drone missile killed three children, Khalid Bassam Abu Sa’ed, 14, Abdul Hamid Mohammed Abu Thaher, 14, and Mohammed Ibrahim al-Satri, 15, when they tried to cross the Gaza/Israel fence. For almost two hours ambulance crews were unable to enter the area due to shooting by Israeli forces from the other side of the fence.

 Israel’s illegal air, land and sea blockade of the Gaza Strip entered its 11th year, restricting the movement of people and goods into and out of the area, and collectively punishing Gaza’s 2 million residents. Israel increased the restrictions in July, saying this was in response to the launching of incendiary kites and balloons, rockets and mortars from Gaza into Israel. Several human rights organizations petitioned against these restrictions on the grounds that they constituted collective punishment prohibited under international humanitarian law. Israeli authorities lifted the additional restrictive measures on 20 October.
Throughout much of the year, the Gaza Strip suffered fuel shortages that resulted in a maximum of four hours of electricity per day. In October, the UN brokered a deal to allow Gaza’s main electricity plant to be refuelled as part of a plan to increase electricity supply to eight hours per day. Electricity cuts worsened Gaza’s water and sanitation crisis.
Israel reduced to a record low the number of medical permits issued to residents of the Gaza Strip to allow them to enter Israel and the West Bank for treatment. Denial of medical permits led to the deaths of at least eight Palestinians, according to the Al Mezan Center for Human Rights.
On 20 June, Masoud Abdul Hai Abu Saqer, 49, died at Erez checkpoint between Gaza and Israel, where he had presented himself for an interview with Israeli security services in the hope of being able to travel to an East Jerusalem hospital to obtain treatment for kidney cancer. Since he was diagnosed in December 2017 he had submitted four applications for a medical permit. The first three were rejected by the Israeli military. On the fourth occasion, he was summoned for an interview.
Almost 100 Israeli checkpoints and roadblocks continued to heavily restrict the movement of Palestinians in the West
Bank. Palestinians are denied access to tens of roads in the West Bank that are designated for the use of Israelis only.

 Israeli authorities conducted hundreds of raids throughout the West Bank to arrest Palestinians without judicial orders detailing the reason for arrest. They placed in detention or continued to detain thousands of Palestinians from the OPT in prisons in Israel in violation of international humanitarian law. Israeli authorities used renewable administrative detention orders to hold Palestinians without charge or trial. Palestinian civilians were prosecuted in military courts that did not meet international standards of fair trial and more than 5,500 Palestinians, including 480 administrative detainees, were held in Israeli prisons at the end of the year, according to Palestinian human rights organization Addameer. Among those held were civil society leaders, NGO workers and journalists.
Khalida Jarrar, a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council and board member of the NGO Addameer, and Addameer staff member Ayman Nasser, remained held under administrative detention orders since their arrest in February 2017 and 17 September 2018 respectively.

 Israeli soldiers, police and Israel Security Agency (ISA) officers tortured and otherwise ill-treated Palestinian detainees, including children, with impunity, particularly during arrest and interrogation. Reported methods included beatings, slapping, painful shackling, sleep deprivation, use of stress positions and threats. Prolonged solitary confinement, sometimes for months, was commonly used as a punishment. Many families of Palestinian detainees and prisoners in Israel, particularly those in Gaza, were not permitted entry to Israel to visit their relatives.
Four Palestinians died in custody as a result of alleged torture or other illtreatment by Israeli forces. One of them, Mohamed Khatib al-Rimawi, died from heart failure after Israeli forces beat him during a pre-dawn raid at his home in the West Bank village of Beit Rima on 18 September. Soldiers shackled him while unconscious before taking him away. An autopsy was conducted on 24 September in the presence of Israeli and Palestinian doctors. The Palestinian doctor’s report noted that he had bruises on the torso, the right thigh and the back. It concluded that the fear and anxiety resulting from his arrest, coupled with a genetic condition of narrow arteries, led to a fatal restriction of blood flow to the heart. The Israeli military denied the beating and said the cause of death was still to be investigated.Israel held 230 Palestinian children in prison, including 41 under the age of 16. According to Defense for Children International-Palestine, many children were beaten, threatened and intimidated after arrest, interrogated without their parents, and handed disproportionately harsh sentences. It added that children were tried in front of a military judge and placed with adults in the same prison facilities. Under international law, detention of children should be a measure of last resort and for the shortest appropriate time.
Some Palestinian prisoners were denied adequate medical care or received treatment in humiliating conditions. Raja’i Abdel-Qader, for example, received eight hours of continuous chemotherapy while his hands and feet were shackled.

 The authorities used a range of measures, including detentions, movement restrictions, judicial harassment and incitement campaigns, both in Israel and the OPT, to target activists, including human rights defenders, who criticized Israel’s continuing occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Israel started implementing the 2017 amendment to the Entry into Israel Law,
which banned entry into Israel or the OPT of anyone supporting or working for an organization that promotes a boycott of Israel or Israeli entities, including settlements. As a result, human rights defenders, lawyers, students and doctors were denied entry. Human Rights Watch staff member Omar Shakir had his work permit revoked on 9 May based on allegations that he supported such a boycott. He challenged the decision; the legal process was continuing at the end of the year.
On 25 May, the Ministry of Strategic Affairs published a report that listed European and Palestinian human rights organizations that allegedly support terrorism. The EU responded that Israel was spreading disinformation.
Israeli authorities continued to obstruct attempts to document human rights by denying human rights bodies entry to the OPT, including the UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in the OPT.
Political leader Raja Eghbaria, a Palestinian citizen of Israel, was held first in detention for a month and then under house arrest without access to telephones or the internet, during his ongoing trial for Facebook posts that, according to the Israeli prosecution, contained incitement to terrorism. His lawyer argued that the posts, while praising Palestinians who were killed after shooting members of Israeli security forces, included no call to violence and that their meaning in Arabic had been altered by the state’s Hebrew translation. Amnesty International agreed with this assessment.

Israel demolished 148 Palestinian properties in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, 139 for lack of permits and nine for punitive reasons, according to Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem; 425 people, including 191 children, were left homeless as a result. Punitive demolitions constitute collective punishment and are expressly prohibited under international law.

The Knesset (parliament) debated a bill that would raise the legal fees for contesting demolition orders in the West Bank, and prohibit non-profit organizations from submitting petitions against demolition orders if they were not directly affected by them.
In September, the Supreme Court approved the demolition of Khan alAhmar village and forcible transfer of its residents to make way for illegal Jewish settlements. The village was home to 180 members of the Bedouin community and a school that educated 170 children in the area. The Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court released a statement in October reminding Israel that extensive destruction of property without military necessity and population transfers in an occupied territory constitute war crimes under the Rome Statute.
On 9 August, an Israeli air strike targeted and destroyed the al-Mishal cultural centre in Gaza, in violation of international law, which prohibits the destruction of cultural buildings unless they are being used for military purposes.
The authorities also demolished Palestinian homes inside Israel that they said were built without permits, including in Palestinian towns and villages in the Triangle (a concentration of Palestinian communities adjacent to the northwest of the West Bank), the Galilee and “unrecognized” Bedouin villages in the Negev/Naqab region. In August, Israeli police forcibly demolished the Bedouin village of al-Araqib for the 132nd time.

The authorities failed to adequately ensure accountability in the aftermath the 2014 Gaza-Israel conflict, during which Israeli forces killed some 1,460 Palestinian civilians, many in evidently
unlawful attacks including war crimes. They had previously indicted only three soldiers for looting and obstructing an investigation. In August, the Military Attorney General closed the case relating to an attack on Rafah on 1-4 August 2014, when between 135 and 200 civilians were killed.
In May, the Supreme Court rejected a petition by Israeli human rights groups to order the army to stop using lethal force against demonstrators in the Gaza Strip.

Violence against women persisted in Israel. At least 20 women were killed as a result of gender-based violence, according to the group Women Against Violence. The group said the authorities prosecuted all cases involving the killing of Jewish women, but only half of those involving women who were Palestinian citizens of Israel. The group, along with other organizations and some legislators, criticized the lack of police action to bring perpetrators of such crimes to court, in particular with regard to socalled “honour killings”.

The authorities continued to deny asylum-seekers from Eritrea and Sudan access to a fair and prompt refugee status determination process. Some 6,530 asylum claims were closed or denied unlawfully in 2018, while some 15,000 were pending at the end of the year. Only 11 claimants from Eritrea or Sudan had been granted refugee status since 2008.
In January, Israel accelerated its deportations of Eritreans and Sudanese asylum-seekers. As a result, 668 were deported to Rwanda and Uganda or their
countries of origin. Another 300 or so were detained in Saharonim prison for refusing to leave Israel; the practice ended in April, after the Supreme Court found the detentions unlawful.
As a result of a decision by the interior minister in May, about 300 Sudanese people were given temporary residency status in order to close pending appeals and avoid a Supreme Court ruling obliging Israel to grant refugee status to all Sudanese asylum-seekers. 

At least six Israeli conscientious objectors to military service were imprisoned. One of them, Adam Rafaelov, was awaiting trial at the end of the year.


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Saturday, June 15, 2019


Since Iraqi authorities declared the end of the military operations to retake control of areas from the armed group calling itself Islamic State (IS) in late 2017, during which thousands of men and boys were killed or went missing, many thousands of female-headed households across the country were left struggling to survive. Armed actors under the control of Iraqi authorities collectively punished families with perceived affiliation to IS, including by denying them access to humanitarian aid, refusing to issue them crucial documents, and restricting their freedom of movement. Women in families with perceived IS affiliation were also
subjected to sexual violence, including rape. Torture in detention was endemic. Courts continued to sentence individuals convicted of terrorism-related offences to death, frequently after unfair trials that relied on torture-tainted evidence. Iraq continued to use the death penalty extensively. Protesters demanding access to jobs, basic services and medical care were shot, beaten, arrested and detained by security forces. IS carried out bomb attacks on the capital, Baghdad, and in several other governorates, often targeting civilians. IS fighters abducted dozens of civilians and members of the security forces and summarily killed them.

 Millions of internally displaced Iraqis returned to their areas of origin after the military operations to retake areas from IS ended in late 2017. However, hundreds of thousands remained displaced in camps and informal sites.
In May, Iraq held parliamentary elections, but the formation of the government stalled owing to electoral fraud allegations. Parliament consequently voted for a manual recount of all votes, but this resulted in no significant change to the result. On 2 October, Barham Ahmed Salih was elected as president. On 24 October, the new prime minister, Adel Abdul Mahdi, and 14 of the suggested 22 cabinet members were sworn in amidst disagreement among legislators.
Tens of thousands of residents in the southern governorate of Basra were reported to have been poisoned and hospitalized by polluted drinking water, fuelling ongoing protests against government corruption and mismanagement of the neglected south.

The UN estimated that 939 people were killed by “acts of terrorism, violence and armed conflict in Iraq” in 2018. At least four women, among them a human rights

activist, were shot dead in what appeared to be targeted killings. Iraqi authorities stated that an investigation into the deaths would be launched.
In late November 2018, severe storms and floods displaced tens of thousands of people, caused serious damage to infrastructure and impacted several camps of internally displaced peoples (IDPs) in Ninewa governorate, according to the UN.
Turkish air strikes and shelling continued in areas under Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) control in north-east Iraq, reportedly resulting in civilian deaths.

 By November, humanitarian organizations had recorded that more than 4 million IDPs had returned to their areas of origin. The flow of returns slowed in the second half of the year and almost 2 million people remained displaced, the majority of whom were reported to be living outside formal camps. Secondary displacements and new arrivals to formal camps were also reported. People who remained displaced cited several reasons for not returning home, including damage and destruction to housing; lack of job opportunities, basic infrastructure and public services, including health care; and insecurity due to unexploded ordnance, improvised explosive devices (IEDs), arbitrary arrests, harassment and intimidation by armed people, and in some cases fears of a new insurgency by IS.

The wave of enforced disappearances since 2014, and the deaths of many men during the military operations against IS in Iraq, left thousands of femaleheaded families struggling for survival. Families, particularly those headed by women, were stigmatized and collectively punished for being perceived to have links with IS owing to factors outside their control, such as being related, however distantly, to men involved with IS, or for fleeing from areas believed to be IS strongholds. In IDP camps, many were denied access to food, water and health care. They were also refused new or replacement identity cards and other
civil documents, often meaning that they could not work, collect family pensions or send their children to school. In addition, their freedom of movement was severely restricted because of their lack of documentation or by camp authorities who prevented them from leaving camps, placing them in de facto detention.
Such families also faced verbal harassment, including sexual harassment and intimidation from people bearing arms, camp authorities and other camp residents. Women with perceived IS ties were subjected to sexual violence, including rape and sexual exploitation, primarily by armed actors affiliated with military and security forces in the camps.

Families with perceived ties to IS were regularly prevented from returning to their homes or places of origin as a result of threats from neighbours, tribal and local authorities, and Iraqi forces, including the Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) and Tribal Mobilization militias. Displaced families attempting to return to their home areas were turned back at checkpoints if they did not have the documentation deemed necessary or their relatives appeared on “wanted lists” of men affiliated with IS.
Those who managed to return to their areas of origin said they were subjected to forced displacement, evictions, arrests, looting of their homes, house demolitions, threats, sexual abuse and harassment, and discrimination. Some families witnessed security forces attacking and arresting families affiliated with IS and so returned to the camps.

Between July and September, security forces in Basra, including SWAT (Special Weapons and Tactics) forces, killed over a dozen protesters and injured hundreds of others when they used excessive force, including by firing live ammunition and tear gas, to disperse a series of protests demanding employment opportunities and better public services. Security forces chased protesters fleeing the scene
and, according to witnesses, trapped and then beat them with metal rods and rifle butts, and used electroshock devices against some of them. They also assaulted or detained journalists covering protests, at times on the pretext that they had filmed security measures being taken around government buildings or had blocked roads.
 In apparent retaliation against these deaths, protesters set light to government buildings and buildings affiliated with political parties and factions of the PMU. Activists present at one such incident on 6 September said that at least one of three protesters killed was shot by an armed guard of a political party building that was being attacked by other protesters.
Similar protests broke out in the capital, Baghdad, and in other governorates. In Baghdad, security forces arbitrarily arrested and detained protesters. They beat and used electroshock devices against detained protesters, interrogated them and forced them to sign papers without disclosing their contents, before releasing them.
Then Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi ordered an investigation into the violence during the Basra protests. Subsequently, the authorities dismissed and replaced a number of security and local government officials.
Amidst the protests in September, the authorities severely restricted access to the internet, including social media platforms. Peaceful protesters in southern Iraq and Baghdad believed the authorities deliberately disabled internet access before security forces fired at them, as they were unable to share images and videos depicting the abuses.

Kurdish security forces and armed individuals in civilian clothes violently dispersed peaceful protests in Erbil and Dohuk in March. Teachers, health workers and other public sector workers, as well as activists took to the streets across the Kurdistan Region of Iraq to protest against austerity measures and delays in payment of and cuts to salaries of state employees. Scores of protesters and several journalists were detained and said they were tortured or otherwise ill-treated and forced to sign pledges that they would not take part in demonstrations again.
KRG officials stated that the arrested protesters were charged with inciting violence and then transferred to court. They added that the protesters had not been granted a permit to stage the protests and that members of political parties had incited violence.

IS killed and injured civilians throughout Iraq in suicide bombings and other deadly attacks that were indiscriminate or deliberately targeted civilians in crowded markets, residential areas and other public spaces. IS claimed bombings in Baghdad and other governorates, particularly Anbar, Diyala, Salah al-Din, Ninewa and Kirkuk. IS fighters were reported to have abducted and killed dozens of civilians and members of Iraqi security forces in rural areas. Fake checkpoints manned by IS fighters in attire similar to that worn by security forces were reported on highways linking various governorates to the capital. In late June, the bodies of six members of the security forces were found in Salah al-Din governorate. A video circulated earlier in the week had shown the six captured by IS and included threats to kill the men if Iraqi authorities did not release female prisoners suspected of having links to IS.
The UN stated that approximately 3,000 Yazidis were still missing as well as thousands of people from other religious minorities whom IS had also targeted. In November 2018, the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq and the Office of the UN High Commissioner Human Rights reported the discovery of over 200 mass graves in several governorates, adding that the graves contained individuals believed to have been killed for not conforming to IS rules.

Iraq’s criminal justice system remained critically flawed. Trials fell considerably short of international standards. Individuals held on suspicion of being affiliated with IS were denied the right
to an adequate defence and often were compelled to “confess” under duress. Courts continued to admit torture-tainted evidence and convict individuals under the Anti-Terrorism Law, more often than not resulting in death sentences.
Security officers threatened and in some cases arrested lawyers in court who were seeking to defend IS suspects and families perceived to be affiliated with IS. According to reports, this deterred other lawyers from working with individuals suspected of affiliation with IS.

Thousands of men and boys who were arbitrarily arrested and forcibly disappeared by central Iraqi and Kurdish forces while fleeing IS-held areas between 2014 and 2018 remained missing. Security forces, including the PMU, regularly arrested and forcibly disappeared men with perceived IS ties, at times directly from IDP camps. Iraqi and KRG authorities continued to operate overcrowded detention facilities, some of them secret. Released detainees and witnesses reported inhumane conditions.

 Those detained by central Iraqi and Kurdish forces were routinely tortured and subjected to other forms of illtreatment during interrogation, often to extract “confessions”. Former detainees reported witnessing other detainees die as a result of such abuse.

Courts continued to hand down and uphold death sentences; scores of people were sentenced to death by hanging in 2018. Over two dozen women, particularly foreign nationals, were sentenced to death because a male relative, often their husband, was suspected of belonging to IS. A report by Associated Press said that Iraqi authorities had, since 2003, detained or imprisoned at least 19,000 people accused of links to IS or other terrorrelated offences, and had sentenced thousands of them to death.
The media office of then President Fuad Masum announced on several occasions that he had ratified “batches” of death sentences that had been upheld by courts.
Despite flagrant violations of due process, Iraq continued to carry out executions, sometimes of more than 10 individuals at a time. Executions were sometimes retaliatory and in response to public outrage after bombings and other deadly attacks, often claimed by IS. For example, on 28 June, then Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi called for the swift execution of convicted “terrorists” whose death sentences had been ratified. The call quickly followed the killing of six members of the security forces abducted by IS fighters (see above). The Ministry of Justice subsequently announced that 13 people had been executed.

 A report by the US authorities in June stated that US military actions had killed 499 civilians in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and Yemen in 2017, adding that hundreds of reports of civilian casualties from the same year were still to be assessed.
Yazidi women who had survived prolonged IS captivity and enslavement continued to lament the lack of an accessible and unified system of medical and psychosocial care. In August, Yazidi women who had recently escaped IS captivity in Syria and returned to Iraq told Amnesty International that they had struggled to pay for medical and psychological care and often felt let down by the international community.
A local NGO told Amnesty International that, since 2014, around 68 mass graves had been uncovered in Sinjar, northwestern Iraq, that the bodies had still not been exhumed and that the sites were not being protected, despite Iraq’s Law on Protection of Mass Graves.
A committee established by the prime minister’s office in June 2016 to look into the abduction and forcible disappearance by PMU militias of 643 men and boys from Saqlawiya in Anbar governorate had still not publicly released any findings by the end of 2018.

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Thursday, June 13, 2019


All parties to the continuing conflict in Yemen committed war crimes and other serious violations of international law. Huthi forces, which controlled large parts of the country, indiscriminately shelled residential neighbourhoods and launched missiles indiscriminately into Saudi Arabia. The Saudi Arabia-led coalition, which supported the internationally recognized Yemeni government, continued to bomb civilian infrastructure and carry out indiscriminate attacks, killing and injuring
civilians. All parties to the conflict engaged in illegal practices, including arbitrary detention, enforced disappearance, and torture and other ill-treatment. Those targeted included journalists, human rights defenders and members of the Baha’i community. The Saudi Arabia-led coalition continued to impose excessive restrictions on the entry of essential goods and aid, while the Huthi authorities obstructed aid movement within the country, deepening the humanitarian crisis. Women and girls continued to face entrenched discrimination and other abuses; the conflict left them with less protection from sexual and other violence, including forced marriage. No information was publicly available about executions, but death sentences were reported.

The divided territorial control of Yemen was entrenched as the conflict continued between the internationally recognized government of President Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi, supported by the Saudi Arabia-led coalition, and the Huthis and their allied forces. Huthi forces consolidated their control over large parts of the country, including the capital, Sana’a. In April, Huthi leader Saleh alSammad was killed in a coalition attack; Mahdi al-Mashat replaced him.

President Hadi’s government made several attempts to reassert its authority in the southern city of Aden. Clashes broke out between government forces and rival factions, such as the Southern Transitional Council, which was backed by the United Arab Emirates (UAE), part of the Saudi Arabia-led coalition. The UAE also supported and armed militias in other areas of southern Yemen.
The on-off battle for Hodeidah resulted in hundreds of civilian casualties; the UN reported that nearly half a million people fled the governorate during the year. There was continued fighting between armed factions in the city of Ta’iz, too.
According to the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, 6,872 civilians had been killed and more than 10,768 civilians wounded between 26 March 2015, when the Saudi Arabia-led coalition became involved in the conflict, and 8 November 2018. The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reported in June that 22.2 million people needed humanitarian assistance and that around half the population, 14 million people, were at imminent risk of famine. Cholera continued to affect the entire country.
UN-backed talks in Sweden concluded on 13 December, resulting in agreements on several confidence-building measures, including prisoner exchanges and a ceasefire in Hodeidah, which came into effect on 18 December. The UN Security Council then adopted Resolution 2451 on 21 December, insisting on full respect for the ceasefire and authorizing the deployment of a monitoring team to Yemen to oversee the implementation of the agreements.

Huthi and allied forces continued to carry out indiscriminate attacks, shelling residential neighbourhoods and launching missiles indiscriminately into Saudi Arabia.
Huthi fighters fired mortars repeatedly into civilian areas of Hodeidah, according to people who had fled the city. A mortar hit the courtyard of Hays Rural Hospital on 25 March, killing a pharmacist and a nurse and injuring a 13-year-old boy.
Huthi forces further endangered civilians by basing troops and vehicles in residential areas. In November, Huthi and allied forces took up positions on a hospital roof in Hodeidah. They also planted internationally banned antipersonnel landmines that caused civilian casualties, prevented civilians from leaving the city and forcibly displaced civilians from their homes in areas captured from government forces.

Coalition forces continued to be the main cause of civilian casualties, according to the UN. They committed with impunity serious violations of international human rights law and humanitarian law. They used imprecise munitions in some attacks, including large bombs with a wide impact that caused deaths and destruction beyond their immediate strike location.
Coalition air strikes mainly targeted Huthi-controlled or contested areas, in particular Sana’a, Ta’iz, Hajjah, Hodeidah and Sa’da governorates, during which hundreds of civilians were killed and injured. Many attacks were directed at military targets, but others were indiscriminate, disproportionate or directed against civilians and civilian objects, including residential areas, buses and gatherings such as weddings. In January, a coalition air strike destroyed the Naji family home in al Rakab in the southern governorate of Ta’iz. The mother and two sons, aged six and 10, were killed. The father, a son aged three and a baby daughter were injured. In August, a coalition aircraft attacked a bus in the town of Dhahyan in Sa’da governorate, killing 29 children and injuring 30 others.

Huthi forces, the Yemeni government, the Saudi Arabia-led coalition and UAE-backed Yemeni forces engaged in arbitrary detention practices.
In areas they controlled, Huthi forces arbitrarily arrested and detained critics and opponents as well as journalists, human rights defenders and members of the Baha’i community, subjecting scores to unfair trials, incommunicado detention and enforced disappearance. In September, they detained human rights defender Kamal al-Shawish incommunicado for over a month in an unknown location in Hodeidah. Six Baha’i men continued to be detained. Five of them faced charges that carried the death penalty: one, who had been held for nearly four years, was accused of apostasy; four were charged in September with serious offences, including espionage for foreign states.

The internationally recognized Yemeni government harassed, threatened and arbitrarily detained human rights defenders and other activists. In June, security forces arrested Radhya Almutawakel and Abdulrasheed Alfaqih, respectively chairperson and executive director of Mwatana Organization for Human Rights, in the southern city of Mukalla while they were travelling to Sey’oun airport. Both were arbitrarily detained for a day before being released without charge. In October, government authorities and militias briefly detained Akram al-Shawafi, a human rights defender and founder of the Watch Team, a non-governmental organization. He was forced to relocate five times because of threats arising from his work on the treatment of civilians by the local authorities in Ta’iz.
UAE-backed Yemeni forces in southern Yemen conducted a campaign of arbitrary detentions and enforced disappearances. In May, Amnesty International investigated in Yemen the cases of 51 men held in a network of secret prisons by UAE and Yemeni forces operating outside the command of their own government, including individuals detained between March 2016 and May 2018. The cases involved egregious violations, including enforced disappearances and torture and other ill-treatment amounting to war crimes. Some of the men were released between June and August, but many remained arbitrarily detained and over a dozen were still missing.

 The Saudi Arabia-led coalition continued to impose excessive restrictions on the entry of essential goods and aid, while the Huthi authorities obstructed aid movement within the country, deepening the humanitarian crisis.  Vessels travelling to Yemen’s Red Sea ports had to wait for coalition clearance; the resulting delays exacerbated a fuel shortage, reduced access to food, clean water and sanitation, and contributed to the spread of preventable diseases. Huthi forces imposed excessive and arbitrary bureaucratic procedures that restricted the movement of humanitarian staff and aid. They sometimes attempted to control the delivery of aid and demanded bribes to allow humanitarian projects to operate.

Under international humanitarian law, all parties are obliged to allow and facilitate rapid and unimpeded delivery of impartial humanitarian assistance for civilians in need, and ensure freedom of movement of authorized humanitarian personnel.

The protracted conflict exacerbated discrimination against women and girls, and left them with less protection from sexual and other violence, including forced marriage. 

The death penalty remained in force for many crimes. No information was publicly available about executions, but death sentences were reported. On 2 January, the Specialized Criminal Court in Huthi-controlled Sana’a sentenced Hamid Haydara to death after a grossly unfair trial. He was tried on account of his beliefs and peaceful activities as a member of the Baha’i community. In February, one woman and two men were forcibly disappeared, ill-treated and given a patently unfair trial before being sentenced to death by a court in Sana’a for allegedly aiding an enemy country. The trial was part of a wider pattern of the use of expedited mass trials by Huthis to persecute political opponents, including journalists and academics.

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Tuesday, June 11, 2019


Space for civil society remained nearly non-existent in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), with the country’s most wellknown human rights activist behind bars and high levels of fear dissuading victims of human rights violations and dissidents from speaking out. Arbitrary detention of foreign nationals was frequently reported. Women continued to face discrimination in law and in practice. The authorities introduced several labour reforms likely to be of benefit to migrant workers, but other policies left them vulnerable to exploitation. The authorities continued to deny nationality to thousands of individuals born within the UAE’s borders, effectively rendering them stateless. Some detainees were held incommunicado and in undisclosed locations for weeks or months. Courts
handed down death sentences; no executions were reported.

The UAE remained part of the Saudi Arabia-led military coalition that committed serious violations of international law in the armed conflict in Yemen (see Yemen entry). UAE troops and UAE-backed militias operating in southern Yemen carried out enforced disappearances and torture.
The UAE remained a member in the coalition of Gulf states imposing economic and political sanctions on Qatar. In July, the International Court of Justice issued provisional orders to the UAE to uphold its obligations under the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination by allowing Qatari residents who had been forced to leave the UAE as a result of the regional crisis to reunite with family members, complete academic studies and access courts in the UAE.

 On 4 March, UAE forces (acting with assistance from India) detained Latifa bint Mohammed bin Rashed Al Maktoum, a daughter of Dubai’s ruler, in international waters after she tried to flee the UAE by yacht to seek asylum abroad. She continued to be held incommunicado, effectively a victim of enforced disappearance. Two of her companions – Finnish national Tiina Jauhiainen and French-US national Hervé Jaubert – as well as three Filipino crew members were detained at the same time and held for over two weeks.
Arbitrary detention of foreign nationals was frequently reported.
UK national Matthew Hedges, a student carrying out academic research in the UAE, was detained at Dubai International Airport in early May as he was about to leave the country. He was held, mainly incommunicado and in degrading and inhumane conditions, until October, when he faced an unfair trial on charges of spying for the UK government. On 21 November he was convicted and sentenced to 25 years’ imprisonment. Five days later he was pardoned and released.
Several Lebanese nationals working in the service sector were arbitrarily detained in early 2018 and held throughout the year without due process. They were denied access to legal representation and were not informed of any charges against them.
In September, Abudujilili Supi, a Chinese national of Uighur ethnicity, was detained without charge and held for a month before being allowed to leave the UAE for Turkey.

 Criticism of the government continued to be stifled by the prosecution and imprisonment of peaceful dissenters. On 29 May, Ahmed Mansoor, the last human rights defender in the UAE publicly documenting and speaking out against human rights violations in the country, was sentenced to 10 years in prison for comments posted on his social media accounts. This followed over a year in detention during which he was mainly held incommunicado in an unknown location. His trial was conducted in virtual secrecy, with no information published until after the verdict. According to the UAE’s closely controlled press, Ahmed Mansoor was convicted of “publish[ing] false information, rumours and lies about the UAE”, confirming, as had previous government statements, that the prosecution was based on the exercise of his right to freedom of expression. On 31 December the Federal Supreme Court, sitting as the State Security Court, upheld the conviction and sentence, rendering them final.
Academic and prisoner of conscience Nasser bin Ghaith remained incarcerated on speech-related charges, as did human rights lawyer and fellow prisoner of conscience Mohammed al-Roken. Nasser bin Ghaith went on hunger strike (while still taking fluids) on 7 October, protesting against medical neglect and irregular family visits in al-Razeen prison. He had been deprived of the medications he took pre-imprisonment for high blood pressure and other ailments. His health was in a critical state at the end of the year.

Women continued to face discrimination in law and in practice. Federal Law No. 28 on Personal Status contains multiple provisions entrenching the lack of equal status between men and women, stating for example that “a husband’s rights over his wife” include the wife’s “courteous obedience to him” and obligation “to look after the house”, and placing conditions on a married woman’s right to work or leave the house. Under Article 53 of the Penal Code, “a husband’s discipline of his wife” is “considered an exercise of rights,” language which can be read as an official sanction of spousal abuse. The government failed to protect women adequately from sexual and domestic violence.

 The authorities introduced several labour reforms likely to be of particular benefit to migrant workers, including a decision to allow some workers to work for multiple employers, tighter regulation of recruitment processes for domestic workers and a new low-cost insurance policy that protected private sector employees’ workplace benefits in the event of job loss, redundancy or an employer’s bankruptcy.
However, the UAE maintained its no-minimum wage policy. This had a particularly negative impact on migrant workers, who comprised an estimated 85% of the country’s workforce. Unlike UAE nationals, migrant workers did not receive government allowances for housing, subsidized health care and other services and were therefore far more dependent on wages for their livelihood. Migrants’ wages were typically low relative to nationals and to price levels in the country, undermining their right to just and favourable conditions of work, and their right to an adequate standard of living.
In February Amnesty International wrote to UAE authorities requesting information and access to research the situation of workers at the engineering
company Mercury MENA, which operated in several Arab Gulf states and had left many of its workers unpaid for over a year. The UAE did not respond.

The UAE continued to deny nationality to at least 15,000 individuals who were born within its borders and had no other nationality, effectively rendering them stateless. This deprived them of a range of state services, such as free education provided for citizens, and made it difficult for them to find employment in state-supported industries that require security clearance.
Most of the indigenous UAE residents locked into statelessness were from the northern emirates such as Ajman and Sharjah, which are considerably poorer than Abu Dhabi and Dubai. A moneyfor-passports deal with the Comoros that was introduced in 2008 with the alleged purpose of regularizing the status of the stateless population failed to resolve the problem. As in previous years, some of those who had obtained five-year Comorian passports were left stateless again after their passports expired and they could no longer renew them, due to the Comorian government having ended the programme.

The UAE failed to take steps to end torture and other ill-treatment in detention. Amnesty International documented eight cases in which detainees were held incommunicado and in undisclosed locations for weeks or months, greatly increasing the risk of human rights violations. In some cases, detainees were held in degrading conditions, denied personal hygiene items and the opportunity to bathe, or threatened with extreme violence.
DEATH PENALTY Courts continued to issue new death sentences, primarily against foreign nationals for violent crimes. No new executions were reported.
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Sunday, June 9, 2019


The Truth and Dignity Commission (IVD) finalized its work investigating past human rights violations despite an attempt by the parliament to end its work prematurely. Transitional justice trials on grave past human rights violations began before specialized criminal chambers. The authorities repeatedly renewed the state of emergency and used it to justify arbitrary restrictions on freedom of movement. Torture and other ill-treatment of detainees continued,
but complaints hardly ever reached trial. The authorities arbitrarily arrested protesters and prosecuted people for the peaceful expression of their views. Police and other security forces at times used excessive force during law enforcement operations. The Law on Eliminating Violence against Women came into effect. Proposed legal reforms to establish equality between men and women in matters of inheritance and to decriminalize same-sex sexual relations were submitted to the parliament. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people continued to face harassment, arrest and imprisonment. Water shortages and inadequate water distribution resulted in repeated water cuts in several regions, prompting
protests, particularly in the hottest months of the year. Death sentences were handed down, but there were no executions.

The authorities renewed the nationwide state of emergency five times; emergency measures had been in place since late 2015. Protests against unemployment, poor living conditions and water shortages continued, particularly in marginalized and underdeveloped regions. On 24 December, protests took place in Kasserine following the death of journalist Abderrazak Zorgui, who set himself on fire to protest against economic conditions. Protesters clashed with security forces for three consecutive nights, during which police used tear gas to disperse protesters allegedly throwing stones and burning tyres.
The parliament again failed to elect the first third of the members of the Constitutional Court, a step due since 2015.
An acute political crisis between the two major political parties, al-Nahda and Nidaa Tounes, ended their coalition in September.

In March, the parliament voted against a decision by the IVD to extend its mandate by seven months in order to complete its final report and referrals of cases of past human rights violations to specialized criminal chambers. However, the government announced in May that it would give the IVD the necessary time to finalize its work. In December, the IVD presented its final report to the president and at the end of the year was waiting for a response to requests for meetings with the head of government and the parliament to share the report with them before publication. The report included the IVD’s verified findings, the identification of individuals responsible for human rights violations, the reasons underlying grave violations and recommendations to ensure nonrecurrence of such violations.
Between March and December, the IVD referred 72 cases to trial before 13 specialized criminal chambers. These included cases of enforced disappearance, death under torture, unnecessary or excessive use of force against peaceful protesters, and killings of peaceful protesters. In May, the first trial opened in the court of first instance in Gabes in the south of the country; it concerned the enforced disappearance of Kamal Matmati in 1991. Very few of the various hearings saw the alleged perpetrators appear in court. Victims’ lawyers urged judges to issue the accused with travel bans and official summons.

 The authorities continued to impose emergency measures, often in an arbitrary manner. The Ministry of the Interior used border control orders, known as S17 orders, to unlawfully restrict the right to freedom of movement of thousands of individuals. In many cases, the orders amounted to travel bans, restricting people to their governorate of residence. Such measures were often imposed in a discriminatory manner based on appearance, religious practices or previous criminal convictions and without providing the reason or obtaining a court order. This often left those affected unable to challenge the restrictions in court or seek justice for violations suffered. The measures negatively affected individuals’ livelihoods and sometimes led to arbitrary arrest and short-term detention.  In November, the spokesperson of the administrative court in Tunis stated that the Ministry of the Interior’s use of S17 orders should be considered unlawful. In December, a ministry official told Amnesty International that the interior minister had set up a working group to reform the S17 measure and end its arbitrary implementation and had issued an instruction not to tie the denial of travel documents to S17 orders.

Torture and other ill-treatment of detainees continued, mostly during arrest and in pre-charge detention. The vast majority of complaints filed by lawyers failed to reach trial.
In February, four police officers allegedly beat up a man in a police station in Ben Arous, a city just south of Tunis. They were also reported to have forced him to strip naked, sprayed him with tear gas and made him stand naked in the rain with a tyre around his waist. The four officers were charged with torture. In response, on 26 February a union of law enforcement officials called on officers not to perform their functions at the Ben Arous court of first instance
until the accused officers were released. The same day, armed security forces protested inside the court to put pressure on the investigative judge to release their colleagues, which is what occurred later that day.

The authorities arbitrarily arrested protesters and prosecuted people for the peaceful expression of their views.
In January, police arrested Kais Bouazizi, a blogger, and charged him with “harming public order” after he shared Facebook posts that urged people to take to the streets to protest against the government’s economic policies. Later that month, the interior minister said the ministry would prosecute bloggers if they misled protesters. The same month, police or National Guard officers detained and interrogated at least four journalists in relation to their reporting of the protests. The National Guard summoned freelance journalist Mathieu Galtier on 10 January and asked him to reveal his sources, which he refused to do.
Courts continued to use Penal Code provisions to imprison people for defamation and to prosecute others for conduct protected by the right to freedom of expression. In January, the court of first instance in the city of Jendouba in north-west Tunisia sentenced Abdelaziz Aljaridi and Abdelaziz Alkhazri to six months’ imprisonment each for defaming the president by allegedly spreading rumours about his death. On 7 December, a military court of appeal increased the sentence against parliamentarian and blogger Yassine Ayari in his absence to two months’ imprisonment for a Facebook post in which he mocked the appointment of a senior military commander. The same court sentenced him in June to an additional three months’ imprisonment for “undermining the morale of the army” and for causing “offence to the President of the Republic” for a Facebook post in which he criticized senior military commanders and the president.

Police and other security forces at times used excessive force when policing protests and sports events and conducting other law enforcement operations.
In January, following widespread protests against the new finance law, the authorities arbitrarily arrested hundreds of protesters. Police used unnecessary or excessive force against protesters and denied those arrested access to a lawyer. One protester, Khomsi Yeferni, died in Tebourba, a town 35km west of Tunis. Witnesses said that a police car ran over him; the Ministry of the Interior stated that he had a chronic respiratory condition and died as a result of tear gas inhalation.
In March, Omar Laabidi drowned after a police officer pushed him into a river near Rades sports stadium in the capital, Tunis, when he was trying to escape police officers chasing fans after a match ended in clashes. Witnesses said he had shouted out that he could not swim. In May, 17 police officers were charged with involuntary manslaughter and failure to provide assistance to a person in danger, the investigation was ongoing at the end of the year.
In October, customs officers shot dead Aymen Othmani while chasing him after a raid on a warehouse in the Sidi Hassine neighbourhood of Tunis. The prosecution indicted four officers who were investigated before being released temporarily, triggering violent confrontations between police and protesters. No progress in the investigation was announced before the end of the year.

In February, the Law on Eliminating Violence against Women came into effect. It included guarantees for
protecting women and girls from genderbased violence.
Despite the repeal in September 2017 of the 1973 directive prohibiting marriage between “a Tunisian woman and a nonMuslim man”, in at least eight cases, Tunisian women reported difficulties in finding a local notary who would agree to register such marriages. They said notaries claimed they had yet to receive or read the new regulations on such marriages.
Women continued to be severely underrepresented in government, holding only three of 28 ministerial posts.
In June, the Individual Freedoms and Equality Committee, established by the president, released its report on issues related to individual freedoms and gender equality. Among its welcome – albeit controversial – recommendations was one to reform the inheritance law to establish equality between men and women. The president submitted to parliament a bill to this effect.

RIGHTS OF LESBIAN, GAY, BISEXUAL, TRANSGENDER AND INTERSEX (LGBTI) PEOPLE LGBTI people continued to face arrest under Article 230 of the Penal Code, which criminalizes consensual samesex sexual relations. According to Damj, a Tunisian LGBTI NGO, in 2018 police arrested at least 115 individuals in relation to their perceived sexual orientation or gender identity, 38 of whom were later charged and convicted under Article 230 of the Penal Code.
The police continued to subject men accused of same-sex sexual relations to forced anal examinations, in violation of the prohibition of torture and other ill-treatment. Transsexual and transgender people continue to face police harassment and live with the risk of arrest under vague “public decency”
articles of the Penal Code, including Article 226bis.
Among the recommendations of the Individual Freedoms and Equality Committee in its June report was one to decriminalize same-sex sexual relations. A draft law that included the decriminalization of such relations was submitted by a group of members of parliament in October; at the end of the year it was awaiting consideration by the parliamentary committee on rights and liberties.

Water shortages became more acute after water supplies to the two main dams fell substantially. In July, the Ministry of Agriculture, Water Resources and Fisheries declared that Tunisia’s hydraulic situation was “critical”. Water shortages and inadequate water distribution resulted in repeated water cuts in several regions, prompting protests, particularly in the hottest months of the year. These shortages had been impacting people’s ability to use water for personal and domestic use. In July, protesters in Sfax, Kef, Gabes, Tabarka and Kelibia demanded solutions to the water shortages in their towns. The NGO Tunisian Water Observatory said that it had registered 404 water cuts and 104 protests related to access to water between May and June.
In March the government announced a number of projects in the framework of the Ministry of Agriculture’s strategy to secure drinking water resources, but was hampered by floods in September that damaged water infrastructure.
DEATH PENALTY Courts continued to hand down death sentences; no executions had been carried out since 1991.
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