Doug Ghim


The Human Rights Watch (HRW) is a non government organization which researches cases worldwide in fighting for human rights. They have roughly 400 staff members and they travel around the world finding cases that deal with issues with human rights. They often partner with local human rights groups and investigate these cases.

The HRW are often found working in areas that are not as developed and in social turmoil such as countries in Africa and the Middle East. Basically, the HRW attempts to bring justice to societies whose social structure is either collapsed or undeveloped. Nations such as Libya who are unstable and have broken social structures often are dangerous, and hate crimes are present during these times. The HRW will then often investigate these specific cases and try to bring in some structure and legislation to be able to maintain control of the social issues present.

For instance, the HRW had recent activity in the African nation of Congo. Congo is often referred to as the rape capital of the world. The reason behind the high sexual violence is the nations militia. Often the rape cases involve armed men who torture and abuse women, threatening them with their weapons. Because of the social structure in Congo, these war lords are often considered high figures, and are feared. People are scared to stand up to these figures because of the enormous amount of power they hold. The judicial system is weak and is frequently criticized for not doing enough to enforce the laws that Congo has regarding sexual violence. Without the help of a third party, this phenomenon would likely continue for years until someone would finally stop it. However, the HRW came into the nation, investigated these cases and interviewed countless victims. This month, November 2014, the first Congolese general was successfully prosecuted for sexual violence. Although society is not completely changed in Congo with this one case, it shows the public that justice is being enforced, and therefore could potentially change in the future. This one case is just the start: it sets the precedent of how the judicial system must work in sexual violence cases. It gives Congo a little bit more structure it needs so that they can suppress the corruption within its state.

Although many of the cases are too early to show the full impact of what the HRW has done, the future potential of these societies are apparent. The HRW states, “Change doesn’t come easily, and in some cases it can be painfully slow. And it rarely comes from our efforts alone, but rather from the combined efforts of numerous groups and activists.” The HRW has the ability to use the judicial system in efforts of stopping hate crimes, and ultimately change society for the better.