Middle East and North Africa
The regional overview summarizes the human rights situation and developments in the region throughout 2017.
Journalists and human rights defenders were targeted in government crackdowns, and online expression was heavily controlled in several countries. Civil society activists managed to halt further tightening of restrictions on free expression in some places. Freedom of religion and belief came under attack from armed groups and governments alike. The struggle of women’s rights movements successfully led to the amendment of laws that had entrenched discrimination and violence against women in some countries. However, systematic discrimination remained in law and practice across the region and women were still inadequately protected against gender-based violence. Authorities arrested and prosecuted people for their real or perceived sexual orientation in some countries, and consensual same-sex sexual relations were still criminalized in many, in a handful of cases punishable by death. There were severe restrictions on trade unions in some countries, and migrant workers continued to face exploitation and abuse. However, reforms in a couple of countries gave migrant workers greater employment protections. Armed conflicts took a heavy toll on beleaguered civilians and were characterized by serious violations, including the use of banned weapons, unlawful sieges, and direct attacks on civilians and civilian infrastructure. Death sentences were imposed in a number of countries across the region, and hundreds of executions were carried out. Impunity persisted for historical and recent crimes; however, some progress was made towards securing truth and justice for victims.
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