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Human Rights Watch surveys rights activists and journalists under threat

Abusive governments worldwide are fully engaged in attacks on human rights defenders, organisations and institutions in order to silence critics, says a new report by Human Rights Watch. The 612-page report, "World Report: 2010," summarises major human rights trends in more than 90 nations and territories worldwide.

There is a long history of human rights defenders being censored, imprisoned or killed, says the report."These attacks might be seen as an unwitting tribute to the human rights movement. If governments were not feeling the heat, they would not bother trying to smother the source." With this new report, Human Rights Watch hopes to "expose and help reverse the trend."

In Cuba, Raúl Castro's government has kept scores of political prisoners in detention and arrested dozens of dissidents. Investigations in Burma revealed that dozens of prominent political activists, Buddhist monks, labour activists, journalists and artists have been arrested and sentenced to draconian prison terms since peaceful political protests in 2007. An historic Human Rights Watch press conference was held in Libya last year, stating that repressive laws continue to stifle free expression and association. In Guinea, killings and other abuses at an opposition rally in September were documented, along with other incidents, showing the government's restrictions on freedom of political expression and assembly through intimidation and attacks. At the time the report was being written, at least 28 Chinese journalists were in prison on vague charges, including "inciting subversion" and "revealing state secrets."

The country profiles include stories of the many journalists killed throughout the world for reporting on corruption and human rights violations, as well as other press freedom and free expression violations, with perpetrators enjoying almost-complete impunity.

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