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Human Rights Watch releases annual report on international rights abuses

Human Rights Watch has released its annual report examining the state of human rights in more than 90 countries. In focus was the crisis in Syria, alleged abuses of democracy in Egypt and US mass surveillance programs.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) released its

2014 World Report

on Tuesday, summarizing key human rights issues in more than 90 countries worldwide, drawing on events through November 2013.

HRW executive director Kenneth Roth presented the New York-based groups findings, the 24th of its kind, at a press conference in Berlin.

One of the major crises in focus was the

Syrian civil war

with HRW saying the international community was failing in its

responsibility to protect civilians in Syria.
Watch video 01:01

HRW's Kenneth Roth on Syria

In the 667-page report, HRW contrasted the handling of the conflict in Syria with the speedy reaction of the international community in Central African Republic, South Sudan, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Among other things, HRW accused Russia and China of using their vetos at the United Nations Security Council to shield the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad from strong international action such as an arms embargo or referral to the International Criminal Court.

Abuse of democracy in Egypt

The report also highlighted

alleged abuses in struggling democracies,

calling Egypt the “most glaring example of the abuse of majoritarianism in 2013.”

The report criticized the government of former President Mohammed Morsi, which it said ruled “in a manner that left secular and minority groups fearing exclusion in an Islamist-dominated government.”

The group also said that in the wake of Morsi's military-backed ouster in July, the interim government of General Abdel Fattah el-Sissi had launched the “worst repression that Egypt has known in decades, including by killing hundreds of Muslim Brotherhood protesters.”

NSA in focus

Another major topic in the report concerned the revelations of mass surveillance by the United States made public by fugitive and former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden.

HRW said the US was setting a dangerous example for the world with its sweeping surveillance programs.

Roth slammed US President Barack Obama’s speech last Friday, in which he pledged surveillance reforms as not going far enough.

"All Obama has offered us is some vague assurance that people's communications will be listened to only if there is a national security interest at stake, which is a pretty fuzzy broad standard," he said at the press conference.

"In none of this has there been a recognition that non-Americans outside the United States have a right to the privacy of their communications,” he added.

In an interview with the AFP news agency, Roth said the group had chosen Berlin to present its annual report because

Germany had been a flashpoint of global outrage over the NSA's operations.

hc/pfd (Reuters, AFP, AP, dpa, Human Rights Watch)

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