[Senate Prints 112-30, Volume II]
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112th Congress                                                 S. Prt.
1st Session         JOINT COMMITTEE PRINT                      112-30


                           PRACTICES FOR 2010
                               VOLUME II


                              R E P O R T

                            SUBMITTED TO THE

                               US SENATE

                                AND THE

                      COMMITTEE ON FOREIGN AFFAIRS
                      US HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

                                 BY THE

                          DEPARTMENT OF STATE

                   ASSISTANCE ACT OF 1961, AS AMENDED


                               VOLUME II

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112th Congress 
 1st Session             JOINT COMMITTEE PRINT                  S. Prt.


                           PRACTICES FOR 2010

                               VOLUME II


                              R E P O R T

                            SUBMITTED TO THE


                               US SENATE

                                AND THE

                      COMMITTEE ON FOREIGN AFFAIRS

                      US HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

                                 BY THE

                          DEPARTMENT OF STATE

                   ASSISTANCE ACT OF 1961, AS AMENDED



                 COMMITTEE ON FOREIGN RELATIONS        

            JOHN F. KERRY, Massachusetts, Chairman          
BARBARA BOXER, California            RICHARD G. LUGAR, Indiana
ROBERT MENENDEZ, New Jersey          BOB CORKER, Tennessee
BENJAMIN L. CARDIN, Maryland         JAMES E. RISCH, Idaho
ROBERT P. CASEY, Jr., Pennsylvania   MARCO RUBIO, Florida
JIM WEBB, Virginia                   JAMES M. INHOFE, Oklahoma
JEANNE SHAHEEN, New Hampshire        JIM DeMINT, South Carolina
RICHARD J. DURBIN, Illinois          JOHN BARRASSO, Wyoming
TOM UDALL, New Mexico                MIKE LEE, Utah
             Frank G. Lowenstein, Staff Director          
       Kenneth A. Myers, Jr., Republican Staff Director          

                  COMMITTEE ON FOREIGN AFFAIRS        

             ILEANA ROS-LEHTINEN, Florida, Chairman        
DAN BURTON, Indiana                  GARY L. ACKERMAN, New York
ELTON GALLEGLY, California           ENI F.H. FALEOMAVAEGA, American 
DANA ROHRABACHER, California             Samoa
DONALD A. MANZULLO, Illinois         DONALD M. PAYNE, New Jersey
EDWARD R. ROYCE, California          BRAD SHERMAN, California
STEVE CHABOT, Ohio                   ELIOT L. ENGEL, New York
RON PAUL, Texas                      GREGORY W. MEEKS, New York
MIKE PENCE, Indiana                  RUSS CARNAHAN, Missouri
JOE WILSON, South Carolina           ALBIO SIRES, New Jersey
CONNIE MACK, Florida                 GERALD E. CONNOLLY, Virginia
JEFF FORTENBERRY, Nebraska           THEODORE E. DEUTCH, Florida
MICHAEL T. McCAUL, Texas             DENNIS CARDOZA, California
TED POE, Texas                       BEN CHANDLER, Kentucky
GUS M. BILIRAKIS, Florida            BRIAN HIGGINS, New York
JEAN SCHMIDT, Ohio                   ALLYSON SCHWARTZ, Pennsylvania
BILL JOHNSON, Ohio                   CHRISTOPHER S. MURPHY, Connecticut
DAVID RIVERA, Florida                FREDERICA WILSON, Florida
MIKE KELLY, Pennsylvania             KAREN BASS, California
TIM GRIFFIN, Arkansas                WILLIAM KEATING, Massachusetts
TOM MARINO, Pennsylvania             DAVID CICILLINE, Rhode Island
JEFF DUNCAN, South Carolina
RENEE ELLMERS, North Carolina
               Yleem D.S. Poblete, Staff Director        
         Richard J. Kessler, Democratic Staff Director        



                            C O N T E N T S


Letter of Transmittal............................................    ix

Preface..........................................................    xi

Overview and Acknowledgments.....................................  xiii

Introduction.....................................................  xvii

                                Volume I

    Angola.......................................................     1

    Benin........................................................    20

    Botswana.....................................................    30

    Burkina Faso.................................................    41

    Burundi......................................................    51

    Cameroon.....................................................    72

    Cape Verde...................................................    92

    Central African Republic, The................................    98

    Chad.........................................................   122

    Comoros......................................................   137

    Congo, Democratic Republic of the............................   143

    Congo, Republic of the.......................................   186

    Cote d'Ivoire................................................   196

    Djibouti.....................................................   218

    Equatorial Guinea............................................   227

    Eritrea......................................................   240

    Ethiopia.....................................................   257

    Gabon........................................................   284

    Gambia, The..................................................   292

    Ghana........................................................   305

    Guinea.......................................................   320

    Guinea-Bissau................................................   335

    Kenya........................................................   344

    Lesotho......................................................   368

    Liberia......................................................   384

    Madagascar...................................................   395

    Malawi.......................................................   408

    Mali.........................................................   419

    Mauritania...................................................   429

    Mauritius....................................................   444

    Mozambique...................................................   452

    Namibia......................................................   465

    Niger........................................................   479

    Nigeria......................................................   493

    Rwanda.......................................................   525

    Sao Tome and Principe........................................   544

    Senegal......................................................   549

    Seychelles...................................................   565

    Sierra Leone.................................................   571

    Somalia......................................................   589

    South Africa.................................................   610

    Sudan........................................................   628

    Swaziland....................................................   655

    Tanzania.....................................................   670

    Togo.........................................................   692

    Uganda.......................................................   702

    Zambia.......................................................   728

    Zimbabwe.....................................................   744

East Asia and the Pacific

    Australia....................................................   783

    Brunei Darussalam............................................   794

    Burma........................................................   801

    Cambodia.....................................................   823

    China (includes Tibet, Hong Kong, and Macau).................   843

        Tibet....................................................   882

        Hong Kong................................................   891

        Macau....................................................   906

    Fiji.........................................................   914

    Indonesia....................................................   928

    Japan........................................................   949

    Kiribati.....................................................   961

    Korea, Democratic People's Republic of.......................   966

    Korea, Republic of...........................................   979

    Laos.........................................................   989

    Malaysia.....................................................   999

    Marshall Islands.............................................  1026

    Micronesia, Federated States of..............................  1032

    Mongolia.....................................................  1038

    Nauru........................................................  1050

    New Zealand..................................................  1054

    Palau........................................................  1061

    Papua New Guinea.............................................  1066

    Philippines..................................................  1076

    Samoa........................................................  1093

    Singapore....................................................  1101

    Solomon Islands..............................................  1116

    Taiwan.......................................................  1123

    Thailand.....................................................  1132

    Timor-Leste..................................................  1160

    Tonga........................................................  1169

    Tuvalu.......................................................  1175

    Vanuatu......................................................  1180

    Vietnam......................................................  1187

Europe and Eurasia

    Albania......................................................  1213

    Andorra......................................................  1224

    Armenia......................................................  1229

    Austria......................................................  1261

    Azerbaijan...................................................  1270

    Belarus......................................................  1295

    Belgium......................................................  1332

    Bosnia and Herzegovina.......................................  1340

    Bulgaria.....................................................  1358

    Croatia......................................................  1371

    Cyprus.......................................................  1389

    Czech Republic...............................................  1415

    Denmark......................................................  1433

    Estonia......................................................  1441

    Finland......................................................  1449

    France.......................................................  1460

    Georgia......................................................  1472

    Germany......................................................  1515

    Greece.......................................................  1530

    Hungary......................................................  1547

    Iceland......................................................  1565

    Ireland......................................................  1573

    Italy........................................................  1581

    Kosovo.......................................................  1594

    Latvia.......................................................  1615

    Liechtenstein................................................  1626

    Lithuania....................................................  1631

    Luxembourg...................................................  1643

    Macedonia....................................................  1648

    Malta........................................................  1663

    Moldova......................................................  1673

    Monaco.......................................................  1699

    Montenegro...................................................  1703

    Netherlands..................................................  1730

    Norway.......................................................  1741

    Poland.......................................................  1750

    Portugal.....................................................  1766

    Romania......................................................  1773

    Russia.......................................................  1796

    San Marino...................................................  1840

    Serbia.......................................................  1844

    Slovakia.....................................................  1861

    Slovenia.....................................................  1877

    Spain........................................................  1885

    Sweden.......................................................  1896

    Switzerland..................................................  1907

    Turkey.......................................................  1917

    Ukraine......................................................  1939

    United Kingdom...............................................  1965

                               Volume II

Near East and North Africa

    Algeria......................................................  1979

    Bahrain......................................................  1996

    Egypt........................................................  2009

    Iran.........................................................  2027

    Iraq.........................................................  2061

    Israel and the occupied territories..........................  2089

    Jordan.......................................................  2139

    Kuwait.......................................................  2157

    Lebanon......................................................  2169

    Libya........................................................  2188

    Morocco......................................................  2203

    Oman.........................................................  2222

    Qatar........................................................  2230

    Saudi Arabia.................................................  2243

    Syria........................................................  2266

    Tunisia......................................................  2288

    United Arab Emirates.........................................  2305

    Western Sahara...............................................  2317

    Yemen........................................................  2324

South and Central Asia

    Afghanistan..................................................  2347

    Bangladesh...................................................  2372

    Bhutan.......................................................  2395

    India........................................................  2403

    Kazakhstan...................................................  2437

    Kyrgyz Republic..............................................  2457

    Maldives.....................................................  2472

    Nepal........................................................  2485

    Pakistan.....................................................  2505

    Sri Lanka....................................................  2541

    Tajikistan...................................................  2560

    Turkmenistan.................................................  2573

    Uzbekistan...................................................  2586

Western Hemisphere

    Antigua and Barbuda..........................................  2609

    Argentina....................................................  2614

    Bahamas, The.................................................  2630

    Barbados.....................................................  2640

    Belize.......................................................  2646

    Bolivia......................................................  2655

    Brazil.......................................................  2668

    Canada.......................................................  2688

    Chile........................................................  2702

    Colombia.....................................................  2713

    Costa Rica...................................................  2742

    Cuba.........................................................  2754

    Dominica.....................................................  2768

    Dominican Republic...........................................  2775

    Ecuador......................................................  2794

    El Salvador..................................................  2812

    Grenada......................................................  2827

    Guatemala....................................................  2833

    Guyana.......................................................  2850

    Haiti........................................................  2859

    Honduras.....................................................  2873

    Jamaica......................................................  2892

    Mexico.......................................................  2904

    Nicaragua....................................................  2923

    Panama.......................................................  2940

    Paraguay.....................................................  2957

    Peru.........................................................  2970

    Saint Kitts and Nevis........................................  2987

    Saint Lucia..................................................  2991

    Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.............................  2997

    Suriname.....................................................  3003

    Trinidad and Tobago..........................................  3011

    Uruguay......................................................  3020

    Venezuela....................................................  3028


    Appendix A: Notes on preparation of Report...................  3061

    Appendix B: Reporting on Worker Rights.......................  3069

    Appendix C: Selected International Human Rights Conventions..  3071

    Appendix D: Description of International Human Rights 
      Conventions in Appendix C..................................  3079

    Appendix E: FY 2010 Foreign Assistance Actuals...............  3081

    Appendix F: United Nations General Assembly's Third Committee 
      Country Resolution Votes 2010..............................  3107

    Appendix G: United Nations Universal Declaration of Human 
      Rights.....................................................  3115

                         LETTER OF TRANSMITTAL


                                       Department of State,
                                     Washington, DC, April 8, 2011.
Hon. John F. Kerry,
Chairman, Committee on Foreign Relations.
    Dear Mr. Chairman: On behalf of the Secretary of State, I 
am transmitting to you the Country Reports on Human Rights 
Practices for 2010, prepared in compliance with sections 
116(d)(1) and 502B(b) of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, as 
amended, and section 505(c) of the Trade Act of 1974, as 
    We hope this report is helpful. Please let us know if we 
can provide any further information.
                                 Michael H. Posner,
                         Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Democracy, 
                                           Human Rights, and Labor.




    Today, the eyes of the world are focused on the Middle East 
and North Africa, where people are demanding that their 
governments live up to the guiding principle of the Universal 
Declaration of Human Rights, that all people are ``born free 
and equal in dignity and rights.'' The promise of this 
principle is the driving power behind every movement for 
freedom, every campaign for democracy, every effort to foster 
development, and every struggle against oppression. We are 
inspired by the courage and determination of these activists, 
and we see in their struggles the true manifestation of a 
universal yearning for dignity and respect. We stand with them 
and with all citizens, activists, and governments around the 
world who peacefully work to advance the causes of democracy 
and human rights.
    As President Obama has said, we are guided by a simple 
idea, `` . . . freedom, justice and peace for the world must 
begin with freedom, justice, and peace in the lives of 
individual human beings.'' This idea represents values we 
cherish in the United States, but they are not ours alone. Our 
belief in the universal principles of freedom, justice, and 
peace guides us on a daily basis as we work to make human 
rights a human reality. The world has witnessed that without 
meaningful steps toward representative, accountable, and 
transparent governance, the gap between people and their 
leaders will only grow. We will continue to promote, support, 
and defend democracy, in its many forms, knowing that it is the 
best political system for allowing individuals to enjoy their 
human rights.
    The 2010 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices provide 
a record of the state of human rights in the world and raise 
awareness of the progress made in 2010, the ground lost, and 
the work that remains. This year marks the thirty-fifth year we 
have reported to Congress on human rights around the world. 
These reports were initially envisioned as a tool to help guide 
the United States in its foreign policy, but they have grown to 
be something much greater. Other governments, individuals, and 
organizations now use the human rights reports as essential 
sources of information about conditions in countries around the 
world. For activists, many of whom confront a shrinking space 
in which to operate and do so at great personal risk, these 
reports also provide evidence that the world is being made 
aware of their struggle.
    As I travel the world, I make a point of meeting with those 
people working to advance the cause of human rights within 
their own countries. I am consistently impressed by the power 
of the human spirit, and the unwavering commitment of these 
brave individuals. Their work inspires us and confirms the 
importance of holding governments, including our own, 
accountable for the treatment of their citizens.
    Once each year we submit the Country Reports on Human 
Rights Practices to Congress, but advancing freedom and human 
rights is a daily priority for the men and women of the 
Department of State, both in Washington and in our embassies 
overseas. Through these reports, through our diplomacy, and 
through our example, we will continue to press for the 
universal human rights of all individuals. Now is the 
opportunity for us to support all who are willing to stand up 
on behalf of the rights we cherish.
    In that spirit I hereby transmit the Department of State's 
Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2010 to the 
United States Congress.
                            Hillary Rodham Clinton,
                                                Secretary of State.



                      WHY THE REPORTS ARE PREPARED

    This report is submitted to the Congress by the Department 
of State in compliance with Sections 116(d) and 502B(b) of the 
Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 (FAA), as amended. The law 
provides that the Secretary of State shall transmit to the 
Speaker of the House of Representatives and the Committee on 
Foreign Relations of the Senate by February 25 ``a full and 
complete report regarding the status of internationally 
recognized human rights, within the meaning of subsection (A) 
in countries that receive assistance under this part, and (B) 
in all other foreign countries which are members of the United 
Nations and which are not otherwise the subject of a human 
rights report under this Act.'' We have also included reports 
on several countries that do not fall into the categories 
established by these statutes and thus are not covered by the 
congressional requirement.
    In the early 1970s the United States formalized its 
responsibility to speak out on behalf of international human 
rights standards. In 1976 Congress enacted legislation creating 
a Coordinator of Human Rights in the Department of State, a 
position later upgraded to Assistant Secretary. Legislation 
also requires that U.S. foreign and trade policy take into 
account countries' human rights and worker rights performance 
and that country reports be submitted to the Congress on an 
annual basis.

                      HOW THE REPORTS ARE PREPARED

    The Department of State prepared this report using 
information from U.S. embassies and consulates abroad, foreign 
government officials, nongovernmental and international 
organizations, and published reports. The initial drafts of the 
individual country reports were prepared by U.S. diplomatic 
missions abroad, drawing on information they gathered 
throughout the year from a variety of sources, including 
government officials, jurists, the armed forces, journalists, 
human rights monitors, academics, and labor activists. This 
information gathering can be hazardous, and U.S. Foreign 
Service personnel regularly go to great lengths, under trying 
and sometimes dangerous conditions, to investigate reports of 
human rights abuse, monitor elections, and come to the aid of 
individuals at risk, such as political dissidents and human 
rights defenders whose rights are threatened by their 
    Once the initial drafts of the individual country reports 
were completed, the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and 
Labor, in cooperation with other Department of State offices, 
worked to corroborate, analyze, and edit the reports, drawing 
on their own sources of information. These sources included 
reports provided by U.S. and other human rights groups, foreign 
government officials, representatives from the United Nations 
and other international and regional organizations and 
institutions, experts from academia, and the media. Bureau 
officers also consulted experts on worker rights, refugee 
issues, military and police topics, women's issues, and legal 
matters, among may others. The guiding principle was to ensure 
that all information was assessed objectively, thoroughly, and 
    As has proven the case in the past, we anticipate that the 
reports will be used as a resource for shaping policy, 
conducting diplomacy, and making assistance, training, and 
other resource allocations. They will serve also as a basis for 
the U.S. Government's cooperation with private groups to 
promote the observance of internationally recognized human 
    The Country Reports on Human Rights Practices cover 
internationally recognized civil, political and worker rights, 
as set forth in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. 
These rights include freedom from torture or other cruel, 
inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, from prolonged 
detention without charges, from disappearance or clandestine 
detention, and from other flagrant violations of the right to 
life, liberty and the security of the person.
    Universal human rights seek to incorporate respect for 
human dignity into the processes of government and law. All 
persons have the right to nationality, the inalienable right to 
change their government by peaceful means and to enjoy basic 
freedoms, such as freedom of expression, association, assembly, 
movement, and religion, without discrimination on the basis of 
race, religion, national origin, or sex. The right to join a 
free trade union is a necessary condition of a free society and 
economy. Thus the reports assess key internationally recognized 
worker rights, including the right of association, the right to 
organize and bargain collectively, the prohibition of forced or 
compulsory labor, the status of child labor practices, the 
minimum age for employment of children, and acceptable work 
    With this 2010 edition of the country reports, DRL expanded 
the use of hyperlinks from these reports to other key human 
rights documents produced by the Department of State. 
Specifically, readers are asked to follow hyperlinks for 
complete information on religious freedom issues by consulting 
the 2010 International Religious Freedom Report, the 2010 
Trafficking in Persons Report, if applicable, and the several 
current publications produced by the Department's Consular 
Affairs Bureau on international child abductions, if applicable 
to the country in question.
    Within the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, the 
editorial staff of the Country Reports Team consists of: Editor 
in Chief Stephen Eisenbraun; Office Directors: Eric Falls, 
Robert Boehme, Jeffrey Hawkins, Douglas Kramer, Jessica 
Lieberman, Mark Mittelhauser, Susan O'Sullivan; Senior Editors: 
Jonathan Bemis, Douglas B. Dearborn, Daniel Dolan, Jerome L. 
Hoganson, Patricia Meeks Schnell, Marc J. Susser, and Julie 
Turner; Editors: Naim Ahmed, Cory Andrews, Sarah Buckley-Moore, 
Laura Carey, Elise Carlson-Rainer, Della Cavey, Eric Concha, 
Sharon Cooke, Susan Corke, Stuart Crampton, Kathleen Crowley, 
Frank Crump, Bonnie Daley, Tu Dang, Mollie Davis, Mort Dworken, 
Sindbad Fennimore, Karen Gilbride, Joan Garner, Carrie George, 
Safiya Ghori-Ahmad, Patrick Harvey, Caitlin Helfrich, Matthew 
Hicks, Alexandra Hoey, Kimberly Holbrook, Victor Huser, Jill 
Hutchings, Stan Ifshin, Dianna James, Sarah Johnston-Gardner, 
David T. Jones, Simone Joseph, Malac Kabir, Yelda Kazimi, 
Mancharee Junk, Min Kang, Katharine Kendrick, Orly Keiner, 
Stephen Kopanos, Alyson Kozma, Douglas Kramer, Sarah Labowitz, 
Gregory Maggio, Stacey May, Stephen Moody, Sarah Morgan, 
Perlita Muiruri, Sandra Murphy, Daniel L. Nadel, Genevieve 
Parente, Blake Peterson, Meredith Ryder-Rude, Peter Sawchyn, 
Robert Schlicht, Monica Sendor, Wendy Silverman, Marissa Smith, 
Rachel Spring, Jason Starr, Leslie Taylor, Jennifer Terry, 
James C.Todd, David Wagner, Micah Watson, Chanan Weissman, 
Mareham Youssef, Sarah Yun, Rachel Waldstein, Bernadette 
Zielinski; Editorial Assistants: Carol Finerty, Stephanie 
Martone, James McDonald, and Regina Waugh.



    This report provides encyclopedic detail on human rights 
conditions in over 190 countries for 2010. Because we are 
publishing this report three months into the new year, however, 
our perspectives on many issues are now framed by the dramatic 
changes sweeping across countries in the Middle East in 2011. 
At this moment we cannot predict the outcome of these changes, 
and we will not know the lasting impacts for years to come. The 
internal dynamics in each of these countries are different, so 
sweeping analysis of the entire region is not appropriate. In 
places like Tunisia and Egypt, we are witnessing popular 
demands for meaningful political participation, fundamental 
freedoms, and greater economic opportunity. These demands are 
profound, they are homegrown, and they are being driven by new 
activists, many of them young people. These citizens seek to 
build sustainable democracies in their countries with 
governments that respect the universal human rights of their 
own people. If they succeed, the Middle East region, and with 
it the whole world, will be improved.
    The United States will continue to monitor the situations 
in these countries closely, knowing that the transition to 
democracy is not automatic and will take time and careful 
attention. In Egypt, we await the lifting of the state of 
emergency, which the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces has 
promised to do prior to parliamentary elections. In Tunisia, we 
are encouraged by the creation of a fact-finding committee to 
investigate human rights abuses that took place during the 
    While we address these and other short-term repercussions, 
historians will have the benefit of time and perspective to 
help us understand what triggered these popular movements. But 
three trends clearly contributed to their development and to 
other changes that occurred throughout the world in 2010. The 
first is the explosive growth of nongovernmental advocacy 
organizations focused on a wide range of democracy and human 
rights issues and causes. Fifty years ago, when Amnesty 
International was created, few countries outside of North 
America or Western Europe had any locally based human rights 
organizations. Today, local nongovernmental organizations 
(NGOs) exist in almost every country in the world. The growth 
of these organizations has been dramatic, and in many countries 
such citizens' organizations have been created against great 
odds and only because individual human rights activists were 
willing to face great personal risk. Secretary Clinton 
highlighted the importance of these organizations in a speech 
she gave in July 2010 in Krakow, Poland, to the Community of 
Democracies. As she said, ``societies move forward when the 
citizens that make up these groups are empowered to transform 
common interests into common actions that serve the common 
    In closed societies, where repressive governments seek to 
control and stifle the debate on sensitive political and social 
issues, governments view these independent local citizens' 
organizations as a threat rather than a resource, and democracy 
and human rights defenders are singled out for particularly 
harsh treatment. For example, in Belarus, over 700 prodemocracy 
activists, including seven presidential candidates, were 
arrested during public demonstrations following the flawed 
December 2010 presidential elections. In the weeks that 
followed, the offices and homes of civil society 
representatives, independent journalists, and political 
activists were raided as part of an effort to stifle 
independent political activity and free expression.
    In the last several years, more than 90 governments have 
sought to pass restrictive laws and regulations, hampering the 
ability of organizations to register, operate freely, or 
receive foreign funding. A proposed NGO law in Cambodia, 
introduced in December, is emblematic of these efforts. The law 
would impose burdensome reporting requirements on NGOs, erect 
significant barriers to the registration of foreign NGOs, 
require foreign NGOs to collaborate with the government, and 
outlaw unregistered NGOs. In Ethiopia, a new civil society 
organization law entered into force in February, following a 
one-year grace period. The law prohibits charities, societies, 
and associations that receive more than 10 percent of their 
funding from foreign sources from engaging in activities that 
promote human rights and democracy; the rights of children and 
persons with disabilities; equality among nations, 
nationalities, people, genders, and religions; conflict 
resolution or reconciliation; and the promotion of justice. 
During the grace period, Ethiopia's leading human rights 
defender organizations adjusted by re-registering either as 
local charities, meaning that they could not raise more than 10 
percent of their funds from foreign donors, or as ``Resident 
Charities,'' which allowed donations but prohibited activities 
in the enumerated areas. There were 3,522 registered 
organizations before the civil society organization law was 
adopted; after the law only 1,655 remained.
    Secretary Clinton acknowledged these troubling restrictions 
on civil society in her speech in Krakow, when she identified a 
``group of countries where the walls are closing in on civic 
organizations'' and cautioned that when ``governments crack 
down on the right of citizens to work together, as they have 
throughout history, societies fall into stagnation and decay.'' 
As we have seen in the Middle East and elsewhere, governments 
cannot suppress civil society indefinitely, and they can never 
suppress it legitimately.
    A second important trend is the dramatic growth of the 
Internet, mobile phones, and other connective technologies that 
allow instantaneous communications to billions of people across 
the globe. As Secretary Clinton observed in a recent speech on 
Internet freedom, the Internet has become the town square of 
the 21st century. Much has been said and written about the 
effects of these connective technologies in allowing Egyptians 
and Tunisians to mobilize in the weeks and months before 
demonstrations actually began. While it is the courage of the 
people themselves that led the way and was the driving force, 
the amplifying impact of these new technologies, coupled with 
the power of television stations and the Internet to broadcast 
videos obtained by citizens using these mobile phones, cannot 
be denied.
    Today there are more than two billion people with Internet 
access spread across most countries of the world, and around 
five billion mobile phone subscriptions. These numbers are 
projected to grow dramatically in the next 15 years. And as 
more people gain access to these remarkable technologies, and 
use them both to gather and impart information on human rights 
and to communicate with other activists, an increasing number 
of governments are spending more time, money, and attention in 
efforts to curtail access to these new communications outlets. 
More than 40 governments are now using a combination of 
regulatory restrictions, technical controls on access to the 
Internet, and technologies designed to repress speech and 
infringe on the personal privacy of those who use these rapidly 
evolving technologies.
    In Saudi Arabia in 2010, the government restricted access 
to the Internet and interfered with citizens' privacy while 
online. The official Communications and Information Technology 
Commission (CITC) improperly monitored e-mail and Internet chat 
rooms and blocked sites, including pages about Hinduism, 
Judaism, Christianity, and certain forms of Islam deemed 
incompatible with Sharia law and national regulations. In 
Sudan, the government monitored Internet communications and, 
during the elections, blocked access to the Sudan Vote Monitor 
Web site. The Government of China tightly controlled content on 
and access to the Internet and detained those expressing views 
critical of the government or its policies. In Vietnam, the 
government orchestrated attacks against critical Web sites and 
spied on dissident bloggers. Police arrested 25 dissidents over 
the course of the year and forcibly entered the homes of a 
number of others to remove personal computers, cell phones, and 
other material.
    A third trend, and one that points in a negative direction, 
was the continuing escalation of violence, persecution, and 
official and societal discrimination of members of vulnerable 
groups, often racial, religious, or ethnic minorities or 
disempowered majorities. In many countries this pattern of 
discrimination extended to women; children; persons with 
disabilities; indigenous; lesbian, gay, bisexual, and 
transgender (LGBT) persons; and members of other vulnerable 
groups who lacked the political power to defend their own 
interests. Often members of these groups were denied economic 
opportunity or the ability to abide by their social or cultural 
traditions or practices or were restricted in their ability to 
speak freely, to assemble peacefully, or to form associations 
or organizations.
    In Pakistan, religious freedom violations and violence and 
discrimination against religious minorities continued. The 
blasphemy laws were used to harass religious minorities as well 
as vulnerable Muslims or Muslims with minority views. (In the 
first two months of 2011, two senior government officials who 
publicly challenged these laws were brutally killed.) In Saudi 
Arabia, there were severe restrictions on religious freedom and 
discrimination on the basis of religion was common. In China, 
the government continued to demonize the Dalai Lama and harshly 
repress Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang and Tibetan Buddhists. There 
were reports of increases in anti-Semitic acts around the 
world, including the desecration of cemeteries, graffiti, and 
blood-libel rhetoric, as well as Holocaust denial, revisionism, 
and glorification. There have also been spikes in expressions 
of anti-Semitism during events in the Middle East.
    Persons around the world continue to experience 
discrimination and intimidation based on their sexual 
orientation or gender identity. Honduras saw an upsurge in 
killings of members of the LGBT community by unknown 
perpetrators. Meanwhile, in many African, Middle Eastern, and 
Caribbean nations, same-sex relations remain a criminal 
offense, and through such laws and other measures the state 
reinforces and encourages societal discrimination and 
intolerance. In Uganda, for example, intimidation and 
harassment of LGBT individuals worsened during the year, and 
some government and religious leaders threatened LGBT 
    Exploitation of laborers was also a problem in many 
countries, often compounded by threats against workers for 
attempting to unionize. Again in 2010, the government of 
Uzbekistan mobilized thousands of adults and children as forced 
laborers during the annual cotton harvest. In Bangladesh, poor 
working conditions caused needless deaths, notably in the 
garment industry. Bangladesh was also the site of frequent and 
at times deadly labor unrest during the year, particularly in 
the Ready-Made Garment Sector and Export Processing Zones.
    These trends are further illustrated below by the thumbnail 
sketches of 27 countries (listed alphabetically by region). The 
section on country highlights provides illustrative examples of 
the human rights trends in 2010. In some of these countries 
there have been negative developments or the human rights 
record has been a mix of positive and negative developments. In 
other countries highlighted below, we reflect on positive 
trends in 2010. The body of this report is a much more detailed 
examination of these and an additional 167 countries.
    2010 marks the 35th year that the State Department has 
produced the annual Country Reports on Human Rights Practices. 
This year's report covers human rights conditions in 194 
countries. What began as the response to a Congressional 
mandate to report on the human rights situation in those 
countries that were receiving U.S. assistance in the mid 1970s 
has blossomed into a detailed analysis of human rights 
conditions in all countries that are members of the United 
Nations. The country reports provide an overview of the human 
rights situation around the world as a means to raise awareness 
of human rights conditions, in particular as these conditions 
affect the well-being of women, children, racial and religious 
minorities, trafficking victims, members of indigenous groups 
and ethnic communities, persons with disabilities, sexual 
minorities, refugees, and members of other vulnerable groups.
    As the scope of the State Department's reporting has 
increased, so has the use of these reports around the world. In 
addition to providing data to Congress to inform their funding 
and policy decisions, these reports are used throughout the 
U.S. government and by many foreign governments. And, 
importantly, they are increasingly being used by individual 
citizens and NGOs as critical sources of information on what is 
happening in the world. To facilitate the sharing of this 
information, reports are translated into over 50 languages and 
made available online.
    The U.S. government compiles the human rights report 
because we believe it is imperative for countries, including 
our own, to ensure that respect for human rights is an integral 
component of foreign policy. We provide these reports as a form 
of comprehensive review and analysis.
    The reports do not cover human rights in the United States, 
although this Administration has made a commitment to take a 
close and critical look at our own performance on these issues 
even as we cast a spotlight on the practices of other 
countries. In November, the United States presented its first 
report on human rights in the United States to the UN Human 
Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva through the Universal Periodic 
Review. In preparation for that report we conducted extensive 
consultations in the United States with a wide range of civil 
society organizations and Native American leaders. Last month 
we appeared again at the UNHRC meeting in Geneva to report our 
response to the recommendations made to us by other 
    We also continually report on our human rights record 
pursuant to our treaty obligations. In January 2010, we 
submitted periodic reports on our implementation of the 
Optional Protocols to the Convention on the Rights of the 
Child. In 2011 we will be submitting periodic reports regarding 
implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and 
Political Rights, the Convention Against Torture, and the 
Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. In 
2010, for the first time, a section on the United States was 
included in the State Department's Trafficking in Persons 
Report, and the United States was ranked based on the same 
standards to which we hold other countries.
    A final word about the production of these reports. These 
194 country reports are comprehensive, if not exhaustive. Their 
production is a Herculean endeavor requiring extra-ordinary 
efforts by a team of talented and committed human rights 
officers at U.S. Embassies around the world, and by their 
counterparts in Washington, D.C., including the dedicated staff 
in the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor. Each 
country team collects, analyzes, and synthesizes information 
from a variety of sources, including domestic and international 
human rights organizations, other governments, multilateral 
organizations, and members of civil society. Once the reports 
are drafted, they are rigorously edited, reviewed, and fact-
checked, to ensure accuracy and objectivity.

                           COUNTRY HIGHLIGHTS

    In 2010, governments around the world continued to commit 
severe human rights violations and abuses. The paragraphs below 
describe the human rights situation and key trends in specific 
countries where abuses were especially serious. We also 
highlight Ukraine, where in 2010 there was backsliding after 
positive developments in previous years. The section begins 
with a discussion of several countries--Colombia, Guinea, 
Indonesia--that are highlighted for notable positive human 
rights developments in 2010.
    Colombia is a country where there were notable improvements 
in the human rights situation in 2010. Soon after taking office 
in August, President Santos and his administration strengthened 
the government's relationship with civil society and human 
rights defenders, holding high-level consultative sessions, 
publicly expressing support for human rights defenders and 
engaging them in dialogue, and supporting efforts to increase 
penalties for threats and violence against human rights 
defenders. The government advanced a Land and Victims' Law to 
provide for land restitution and victims' reparations. 
Extrajudicial executions decreased substantially from 2008 and 
2009, and several senior military officers were convicted of 
human rights abuses. Some human rights abuses continued, such 
as some threats against human rights defenders and trade 
unionists. The Ministry of Defense began implementing an 
agreement with the office of the UN High Commissioner for Human 
Rights to monitor ministry measures to improve adherence to 
human rights.
    In December 2010, Guinea inaugurated its first 
democratically elected president since independence from France 
in 1958. The people selected longtime opposition leader Alpha 
Conde, the candidate of the Rally of the Guinean People Party, 
as their president following two rounds of elections. Although 
there was some violence following the second round, the 
elections generally were regarded as free and fair.
    Respect for human rights in Indonesia continued to improve 
in 2010, 12 years after the country's transition to democracy. 
While weaknesses in the justice system persisted, President 
Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, democratically reelected in July 
2009, remained a strong proponent of the rule of law and 
accountability and civil society, and the media remained among 
the most vibrant in Asia. Professionalization of the military 
continued, although some serious human rights abuses by 
military personnel occurred, particularly in Papua, and 
punishments, when imposed, were often not commensurate with the 
crimes committed.
    Cote d'Ivoire ended 2010 in a standoff over the presidency, 
following October elections in which incumbent President 
Laurent Gbagbo, candidate of the Ivoirian People's Front, and 
opposition party leader Alassane Ouattara, candidate of the 
Rally for Republicans, advanced to the November 28 presidential 
run-off. On December 2, the Independent Electoral Commission 
declared Ouattara the winner with 54.1 percent of the vote as 
compared with 45.9 percent for Gbagbo. The election was 
declared fair and democratic by the UN and international and 
domestic observer missions. Gbagbo refused to accept the 
results, alleging voter fraud and intimidation in several 
regions, and both Ouattara and Gbagbo took oaths of office on 
December 3. At year's end, President Ouattara operated his 
government from the Golf Hotel in Abidjan under a blockade from 
pro-Gbgabo forces. Gbagbo retained control of state resources 
including the national television station, the security forces, 
and the treasury. There were credible reports of human rights 
abuses during this time. On December 16, security forces fired 
on supporters of President Ouattara during a demonstration 
march. At least 20 persons were killed, many more wounded, and 
hundreds arrested. In the one week period from December 15-22, 
the UN Operation in Cote d'Ivoire human rights division 
reported 173 persons killed, 90 subjected to torture and ill-
treatment, 471 others arbitrarily arrested and detained, and 24 
persons missing. The overwhelming majority of these cases of 
extrajudicial killings, torture, detention, and disappearance, 
were committed by security forces loyal to Gbagbo. Human rights 
violations which took place after December 31 are not 
documented in the 2010 report.
    Serious human rights abuses continued throughout the 
Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), particularly in the 
mineral rich, conflict-affected eastern and northeastern 
regions, where state authority remained non-existent or 
extremely weak. Human rights defenders have been intimidated, 
beaten, and, as in the case of prominent activist Floribert 
Chebeya, even killed. Armed entities-including elements of 
state security forces-perpetrated abuses with impunity and 
engaged in the illegal exploitation and trade of natural 
resources, particularly minerals. Revenues derived from the 
illicit trade in minerals, some of which supported armed 
conflict, fueled the continued insecurity in eastern DRC, 
aggravating an already precarious human rights situation. Rebel 
and militia groups in eastern DRC continued to engage in rape 
and looting campaigns in efforts to control communities 
residing near lucrative mining areas, and to reap mining-
related profits that sustained the conflict and attendant 
abuses. Credible sources such as the UN Group of Experts on the 
DRC presented information indicating that some Congolese and 
international corporations' supply chains originated with 
suppliers who traded with armed entities-including elements of 
the state security forces-that committed serious human rights 
    Nigeria continued to be plagued by serious human rights 
abuses during the year. Security services personnel, including 
police, military, and State Security Service officers, 
committed extrajudicial killings and tortured, beat, and abused 
demonstrators, criminal suspects, detainees, and convicted 
prisoners. The Joint Task Force, formed in 2003 to address the 
instability in the Niger Delta and consisting of military, 
police, and security services, conducted raids on militant 
groups and criminal suspects, resulting in numerous deaths and 
injuries to both alleged criminals and civilians. Corruption 
was pervasive at all levels of government and throughout the 
security forces. Ethno-religious violence also resulted in 
deaths and displacement during the year. Jos and the 
surrounding farmlands were the site of two major attacks in 
January and March. Up to 1,000 individuals, mostly women, 
children, and the elderly, were murdered, hacked to death, or 
burned alive.
    Violence continued in Sudan throughout 2010. Nationwide 
elections held in April were not deemed fair and free by the 
international community, and observers noted numerous problems 
throughout the process. In Darfur, fighting involving 
government, government-aligned militias, rebel groups, and 
ethnic groups continued to kill, injure, and displace 
civilians. This violence killed 2,321 persons during the year, 
according to the UN, an increase compared with the 875 persons 
killed in 2009. The government continued to conduct aerial 
bombardment. Gender-based violence, the use of child soldiers, 
and the obstruction of humanitarian organizations and the 
United Nations-African Union Hybrid Mission in Darfur continued 
to be problems. The government harassed, arrested, and beat 
civil society members in the north. In Southern Sudan, 
interethnic fighting and Lord's Resistance Army attacks 
continued to kill and displace civilians. According to UN 
estimates, violence in the south resulted in an estimated 986 
deaths and the displacement of 223,708 persons during the year. 
Registration for the 2011 Southern Sudan self-determination 
referendum occurred in November and December. Lack of progress 
on preparations for a separate referendum on whether the border 
region of Abyei should be part of the north or the south led to 
sporadic violence and rising tensions in the area.
    In Zimbabwe, security forces, police, and Zimbabwe African 
National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF)-dominated elements of 
the government continued to commit numerous, serious human 
rights violations with impunity, including torture, against 
non-ZANU-PF political activists and party members, student 
leaders, and civil society activists. ZANU-PF's dominant 
control and manipulation of the political process through 
trumped-up charges and arbitrary arrest, intimidation, and 
corruption effectively negated the right of citizens to change 
their government. Although there were fewer incidents in the 
first half of 2010, expectations that elections would be held 
in 2011 led to an increase in the number of cases of harassment 
and intimidation of civil society organizations and members of 
the media toward the end of the reporting period. The 
government continued to use repressive laws to suppress freedom 
of speech, including for members of the press, assembly, 
association, and movement. Military forces and other government 
agents also continued abuses in the Marange diamond fields.
East Asia and the Pacific
    Despite the release of Aung San Suu Kyi, over 2,100 
political prisoners remained in custody in Burma at the end of 
2010. Many civil society activists were detained indefinitely 
and without charges, and regime-sponsored organizations engaged 
in harassment and abuse of human rights and prodemocracy 
activists. The government routinely infringed on individual 
privacy and restricted the freedoms of speech, press, assembly, 
association, religion, and movement. The government did not 
allow domestic human rights NGOs to function independently, and 
international NGOs encountered a difficult environment. The 
fall 2010 elections were neither free nor fair. The government 
continued its tight control of the activities of Buddhist 
clergy. Military forces in Burma continued to commit egregious 
abuses and violations against civilians in ethnic minority 
regions. These abuses included rape, torture, forced 
relocation, and forced labor. Violence and societal 
discrimination against women and minority religious communities 
continued, as did unlawful recruitment of child soldiers and 
trafficking in persons, particularly of women and girls. 
Workers' rights remained restricted and forced labor, including 
that of children, also persisted.
    In Cambodia, members of security forces, acting with 
impunity, committed arbitrary killings. Human rights monitors 
reported arbitrary arrests and prolonged pretrial detention, 
underscoring a weak judiciary and denial of the right to a fair 
trial. Restrictions continued on freedom of assembly and 
expression, including for members of the press, and there was a 
growing abuse of defamation and disinformation lawsuits 
targeting opposition voices. Civil society expressed 
significant concern that the draft Law on Associations and NGOs 
could, if adopted, seriously constrain the ability of NGOs to 
operate. The draft law released in December included provisions 
that would impose burdensome reporting requirements on NGOs, 
prevent associations with fewer than 21(later reduced to a 
still-onerous 11) members from attaining legal status, erect 
burdensome barriers to the registration of foreign NGOs, 
require foreign NGOs to collaborate with the government, and 
outlaw unregistered NGOs. Anti-union activity by employers and 
weak enforcement of labor laws continued, and exploitative 
child labor in the informal sector remained a problem.
    In China, the negative trend in key areas of human rights 
continued. The government stepped up restrictions on lawyers, 
activists, bloggers, and journalists; tightened controls on 
civil society; and increased attempts to limit freedom of 
speech and control the press, the Internet, and Internet access 
in 2010. Authorities also increased the use of extralegal 
measures, including forced disappearances, strict house arrest, 
arbitrary detention in ``black jails,'' and other forms of 
``soft detention'' to silence independent voices and punish 
activists and their families. Legal activist Chen Guangcheng, 
along with his wife and child, remained under house arrest, as 
did other released political prisoners. Public interest 
lawyers, who operated within China's legal framework, were 
disbarred, beaten, or ``disappeared'' for taking on the defense 
of clients and issues deemed sensitive by the government. 
Bloggers and Web masters have been arrested and charged with 
``subverting state power'' for re-tweeting a post or operating 
a Web site where others posted comments. The government also 
continued its severe cultural and religious repression of 
ethnic minorities in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region and 
Tibetan areas.
    In North Korea, the human rights situation remained grim. 
During the year, the government maintained tight control over 
the flow of information into and out of the country. The 
government denied its citizens the right to due process and 
arbitrarily arrested and detained individuals, including for 
political crimes. Defectors and NGOs indicated that severe and 
systematic human rights abuses occurred throughout the 
country's extensive network of prisons and detention centers. 
In addition, the government continued to enforce rigid controls 
over the freedoms of speech, press, assembly, association, 
religion, and movement and worker rights. There were no 
independent domestic human rights monitoring organizations, and 
the government denied international organizations and foreign 
NGOs access, making it impossible to assess accurately the true 
scope of the abuses occurring in the country or the validity of 
these reports.
    The government of Vietnam continued to suppress dissent, 
tightened controls over the press, and limited the freedoms of 
expression, assembly, movement, and association. Individuals 
were arbitrarily detained for political activities and denied 
the right to fair and expeditious trials. The government 
arrested at least 25 political activists, convicted 14 
dissidents arrested in 2008, 2009, and 2010, and denied the 
appeals of another 10 dissidents convicted at the end of 2009. 
The judicial system was strongly distorted by political 
influence, endemic corruption, and inefficiency. Freedom of 
religion continued to be subject to uneven interpretation and 
protection, particularly at the provincial and village levels. 
Internet freedom was further restricted as the government 
orchestrated attacks against critical Web sites and spied on 
dissident bloggers. The government limited workers' rights to 
form and join independent unions.
    Authorities in Belarus arbitrarily arrested, detained, and 
imprisoned prodemocracy activists, journalists, and civil 
society representatives. In the wake of December 2010's flawed 
presidential election, authorities initiated a broad crackdown 
against demonstrators, detaining close to 700 persons and 
raiding offices and apartments belonging to members of 
independent media, NGOs, and the political opposition. Over 40 
individuals, including several presidential candidates, now 
face up to 15 years in jail. Through its detentions and trials, 
the government of Belarus continually is creating new political 
prisoners. The judiciary lacked independence and suffered from 
corruption, inefficiency, and political interference; trial 
outcomes were often predetermined, and many trials were 
conducted behind closed doors. Official corruption throughout 
the government continued to be a problem.
    In Russia, the government infringed on freedom of 
expression, assembly, and association, detaining certain 
demonstrators and continuing to pressure select NGOs, 
independent media, some religious minorities, independent labor 
unions, and political opposition. Attacks on and the murder of 
journalists and activists continued. There were reports of 
physical abuse by law enforcement, military hazing deaths, and 
harsh prison conditions. Rule of law and due process violations 
remained a problem, and government corruption was widespread. 
Xenophobic, racial, and ethnic attacks and hate crimes 
continued to be a significant problem. The conflict between the 
government and insurgents, Islamist militants, and criminal 
forces in the North Caucasus led to numerous human rights 
violations by all parties, which reportedly engaged in killing, 
torture, abuse, violence, and politically motivated abductions.
    In Ukraine, despite beginning with free and fair 
presidential elections, the overall trend for 2010 was negative 
due to problematic local elections, intimidation of the media, 
and perceived selective prosecution of opposition figures. 
International and domestic observers found the October local 
elections did not reach the same standards of the presidential 
election, citing the registration of fraudulent opposition 
candidate lists, government pressure against election monitors 
and candidates, and election officials selectively barring or 
removing candidates from ballots- all prompting concern about 
the government's planned next steps for election reform. In 
addition, there were numerous reports that authorities 
attempted to direct media content and intimidate journalists. 
Although the government took steps in 2009 to better combat 
corruption, the international community expressed concern that 
politics motivated the new government's 2010 criminal 
investigation of 30 members of the previous government for 
alleged corruption; several of these people were detained and 
subsequently charged.
Near East
    Political tensions flared in the weeks preceding the 
October elections in Bahrain. The government arrested more than 
200 Shia men it accused of inciting or involvement in street 
violence. Those arrested included some, but not all, of the 
leaders of two groups, Haq and Wafa', which reject the monarchy 
and had called for a boycott of the elections. The government 
charged 23 of those arrested with involvement in a ``terror 
network'' pursuant to the 2006 counterterrorism law. The 
electoral process also was marred by the government's banning 
of the two main legal opposition parties' Web sites and 
newsletters. The government did not allow international 
observers to monitor the elections. The government also 
continued to restrict freedom of assembly and association. 
Security forces intervened in demonstrations and limited and 
controlled political gatherings during the year. NGOs and civil 
society groups were required to register with the government 
and provide membership lists. In September, the Ministry of 
Social Development effectively shuttered a local human rights 
organization, Bahrain Human Rights Society, when a ministerial 
decree ordered the dissolution of the society's board of 
directors and appointed a ministry employee to be the group's 
interim head.
    According to multiple sources, the Government of Iran 
executed approximately 312 persons in summary executions during 
the year, many after trials that were conducted in secret and/
or did not provide due process. In many cases, persons executed 
supposedly for criminal offenses such as narcotics trafficking 
were actually political dissidents. Authorities held political 
prisoners and continued to crack down on women's rights 
reformers, ethnic minority rights activists, student activists, 
and religious minorities. There was little judicial 
independence and few fair public trials. The government 
severely restricted the right to privacy and civil liberties, 
including freedoms of expression, including for members of the 
press, assembly, association, and movement, and it placed 
severe restrictions on freedom of religion. Vigilantes 
continued to attack young persons considered ``un-Islamic'' in 
their dress or activities, invade private homes, abuse 
unmarried couples, and disrupt concerts. Violence and legal and 
societal discrimination against women, children, ethnic and 
religious minorities, and LGBT persons persisted.
    While the credible and legitimate national parliamentary 
elections in all 18 provinces on March 7 reflected a 
significant achievement in advancing the exercise of human 
rights, extremist violence, coupled with weak government 
performance in upholding the rule of law, resulted in 
widespread and severe human rights abuses in Iraq. There were 
reports that the government or its agents committed numerous 
arbitrary or unlawful killings, arbitrary detentions, and acts 
of torture connected to its security operations, often with 
impunity. Attacks by al-Qaida in Iraq and other extremists 
continued against Iraqi Security Forces (ISF), government 
officials, and civilians, often targeting urban areas, 
Christian churches, Shia markets, and mosques. On May 10, 
coordinated bombings and shootings resulted in at least 119 
fatalities, including ISF and law enforcement personnel. On 
August 17, a suicide bomber blew himself up in a crowd of army 
recruits in Baghdad, killing 61 persons. During the year, 962 
Ministry of Interior personnel were killed and 1,347 were 
injured. Police officers, in particular, were targeted.
    In Libya, Colonel al-Qadhafi and his close associates 
monopolized every aspect of decision-making in the government. 
Continuing human rights problems included torture, arbitrary 
arrest, official impunity, and poor prison conditions. A large 
but unknown number of persons remained in detention or prison 
for engaging in peaceful political activity or for belonging to 
an illegal political organization. The government significantly 
restricted media freedom and continued to restrict freedom of 
expression, and routinely monitored telephone calls and 
Internet usage, including e-mail communication with foreign 
countries. There also was physical surveillance of political 
activists and foreign organizations. The government owned and 
controlled virtually all print and broadcast media, and 
government-controlled media neither published nor broadcast 
opinions inconsistent with official policy. The Internal 
Security Organization routinely harassed journalists, and 
overly broad provisions of the penal code served as the basis 
for frequent charges of criminal defamation. The government 
severely restricted freedom of assembly and permitted public 
assembly only with advance approval. The government restricted 
the right of association and generally only allowed 
institutions affiliated with the government to operate; no NGOs 
functioned in the country. In the early months of 2011, 
protests erupted across Libya. Because they occurred outside of 
the reporting period, they are not documented in the 2010 
    In Syria, security forces committed unlawful killings, 
detained political and human rights activists, and tortured and 
physically abused prisoners and detainees with impunity. The 
government also imprisoned several high-profile members of the 
human rights and civil society communities, in addition to the 
estimated 2,500-3,000 political prisoners previously detained. 
Lengthy pretrial and incommunicado detention remained a serious 
problem, and the courts systematically used ``confessions'' 
extracted under duress as evidence. Defendants' claims of 
torture were almost never investigated. The government severely 
restricted universal freedoms of expression, assembly and 
association, religion, and movement.
South and Central Asia
    An increasingly difficult security situation in Afghanistan 
resulted in a number of serious human rights abuses. Civilians 
continued to suffer from intensified armed conflict as 
conflict-related deaths increased by 15 percent during the year 
compared to 2009. Government and progovernment international 
forces were responsible for civilian deaths, specifically 16 
percent of total civilian deaths. Human Rights Watch reported 
that timely and transparent inquiries or accountability of 
forces in the event of wrong-doing were often lacking when 
civilians were hurt or killed. Taliban and insurgent attacks, 
including politically targeted killings, escalated in both 
number and intensity. At least 30 individuals were killed on 
September 18, the day of parliamentary elections, and the 
Taliban claimed responsibility for killing three candidates 
during the campaign period between July and August. In August, 
five campaign workers supporting Fauwzia Gilani in Herat were 
abducted and killed. There were also attacks on election 
officials. The elections themselves were marred by electoral 
fraud and widespread irregularities, including the 
establishment of a special tribunal to investigate the election 
results and complaints; low voter turnout; and insufficient 
conditions for participation by women. The government was 
plagued by official impunity and corruption and often failed to 
conduct effective investigations of human rights abuses 
committed by local security forces. Arbitrary arrest and 
detention remained a problem, and the judiciary lacked 
independence. Freedom of religion, including the right to 
change one's religion, was severely restricted. Women continued 
to face pervasive human rights abuses, including violence, 
insurgent attacks on girls' education, limited access to 
justice, and other limitations on their rights.
    In Pakistan, allegations of extrajudicial killings and 
detention of civilians by the security forces were reported by 
several media outlets and NGOs. During the year, there was a 
significant increase in the total number of reported torture 
and rape cases of individuals in custody, almost double as 
compared to 2009. The Society for Human Rights and Prisoners' 
Aid reported 72 civilian deaths after encounters with police 
and 168 deaths in jails, an increase from the previous year. 
Militant and terrorist bombings in all four provinces and in 
Federally Administered Tribal Areas continued to result in 
deaths and injuries. According to the report, terrorist and 
extremist attacks and operations to combat terrorism and 
extremism resulted in 7,400 deaths, of which nearly 1,800 were 
civilians, over 450 were security forces, and over 5,100 were 
terrorists or insurgents. There were numerous reports of 
politically motivated killings in Karachi and Balochistan. 
According to a report by Dawn, 1,981 persons were killed in 
political violence in Karachi, of which 748 were targeted 
killings. According to Human Rights Watch, the targeted killing 
and disappearance of Baloch leaders, activists, and civilians 
increased in 2010. Religious freedom violations and violence 
and discrimination against religious minorities continued. Some 
people accused of blasphemy against Islam were sentenced to 
life imprisonment or capital punishment. One of them was Aasia 
Bibi, a Christian woman, who was sentenced to death in 
November, becoming the first woman to receive such a harsh 
sentence for blasphemy.
    Uzbekistan continued to incarcerate individuals on 
political grounds. While one political prisoner, human rights 
activist Farhad Mukhtarov, was released during the year, 13 to 
25 political prisoners remained in custody, and family members 
reported that many prisoners were tortured. Human rights 
activists, their family members, and members of certain 
religious groups reported harassment and arrest by police and 
other members of the security forces. Freedom of expression was 
severely limited and harassment of journalists increased during 
the year. Police and security services subjected print and 
broadcast journalists to arrest, intimidation, and violence, as 
well as to bureaucratic restrictions on their activity. The 
criminal and administrative codes imposed significant fines for 
libel and defamation and the government used charges of libel, 
slander, and defamation to punish journalists, human rights 
activists, and others who criticized the president or the 
government. Freedom of association also was restricted. The 
government tightly controlled NGO activity and regulated 
Islamic and minority religious groups with strict legal 
restrictions on the types of groups that could be formed and 
registered. Forced adult and child labor was used during the 
cotton harvest.
Western Hemisphere
    The government of Cuba released more than 40 political 
prisoners during the reporting period, including many notable 
human rights activists arrested in 2003, although most were 
released on the condition that they leave the country. Cuba 
continued to hold dozens of other political prisoners. The 
government suppressed human rights and fundamental freedoms, 
including freedom of speech, the press, assembly and 
association, movement, and religion. Human rights groups noted 
a marked increase in the use of short-term detentions designed 
to disrupt the work of civil society and harass activists. In 
addition, the government continued to stage public protests to 
harass and abuse activists and their families, particularly the 
Damas de Blanco (``Ladies in White''). Although the government 
characterized the mobs as spontaneous, participants frequently 
arrived in government-owned vehicles or were recruited by local 
Communist Party leaders from nearby workplaces or schools. In 
extreme cases, government-orchestrated mobs assaulted these 
individuals or damaged their homes or property. Members of the 
security forces monitored, harassed, and sometimes physically 
assaulted human rights and prodemocracy advocates, dissidents, 
independent journalists, detainees, and prisoners, and did so 
with impunity. The government did not recognize independent 
journalism, and subjected some independent journalists to 
travel bans, detentions, harassment, equipment seizures, and 
threats of imprisonment. Unauthorized assemblies of more than 
three persons can be punished by up to three months in prison 
and a fine, although these meetings were more likely to be 
broken up than prosecuted.
    Respect for human rights and democratic institutions 
deteriorated over the past year in Nicaragua. Protesting 
opposition party members were denied freedom of assembly. March 
2010 regional elections on the Caribbean coast were marred by 
allegations of widespread irregularities, and credible domestic 
NGOs were denied permission to monitor the election. Other 
issues include politicization of the judiciary and other 
government organs, substantial government interference with 
media freedom, and harassment of NGOs and journalists. Police 
did not protect demonstrators who protested government policies 
and allowed progovernment groups to engage in violent 
activities. The government continued to criticize religious 
leaders who expressed concerns about government practices and 
policies that affected public participation and democratic 
freedoms. Government officials publicly excoriated Catholic 
Church officials who denounced the manipulation of the 
electoral process.
    In Venezuela, the government used the judiciary to 
intimidate and persecute individuals and organizations that 
criticized government policies or actions, including peaceful 
protesters, journalists, a judge, members of opposition 
political parties, NGOs, union and business leaders, and 
ordinary citizens. Government officials also restricted freedom 
of expression, harassing and intimidating privately owned 
television stations, media outlets, and journalists through 
threats, property seizures, targeted regulations, and criminal 
investigations and prosecutions. In late December the National 
Assembly adopted a package of laws that further undermined 
democratic principles and practices in Venezuela, including a 
law delegating legislative authority to the executive that 
extended beyond the term of office of the outgoing National 
Assembly, in violation of the shared values of the Inter-
American Democratic Charter, and laws imposing new restrictions 
on the independent media, the Internet, political parties, and 

                       NEAR EAST AND NORTH AFRICA



    Algeria is a multiparty republic of approximately 36 million 
citizens whose head of state and government (president) is elected by 
popular vote for a five-year term. The president has the constitutional 
authority to appoint and dismiss cabinet members and the prime 
minister. A 2008 constitutional amendment eliminated presidential term 
limits, and in April 2009 President Abdelaziz Bouteflika won reelection 
to his third term in office. Some opposition parties boycotted the 
election, arguing that restrictions on freedom of association skewed 
the election outcome in favor of the incumbent. While the state of 
emergency law implemented in 1992 remained in effect during the year, 
the Government concentrated its enforcement on the provisions 
restricting assembly and association. Security forces reported to 
civilian authorities.
    Principal human rights problems included restrictions on freedom of 
assembly and association, which significantly impaired political party 
activities and limited citizens' ability to change the Government 
peacefully through elections. There were reports of arbitrary killings. 
Failures to account for persons who disappeared in the 1990s and to 
address the demands of victims' families remained problematic. There 
were reports of official impunity, overuse of pretrial detention, poor 
prison conditions, abuse of prisoners, and lack of judicial 
independence. Additionally, widespread corruption accompanied reports 
of limited government transparency. Authorities used security grounds 
to constrain freedom of expression and movement. Women faced violence 
and discrimination, and the Government maintained restrictions on 
workers' rights.
    Terrorist groups committed a significant number of attacks against 
government officials, members of security forces, and, to a lesser 
extent, civilians.

                        RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS

Section 1. Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom 
    a. Arbitrary or Unlawful Deprivation of Life.--There were reports 
that the Government or its agents committed arbitrary or unlawful 
    On June 2, a mentally disabled man, Nouradine Nadri, died in police 
custody in Saida province, according to the Algerian League for the 
Defense of Human Rights' (LADDH) Saida province office. Police arrested 
Nadri following an altercation with the driver of a vehicle that 
accidentally struck him. According to LADDH, police brought Nadri to 
the province's security headquarters instead of transporting him to the 
hospital as stipulated by article 51 of the code of criminal 
procedures, which requires a medical examination before placing a 
suspect in custody. Nadri's family reported to LADDH that their son 
died following abuse by police.
    Information on terrorism-related violence in the country was 
difficult to verify independently. The Ministry of Interior 
sporadically released information concerning the total number of 
terrorist, civilian, and security force deaths. During the year 
security forces killed, injured, or arrested approximately 1,935 
suspected terrorists. According to press reports on official estimates, 
the total number of deaths was 619: suspected terrorists killed 65 
civilians and 91 security force members, and security forces killed an 
estimated 463 suspected terrorists in military sweep operations that 
resulted in armed clashes. These numbers represent a decrease from the 
804 deaths reported in 2009.
    Most terrorist attacks during the year were attributed to the 
terrorist group al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), which emerged 
in 2007 after the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat allied itself 
with al-Qaida in 2006.
    The year was marked by some violence. For example, on April 4, a 
terrorist attack killed seven communal guards in the eastern province 
of Bejaia. On June 12, a car bomb attack against a unit of the National 
Gendarmerie in Ammal between Boumerdes and Bouira left four security 
force members dead and at least 17 wounded. An AQIM terrorist killed 11 
gendarmes on June 29 during an ambush in Tinzaouatin in the province of 
Tamanrasset in the Algerian-Malian border area. AQIM claimed 
responsibility for all of these attacks. Former minister of interior 
Noureddine Zerhouni stated in 2008 that an estimated 400 terrorists 
operated in the country; the figure remained the most recent one 

    b. Disappearance.--Enforced disappearances, reportedly numbering in 
the thousands, were a significant problem during the 1990s and 
continued to be a topic covered in the media and raised by local and 
international nongovernmental organizations (NGOs). The Government on 
August 26 listed the official number of disappeared cases as 6,544, 
which represented a significant reduction in the official number 
reported in previous years. During a March 2009 conference in Geneva, 
representatives of the Government's human rights advisory office, the 
National Consultative Commission for the Promotion and Protection of 
Human Rights (CNCPPDH), stated that 8,023 persons remained missing or 
disappeared as a result of government actions between 1992 and 1999. In 
previous years the Government attributed 10,000 disappearances to 
terrorist kidnappings and murder. NGOs reported that security forces in 
the past played a role in the disappearances of approximately 8,000 
    The law provides measures for compensating victims of 
disappearances. For courts to hear charges of disappearance, the law 
requires at least two eyewitnesses. Many of the disappearances in the 
1990s were in later years attributed to the security forces; however, 
the Government did not prosecute security force personnel, and there 
was no evidence that the Government investigated cases it acknowledged 
security forces caused.
    In 2005 voters approved by referendum President Bouteflika's 
proposed Charter for Peace and National Reconciliation, which ended the 
Ad Hoc Mechanism established in 2003 to account for the disappeared. 
The charter went into effect in 2006, granting amnesty to and 
preventing investigation into the conduct of the National Popular Army, 
the security forces, state-sponsored armed groups, and persons who 
fought on behalf of the Government during episodes of civil strife in 
the 1990s. On February 2, the Government added two additional 
provisions to the charter. The first provision stipulates that 3,455 
public employees who were dismissed from their jobs for violent acts 
they committed in the 1990s would have the years they were out of their 
jobs counted towards their retirement pensions. The second provision 
allows families of the disappeared who filed claims after the original 
2006 deadline to claim compensation. The amnesty also covered certain 
persons involved in Islamist militant and terrorist activities. Persons 
implicated in mass killings, rapes, or bomb attacks in public places 
were not eligible for amnesty. Some local NGOs, including SOS Disparus, 
Djazairouna, and LADDH, criticized the charter for enabling terrorists 
to escape justice and security forces for acting with impunity.
    On January 11, the local human rights NGO Alkarama presented to the 
Government human rights commission the disappearance case of Lakhdar 
Bouzenia, who was allegedly arrested by security forces in 1993 and 
tortured. The case remained unresolved at year's end.
    In a February 2009 report, the UN Human Rights Council Working 
Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances stated that in 2008 it 
transmitted to the Government 768 cases of disappearances that were 
reportedly attributed to government forces between 1992 and 1999. Also 
in 2008 the UN Committee Against Torture (UNCAT) reported its concerns 
that Law 06-01 provides impunity for members of armed groups and state 
officials and that the Government had not yet initiated proceedings to 
investigate the fate of the disappeared. UNCAT also expressed concern 
that the Government had not publicized the criteria for compensating 
family members and required those compensated to waive their right to 
seek civil damages against the state.
    Families of the disappeared reportedly experienced complications 
and delays in receiving compensation. In September 2009 then minister 
of national solidarity Ould Abbes stated the Government had paid 11 
billion dinars (approximately $149 million) in compensation to 
families. According to the Government, as of the end of 2008, 25,316 
claims had been filed for compensation under the charter. Authorities 
approved 13,866 claims and paid compensation on 12,339 of these claims. 
In August the Government revised that number, reporting that only 6,544 
persons disappeared in the 1990s and that families in 6,420 of the 
cases previously received financial compensation.
    Armed criminals conducted abuses against civilians including 
kidnappings, false checkpoints, and extortion, particularly in areas 
east of Algiers and in the southern portion of the country. In 2008 
then interior minister Zerhouni reported that 115 of 375 kidnapping 
cases in the previous two years were related to terrorism.

    c. Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or 
Punishment.--The law prohibits such practices; however, NGO and local 
human rights activists reported that government officials sometimes 
employed abusive treatment to obtain confessions. Government agents can 
face prison sentences of between 10 and 20 years for committing such 
acts, and some individuals were tried and convicted in 2008. 
Nonetheless, impunity remained a problem.
    Local human rights lawyers maintained that abusive treatment 
occurred in detention facilities, most often against those arrested on 
``security grounds.''
    Amnesty International (AI) and other international organizations 
documented the mistreatment of terror suspects, where they have been 
``held in unrecognized places of detention without contact with the 
outside world, at times for prolonged periods, putting them at risk of 
    There were three reports of police abuse during the year.
    In mid-April guards at El Harrach prison insulted Khalouf Fares, 
Nour Abdel Aziz, Yaakoub Bilal, and Karman Hurfi, who were awaiting 
trial on terrorism-related charges, according to AI. The men were also 
stripped naked in front of other detainees and guards and slapped.
    On October 22, a police inspector in Setif received a 10-year 
prison sentence and a 50,000-dinar fine ($677) for abusing his 
authority and fraud.
    On November 11, a police officer was arrested in the wilaya 
(province) of Batna for allegedly sexually assaulting a woman in her 
home. The case was pending at year's end.
    During a September 2009 visit to El Harrach prison, Minister of 
Justice Tayeb Belaiz stated that the ministry had prosecuted and jailed 
14 prison workers for mistreating prisoners in 2009.
    AI and Human Rights Watch claimed that prisoners affiliated with 
hard-line Islamic organizations tended to receive harsher treatment 
than others. In 2008 Alkarama reported that after a protest by inmates 
related to prayer room space, prison guards handcuffed, stripped, and 
beat approximately 80 prisoners with iron bars and sticks. There were 
no reports of any such allegations after 2008.
    In October the World Organization Against Torture reported 
allegations of torture in the case of Abderrahamane Mehalli, who was 
reportedly mistreated by the Department of Intelligence and Security 
(DRS) immediately following his 2006 arrest. Mehalli, accused of 
belonging to an armed terrorist group, was punched and kicked and 
suffered simulated drowning at the hands of the DRS according to online 

    Prison and Detention Center Conditions.--Prison conditions 
generally did not meet international standards, and the Government did 
not permit visits to military, high-security, or standard prison 
facilities or to detention centers by independent human rights 
observers. Overcrowding remained a problem in many prisons. According 
to human rights lawyers, prison overpopulation was partially explained 
by the Government's excessive use of pretrial detention. In 2008 the 
CNCPPDH conducted 34 prison visits and highlighted concerns with 
overcrowding, insufficient bed space, and problems with lighting, 
ventilation, nutrition, and hygiene.
    According to the director general of the Prisons Administration, 
there were 58,000 prisoners in the country's penal system held in 137 
prisons. Prisons held men and women separately. In some cases 
overcrowding meant that juveniles were held with adults; however, in 
general the Government maintained separate juvenile detention centers. 
Pretrial detainees were held separately from convicted prisoners.
    Prisoners were permitted weekly visits by their families; family 
members have the right to bring in food and clothes. Prisoners were 
permitted religious observance and had a place to perform prayers. All 
Muslim religious days were celebrated within prisons. In each prison 
inmates can submit complaints to the penitentiary administration or 
their lawyers. Follow-up on complaints, and investigation, can take 
time based on the content of the complaint, urgency, and the conditions 
of prisoner detention.
    During the year the Government permitted the International 
Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the Red Crescent Society to visit 
regular, nonmilitary prisons. ICRC visits to persons held in places of 
detention run by the Ministry of Justice and to those detained in 
police stations and gendarmeries were carried out in accordance with 
ICRC standard practices. Visitors to some prisons saw no signs of 
torture or mistreatment. Observers also noted an improved quality of 
medical care available to inmates in some prisons.
    In April 2009 an amendment to the penal code permitted the 
substitution of community service for prison sentences for first-time 
offenders with a maximum prison sentence of three years. Authorities 
reiterated in July that the new law was designed to reduce recidivism 
and to alleviate overcrowding in prisons. An ombudsman does not exist 
to serve on behalf of prisoners or detainees.
    In a 2008 report, UNCAT expressed concern over reports that the 
DRS, the intelligence agency tasked with internal security, maintained 
secret detention centers inside military barracks that operated outside 
judicial authority. During the year AI reported significant concerns 
that torture and abuse occurred in DRS facilities.

    d. Arbitrary Arrest or Detention.--The constitution prohibits 
arbitrary arrest and detention; however, overuse of pretrial detention 
occurred in practice. In 2008 the head of the Government-appointed 
CNCPPDH stated the abuse of pretrial detention tarnished the image of 
the country's justice system.
    The head of the CNCPPDH explained in August that judicial error 
resulted in cases of ``unjustified'' pretrial detention due to a lack 
of incriminating evidence. On December 7, CNCPPDH president Farouk 
Ksentini cited his organization's 2009 human rights report in noting 
that ``physical abuse and other brutalities'' were committed against 
suspects during questioning and in pretrial detention.

    Role of the Police and Security Apparatus.--The national police 
force, consisting of more than 140,000 members, falls under the control 
of the Ministry of Interior and has national jurisdiction. The National 
Gendarmerie, under the Ministry of Defense, also performs police-like 
functions outside urban areas. Organizationally the DRS reports to the 
Ministry of Defense and exercises internal security functions, but it 
also performs functions comparable to the police in terrorism cases.
    Impunity remained a problem. The Government did not always provide 
public information on the numbers, infractions, or punishments of 
police, military, or other security force personnel.
    The criminal code provides mechanisms to investigate abuses.
    On December 14, a 41-year-old man died in police custody under 
suspicious circumstances in Constantine. The man was found strangled in 
his cell the morning after his detention. A week after the death, local 
residents rioted in the streets. On December 27, national police 
director General Abdelghani Hamel said during a radio interview that 
police officers had been placed under investigation for not following 
procedures (removing the man's shoelaces) prior to the man's 
incarceration and that he likely committed suicide.

    Arrest Procedures and Treatment While in Detention.--According to 
the law, the police must obtain a summons from the Prosecutor's Office 
to require a suspect to appear in a police station for preliminary 
questioning. Summonses also are used to notify and require the accused 
and the victim to attend a court proceeding or hearing.
    Police may make arrests without a warrant if they witness the 
offense. Public lawyers reported that procedures for warrants and 
summonses were usually carried out properly.
    The constitution specifies that a suspect may be held in detention 
for up to 48 hours without charge. If more time is required for 
gathering additional evidence, the police may request that the 
prosecutor extend the suspect's detention to 72 hours. Those suspected 
of terrorism or subversion may be held legally for 12 days without 
charge or access to counsel under the law. Such individuals are 
obligated to answer questions posed to them by security forces, and 
they are not authorized to contact anyone. By law the initial court 
appearance in terrorism matters is not public.
    At the end of the 12-day period, the detainee has the right to 
request a medical examination by a physician of choice within the 
jurisdiction of the court. Otherwise the judicial police appoint a 
doctor. The certificate of the medical examination is then entered into 
the detainee's file.
    AI and other human rights groups expressed concerns about abuse and 
possible torture of suspects during this 12-day period. However, 
comments from numerous Guantanamo Bay detainees returned to the country 
and their lawyers indicated that these individuals received fair 
pretrial treatment in accordance with the law during the 12-day period.
    Following the 12-day period, individuals involved in terrorism 
cases are placed under judicial control, which requires them to report 
weekly to a local police precinct and to reside at an agreed-upon 
address. Travel within the country is unrestricted. Travel abroad is 
not generally authorized.
    Prolonged pretrial detention remained a problem. The law does not 
provide a person in detention the right to a prompt judicial 
determination of the legality of the detention. Persons charged with 
acts against the security of the state, including terrorism, may be 
held in pretrial detention as long as 20 months according to the penal 
code; the prosecutor must show cause every four months for continuing 
pretrial detention. According to local NGOs, pretrial detainees 
represented 11-12 percent of individuals held by prison authorities 
during the year.
    Judges rarely refused prosecutorial requests for extending 
preventive detention, which by law can be appealed. Should the 
detention be overturned, the defendant has the right to request 
    There is no system of bail, but in nonfelony cases, suspects were 
often released on provisional liberty referred to as ``judicial 
control'' while awaiting trial. Under provisional liberty status, 
suspects are required to report weekly to the police station in their 
district and are forbidden to leave the country.
    Most detainees have prompt access to a lawyer of their choice, and 
the Government provides legal counsel to indigent detainees. The penal 
code requires that detainees in pretrial detention are informed 
immediately of their rights to communicate with family members, receive 
visitors, and be examined by a doctor of their choice at the end of 
detention. In addition any suspect can request a medical examination 
once on police premises or before facing the judge. In practice there 
were continued reports during the year that these rights were not 
extended to all detainees. Typically detainees had access to a doctor 
only at the end of their detention. Some detainees were held 
incommunicado without access to their families or lawyers.
    Human rights advocates reported that authorities continued to hold 
Mohamed Rahmouni at the military tribunal in Blida on alleged terrorism 
charges but had granted him access to a lawyer. Rahmouni remained in 
prison at year's end.
    In 2009 a court acquitted Mohamed Fatmia of terrorism charges. 
Fatmia was detained in Serkadji prison in 2008 and was held 
incommunicado throughout 2007.

    e. Denial of Fair Public Trial.--The constitution provides for an 
independent judiciary; however, the president exercises supreme 
judicial authority, and the executive branch limited judicial 
independence. The constitution provides for the right to a fair trial; 
however, in practice authorities did not always respect legal 
provisions regarding defendants' rights.
    The High Judicial Council is responsible for judicial discipline 
and the appointment of all judges. President Bouteflika serves as the 
president of the council.
    Military courts in Oran, Blida, Constantine, and Bechar tried cases 
involving state security, espionage, and other security-related 
offenses involving military personnel and civilians. Each tribunal 
consisted of three civilian judges and two military judges. Although 
the president of each court was a civilian, the chief judge was a 
military officer. The permanent military court was composed of three 
members: a chairman (civilian magistrate from the civilian courts as 
president) and two assessors (from military personnel designated by the 
defense minister having at least the same rank of the defendant subject 
to trial).
    By law defense lawyers must be accredited by the military tribunal 
to appear. Public attendance at the trial is at the discretion of the 
tribunal and some cases took place behind closed doors. Appeals are 
made directly to the Supreme Court. Military tribunals try cases, but 
they only occasionally disclosed information on proceedings. There was 
no public information available on any cases that were tried before the 
tribunals during the year.
    The nine-member Constitutional Council reviews the 
constitutionality of treaties, laws, and regulations. Although the 
council is not part of the judiciary, it has the authority to nullify 
laws found unconstitutional, to confirm the results of any type of 
election, and to serve as the final arbiter of amendments that pass 
both chambers of the parliament before becoming law.

    Trial Procedures.--Defendants are presumed innocent and have the 
right to be present and to consult with an attorney, provided at public 
expense if necessary. Most trials are public and nonjury. Defendants 
can confront or question witnesses against them or present witnesses 
and evidence on their behalf. Defendants and their attorneys 
occasionally were denied access to government-held evidence relevant to 
their cases, but there were fewer reports of such incidents during the 
year. Defendants have the right to appeal. The testimony of men and 
women has equal weight under the law.

    Political Prisoners and Detainees.--There were no reports of 
political prisoners or detainees.

    Civil Judicial Procedures and Remedies.--The judiciary was neither 
fully independent nor impartial in civil matters and lacked 
independence in some human rights cases. Family connections and status 
of the parties involved reportedly influenced some decisions. 
Individuals may bring lawsuits, and there are administrative processes 
related to amnesty, which may provide damages for human rights 
violations and compensation for alleged wrongs.

    f. Arbitrary Interference With Privacy, Family, Home, or 
Correspondence.--The constitution prohibits such actions; however, in 
practice government authorities infringed on citizens' privacy rights. 
According to human rights activists, the Government monitored the 
communications of political opponents, journalists, human rights 
groups, and suspected terrorists. Security officials reportedly 
searched homes without a warrant.
Section 2. Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:
    a. Freedom of Speech and Press.--The constitution provides for 
freedom of speech and of the press; however, the Government restricted 
these rights in practice through accusations of defamation and informal 
pressure on publishers, editors, and journalists.
    Individuals generally were able to criticize the Government 
privately without reprisal. However, citizens self-censored public 
criticism. The Government attempted to impede criticism by monitoring 
political meetings.
    The law specifies that freedom of speech must respect ``individual 
dignity, the imperatives of foreign policy, and the national defense.'' 
The state of emergency decree, introduced in 1992, gives the Government 
broad authority to restrict civil liberties and take legal action 
against what it considers to be threats to the state or public order.
    A 2006 presidential decree continued to criminalize speech about 
the conduct of the security forces during the internal conflict of the 
    Radio and television were government-owned and frequently broadcast 
coverage favorable to the Government. During nonelection periods 
opposition parties and spokesmen regularly were denied access to public 
radio or television. Political parties and independent candidates 
received the same amount of radio access time during the three-week 
campaign period prior to the 2009 presidential election and prior to 
the 2007 legislative and local elections. Several opposition parties 
stated that their daily media allotment during the three-week period 
was the first time they had been allowed media access since the 
previous election cycle.
    The country's print media consisted of numerous publications that 
supported or opposed the Government to varying degrees. Many political 
parties, including legal Islamic parties, had access to the independent 
press and used it to express their views. Opposition parties also 
disseminated information via the Internet and published communiques.
    The law permits the Government to censor, levy fines, and imprison 
members of the press. The Government indirectly censored and 
intimidated the media into practicing self-censorship by using 
defamation laws to harass and arrest some journalists; some members of 
the press faced retaliation for criticizing government officials. Other 
journalists and many political cartoonists, however, regularly 
criticized the Government.
    The law defines defamation broadly, and the penal code imposes 
prison terms of up to 24 months and fines of 50,000 to 500,000 dinars 
($677 to $6,770). Defamation includes ``the insult'' of government 
figures, including the president, members of parliament, judges, 
members of the military, and ``any other authority of public order.'' 
Furthermore, a 1990 law protects Islam from defamation, controls access 
to external information, and outlaws writing that threatens national 
unity. In 2001 the Government amended laws to criminalize writing, 
cartoons, and speech that insult or offend the president, parliament, 
judiciary, or armed forces. Despite these regulations cartoonists and 
editorialists continued to enjoy some latitude in criticizing the 
    On January 25, the Government blocked the independent Paris-based 
Algerian radio station Radio Kalima from broadcasting its programs to 
the country via the European satellite operator Eutelsat, according to 
    In March Riad K., the correspondent of El Bilad in Chlef, received 
a two-month prison sentence after Senator Nourredine Belaredj filed a 
complaint following the September 2009 publication of an article 
criticizing the senator for corruption.
    Also in March the Court of Bir-Mourad Rais (Algiers) fined the 
publisher of Ennahar El Djadid, Anis Rahmani, 50,000 dinars ($677) 
following a complaint filed by the official news agency. He was accused 
of defamation.
    In May the mayor of Ain Boudinar filed a complaint against Belkacem 
Belhamideche, the managing director of La Reflexion newspaper, 
following the June 2009 publication of an article quoting an 
entrepreneur denouncing corruption. A court sentenced Belhamideche to 
six months in prison.
    The Government used defamation laws occasionally to pressure 
editors, journalists, and the owners of printing houses. In a 2009 
letter to President Bouteflika, the international NGO Committee to 
Protect Journalists expressed concern for ``the rising incidence of 
press freedom violations.'' In 2008 Reporters without Borders (RSF) 
criticized the defamation laws as ``repressive legislation.''
    Omar Belhouchet, editor of the French-language newspaper El-Watan, 
faced government pressure throughout the year for articles published in 
his newspaper in 2009. In 2008 authorities brought a case against 
Belhouchet and reporter Salima Tlemcani for allegedly libeling a faith 
healer in a 2004 article. An Algiers court sentenced both to three 
months in prison and a fine of 50,000 dinars ($677). The case remained 
pending at year's end. The charges against Belhouchet in connection 
with three libel cases relating to articles he published several years 
ago about airfare increases and police killings of demonstrators also 
remained unresolved. Belhouchet and Tlemcani remained free at year's 
    In January 2009 freelance journalist Hafnaoui Ghoul stated that 
unknown persons threatened him near his home in Djelfa. He claimed that 
authorities did not investigate the incident. According to RSF, 
officials have targeted Ghoul for years, repeatedly detaining, beating, 
and persecuting him for writing articles critical of the Government. At 
year's end Ghoul faced 16 pending lawsuits by local officials related 
to his articles on corruption.
    During a February 2009 appeal hearing, a Mascara court sentenced 
Layadi El-Amine Yahia, a journalist for Le Carrefour d'Algerie, to one 
year in prison and fined him 20,000 dinars ($271) for libel in an 
article implicating Mascara's commerce director in corruption. The 
court previously acquitted Yahia, who was unaware of the Government's 
appeal of his acquittal. Yahia appealed the February 2009 decision, but 
the court had not set a date for the hearing at year's end.
    In March 2009 authorities in Ghardaia detained news Web site al-
Waha editor Nedjar El-Hadj Daoud in connection with a 2005 defamation 
case, but subsequently released him within days for medical reasons. On 
May 11, a Ghardia court sentenced Daoud to six months' imprisonment in 
a lawsuit related to an article published in 2006 involving then 
presidential chief of staff Labri Belkheir. According to RSF Daoud 
faced 20 pending defamation complaints in Ghardaia.
    There were no developments in the 2007 appeal of Saad Lounes, who 
was given a one-year sentence for tax fraud on the basis of a complaint 
by the Ministry of Commerce dating to 1995. Lounes faced legal pressure 
for more than 10 years while he operated the only private printing 
press in the country.
    In 2008 an appeals court reduced the 2007 sentence of journalist 
Dhil Talal, convicted of defamation for an article exposing a 
government ministry's monetary losses, to a fine of 5,000 dinars ($68) 
and a six-month suspended prison sentence. During the year there was no 
decision on Talal's 2008 appeal of his reduced sentence.
    The Government exercised considerable economic leverage on the 
media, as most newspapers were printed at government-owned presses.
    The Government continued to influence the independent press through 
the state-owned advertising company, National Agency for 
Communications, Publication and Advertising (ANEP), which decided 
whether independent newspapers would benefit from advertisements placed 
by state-owned agencies and companies. ANEP, and therefore the 
Government, controlled the largest source of income for most newspapers 
and used this economic control to steer content in the press. As has 
been the case in recent years, independent advertisers played a 
considerably smaller, but increasingly visible, role in advertising 
    The Government continued restrictions on both the local and the 
international media's coverage of issues relating to ``national 
security and terrorism.'' Al Jazeera's office remained closed, after 
the Government banned it from operating in the country in 2004 for 
broadcasting a program featuring opposition figures criticizing the 
Government. In previous years international journalists had their 
accreditations denied, but there were no such occurrences recorded 
during the year.
    Agence France-Presse (AFP) and Reuters maintained offices in the 
country, and the Government reaccredited both in February. In 2008 the 
Government revoked the AFP and Reuters bureau chiefs' press 
accreditations in response to allegedly inaccurate reports the agencies 
filed on terrorist attacks in the country.
    In April the then communication state secretary to the prime 
minister gave a Tunis-based private channel, Nessma TV, a two-week 
notification to close its Algiers bureau, saying that the station did 
not have official authorization to work in the country. According to 
press reports, 12 complaints were filed against the channel during the 
year, including by the National Office of Copyrights. Despite the 
notice to close, Nessma continued to operate in the country, working 
through a local public relations firm.

    Internet Freedom.--Access to the Internet was generally unimpeded; 
however, the Government monitored e-mail and Internet chat rooms. In 
August 2009 the Government enacted a law on cybercrime that establishes 
procedures for using electronic data in prosecutions and established 
the responsibilities of service providers to cooperate with 
authorities. In November 2009 then minister of post and information 
technology Hamid Bessalah announced that his ministry was creating a 
National Center for Internet Data Exchange to protect Internet users 
from inappropriate content, cybercrime, and hackers.
    By law Internet service providers face criminal penalties for the 
material and Web sites they host, especially if subject matters are 
``incompatible with morality or public opinion.'' The ministries of 
justice, interior, and post and information technology have oversight 
responsibilities. The cybercrime law provides sentences for six months 
to five years in prison and fines between 50,000 and 500,000 dinars 
($677 to $6,770) for users who do not comply with the law, including 
the obligation to cooperate with law enforcement authorities against 
    There were approximately 4.7 million Internet users, which 
represented approximately 13.6 percent of the population, according to 
figures released on June 30 by Nielsen Online.
    In January the public could no longer access the Rachad opposition 
movement's Web site (rachad.org) or its Internet television site 
(rachad.tv). Rachad organizers accused the Government of jamming and 
infiltrating its sites.

    Academic Freedom and Cultural Events.--Academic freedom generally 
was restricted. Academic seminars and colloquiums occurred with limited 
governmental interference, and there were delays in issuing visas to 
international participants and instances where authorities denied 
international experts entrance.
    In May the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research 
required academics to obtain approval before participating in 
conferences abroad and called on academics and researchers to 
coordinate with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs before attending or 
organizing conferences. Also that month the ministry cancelled the 
second Maghreb Forum on Democratic Processes and the Building of a 
Modern State two days before its scheduled start, providing no reason.
    In June the Government banned three professors from Mouloud Mammeri 
University in Tizi Ouzou from participating in two scientific 
conferences in Morocco.
    In an August interview with Arabic-language newspaper El-Bilad, 
director Mohamed Hazourli stated that authorities banned two episodes 
of his Ramadan sitcom Aasab wa Awtar wa Afkar (Nerves, Strings, and 
Ideas), and the series was taken off the air. The banned episodes 
addressed problems with local artists and their treatment from the 
    On the margins of the 2009Algiers Book Fair, authorities prevented 
anthropologist Tassadit Yacine from holding a conference on the work of 
Jean Amrouche, a Berber writer from the Kabylie.

    b. Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association.--The constitution 
provides for freedom of assembly and association; however, the 
Government severely restricted the exercise of these rights in 

    Freedom of Assembly.--The constitution provides for the right of 
assembly; however, the emergency decree and government practice 
continued to significantly curtail this right. A decree implemented in 
2000 banning demonstrations in Algiers remained in effect. Authorities 
required citizens and organizations to obtain permits from the 
Government-appointed local governor before holding public meetings. The 
Government restricted licenses to political parties, NGOs, and other 
groups to hold indoor rallies and frequently granted permissions on the 
eve of the event, thereby impeding publicity and outreach.
    LADDH reported continuing difficulties in obtaining permission to 
hold outdoor meetings and seminars. Groups opposing the Charter on 
Peace and Reconciliation also had difficulty securing permission to 
hold public gatherings.
    On March 7, police prevented a sit-in of 40 broadcast journalists 
on a hunger strike protesting low wages and unfair working conditions. 
The managing director of the National Company of Radio Broadcasting 
filed a complaint on March 12 against seven reporters for illegally 
entering a public premise and hindering the work of the public radio 
    In May security forces sealed the headquarters of the Maison des 
Syndicats (Unions House) rented by the autonomous union syndicate. The 
action coincided with the beginning of an international social union 
forum in Algiers. The Government ordered the property owner to prohibit 
the organization of trade union activities at the premises.
    In May police blocked a rally organized by the Bezzaf (Enough) 
Movement in front of the offices of state television to demand press 
freedom. The police detained four protest organizers as they approached 
the site on the grounds of inciting a gathering ``that could disturb 
public tranquility,'' which is an offense under the penal code. Police 
questioned the organizers and released them the same day.
    In August the wali of Annaba refused to allow the Abdellah 
Djaballah wing of the Islam Movement to organize an iftar at Teleferic 
hotel. Annaba officials did not give any justification for the refusal.
    SOS Disparus, an NGO representing relatives of persons who 
disappeared during the 1990s civil conflict, held weekly sit-ins in 
front of CNCPPDH headquarters until August, when government authorities 
began preventing this activity. According to witnesses police dispersed 
the crowd and beat and arrested some demonstrators on at least one 
occasion. In August the group tried again to hold its weekly sit-in, 
but police prevented the gathering.
    On November 4, Algiers airport authorities denied entry to Tarek 
Labidi, a Tunisian lawyer and member of the National Council of 
Liberties, who was traveling for a LADDH conference on good governance 
and civil society. Authorities provided no justification for his denial 
of entry.
    In January 2009 police prevented a peaceful demonstration organized 
by the Workers' Party to show solidarity with Palestinians in the Gaza 
Strip. Police dispersed the crowd and allegedly beat and arrested some 
demonstrators. In February 2009 police prevented a sit-in organized by 
contract teachers who attempted to demonstrate near the presidential 

    Freedom of Association.--The constitution provides for the right of 
association; however, the Government and the emergency decree severely 
restricted this right in practice. The Ministry of Interior must 
approve all political parties before they are legally established. The 
Government restricted the registration of certain NGOs, associations, 
and political parties on security grounds but declined to provide 
evidence or legal justification for refusing to authorize other 
organizations that could not be disqualified on security grounds. The 
Government frequently failed to grant official recognition to NGOs, 
associations, religious groups, and political parties in an expeditious 
fashion. The Ministry of Interior may deny a license to or dissolve any 
group regarded as a threat to the Government's authority or to public 
order. The law implementing the 2006 amnesty prohibits political 
activities by anyone responsible for having used religion leading to 
the ``national tragedy,'' that is, the 1990s civil conflict.
    The Government issued licenses and subsidies to domestic 
associations, especially youth, medical, and neighborhood associations. 
The Ministry of Interior regarded organizations unable to attain 
government licenses as illegal. Domestic NGOs encountered bureaucratic 
obstacles to receiving financial support from abroad. Although not 
illegal, financial support from abroad is conditioned by law on a 
series of authorizations from the ministries of interior and national 
olidarity. These authorizations remained difficult to obtain. According 
to the Ministry of Interior, there were 81,000 registered associations, 
5,000 of which were active during the year. SOS Disparus remained 
unrecognized and continued to operate facing government interference.

    c. Freedom of Religion.--For a complete description of religious 
freedom, please see the 2010 International Religious Freedom Report at 

    d. Freedom of Movement, Internally Displaced Persons, Protection of 
Refugees, and Stateless Persons.--The constitution provides for freedom 
of movement; however, the Government restricted the exercise of this 
right in practice.
    The Government generally cooperated with the Office of the UN High 
Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and other humanitarian organizations 
in providing protection and assistance to internally displaced persons, 
refugees, returning refugees, asylum seekers, stateless persons, and 
other persons of concern.
    Under the 1992 emergency decree, the interior minister and 
provincial governors may deny residency in certain districts to persons 
regarded as threats to public order. The Government also maintained 
restrictions for security reasons on travel into the four southern 
provinces of Ouargla, El-Oued, Laghouat, and Ain-Salah, where much of 
the hydrocarbon industry and many foreign workers were located. The 
same decree permits the minister of interior to place individuals under 
house arrest. AI reported that the measure was used to assign a 
residence to individuals already detained in DRS barracks, thus 
concealing prolonged arbitrary detention. The Government also prevented 
overland tourist travel between the southern provinces of Djanet and 
Tamanrasset, citing the threat of terrorism.
    The Government did not permit young men eligible for the draft but 
who had not yet completed their military service to leave the country 
without special authorization; such authorization was granted to 
students and to persons with special family circumstances.
    The family code does not permit anyone under 18 to travel abroad 
without a guardian's permission. Married women under 18 years of age 
may not travel abroad without permission from their husbands.
    The law does not provide for forced exile, and it was not known to 

    Protection of Refugees.--The country's laws provide for granting 
asylum or refugee status, and the Government had a system for providing 
protection to refugees. However, there were no reports that the 
Government granted refugee status and asylum to new refugee applicants 
during the year. According to the UNHCR, the Government did not accept 
UNHCR-determined refugee status for individuals from sub-Saharan Africa 
fleeing conflict. As of January, 192 asylum seekers, mostly sub-Saharan 
Africans, registered with the UNHCR. There were reports that the 
Government deported some asylum seekers after trials without legal 
counsel. Refugees holding valid UNHCR documentation were less likely to 
be deported. The Government provided informal assistance to an 
estimated 1,000 Tuaregs in the south fleeing conflict in Mali and 
Niger. However, authorities did not extend legal protections to an 
estimated 1,400 asylum seekers from sub-Saharan Africa residing in 
Algiers. Nonetheless, Algerian authorities tolerated the presence of 
these asylum seekers in the country.
    The Government provided protection to an estimated 90,000 Sahrawi 
refugees who departed Western Sahara after Morocco took control of the 
territory in the 1970s. The UNHCR, World Food Program, Algerian Red 
Crescent, and other organizations also assisted Sahrawi refugees. 
Neither the Government nor refugee leadership allowed the UNHCR to 
conduct a registration or complete a census of the Sahrawi refugees.
    In practice the Government provided some protection against the 
expulsion or return of refugees to countries where their lives or 
freedom would be threatened on account of their race, religion, 
nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political 
opinion, as was the case with the Sahrawi refugees.
    Sahrawi refugees lived predominantly in camps near the city of 
Tindouf, administered by the Popular Front for the Liberation of the 
Saguia el Harma and Rio de Oro (Polisario). The remote location of the 
camps and lack of government presence resulted in lack of access to 
employment, basic services, education, police, and courts for Sahrawis.

Section 3. Respect for Political Rights: The Right of Citizens to 
        Change Their Government
    The constitution provides citizens the right to change their 
government peacefully through periodic elections based on universal 
suffrage. However, restrictions on freedom of assembly and association, 
as well as restrictions on political party activities, limited this 

    Elections and Political Participation.--The constitution mandates 
presidential elections every five years. In 2008 President Abdelaziz 
Bouteflika announced his intention to seek parliamentary approval for a 
set of constitutional amendments that included removal of presidential 
term limits. One month later the parliament approved the proposed 
amendments by a wide margin with minimal debate.
    A contested, multiparty presidential election was held in April 
2009 in which the incumbent was elected to a third term. Official 
election statistics indicated that President Bouteflika won the 
election with 90.2 percent of the votes and a voter turnout of 74.6 
percent. Opposition parties and defeated candidates estimated voter 
turnout was actually in the range of 18 to 55 percent.
    Election observers from the Arab League, African Union, and 
Organization of the Islamic Conference stated in a press conference 
that the 2009 election was fair and transparent. Some international 
experts commented, however, that observers monitored only election-day 
procedures and were not on the ground to evaluate preelection 
activities. Others noted that the complexity of some election 
procedures created room for fraud and government influence. Two 
opposition parties, the Rally for Culture and Democracy (RCD) and the 
Socialist Forces Front (FFS), boycotted the election, arguing that 
restrictions on freedom of association disadvantaged potential 
challengers and made the outcome of the election a foregone conclusion. 
LADDH pointed to a lack of critical debate in the media and favorable 
treatment of the incumbent by state-owned media.
    There were complaints during the three-week campaign that public 
areas dedicated to election propaganda did not display each candidate's 
materials equally. Some candidates reported interference from local 
election committees when organizing meetings with voters and filed 
complaints with the National Election Commission. In March 2009 the 
Party of Liberty and Justice (PLJ) reported that one of its campaign 
buses was vandalized by a group of youths as PLJ's candidate left a 
meeting with supporters in the Algiers neighborhood of Bab El Oued. In 
the same month, authorities arrested an FFS official in Tizi Ouzou for 
distributing pamphlets calling for a boycott of the election. In April 
2009 police blocked a group of RCD party members who attempted to march 
in an Algiers suburb to encourage voters to boycott the election. In 
general all candidates received equal access to television and radio 
media as stipulated in the electoral code.
    There were reports of restrictions placed on opposition political 
parties. Opposition candidates complained that the Ministry of Interior 
regularly blocked registered parties from holding meetings and denied 
them access to larger and better-equipped government conference rooms 
while facilitating the activities of the pro-Bouteflika National 
Liberation Front (FLN). The law requires that potential political 
parties receive official approval from the Ministry of Interior to be 
established. To obtain approval a party must have 25 founders from 
across the country whose names must be registered with the ministry. A 
party must have received 4 percent of the vote or at least 2,000 votes 
in 25 wilayas in one of the last three legislative elections to 
participate in national elections, making it very difficult in practice 
to create new political parties.
    In 2009 Mohamed Said was a candidate for the April presidential 
election. His party's request for accreditation by the Ministry of 
Interior remained pending at year's end. The Ministry of Interior did 
not approve any political parties during the year.
    Membership in the Islamic Salvation Front (FIS), a political party 
banned in 1992, remained illegal. In 2008 Wafa party leader Ahmed Taleb 
Ibrahimi announced his withdrawal from politics after the Government's 
continued refusal to register his party because of its perceived ties 
to the banned FIS. No party may use religion or ethnic heritage as a 
basis to organize for political purposes. The law also bans political 
party ties to nonpolitical associations and regulates party financing 
and reporting requirements. According to the law political parties 
cannot receive direct or indirect financial or material support from 
any foreign parties. The law also stipulates that resources are 
collected from contributions of the party's members, donations, and 
revenue from its activities in addition to possible state funding.
    There were three women in the cabinet. Women also held 30 of the 
389 seats in the Popular Assembly of the Nation, the lower legislative 
chamber, and four of the 144 seats in the Council of the Nation, the 
upper chamber. A woman led the Workers Party, and three major political 
parties--the FLN, National Rally for Democracy, and RCD--had women's 
divisions headed by women. The country did not have a quota system 
assigning women a certain percentage of seats in the parliament.
    In accordance with the law, the Government promoted political 
rights for women by encouraging increased female representation within 
elected assemblies.
    The ethnic Amazigh (Berber) population of approximately 10 million 
participated freely and actively in the political process and 
represented one-third of the Government.
Section 4. Official Corruption and Government Transparency
    The law provides criminal penalties of two to 10 years in prison 
for official corruption, and the Government implemented the law more 
effectively than in previous years. World Bank governance data 
reflected the existence of a corruption problem.
    Although a 2006 law established a national anticorruption program, 
it does not require elected and senior officials to declare their 
assets. The law does not provide parliamentary immunity in certain 
cases. Two presidential decrees published in 2006, however, make high-
level government officials subject to financial disclosure laws. The 
decrees also stipulate the formation of an anticorruption agency, and 
the Government announced its creation in August as well as new policies 
to strengthen the role of the accounting court.
    Irregularities, including the excessive use of private agreements 
often affected public procurement. According to the Ministry of Public 
Works, following the president's 2005 prohibition on the use of private 
agreements, including sole-source contracts, government agencies began 
implementing a public tender policy for all infrastructure and large 
government projects. For those public tenders, evaluations were not 
released to participating companies, and evaluation methods and 
techniques were not clearly defined. Some agencies, however, continued 
to use direct contracts for public works projects. In July a 
presidential decree mandated that all financial transactions involving 
more than 500,000 dinars ($6,770) be conducted by credit card, check, 
or other noncash method in an effort to increase financial 
transparency, track illegal financing of terrorism, and reduce the 
possibility of corruption.
    During the year major corruption investigations targeted operations 
in four executive branch ministries: Energy, Public Works, Fisheries, 
and Transportation. The DRS conducted the investigations of the major 
corruption cases throughout the year, rather than the Ministry of 
Justice or any other specialized entity.
    A notable corruption case during the year involved several private 
businessmen and senior executives at the country's national oil 
company, Sonatrach. The men apparently awarded contracts in violation 
of the public procurement code. In late January police arrested several 
top company officials. All defendants in the case were pending trial at 
year's end. Following the incident, then energy/mines minister Chakib 
Khelil was relieved of his position in May in a broad cabinet 
    In April an Algiers court ordered the arrest of the current and 
former directors of the Port of Algiers and four other port officials 
for misappropriation of public funds. The defendants were pending trial 
at year's end.
    Also in April police arrested 17 customs officials at the Algiers 
Airport for accepting bribes in exchange for foregoing baggage 
searches. The officials were under judicial control, awaiting trial, at 
year's end.
    In July two officials from the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine 
Resources received two-year prison sentences for accepting bribes in 
exchange for allowing Turkish and Algerian ship owners to exceed catch 
limits on bluefin tuna, a species designated endangered by the 
International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural 
    According to an August 2009 press report, the court of Cheraga 
charged four Algiers police officers with trafficking stolen cars. 
Authorities placed one of the officers in pretrial detention in El-
Harrach prison. The court placed the three other officers under 
judicial control pending the outcome of their trial.
    In October 2009 an Algiers court began questioning high-level 
government officials suspected of extortion and influence peddling in 
awarding contracts to foreign companies involved in the construction of 
the East-West highway, one of the country's largest infrastructure 
projects. Authorities arrested and levied corruption charges against 
the Secretary General of the Ministry of Public Works, Mohamed 
Bouchama, and a DRS colonel who served as a Ministry of Justice 
advisor. In December 2009, authorities indicted the Ministry of Public 
Works chief of staff, Ferachi Belkacem, in connection with the same 
case. Authorities placed Belkacem under judicial control. At year's end 
the outcome of the trial remained pending.
    In December 2009 the press reported a corruption scandal in the 
customs service dating back 10 years. Authorities charged five customs 
executives, six customs agents, and five waste exporters with forgery, 
filing false declarations, underinvoicing, and embezzlement of public 
funds. The report estimated losses between 1998 and 2001 at 100 billion 
dinars (approximately $1.35 billion). Officials arrested the five 
customs executives and placed the remaining suspects under judicial 
control pending the outcome of their trial.
    According to a December 2009 press report, the inspector general of 
finance conducted 128 audits and issued 160 investigation reports on 
corruption during the year. In 2008 press reports quoted Ministry of 
Interior officials stating that since 2007, 1,325 employees of 
municipal and provincial governments were subject to legal proceedings 
for wasting public funds, forgery, and bribery. According to the 
report, authorities convicted 324 employees, while the others remained 
under investigation or had trials pending.
    The media focused on corruption in the customs police. According to 
press reports, 960 customs officials faced disciplinary commissions for 
official negligence or corruption charges between 2005 and 2008. 
Customs officials reported 215 disciplinary cases during the first 
quarter of 2008; 118 cases resulted in official reprimands, and nine 
cases resulted in suspensions.
    Although permitted under the constitution, authorities restricted 
access to government information. There is no law facilitating access 
to information. Throughout the year the Ministry of Justice, in 
cooperation with the UN Development Program, improved access to 
information about the country's judicial system and developed a modern 
information management system for penitentiaries. As a result, citizens 
were able to request personal legal records from the courts and receive 
the documents the same day.
    In May the Government created the Ministry of Prospective Planning 
and Statistics. However, lack of government transparency remained a 
serious problem. Although the Government did not release many economic 
statistics, the new ministry released such figures. Most ministries had 
Web sites, but not all were regularly maintained to provide updated 
information. The Ministry of Justice provided information on citizens' 
rights and legislation.

Section 5. Governmental Attitude Regarding International and 
        Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations of Human 
    The Government continued to restrict and to harass some local NGOs 
and impeded the work of international NGOs. Although some human rights 
groups, including the Algerian League of Human Rights (LADH) and LADDH, 
were allowed to move about freely, the most active and visible 
organizations reported interference by government authorities, 
including surveillance, monitoring of telephone calls, difficulty in 
securing meeting spaces, and difficulty in obtaining approval for 
international speakers to address sensitive issues.
    The Government was not responsive publicly to reports and 
recommendations from domestic human rights NGOs and interfered with 
attempts by some domestic and international human rights groups to 
investigate and publish their findings. Domestic NGOs must be licensed 
by the Government and are prohibited from receiving funding from abroad 
without approval from the ministries of national solidarity and 
interior. However, approximately 100 unlicensed NGOs, such as women's 
advocacy groups and charity organizations, operated openly. Unlicensed 
NGOs did not receive government assistance, and citizens were at times 
hesitant associate with these organizations.
    The most active independent human rights group was LADDH, a legally 
recognized NGO with members throughout the country. LADDH was not 
permitted access to government officials for human rights advocacy or 
research purposes or to prisons, except for normal lawyer-client 
consultations. The smaller LADH, a separate organization based in 
Constantine, was licensed, and members throughout the country monitored 
individual cases.
    By law NGOs not legally recognized by the Ministry of Interior 
cannot conduct investigations. Sometimes, however, even legally 
recognized NGOs were prevented from conducting investigations. For 
example, LADDH did not have access to prisons or detention centers.
    International NGOs continued to experience delays in obtaining 
visas, and outright refusals occurred. Delays in processing visa 
applications prevented some NGOs from conducting programming during the 
year. However, during the year the Government granted visas to 
personnel of several organizations that had not previously been able to 
obtain visas. The Government maintained that legislation did not allow 
branches of foreign NGOs to operate legally in the country.
    On September 5, authorities detained Djillali Hadjadj, the Algerian 
representative of Transparency International. He had been sentenced 
without his knowledge to three years in prison for forging 
prescriptions. Several international and local NGOs called for 
Hadjadj's immediate release. A court gave Hadjadj a six-month suspended 
sentence and a 100,000 dinar (approximately $1,350) fine.
    The Government continued to deny requests for visits from the UN 
Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances (pending since 
1997), the UN special rapporteur on torture (pending since 1997), the 
UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial executions (pending since 1998), 
the UN special rapporteur on human rights and counterterrorism (pending 
since 2006), and the UN special rapporteur on arbitrary detention 
(pending since 2009). The Government accepted visits of UN special 
rapporteurs on violence against women in 2007 and freedom of religion 
or belief in 2002.
    In an August radio interview, CNCPPDH president Farouk Ksentini, 
citing Prime Minister Ahmed Ouyahia, stated that UN special rapporteurs 
would have access to the country but that international NGOs would 
remain banned because they allegedly supported terrorists in the 1990s.
    According to local AI representatives, in November 2009 AI explored 
the possibility of visiting the country, but at year's end had not 
received a response to its request. AI officials have not visited the 
country since 2005 and were denied visas in 2006.

Section 6. Discrimination, Societal Abuses, and Trafficking in Persons
    The constitution prohibits discrimination based on birth, race, 
gender, language, and social status. In general the Government enforced 
the nationality and family codes, although women continued to face 
legal and social discrimination.

    Women.--Rape, spousal and nonspousal, occurred. The law 
criminalizes nonspousal rape but does not address spousal rape. Prison 
sentences for nonspousal rape range from one to five years. Claims 
filed by women for rape and sexual abuse continued to face judicial 
obstacles and many women did not report incidents of rape because of 
societal pressures and bureaucratic problems in securing convictions. 
Women's rights activists reported that law enforcement authorities 
became more sensitive to the issue compared to previous years, 
evidenced by the implementation of the 2007-2011 national strategy 
combating violence against women. During the year women's rights 
activists reported a significant increase in reports of violence 
against women.
    Spousal abuse occurred. The penal code states that a person must be 
incapacitated for 15 days or more and present a doctor's note 
certifying the injuries before filing charges for battery.
    Domestic NGOs reported that physical violence against women 
increased. Since November 2009 approximately 8,500 women were 
officially reported victims of domestic violence with 3,500 physically 
abused, 2,500 violently assaulted, 1,000 sexually assaulted, 600 
sexually harassed, and 100 killed, according to the Algiers-based 
Center of Information and Documentation on the Rights of Women and 
    In a 2009 report, police registered 9,517 complaints of violence 
against women in 2008. According to the CNCPPDH, approximately 4,500 
women were victims of assault during the first half of 2008. Police 
statistics for 2009 reported 2,675 cases of physical assault, 1,359 
cases of abuse, 144 cases of sexual assault, and four deaths. 
Approximately 20 percent of assailants were identified as male family 
members. During 2009 a national study showed that 67.9 percent of women 
acknowledged that spousal abuse occurred in the country.
    During the year local women's NGOs, including SOS Femmes en 
Detresse, the Wassila Network, and Bent Fatma N'Soumer, spoke against 
violence in the family. SOS Femmes en Detresse and the Wassila Network 
provided judicial and psychological counseling to abused women. Women's 
rights groups experienced difficulty in drawing attention to spousal 
abuse as an important social problem, largely due to traditional 
societal attitudes. Several rape crisis centers run by women's groups 
operated, but they had few resources. The Working Women section of the 
General Union of Algerian Workers established a counseling center for 
women suffering from sexual harassment in the workplace. SOS Femmes en 
Detresse operated one call center in Algiers, but a second call center 
in Batna was closed. During the first eight months of the year, the 
Algiers call center received more than 2,500 calls.
    The punishment for sexual harassment is one to two years' 
imprisonment and a fine of 50,000 to 100,000 dinars (approximately $677 
to $1,350). The punishment is doubled for a second offense. The police 
stated that 107 sexual harassment cases were reported to the police in 
2008, the most recent year for which figures were available. The 
majority of reported cases of harassment occurred in the workplace. SOS 
Femmes en Detresse provided legal advice and counseling to 800 women; 
however, only 50 of the women seeking assistance filed formal 
    The Government did not impose restrictions on the right of couples 
and individuals to decide the number, timing, and spacing of their 
children. There were no restrictions on access to contraceptives, yet 
contraceptives were harder to obtain for single women. In 2009 the 
Health Ministry's Office of Family Planning conducted a public health 
awareness campaign. According to the office, 62 percent of women, 
mainly married, regularly used contraceptives. According to UN 
estimates, the maternal mortality ratio in the country was 120 deaths 
per 100,000 live births in 2008. Government hospitals provided skilled 
attendance during childbirth as well as obstetric and postpartum care 
and equally diagnosed and treated women for sexually transmitted 
infections, including HIV.
    The constitution provides for gender equality; however, some 
aspects of the law and many traditional social practices discriminate 
against women. The family code contains elements of Sharia (Islamic 
law). The family code prohibits Muslim women from marrying non-Muslims, 
although this regulation was not always enforced. A woman may marry a 
foreigner and transmit citizenship and nationality to both her children 
and spouse. Muslim men may marry non-Muslim women.
    Women can seek divorce for irreconcilable differences and violation 
of a prenuptial agreement. In a divorce the law provides for the wife 
to retain the family's home until children reach 18 years of age. 
Custody of children normally is awarded to the mother, but she may not 
make decisions on education or take the children out of the country 
without the father's authorization. In practice, more women retained 
the family's home if they had custody of the children.
    The family code affirms the Islamic practice of allowing a man to 
marry as many as four wives. According to the family code, polygamy is 
only permitted upon the permission of the first wife and the 
determination of a judge as to the husband's financial ability to 
support an additional wife. In practice, however, this occurred in 1 to 
2 percent of marriages.
    Amendments to the family code supersede the Sharia requirement that 
a male sponsor consent to the marriage of a woman. Although this 
requirement has been formally retained and the sponsor continues to 
contract the marriage, the woman may choose any man that she wishes to 
be the sponsor. The sponsor represents the woman during the religious 
or civil ceremony.
    Women suffered from discrimination in inheritance claims and were 
entitled to a smaller portion of an estate than male children or a 
deceased husband's brothers. The law purports that such a distinction 
is justified because other provisions require that the husband's income 
and assets be used to support the family, while the wife's remain, in 
principle, her own. In practice, women did not often have exclusive 
control over assets that they brought to a marriage or that they 
    Married women may take out business loans and use their own 
financial resources.
    Despite constitutional and legal provisions providing for gender 
equality, in practice women faced discrimination in employment. Leaders 
of women's organizations reported that discriminatory violations were 
common and that women were less likely to receive equal pay for equal 
work or receive promotions.
    In urban areas, there was social encouragement for women to pursue 
higher education and/or a career. Girls graduated from high school more 
frequently than boys. According to 2010 statistics, women represented 
55 percent of the medical profession, 60 percent of the media 
profession, 30 percent of the upper levels of the legal profession, and 
more than 60 percent of the education profession. In addition, 36 
percent of judges were women. Women served at all levels in the 
judicial system, and female police officers were added to some 
precincts to assist women with abuse claims. Out of nine million 
workers nationally, two million were female. Women may own businesses, 
enter into contracts, and pursue careers similar to those of men.

    Children.--Citizenship and nationality are transmitted from the 
mother or father. Under the law, children born to a Muslim father are 
Muslim, regardless of the mother's religion.
    The Government provides free education for children through high 
school. Education is compulsory until the age of 16 years. The 
Government provided free medical care for all citizens, including 
children with disabilities, albeit in generally rudimentary facilities, 
and to both sexes equally.
    Child abuse is illegal but continued to be reported as a problem. 
NGOs specializing in children cited continued instances of domestic 
violence against children, which they attributed to a ``culture of 
violence'' stemming from civil strife in the 1990s, including social 
dislocations caused by the movement of rural families to the cities to 
escape terrorist violence. Experts assumed that many cases went 
unreported because of familial reticence. The National Foundation for 
Health Progress and Research Development (FOREM), a children's rights 
watchdog NGO with EU funding, estimated that approximately 10,000 
children suffered some form of abuse.
    The criminal code prohibits solicitation for prostitution and 
stipulates prison sentences of between 10 and 20 years when the offense 
is committed against a minor under the age of 18 years. According to 
the law, the age for consensual sex is 16 years. The law stipulates a 
prison sentence of between 10 and 20 years for rape when the victim is 
a minor but this sentence was rarely carried out. The law prohibits 
pornography and establishes prison sentences of between two months and 
two years as well as fines up to 2,000 dinars (approximately $27).
    The country is not a party to the 1980 Hague Convention on the 
Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. For information on 
international parental child abduction, please see the Department of 
State's annual report on compliance at http://travel.state.gov/

    Anti-Semitism.--The country's Jewish population numbered fewer than 
2,000 persons, and there were no functioning synagogues. The Government 
did not promote antibias education, and there is no hate crime 

    Trafficking in Persons.--For information on trafficking in persons, 
please see the Department of State's annual Trafficking in Persons 
Report at www.state.gov/g/tip.

    Persons With Disabilities.--The law prohibits discrimination 
against persons with disabilities in employment, education, access to 
health care, or the provision of other state services, although in 
practice the Government did not effectively enforce these provisions. 
The law provides services, including free medical care, for persons 
with disabilities; however, there was widespread social discrimination 
against persons with disabilities. Few government buildings were 
accessible to persons with disabilities. Public enterprises, in 
downsizing their work forces, generally ignored a requirement that they 
reserve one percent of jobs for persons with disabilities. Social 
security provided payments for orthopedic equipment. The Ministry of 
National Solidarity (MNS) provided some financial support to health-
care-oriented NGOs; however, for many NGOs this financial support 
represented approximately 2 percent of their budgets.
    The MNS maintained that there were two million persons with 
disabilities in the country, of whom the largest percentages were 
classified as ``chronically ill'' or ``other'' (38 and 30 percent, 
respectively). However, according to the Algerian Federation of 
Wheelchair Associations, there were three million persons with 
disabilities living in the country. The Government estimated that 
approximately 44 percent of disabled citizens had some form of motor 
disability, 32 percent had communication difficulties, and 24 percent 
suffered from a visual disability. The Government classified 
approximately 193,000 individuals as ``fully disabled'' and claimed 
during the year to have appropriated 9.54 billion dinars (approximately 
$129 million) for their welfare.

    Societal Abuses, Discrimination, and Acts of Violence Based on 
Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity.--The penal code criminalizes 
public homosexual behavior for males and females, and there is no 
specific legal protection for lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and 
transgender (LGBT) persons. The law stipulates penalties that include 
imprisonment of two months to two years and fines of 500 to 2,000 
dinars (approximately $7 to $27). If a minor is involved, the adult may 
face up to three years' imprisonment and a fine of 10,000 dinars 
(approximately $135).
    There was societal discrimination against homosexual conduct. While 
some LGBT persons lived openly, the vast majority did not, and most 
feared reprisal from their families or harassment from authorities.

    Other Societal Violence or Discrimination.--HIV/AIDS was widely 
considered a shameful disease in the country. According to 2007 
statistics released by the Ministry of Health, 2,100 citizens were HIV-
positive, and 736 persons suffered from HIV/AIDS. There were 54 centers 
offering free testing services to detect HIV/AIDS. Only 51 percent of 
women, both single and married, noted use of condoms to prevent 
infection. In response to societal discrimination, during the year the 
Health Ministry and the NGO AIDS Algerie launched an HIV/AIDS 
prevention campaign, stressing the need to avoid discrimination, 
especially in the workplace, against those with HIV/AIDS.

Section 7. Worker Rights
    a. The Right of Association.--The constitution allows workers who 
are citizens to join unions of their choice but requires workers to 
obtain government approval to form a union. The labor unions law 
requires that the Ministry of Labor approve or disapprove a union 
application within 30 days and allows for the creation of autonomous 
unions. However, the Government may invalidate a union's legal status 
if its objectives are perceived by authorities as contrary to the 
established institutional system, public order, good morals, or the 
laws or regulations in force. Approximately two-thirds of the labor 
force belonged to unions. The General Union of Algerian Workers (UGTA) 
was the only legally recognized labor confederation. The UGTA includes 
specialized national unions; its density is highest in the public 
sector. Workers may form independent unions. There were no new unions 
formed during the reporting period, but existing unions focused on 
increasing their visibility.
    Unions have the right to form and join federations or 
confederations. Unions may also recruit members at the workplace. In 
practice, attempts by new unions to form federations or confederations 
were obstructed by delaying administrative maneuvers, such as delays in 
processing registration requests. Since 1996 the Autonomous Unions 
Confederation, which functions without official status, repeatedly 
attempted to organize the autonomous unions, without success. The 
Government did not allow the autonomous union of public sector workers 
(SNAPAP) to register as a national confederation. SNAPAP and other 
autonomous unions faced government interference throughout the year, 
including official obstruction of general assembly meetings and police 
harassment during sit-in protests.
    For example, on May 13, Algiers authorities shut down the House of 
Unions after SNAPAP planned to organize a conference on unions in the 
Maghreb. Two days ahead of the conference, the wilaya of Algiers sealed 
the premises. There were reports that some citizens lodged a complaint 
regarding noise in the building housing the House of Unions.
    The law permits unions to affiliate with international labor bodies 
and develop relations with foreign labor groups. For example, the UGTA 
is a member of the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions. 
However, the law prohibits unions from associating with political 
parties and also prohibits unions from receiving funds from foreign 
sources. The courts are empowered to dissolve unions that engaged in 
illegal activities.
    The law provides for the right to strike, and workers exercised 
this right in practice, subject to conditions. All public 
demonstrations, including protests and strikes, must receive prior 
authorization, according to the emergency law. Several dozen strikes 
occurred throughout the country. Under the state of emergency decree, 
the Government can require public and private sector workers to remain 
at work in the event of an unauthorized or illegal strike. Authorities 
rarely give permits for public gatherings. According to the law on 
industrial relations, workers may strike only after 14 days of 
mandatory conciliation or mediation. On occasion, the Government 
offered to mediate disputes. The law states that decisions reached in 
mediation are binding on both parties. If no agreement is reached in 
mediation, the workers may strike legally after they vote by secret 
ballot to do so. A minimum level of public services must be maintained 
during public-sector service strikes.
    The authorities tolerated strikes but continued to enforce a ban on 
marches and demonstrations in Algiers in effect since 2001. The courts 
challenged the legality of strikes called by teachers, doctors, and 
health-care professionals during the year.

    b. The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively.--The law 
provides for collective bargaining for all unions, and the Government 
permitted the exercise of this right, in practice, for authorized 
unions; however, the UGTA remained the only union authorized to 
negotiate collective bargaining agreements. According to the UGTA, nine 
million workers were covered by collective bargaining agreements, not 
including foreign migrant laborers.
    On October 7, workers at the ArcelorMittal steel plant in Annaba 
halted a strike at the request of the UGTA, which began negotiating 
their demands. The workers at the plant received increased pay as a 
result of the negotiations.
    The law prohibits discrimination by employers against union members 
and organizers and provides mechanisms for resolving trade union 
complaints of antiunion practices by employers.
    There are no export processing zones.

    c. Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor.--The constitution 
prohibits all forms of forced or compulsory labor; however, there were 
reports from the Ministry of Labor and NGOs that such practices 
occurred. Forced labor conditions existed for migrant workers that were 
not fully protected by labor law. Construction workers and female 
domestic workers were reportedly vulnerable.
    Also see the Department of State's annual Trafficking in Persons 
Report at www.state.gov/g/tip.

    d. Prohibition of Child Labor and Minimum Age for Employment.--The 
law prohibits participation by minors in dangerous, unhealthy, or 
harmful work or in work that is considered inappropriate because of 
social and religious considerations. The minimum legal age for 
employment is 15 years, except for apprentice positions. To serve as an 
apprentice, minors must have the permission of a legal guardian. 
Despite the labor code's prohibition of the practice, child labor 
remained a problem in the agriculture and the informal sectors.
    Also see the Department of State's annual Trafficking in Persons 
Report at www.state.gov/g/tip.
    The Ministry of Labor is the entity charged with monitoring and 
enforcing child labor laws, with sections across the country 
responsible for monitoring violations and conducting a census of 
workers in national and private companies. The ministry conducted and 
in some cases investigated companies suspected of hiring under aged 
workers. However, monitoring and enforcement practices for child labor 
were not consistent.
    During a November 2009 conference on children's rights, FOREM 
representatives stated that there were approximately 300,000 children 
under 16 years of age working in the country on farms and in shops. 
Including children who work in households and as vendors, the number of 
working children in the country stood at approximately 1.5 million in 
2010, according to FOREM.
    The Ministry of Labor is responsible for enforcing child labor 
laws, but enforcement was hindered by insufficient human resources. 
During the year FOREM implemented a public awareness campaign to 
encourage children to remain in school until 16 years of age, rather 
than participating in the workforce. Roughly 300,000 students drop out 
of school annually to join the workforce, according to FOREM.

    e. Acceptable Conditions of Work.--The national minimum wage of 
15,000 dinars (approximately $203) per month did not provide a decent 
standard of living for a worker and family. The minimum wage was raised 
to this level in 2009 by a tripartite social pact between business, 
government, and labor. Autonomous unions, which were not included in 
tripartite talks, reported the increase was inadequate and would not 
affect the majority of workers who already earn more than the minimum 
wage. The previous tripartite negotiation occurred in 2006 and 
established a minimum wage of 12,000 dinars (approximately $163). 
Ministry of Labor inspectors were responsible for ensuring compliance 
with the minimum wage regulation; however, enforcement remained 
    The standard workweek was 37.5 hours included one 10-minute break 
and one hour for lunch per day. Employees who worked longer than the 
standard workweek received premium pay on a sliding scale from time-
and-a-half to double-time, depending on whether the overtime was worked 
on a normal workday, a weekend, or a holiday. In general the Ministry 
of Labor effectively enforced these labor standards, particularly in 
the civil service and in public sector companies; however, enforcement 
was less efficient in the private sector because of low union density.
    The law contains occupational health and safety standards, but 
Ministry of Labor inspectors did not enforce these regulations 
effectively. There were no reports of workers being dismissed for 
removing themselves from hazardous working conditions. If workers face 
such conditions, they reserve the right to renegotiate their contract 
or, failing that, resort to the courts. While this legal mechanism 
exists, the high demand for employment in the country gave an advantage 
to employers seeking to exploit employees. Economic migrants from sub-
Saharan Africa and elsewhere working in the country without legal 
immigration status were not protected by the country's labor standards, 
making them vulnerable to exploitation. Labor law does not adequately 
cover migrant workers.



    Bahrain is a monarchy with a population of approximately 1,235,000, 
including approximately 569,000 who are citizens. King Hamad Bin Isa 
Al-Khalifa is the head of state and all branches of government. The 
king appoints a cabinet of ministers; approximately half are members of 
the minority Sunni Al-Khalifa ruling family. The 2002 constitution 
reinstated a bicameral, legislative body consisting of an upper house, 
the Shura Council, whose members are appointed by the king, and a lower 
house, the elected Council of Representatives. Approximately 67 percent 
of eligible voters participated in the October parliamentary and 
municipal council elections, the outcome of which was affected by 
extensive gerrymandering of districts. The opposition, Shia Islamist 
Al-Wifaq political society won all contested 18 seats in the 40-member 
Council of Representatives. Security forces reported to civilian 
    Citizens did not have the right to change their government. 
Trafficking in persons and restrictions on the rights of foreign 
resident workers continued to be significant problems. There were 
numerous reports of abuse against foreign workers, particularly female 
domestic workers. There were many reports of domestic violence against 
women and children. Discrimination on the basis of gender, religion, 
nationality, and sect, especially against the Shia majority population, 
persisted. There were multiple allegations of mistreatment and torture, 
especially of Shia activists associated with rejectionist and 
opposition groups. Authorities arbitrarily arrested activists, 
journalists, and other citizens and detained some individuals 
incommunicado. Some detainees did not always have adequate access to 
their attorneys. At least two of the detainees were dismissed from 
their public-sector jobs prior to the commencement of judicial 
proceedings. The Government restricted civil liberties, including 
freedoms of speech, press, assembly, association, and some religious 
practices. There were instances of the Government imposing and 
enforcing official and unofficial travel bans on political activists. 
The Shia are underrepresented in positions of leadership in the civil 
service, police, and security forces.

                        RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS

Section 1. Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom 
    a. Arbitrary or Unlawful Deprivation of Life.--There were no 
reports that the Government or its agents committed arbitrary or 
unlawful killings.

    b. Disappearance.--There were no reports of politically motivated 

    c. Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or 
Punishment.--The constitution prohibits such practices; however, there 
were multiple allegations during the year that security forces employed 
them. On February 8, Human Rights Watch (HRW) issued a report asserting 
that ``since the end of 2007, officials have repeatedly resorted to 
torture for the apparent purpose of securing confessions from security 
suspects.'' The former detainees interviewed for the report claimed 
that security officials and prison guards subjected them to ``abusive 
tactics'' during interrogation. In some cases in 2009, Ministry of 
Health doctors found corroborative evidence of injuries that matched 
the detainees' claims of mistreatment. According to senior government 
officials, the Government initiated an investigation of HRW's 
allegations. At year's end the Government had not published the 
investigation's findings.
    From August to December, local and international human rights NGOs 
asserted that security personnel had tortured more than two dozen 
detainees. During court proceedings from October to December, many of 
these detainees claimed that officers of the National Security Agency 
mistreated and tortured them. Detainees claimed that they had been 
beaten, suspended in painful positions, forced to stand for long 
periods, deprived of sleep, and subjected to electric shocks. During 
trial proceedings in October and November, defense lawyers requested an 
independent investigation into the torture allegations, to include 
independent medical exams. The prosecutor asserted in December that 
claims of torture had been investigated. At year's end neither the 
court nor the Government had released the findings of any such 
    Local human rights organizations and lawyers also reported alleged 
instances of abuse by law enforcement authorities in connection with 
the approximately200 men and juveniles detained between August and 
    Local human rights activists and attorneys alleged that many of the 
23 Shia activists arrested in August and September and charged pursuant 
to counterterrorism legislation, including a prominent blogger, were 
beaten, subjected to electric shocks, hung upside down, and beaten on 
their feet (falaqa). During court sessions in October, November, and 
December (see section 1.e.), all detainees claimed they were beaten by 
National Security Agency officers, with some claiming they were 
subjected to electric shocks, made to stand for long periods of time, 
and made to sign confessions during or after mistreatment or torture.

    Prison and Detention Center Conditions.--The Government, which 
maintained that prison conditions met international standards, did not 
release any detailed information about the prison population or prison 
and detention center conditions, nor did it permit visits by 
independent human rights observers. A UN report in March described 
``suboptimal health conditions'' in prisons. In the second half of the 
year, some detainees alleged that security personnel physically abused 
them and, in some cases, withheld medical care, including access to 
medication and medical equipment.
    In August approximately 70 prisoners in the country's central 
prison in Jaw protested their living conditions, and some prisoners 
went on hunger strike. In response members of the quasigovernmental 
National Human Rights Authority visited the prison; however, the body 
did not issue a public report. A local human rights NGO reported that 
the Jaw prison population was more than 1,300, although the prison had 
been designed to hold only 500 inmates. According to the Office of the 
Inspector General of the Ministry of Interior, the Jaw prison held 
1,100 inmates.
    Authorities generally permitted inmates reasonable access to 
visitors and religious observance. However, the Government temporarily 
suspended visitation rights for some inmates in the aftermath of the 
unrest in Jaw prison. In addition the Government did not permit family 
members to visit dozens of detainees arrested on security-related 
charges for at least several weeks.
    The Government did not permit independent monitoring of prison or 
detention center conditions, nor was there an ombudsman for prison and 
detainee issues. It is unknown if prisoners could submit complaints 
about treatment for investigation.

    d. Arbitrary Arrest or Detention.--The constitution prohibits 
arbitrary arrest and detention. However, local human rights activists 
and attorneys alleged that police and National Guard units arbitrarily 
arrested or abducted Shia men and youth during the year, particularly 
from August to October, and that security officials held some 
incommunicado for days or weeks.
    The Office of the Inspector General of the Ministry of Interior 
received an unknown number of complaints pertaining to pretrial 
detention, although it was not clear how many of these resulted in 
investigations or penalties.

    Role of the Police and Security Apparatus.--The Ministry of the 
Interior is responsible for public security; it controls the public 
security force and other specialized security units that are 
responsible for maintaining internal order. The Bahrain Defense Force 
is responsible for defending against external threats and provides 
internal security. The security forces were generally effective in 
maintaining internal order.
    The Office of the Inspector General of the Ministry of Interior 
received 246 complaints between January and October, of which 121 were 
not related to police conduct. Nineteen cases were referred to the 
Ministry's legal affairs directorate for further action. The ministry 
maintained a hotline for citizens to report police abuses; however, 
many in the Shia community believed the Government condoned police 
misconduct and, therefore, did not report allegations of abuse. In 
practice the ministry responded to allegations of abuse and public 
complaints by establishing temporary investigation committees, which 
did not issue public reports of their findings.

    Arrest Procedures and Treatment While in Detention.--To apprehend a 
felony suspect, police must present evidence to a judge who will decide 
whether to issue an arrest warrant. Police and security forces must 
transfer a suspect's case to the public prosecutor's office within 48 
hours, and they generally respected that requirement in practice. 
Within seven days of arrest, a suspect must appear before a judge in 
the public prosecutor's office. Judges may grant bail to a suspect and 
regularly did so. If the judge decides the suspect is a flight risk or 
a danger to society, the judge may allow as long as an additional 45 
days of detention while the public prosecutor conducts an 
investigation. This process may continue through subsequent reviews by 
different judges, but pretrial detention may not exceed six months. 
Detainee access to attorneys was often restricted in the early stages 
of detention; attorneys must seek a court order to confer with clients 
and then coordinate with officials at the detention facility for 
access. The state provided counsel to indigent detainees. While 
detainees were generally allowed prompt access to visiting family 
members, many of those arrested on security-related charges between 
August and December claimed that they were not allowed to see relatives 
or lawyers for several weeks.
    In accordance with the 2006 counterterrorism law, law enforcement 
agencies must transfer a case to the public prosecutor's office within 
five days of the suspect's arrest, although the law permits law 
enforcement agencies to request an additional 10 days before the formal 
transfer of the case. Prosecutors must commence their formal 
questioning of a suspect within three days of receipt of the case. 
Other pretrial detention procedures are governed by those concerning 
cases that are not related to terrorism.
    From August to December, law enforcement agencies arrested 
approximately 200 men, including minors, and held some of them pursuant 
to the 2006 counterterrorism law. Local human rights groups and 
attorneys, as well as international human rights NGOs, alleged that, in 
many of these cases, authorities used incommunicado detention, 
restricted lawyers' access to their clients, and prevented family 
members from visiting detainees. International and local NGOs, as well 
as attorneys, asserted that security officials abused and tortured some 
of these detainees (see also sections 1.c. and 1.e.).

    e. Denial of Fair Public Trial.--The constitution provides for an 
independent judiciary, and the Government generally respected judicial 
independence in practice; however, the king has control of the judicial 
system. According to the constitution, the king appoints all judges by 
royal decree. The king also serves as chairperson of the Supreme 
Judicial Council, the body responsible for supervising the work of the 
courts and the public prosecutor.
    The trial of 25 Shia activists charged pursuant to the 
counterterrorism law--two of whom were based in the United Kingdom and 
tried in their absence--commenced on October 28. The trial was 
generally open to detainees' family members, journalists, 
representatives of local and international NGOs, diplomats, and members 
of the general public, but, in some cases, a number of journalists and 
human rights activists were denied access to the court. The defendants' 
lawyers, together with local NGOs, asserted that security personnel 
subjected the men to mistreatment and torture while in pretrial 
detention (see section 1.c.), deprived them of adequate access to legal 
counsel, and prevented them from meeting with family members for 
several weeks. They withdrew from the case on December 9 to protest the 
presiding judge's failure to rule on several requests they had made in 
the first four sessions of the trial, such as an impartial 
investigation into torture allegations.
    The minister of justice and Islamic affairs and endowments 
appointed 23 new lawyers, and the case was pending at year's end. Human 
rights activists and attorneys alleged that the detainees' right to a 
fair, public trial was undermined by the detainees' limited access to 
legal counsel and the presiding judge's failure to rule on the defense 
attorneys' requests.
    Two men faced trial in November and December, accused of assaulting 
an editor of the progovernment Al Watan newspaper on August 25. The two 
men were arrested less than 48 hours after the attack, shortly after 
which senior government officials announced that the men had confessed. 
Most newspapers carried photographs of the two men, referring to them 
as assassins or terrorists. The trial commenced in November. The men 
were released on December 12 after the victim of the assault testified 
in court that the two defendants were not the men who assaulted him. 
The judge agreed to the prosecutor's request that the court examine 
other evidence in a hearing scheduled for January 2011.

    Trial Procedures.--According to the constitution, defendants are 
presumed innocent until proven guilty. Civil and criminal trial 
procedures provide for an open trial. There are no jury trials. By law 
and in practice, defendants have the right to prompt consultation with 
an attorney of their choice within 48 hours (unless they are charged 
pursuant to counterterrorism legislation), and the Government provided 
counsel to indigent defendants. Defendants are present during trial 
proceedings, and they have the right to present witnesses and evidence 
on their behalf and question witnesses against them. No law governs 
defendants' access to government-held evidence. Defendants have the 
right to appeal. Women's legal rights varied according to Shia or Sunni 
interpretations of Islamic law (see section 6).

    Political Prisoners and Detainees.--Human rights organizations 
alleged that some of those arrested on security charges from August to 
December were targeted because of their political activism. Many of the 
prominent detainees are leaders of, or affiliated with, political 
    On August 17, authorities arrested Muhammad Saeed al-Sahlawi, a 
member of the board of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR). 
Human rights groups report that Al-Sahlawi, a dentist and human rights 
activist who supervises the BCHR's Web site, was arrested at his home 
during a wave of arrests targeting political and human rights 
activists. Al-Sahlawi was previously arrested in 2006 for distributing 
publications demanding political reform and in 1997 for contacting 
oppositional and international organizations abroad.
    Also on August 17, according to the BCHR, authorities arrested 
Sheikh Abdul-Hadi Abdullah Al-Mokhadur and Sheikh Mirza Al-Mahroos, 
both clerics involved in activities promoting human rights, in Manama.
    On September 4, authorities arrested and detained a popular 
Internet Web site writer and administrator of a Web site, Ali 
Abdulemam, and charged him with involvement in a ``terrorist network,'' 
together with 24 other men (section 1.e.). This group of 25 also 
included a board member of a local human rights organization and 
political dissenters.

    Civil Judicial Procedures and Remedies.--Citizens may bring civil 
suits before the court seeking cessation of or damages for, some types 
of human rights violations; however, in many such situations, the law 
prevents citizens from filing civil suits against security agencies.

    f. Arbitrary Interference With Privacy, Family, Home, or 
Correspondence.--The constitution prohibits such actions, and the 
Government generally respected these prohibitions in practice, except 
under the provisions of the law and under judicial supervision.
    The Government is required to obtain a court order before 
monitoring telephone calls, e-mail, and personal correspondence. Many 
Shia citizens believed there were extensive police informer networks, 
but they were unable to provide concrete evidence.
Section 2. Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:
    a. Freedom of Speech and Press.--The constitution provides for 
freedom of speech and of the press ``provided that the fundamental 
beliefs of Islamic doctrine are not infringed, the unity of the people 
is not prejudiced, and discord or sectarianism is not aroused.'' The 
Government limited freedom of speech and press through press laws, 
libel and slander laws, and national security-related laws. Both 
censorship and self-censorship took place.
    The law forbids any speech infringing on public order or morals. In 
private settings, individuals openly expressed critical opinions 
regarding domestic political and social issues. There was also 
considerable freedom of expression on the Internet, in letters to the 
editor, and occasionally on state-run television call-in shows.
    A Shia cleric aligned with a rejectionist group was temporarily 
banned from giving Friday sermons in October. The Ministry of Justice 
and Islamic Affairs and Endowments deemed some of the cleric's sermons 
to ``threaten civil peace.''
    The Government did not own any print media, but the Information 
Authority--established in July as an associated element of the Ministry 
of Culture and Information--and other government entities exercised 
considerable control over domestic, privately owned print media. The 
Government owned and operated all domestic radio and television 
stations. In August, September, and October, the Information Authority 
threatened to shut the Web sites of a number of newspaper and media 
outlets unless they stopped broadcasting video content. The Information 
Authority stated that it was illegal for media outlets to broadcast 
video content until a law regarding online video broadcast is 
promulgated by the national legislature.
    Radio and television broadcasts in Arabic, Farsi, and English from 
countries in the region, including by satellite, were generally 
received without interference. However, in May the Ministry of Culture 
and Information temporarily closed the Al Jazeera office in Manama and 
banned an Al Jazeera news crew from entering the country. The ministry 
accused Qatar-based Al Jazeera of ``flouting the laws regulating the 
press and publishing'' and requested the network to enter into a 
memorandum of understanding with the Government regarding their 
activities in the country. At year's end the two sides remained engaged 
in negotiations, and there was no Al Jazeera representative in the 
    At least one journalist faced violence during the year. On August 
25, two men attacked an editor of the progovernment Al Watan newspaper, 
who was slightly injured. Security forces arrested two men and tried 
them for the assault, but a judge released them after the victim of the 
attack testified that the men were not his assailants (see section 
    Government censorship occurred. Information Authority 
representatives actively monitored and blocked stories on matters 
deemed sensitive, especially those related to sectarianism, national 
security, or criticism of the royal family, the Saudi royal family, or 
the judiciary. Journalists also practiced widespread self-censorship. 
According to some members of the media, government officials contacted 
editors directly and asked them to stop writing about certain subjects 
or asked them not to publish a press release or a story. In September 
Bahraini newspapers inaccurately conveyed an official U.S. government 
statement about the country, allegedly at the behest of government 
officials. In the lead-up to the elections, observers noted that 
political debate was largely absent from media outlets. Domestic and 
international human rights groups alleged that the Government imposed a 
media restraining order.
    The Government enforced at its discretion the press law to restrict 
freedom of press. The law provides for fines of as much as 10,000 
dinars ($26,500) and prison sentences of at least six months for 
criticizing Islam or the king or inciting actions that undermine state 
security, as well as fines of up to 2,000 dinars ($5,300) for 14 other 
offenses. These offenses include publicizing statements issued by a 
foreign state or organization before obtaining the consent of the 
president of the information authority, publishing any reports that may 
adversely affect the dinar's value, reporting any offense against the 
head of a state that maintains diplomatic relations with the country, 
or publishing offensive remarks toward an accredited representative of 
a foreign country because of acts connected with the person's position.
    The Information Authority reviewed all books and publications prior 
to issuing printing licenses. The Ministry of Justice and Islamic 
Affairs reviewed books that discussed religion. The Government banned 
at least one book by a domestic author, Nader Kadim, entitled Unbridled 
Hatreds. In June the Government banned the Arabic translation of the 
diaries of Charles Belgrave, a British colonial officer in the country 
from 1926 to 1957.
    In August and September, the Government-run Bahrain News Agency 
(BNA) and most daily newspapers repeatedly published photographs of 
suspects and detainees. Members of the quasigovernmental National Human 
Rights Institution, human rights activists, and detainees' attorneys 
asserted that such actions, prior to the commencement of judicial 
proceedings, violated the constitution and penal code.

    Internet Freedom.--While the Government generally respected 
Internet freedom, there were some government restrictions. The 
Government's Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) ordered 
service providers to block Internet users' access to certain sites. In 
the lead-up to the elections, the Government banned opposition Web 
sites. In August, September, and October, the Information Authority 
threatened to shut the Web sites of a number of newspaper and media 
outlets. Reportedly, the Government did not monitor e-mail use. 
Internet penetration among citizens exceeded 80 percent.
    The Government regularly monitored users' online activities and 
blocked residents' regular access to numerous Web sites that officials 
considered to be inciting sectarian tensions, were antigovernment, or 
were anti-Islamic. The Government also blocked the Web site of at least 
one human rights NGO during the year, and it blocked the Web sites of 
the two main opposition political societies, Al-Wifaq National Islamic 
Society and the National Democratic Action Society (also known as 
Wa'ad), during campaigning for the October national elections. Public 
discussion of blocked Web sites was widespread, and many users were 
able to access blocked sites through alternate servers.
    One of the country's most popular oppositionist Internet forums was 
blocked in August and September, although officials permitted the site 
to operate freely thereafter. On September 4, authorities arrested the 
site's administrator, Ali Abdulemam, who is also a popular blogger, and 
charged him with involvement in a ``terror network'' together with 24 
other citizens (see section 1.d.).
    The Government continued to invoke the press code to justify the 
questioning of some journalists and bloggers. Web site administrators 
legally face the same libel laws that apply to print journalists, and 
Web masters are held jointly responsible for all content posted on 
their Web sites or chat rooms.

    Academic Freedom and Cultural Events.--There were no government 
restrictions on academic freedom. Some academics self-censored, 
avoiding contentious political issues.
    The Government banned at least one film, the Indian-produced 
Lamhaa, for its political content.

    b. Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association.--Freedom of 
Assembly.--The constitution provides for the right of free assembly, 
but the law restricts the exercise of this right, and security forces 
intervened in some demonstrations during the year. Organizers must 
submit requests for public gatherings or demonstrations to the Ministry 
of the Interior at least 72 hours in advance. Three citizens from the 
proposed demonstration area must sign the application. If there is no 
response to the request, the gathering may proceed. The law prohibits 
public gatherings near hospitals, airports, commercial centers, 
designated security-related facilities, or funeral processions. The law 
prohibits gatherings between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m., unless the chief of 
public security or his deputy gives written permission. The law states 
that funeral processions may not be turned into political rallies, and 
security officials may be present at any public gathering. The head of 
public security must notify the organizers about any official changes 
to the request (such as location, time, or route) at least 48 hours 
prior to the event. Organizers of an unauthorized gathering face prison 
sentences of three to six months.
    The Government specifically limited and controlled political 
gatherings. The law regulates election campaigns and prohibits 
political activities at worship centers, universities, schools, 
government buildings, and public institutions. The Government did not 
allow mosques or ma'tams (Shia religious community centers) or other 
religious sites to be used for political gatherings without permission.
    Antigovernment demonstrations occurred regularly in numerous Shia 
villages throughout the country. Groups of Shia youth, allegedly 
instigated by members of the unregistered Haq Movement and the newly 
organized al-Waf'a Islamic Movement, regularly appeared at both 
registered and unregistered demonstrations where, according to Shia 
community members and Ministry of Interior officials, they burned tires 
and trash and threw Molotov cocktails and stones at riot police.
    Police often dispersed demonstrations with tear gas. Local human 
rights NGOs alleged that riot police used tear gas against peaceful 
demonstrators; however, the Ministry of the Interior countered that it 
used tear gas in response to attacks by demonstrators. Security forces 
sometimes fired rubber baton rounds to disperse demonstrations and, on 
a number of occasions, security forces allegedly ricocheted shotgun 
pellets from the ground to disperse rioters as a last resort.

    Freedom of Association.--The constitution provides for the right to 
freedom of association; however, the Government limited this right in 
practice. Although the Government does not allow the formation of 
political parties, it authorized registered political societies to run 
candidates and participate in other political activities.
    The Government required all groups to register: civil society 
groups with the Ministry of Social Development, political societies 
with the Ministry of Justice and Islamic Affairs, and labor unions with 
the Ministry of Labor. The Government decided whether the group was 
social or political in nature based on its proposed bylaws. The law 
prohibits any activity by an unlicensed society and any political 
activity by a licensed civil society group.
    To apply for registration, a political society must submit its 
bylaws signed by all founding members, a list of all members and copies 
of their residency cards, and a financial statement identifying the 
society's sources of funding and bank information. The society's 
principles, goals, and programs must not run counter to Sharia law or 
the national interest, as interpreted by the judiciary, nor may the 
society be based on sectarian, geographic, or class identity.
    A civil society group applying for registration must submit its 
bylaws signed by all founding members and minutes of the founding 
committee's meetings, containing the names of founding members, their 
professions, their places of residence, and their signatures. The law 
grants the Ministry of Social Development the right to reject the 
registration of any civil society group if it finds the society's 
services unnecessary, already provided by another society, contrary to 
state security, or aimed at reviving a previously dissolved society. 
Associations whose applications are rejected or ignored may appeal to 
the High Civil Court, which may annul the ministry's decision or refuse 
the complaint.
    Many NGOs and civil society activists asserted that the Ministry of 
Social Development routinely exploited its oversight role to stymie the 
activities of NGOs and other civil society organizations. While some 
local NGOs asserted that bureaucratic incompetence characterized the 
ministry's dealings with NGOs, numerous other local NGOs stated that 
officials in the NGOs directorate actively sought to undermine some 
groups' activities and to impose burdensome bureaucratic procedures on 
NGO board members and volunteers.
    In September the Ministry of Social Development effectively 
shuttered the prominent local human rights organization Bahrain Human 
Rights Society, when a ministerial decree ordered the dissolution of 
the society's board of directors and appointed a ministry employee to 
be the group's interim head. Soon thereafter the group's ousted chief 
filed a lawsuit against the ministry; the case was pending at year's 
end. In October the ministry filed a lawsuit against the ousted board 
of directors of BHRS but withdrew the suit shortly afterwards. In 
December the former BHRS leadership issued a human rights report for 
2009 in the name of the BHRS; the Government did not interfere in the 
report's release or dissemination.

    c. Freedom of Religion.--For a complete description of religious 
freedom, please see the 2010 International Religious Freedom Report at 

    d. Freedom of Movement, Internally Displaced Persons, Protection of 
Refugees, and Stateless Persons.--The constitution provides for freedom 
of movement within the country, foreign travel, emigration, and 
repatriation, and the Government generally respected these rights in 
practice. The Government cooperated with the Office of the UN High 
Commissioner for Refugees and other humanitarian organizations in 
providing protection and assistance to internally displaced persons, 
refugees, returning refugees, asylum seekers, stateless persons, and 
other persons of concern.
    The law provides that the Government may reject applications to 
obtain or renew passports for ``reasonable cause,'' but the applicant 
has the right to appeal such decisions before the High Civil Court. In 
practice authorities relied on determinations of national security when 
adjudicating passport applications.
    On September 19, authorities announced they had revoked the 
citizenship of a naturalized Shia cleric, Ayatollah Sheikh Hussain al-
Najati, his wife, and their three children. The Government restored the 
family's citizenship in November.
    In October authorities prevented three activists from leaving the 
country. All three were permitted to travel within one to two weeks.
    The constitution prohibits forced exile, and there were no reports 
of forced exile or return from exile during the year. Some political 
oppositionists who refused the 2001 amnesty remained in self-imposed 

    Protection of Refugees.--The country is not a party to the 1951 
Convention relating to the Status of Refugees or its 1967 Protocol 
relating to the Status of Refugees, and the Government has not 
established a system for providing protection to refugees. In practice 
the Government provided protection against the expulsion or return of 
refugees to countries where their lives or freedom would be threatened 
on account of their race, religion, nationality, membership in a 
particular social group, or political opinion. Such individuals 
generally had access to certain social services, education, and 

    Stateless Persons.--Citizenship is generally derived from the 
father; however, noncitizen men who marry citizen women are not 
entitled to citizenship; as a result, children from such marriages are 
stateless. The Bahrain Women's Association reported that as of December 
the organization was aware of 213 women with stateless children.
    The law clearly defines naturalization requirements, but the 
adjudication process for naturalization applications was not 
transparent. Opposition groups claimed the Government regularly ignored 
naturalization rules to manipulate demographics for voting and to 
maintain Sunni domination of police and defense forces over Shia. 
According to these opposition groups, the Government was more lenient 
with naturalization requests from foreign residents in the security 
forces, while Shia and other applicants experienced delays in 
processing of their cases. The Government occasionally granted 
citizenship to Sunni residents from neighboring countries.
    Stateless persons had access to limited social services, education, 
and employment. Stateless persons were eligible to receive housing and 
other government services; however, they were excluded from receiving 
Section 3. Respect for Political Rights: The Right of Citizens to 
        Change Their Government
    Citizens do not have the right to change their government or their 
political system; however, the constitution provides for a 
democratically elected Council of Representatives, the lower house of 
parliament. The king appoints the prime minister, who then proposes 
cabinet ministers. Members of the ruling Al-Khalifa family held all 
strategic cabinet ministry positions and approximately half of 
ministerial slots. The bicameral national assembly consists of the 40-
member Council of Representatives and the 40-member appointed Shura 
(Consultative) Council. The king may dissolve the Council of 
Representatives at his discretion; he also has the power to amend the 
constitution and to propose, ratify, and promulgate laws. Both councils 
may question government ministers (except the prime minister), and the 
Council of Representatives may require a minister's resignation with a 
two-thirds majority vote of no confidence. The Council of 
Representatives may introduce a resolution indicating it cannot 
cooperate with the prime minister, in which case the joint national 
assembly would have the option to pass the resolution by a two-thirds 
majority, requiring the king to dismiss the prime minister or to 
dissolve the Council of Representatives. A no-confidence vote has never 

    Elections and Political Participation.--Almost all registered 
political societies participated in the October elections for the 
Council of Representatives and municipal councils. Sixty-seven percent 
of eligible voters participated in the two rounds of voting on October 
23 and 30. The opposition Shia Islamist political society, Al-Wifaq, 
won all 18 races it contested for the Council of Representatives. Two 
progovernment, Sunni Islamist parties won a combined five seats (down 
from 15), and independents won 17 seats. Most opposition groups and 
other activists alleged that the Government gerrymandered electoral 
districts in 2002 to provide for a progovernment, mostly Sunni majority 
in the Council of Representatives.
    Political tensions flared in the weeks preceding the October 23 
balloting, largely given the Government's arrests of more than 200 Shia 
men it accused of inciting or involvement in, the street violence. 
Those arrested included some, but not all, of the leaders of two 
fringe, rejectionist groups, Haq and Wafa', which had called for a 
boycott of the elections. The Government charged 23 of those arrested 
with involvement in a ``terror network'' pursuant to the 2006 
counterterrorism law (see section 1.e.). The electoral process was also 
marred by the Government's banning of the two main opposition parties' 
Web sites and newsletters. The Government did not allow international 
observers to monitor the elections.
    The Government did not allow the formation of political parties; 
however, more than a dozen political societies, which operated somewhat 
like political parties, chose candidates for parliamentary and 
municipal elections, campaigned for political office, developed 
political platforms, held internal elections, and hosted political 
gatherings. Political societies were highly critical of provisions in 
the law requiring them to notify the Government before contacting 
political groups abroad. The law prohibits civil society groups from 
engaging in political matters.
    The newly elected Council of Representatives includes one woman, 
who previously won election as an independent in 2006. Only one of the 
major political societies fielded female candidates for the Council of 
Representatives. An independent female candidate won a seat on a 
municipal council. The newly appointed Shura Council contains 11 women. 
Two women served as cabinet ministers, five women sat as judges in the 
criminal courts, and one was a judge in the Constitutional Court.
    Shia and Sunni citizens have equal rights before the law; however, 
Sunnis dominated political life, although Shia comprised the majority 
of the citizen population. Government and societal discrimination 
against the Shia population remained a problem. Sunnis received 
preference for employment in sensitive government positions and in the 
managerial ranks of the civil service. The defense and internal 
security forces were also predominantly Sunni, and few Shia members 
attained high-ranking positions. There were 18 representatives of the 
mainstream Shia political society, Al-Wifaq, in the elected Council of 
Representatives. The appointed Shura Council included 19 Shia members, 
including the speaker, as well as one Jewish member and one Christian 
member. Five of the 25 cabinet ministers were Shia, including one of 
four deputy prime ministers. The Jafaari Sharia Court consisted of 13 
Shia scholars.
Section 4. Official Corruption and Government Transparency
    The law provides criminal penalties for official corruption; 
however, the Government did not implement the law effectively, and some 
officials reportedly engaged in corrupt practices with impunity. 
Significant areas of government activity, including the security 
services, continued to lack transparency. The press reported that, in a 
number of cases, authorities jailed or fined law enforcement officials 
for misconduct, most often for accepting bribes. An anticorruption unit 
was established in the Ministry of Interior; however, the Government 
did not announce any related investigations. The law does not require 
government officials to provide financial disclosures, nor does it 
provide citizens access to government-held information.
    In response to a bipartisan parliamentary inquiry into alleged 
illegal or improper sales of public property worth billions of dollars, 
the Government formed an interministerial committee to investigate the 
    The National Audit Bureau's annual report resulted in the formation 
of two parliamentary investigation committees, one of which studied 
problems affecting Gulf Air, the other of which investigated problems 
at Mumtalakt, the sovereign wealth fund. No prosecutions arose from the 
findings of these committees.
    In June 2009 the high criminal court found the former chief 
executive officer of the quasigovernmental housing bank for trade and 
finance guilty of embezzling 1.5 million dinars (four million dollars) 
and sentenced him to 10 years' imprisonment. The ruling was the first 
guilty verdict in a major corruption case in many years. An appeal was 
pending at year's end.
    In June 2009 authorities charged the executive director of the 
Bahrain Institute for Political Development (BIPD) and two other BIPD 
officials with fraud and embezzlement. The case remained pending at 
year's end.
    On November 9, a court issued a verdict in the corruption case 
against two former managers of Alba, an aluminum firm majority-owned by 
the Government's sovereign wealth fund, sentencing the men to seven 
years' imprisonment and imposing large fines. The two former managers 
appealed the verdict; a hearing was scheduled for January 2011. 
Activists alleged that the men were scapegoats for more senior Alba and 
government officials who engaged in illegal and corrupt activity.
Section 5. Governmental Attitude Regarding International and 
        Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations of Human 
    Restrictions on freedom of association and expression and increased 
government scrutiny and harassment during the year hindered 
investigation and public criticism of the Government's human rights 
policies; however, local and international NGOs continued to publish 
reports on human rights.
    In September the Government effectively shuttered BHRS, a prominent 
human rights NGO (see section 2.b.). The Government also exerted 
considerable pressure on other NGOs to stymie their activities.
    Several women's rights NGOs, notably the Bahrain Women's 
Association (BWA), the Bahrain Women's Union, and the Young Ladies 
Society, advocated for enhanced political, economic, and social rights 
for women and girls. In July police officers questioned two BWA 
volunteers after they were interviewed by Al Jazeera.
    The Migrant Workers Protection Society (MWPS) provided protection 
services for at-risk migrant workers, including operating a small 
shelter for runaway female domestic workers, and advocated for domestic 
workers' rights, which are not protected by current labor laws. 
According to local and international NGOs, a senior official in the 
Ministry of Social Development threatened to take administrative action 
against MWPS after a domestic employee working for the official sought 
refuge in the society's shelter.
    The Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR), which the Government 
officially dissolved in 2004, continued to issue reports and had strong 
ties to international human rights NGOs. The BCHR occasionally 
coordinated its activities with leaders of political rejectionist 
groups. On August 16, the Government arrested one of the BCHR's board 
members, Mohamed Saeed, a dentist, and charged him with involvement in 
a ``terror network'' (see section 1.e.). The case was pending at year's 
end. On September 4, the Government-run Bahrain News Agency, together 
with progovernment newspapers, temporarily labeled BCHR president 
Nabeel Rajab a ``terrorist,'' and on September 27, authorities 
prevented Rajab from leaving the country. He was permitted to travel 
two weeks later.
    On April 5, a court fined the head of the Bahrain Youth Human 
Rights Society (BYHRS) 500 dinars ($1,325) for operating an 
unregistered NGO. According to the BYHRS, the Ministry of Social 
Development did not respond to the group's request to register as an 
    The Government-aligned Bahrain Human Rights Watch Society (BHRWS), 
headed by a former Shura Council member, undertook a number of advocacy 
campaigns during the year, including highlighting abuses against 
foreign workers and organizing an elections monitoring initiative.
    The Government generally welcomed visits by representatives of 
international human rights organizations. Representatives of HRW and 
Amnesty International had multiple meetings with government ministers 
and other senior officials. Other international NGOs, such as Front 
Line, met with senior government officials. However, journalists with 
close ties to senior government officials repeatedly attacked 
representatives of international human rights organizations. On at 
least two occasions in September and October, a progovernment newspaper 
published a series of articles attacking HRW representatives.
    In April and September, the Government barred two representatives 
of a foreign NGO working on institution-building and civil society 
strengthening from entering the country.
    The UN Development Program (UNDP) maintained an office in the 
country, and it advised the Government on developing mechanisms to 
encourage respect for human rights. The Government welcomed visits by 
both the UN high commissioner for human rights and the UNDP 
    On April 25, the king appointed the 23 members of the National 
Human Rights Institution, a government-backed commission created by 
royal order in December 2009. Many of the members are government 
employees and former or current members of the Shura Council. The 
institution's chairman, Salman Kamalaldine, a former BHRS leader, 
resigned in September to protest the institution's failure to address 
allegations of mistreatment of detainees arrested during the August and 
September government reaction to demonstrations. National Human Rights 
Institution members staunchly defended the Government's human rights 
record in public fora, both domestically and internationally.
Section 6. Discrimination, Societal Abuses, and Trafficking in Persons
    The constitution provides for equality, equal opportunity, and the 
right to medical care, welfare, education, property, capital, and work 
for all citizens. These rights were protected unevenly, depending on an 
individual's social status, sect, or gender. The law deprives foreign 
workers, who make up approximately half the population, of many 
fundamental legal, social, and economic rights.

    Women.--Rape is illegal; however, the law does not address spousal 
rape. The press reported cases of men arrested for the crime, including 
a few cases in which fathers of rape victims sought lighter sentences 
for perpetrators. There were numerous reports of employers raping 
female domestic workers, but most victims did not seek legal redress 
since local courts require witnesses to prove guilt for such assaults.
    No government policies or laws explicitly addressed domestic 
violence. Human rights organizations alleged that spousal abuse of 
women was widespread, particularly in poorer communities. Women rarely 
sought legal redress for violence, and there was little public 
attention devoted to the problem. The Batelco Care Center for Family 
Violence continued to offer free medical, psychological, legal, and 
social assistance to victims of violence, primarily women and children. 
It also operated an abuse hotline that recorded 206 cases from June to 
    The law prohibits sexual harassment, but it remained a widespread 
problem for women, especially foreigners employed as domestic workers 
and in other low-level service jobs. The press reported a number of 
cases of men arrested for sexually harassing women. Article 350 
stipulates penalties of imprisonment of up to one year or a fine of 100 
dinars ($265) for committing an ``act of indecency with a female.''
    Reproductive health services, including birth control and maternity 
care, were available without charge to all women. According to the 
Ministry of Health, maternal mortality was 9.5 per 1,000 births. The UN 
Population Fund estimated that the maternal mortality ratio in 2008 was 
19 per 100,000 live births. Health centers required women to obtain 
spousal consent in order to undergo sterilization; however, this 
consent requirement did not apply to provisions of other family 
planning services. There was no information as to whether women receive 
equal diagnosis and treatment for sexually transmitted infections, 
including HIV.
    Women faced discrimination under the law. A woman cannot transmit 
nationality to her spouse or children. Women have the right to initiate 
divorce; however, religious courts may refuse the request. In divorce 
cases, the courts routinely granted mothers custody of daughters 
younger than age nine and sons younger than age seven. Custody usually 
reverted to the father once the children reached those ages. Regardless 
of custody decisions, the father retained guardianship, or the right to 
make all legal decisions for the child, until the child reached the age 
of 21. A noncitizen woman automatically loses custody of her children 
if she divorces their citizen father without just cause.
    Women may own and inherit property and represent themselves in all 
public and legal matters. In the absence of a direct male heir, Shia 
women may inherit all property; however, Sunni women without a direct 
male heir inherit only a portion as governed by Sharia and the brothers 
or male relatives of the deceased divide the balance. In practice 
better-educated families used wills and other legal maneuvers to 
mitigate the negative effects of these rules.
    Labor laws prohibit discrimination against women; however, 
discrimination against women was systemic in the country, especially in 
the workplace. There were numerous reports of employers mistreating 
noncitizen women working as domestic servants. The influence of 
religious traditionalists sometimes hampered women's rights. The Labor 
Market Regulatory Authority stated that women constituted 20.5 percent 
of the labor force, although these statistics excluded the 
approximately 75,000 domestic workers, a majority of whom are women.

    Children.--Citizenship is derived from one's father. Women cannot 
transmit their nationality to their children; therefore, children of 
some citizen mothers and noncitizen fathers are born stateless (see 
section 2.d., Stateless Persons).
    Government-run primary schools are segregated by gender, although 
children are subject to the same curricula and textbooks. Schooling is 
compulsory for children only through the age of 14, but it is provided 
free of charge to citizens and legal residents through grade 12.
    NGOs reported an increase in the number of child abuse cases in 
recent years but were unsure whether abuse is on the rise or whether 
there is greater willingness to report it. Sharia courts, not civil 
courts, address crimes involving child abuse, including violence 
against children. NGOs expressed concern over the lack of consistent, 
written guidelines for prosecuting and punishing offenders and over the 
leniency of penalties involving child abuse cases. The Be Free Center, 
an associate of the Bahrain Women's Association that focuses on child 
abuse awareness and prevention, dealt with 2,371 cases of child abuse 
victims during the year.
    From August to December, there were numerous reports that security 
forces detained boys under the age of 18, including some arrested in 
their homes. There were reports that boys were prosecuted and convicted 
for security-related crimes, including two 12-year-old cousins who, 
after four months of pretrial detention, each received six-month prison 
sentences, which the Government said would be served in a juvenile 
detention facility run by the Ministry of Social Development.
    The country is not a party to the 1980 Hague Convention on the 
Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. For information on 
international parental child abduction, please see the Department of 
State's annual report on compliance at http://travel.state.gov/
abduction/resources/congressreport/congressreport--4308.html. as well 
as country-specific information at http://travel.state.gov/abduction/

    Anti-Semitism.--There were no reports of anti-Semitic acts in the 

    Trafficking in Persons.--For information on trafficking in persons, 
please see the Department of State's annual Trafficking in Persons 
Report at www.state.gov/g/tip.

    Persons With Disabilities.--The law protects the rights of persons 
with disabilities, and a variety of governmental, quasigovernmental, 
and religious institutions are mandated to support and protect persons 
with disabilities. In June the Ministry of Social Development announced 
a partnership with the UN Development Program (UNDP) to develop and 
implement a National Strategy for Persons with Disabilities.
    New public buildings in the central municipality must include 
facilities for persons with disabilities. The law does not mandate 
access to nonresidential buildings for persons with disabilities.
    There were no official reports of discrimination against persons 
with disabilities in employment, education, or access to health care, 
but according to anecdotal evidence, persons with disabilities 
routinely suffered lack of access to education and employment. The one 
government school for children with hearing disabilities did not 
operate past the 10th grade. Certain public schools had specialized 
education programs for children with learning disabilities, physical 
handicaps, speech impediments, and Down syndrome, but the Government 
did not fund private programs for children with disabilities who could 
not find appropriate programs in public schools.
    The law requires the Government to provide vocational training for 
persons with disabilities who wish to work. The law also requires any 
employer of more than 100 persons to hire at least 2 percent of its 
employees from the Government's list of workers with disabilities; 
however, the Government did not monitor compliance. The Government 
placed persons with disabilities in some public-sector jobs.
    There were no restrictions on participation in political and 
electoral processes for persons with disabilities.

    National/Racial/Ethnic Minorities.--The law grants citizenship to 
Arab applicants who have resided in the country for 15 years and non-
Arab applicants who have resided in the country for 25 years. There was 
a lack of transparency in the naturalization process, and there were 
numerous reports that the citizenship law was not applied uniformly. 
For example, there were allegations that the Government allowed foreign 
Sunni employees in the security services that had lived in the country 
for less than 15 years to apply for citizenship. There were also 
reports of Arab Shia who had resided in the country for more than 15 
years and non-Arab foreign residents who had resided more than 25 years 
who had not been granted citizenship.
    Although the Government asserted that the labor code for the 
private sector applies to all workers, the International Labor 
Organization and international NGOs have noted that, in practice, 
nonnational migrant workers faced discrimination in the workplace.
    In March 2009 a Sunni Pakistani civilian, Mohammed Riyadh, died of 
burns he suffered after rioters firebombed his vehicle. Due to his 
ethnicity, attackers assumed the victim was an undercover police 
officer monitoring activity in the village. On July 5, seven Shia men, 
who had been charged under the counterterrorism law, were sentenced to 
life imprisonment for their role in the death.

    Societal Abuses, Discrimination, and Acts of Violence Based on 
Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity.--The law does not criminalize 
homosexual relationships between consenting adults at least 21 years of 
age; however, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender activities were 
not socially accepted, and discrimination was common.

    Other Societal Violence or Discrimination.--The media reported few 
cases of HIV/AIDS. There were no reports of societal violence or 
discrimination based on persons with HIV/AIDS. The Government mandated 
screening of newly arrived migrant workers for infectious diseases, 
including HIV/AIDS; migrant workers found to be HIV-positive faced 
Section 7. Worker Rights
    a. The Right of Association.--The law grants workers, including 
noncitizens, a limited right to form and join unions as long as the 
union is for lawful objectives and does not disturb the fundamentals of 
the religion and public order is not disturbed. Members of the military 
are prohibited from joining unions. In the private sector, workers may 
form unions without prior authorization. Public-sector workers may join 
private sector trade unions and professional societies, but trade 
unions are prohibited in the public sector. Foreign workers, excluding 
domestic workers, are allowed to join unions and many do so, but they 
are not allowed to engage in collective bargaining. Only one trade 
union is permitted in each workplace. The Shura Council vetoed a law 
that would allow more than one trade union per company. All unions must 
join the General Federation of Bahrain Trade Unions (GFBTU). The law 
allows for the establishment of additional federations; however, at 
year's end, there were none. According to the GFBTU, approximately 18 
percent of the labor force was unionized with employees from the six 
major state-owned firms making up 52 percent of total trade union 
    The law prohibits unions from engaging in political activities, 
although union officials participated in public forums regarding 
workers' rights. The GFBTU did not report any government interference 
in its activities.
    The law states that the right to strike is a legitimate means for 
workers to defend their rights and interests; however, this right was 
restricted and is not available for all workers. The law prohibits 
strikes in certain sectors the Government deems essential. The list of 
essential services prohibited from joining unions exceeds international 
standards. They include the oil, gas, education, telecommunication, 
transportation, and health sectors, as well as pharmacies and bakeries. 
For workers permitted to strike, the law requires a lengthy process of 
conciliation followed by mandatory arbitration. Workers must approve a 
strike with a two-thirds majority in a secret ballot and provide two 
weeks' notification to the Ministry of Labor before conducting a 
strike. There were no strikes during the year. Although government 
sources held that the arbitration provision did not preempt the right 
to strike, the law does not specify that a union may proceed to a 
strike vote if it disagrees with the arbitrator's decision.

    b. The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively.--The law 
provides for the right to organize and bargain collectively; however, 
foreign workers, who make up approximately 60 percent of the workforce, 
are not permitted to engage in collective bargaining. Employers and the 
Government are required to treat unions as independent judicial 
    In the private sector, the law prohibits antiunion discrimination 
and employer interference in union functions. The Government generally 
protected this right.
    There are no special laws or exemptions from regular labor laws in 
export processing zones.

    c. Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor.--The law prohibits 
forced or compulsory labor, including by children; however, there were 
reports that such practices occurred, particularly among domestic 
workers and those working in the informal sector, many of whom are not 
fully protected by the legal code. There were no reports of forced or 
compulsory child labor; however, there were reports of children 
trafficked into the country for domestic service and sexual 
    Foreign workers, mostly from South and Southeast Asia, who made up 
approximately 60 percent of the workforce (76 percent of the private-
sector workforce), were particularly vulnerable to forced labor and in 
some cases were subject to withholding of passports, restrictions on 
movement, contract substitution, nonpayment of wages, threats, physical 
and sexual abuse. Some foreign workers arrived in the country under the 
sponsorship of an employer and then switched jobs while continuing to 
pay a fee to their original sponsor, which made it difficult to monitor 
and control their employment.
    In numerous instances, employers withheld salaries from foreign 
workers for months or years and refused to grant them permission to 
leave the country. The Government and the courts generally worked to 
rectify abuses brought to their attention. The fear of deportation or 
employer retaliation prevented many foreign workers from making 
complaints to authorities.
    The Government continued to conduct extensive awareness campaigns, 
yet many foreign workers were unaware of their rights under the law. 
The Government published pamphlets on foreign resident workers' rights 
in several languages, provided manuals on these rights to local 
diplomatic missions, and operated a telephone hotline for victims.
    In August 2009 new rules went into effect to allow migrant foreign 
workers (excluding domestic workers) to change jobs without employers' 
permission, subject to certain restrictions. During the year the 
Government reported that more than 7,000 workers switched employers 
under the new rules.
    Labor laws do not fully cover domestic workers. There were numerous 
credible reports that domestic workers, especially women, were forced 
to work 12- to 16-hour days, had to give their identity documents to 
employers, had little time off, were malnourished, and were subject to 
verbal and physical abuse, including sexual molestation and rape. 
Between 30 and 40 percent of attempted suicide cases in the 
Government's psychiatric hospitals were foreign domestic workers.
    Also see the Department of State's annual Trafficking in Persons 
Report at www.state.gov/g/tip.

    d. Prohibition of Child Labor and Minimum Age for Employment.--The 
law prohibits child labor and establishes protections for children from 
workplace exploitation, and the Government effectively enforced these 
laws. Some children were believed to work in family-run businesses, but 
the practice was not widespread. There were reports of children 
trafficked into the country for domestic service and sexual 
exploitation. Also see the Department of State's annual Trafficking in 
Persons Report at www.state.gov/g/tip.
    The minimum age for employment is 16 years old. The Ministry of 
Labor makes rare exceptions on a case-by-case basis for juveniles 
between the ages of 14 and 16 who have an urgent need to assist in 
providing financial support for their families. Minors may not work in 
industries the Ministry of Health deems hazardous or unhealthy, 
including construction, mining, and oil refining. Minors may work no 
more than six hours a day and may be present on the employment premises 
no more than seven hours a day. These regulations do not apply to 
family-operated businesses in which the only other employees are family 
    According to NGOs, government labor inspectors monitored and 
enforced child labor laws effectively in the industrial sector. During 
the year the Ministry of Labor employed 43 labor inspectors.

    e. Acceptable Conditions of Work.--There is no national minimum 
wage. Unskilled foreign laborers in particular did not earn as much as 
their home countries' guidelines suggested and were at times subject to 
nonpayment of wages. The Philippines imposed a minimum wage of 80 
dinars ($212) for domestic workers and required a contract signed by 
the two parties and approved by the Philippines Embassy. However, in 
practice many such employees were paid less than 80 dinars ($212).
    The Ministry of Labor enforced the labor law and mandated 
acceptable conditions of work for all adult workers except domestic 
workers, including a maximum workweek of 48 hours, with special 
permission required by the ministry for work in excess of 60 hours per 
week. Muslims may not legally be required to work more than six hours 
per day and 36 hours per week during Ramadan. Workers are entitled to 
one day of rest after six consecutive days of work and to annual paid 
vacations of 21 days after one year of service. Work in excess of 48 
hours per week is to be paid at a rate of 25 percent above the normal 
wage if conducted during the day and 50 percent if completed at night. 
In practice many foreign domestic workers worked more than 60 hours per 
week and did not receive overtime. The labor inspectorate conducted 
periodic comprehensive inspections of private sector enterprises, 
including verification of employee hours and wages.
    According to NGOs, workplace safety standards were adequate, but 
inspection and compliance were substandard. The Ministry of Labor set 
occupational safety and health standards and sporadically enforced them 
with a team of 11 engineers from multiple specialties. Inspectors had 
the authority to levy fines and close worksites if employers did not 
improve conditions by specified deadlines. There were reports of 
employers being fined for violations. During the year the media 
reported several workplace deaths owing to a combination of inadequate 
safety procedures, worker ignorance of those procedures, and inadequate 
safety standards for equipment. Exact figures were not available. 
Particularly hazardous sectors included construction and automotive 
    During the year inspectors visited labor camps to verify whether 
workers' accommodations met required safety and hygiene standards. In 
2009 inspectors visited 1,419 labor camps, of which 126 failed the 
inspection because of safety issues such as gas and electricity 
problems, overcrowding, poor hygiene, and general disrepair. Inspectors 
cited poor hygiene in warnings issued to 148 camps, as well as part of 
their rationale for the closure of 31 camps. The inspectors were 
authorized to inspect only premises that had a commercial registration; 
they could not inspect private homes where most domestic workers lived 
or unregistered ``private'' camps where many unskilled laborers lived.
    Reports of employers and recruiting agencies beating or sexually 
abusing foreign women working in domestic positions were common. 
Numerous cases were reported to local embassies, the press, and police; 
most victims were too intimidated to sue their employers, although they 
had the right to do so. If a victim brings suit against her employer, 
she cannot leave the country for the duration of the case. The Migrant 
Workers Protection Society continued to support victims who took their 
cases to court, but compensation to victims was reportedly low.
    When a worker lodges a complaint, the Ministry of Labor opens an 
investigation and often takes remedial action. The ministry reportedly 
received 5,132 complaints during the year, including complaints from 
domestic workers. On average there were 11 complaints from domestic 
workers per month. Ministry officials stated that they were able to 
resolve most of these cases through mediation. The public prosecutor 
took the remaining cases for investigation. Complaints that cannot be 
settled though arbitration must be referred to the court within 15 
days. However, the vast majority of cases involving abused domestic 
workers did not reach the Ministry of Labor or the Public Prosecution.
    A ministerial decree prohibits outdoor work between the hours of 
noon and 4 p.m. during July and August. The Ministry of Labor reported 
it fined 36 companies each 50 to 300 dinars ($132 to $792) per worker 
for allegedly violating the ban in 2009, an increase from 29 cases in 



    The National Democratic Party (NDP) has governed the Arab Republic 
of Egypt, which has a population of approximately 79 million, since the 
party's establishment in 1978. Following parliamentary elections in 
June and November that were marked by significant irregularities and 
preelection restrictions, the NDP continued to dominate national 
politics by maintaining an overriding majority in the popularly elected 
People's Assembly and the partially elected Shura (Consultative) 
Council. The Government derives its governing authority from the 1971 
constitution and subsequent amendments. Executive authority resides 
with the president and the cabinet. In 2005 President Hosni Mubarak won 
a fifth consecutive six-year term with 88 percent of the vote in the 
country's first presidential election, which was marred by low voter 
turnout, charges of fraud, and government efforts to prevent opposition 
candidates from participating effectively. Security forces reported to 
civilian authorities.
    The Government limited citizens' right to change their government 
and extended a state of emergency that has been in place almost 
continuously since 1967. Security forces used unwarranted lethal force 
and tortured and abused prisoners and detainees, in most cases with 
impunity. Prison and detention center conditions were poor. Security 
forces arbitrarily arrested and detained individuals, in some cases for 
political purposes, and kept them in prolonged pretrial detention. The 
executive branch exercised control over and pressured the judiciary. 
The Government partially restricted freedom of expression. The 
Government's respect for freedoms of assembly, association, and 
religion was poor, and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) continued 
to face restrictions. The Government killed an increased number of 
African migrants trying to cross the Egyptian-Israeli border into 

                        RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS

Section 1. Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom 
    a. Arbitrary or Unlawful Deprivation of Life.--The Government did 
not commit any politically motivated killings; however, security forces 
committed arbitrary or unlawful killings during the year.
    On June 7, according to eyewitnesses, two undercover police 
investigators beat to death 27-year-old businessman Khaled Sayeed after 
approaching him in an Alexandria internet cafe. A government autopsy 
concluded on June 23 that Sayeed died from choking on a bag of 
cannabis. The autopsy noted bodily injuries that could have resulted 
from beating but asserted that these injuries did not cause the death. 
On July 3, the Government charged the two investigators with cruel 
treatment, torture, and wrongful arrest. A trial began July 27 and 
continued at year's end.
    On November 6, 19-year-old Ahmed Sha'aban disappeared in 
Alexandria, and his body was discovered in a city canal on November 10. 
According to NGOs, in December the public prosecutor suspended its 
investigation of the family's complaint accusing police officers of 
murder. One family member who viewed Sha'aban's body told an NGO it 
showed signs of torture.
    On November 24, during violent clashes with a large group of Coptic 
Christian rioters in the Giza neighborhood of Omraniya, security forces 
killed two persons and injured approximately 40, and rioters injured 
approximately 20 police. According to reports the violence began when 
police moved to halt construction of a church and community center the 
Coptic Christians believed they had permission to build. Security 
forces arrested 158 persons for participating in the riots. By year's 
end the attorney general had ordered the release of all but 23 of the 
    On December 7, according to NGOs, witnesses stated that Mustafa 
Attia El-Sayeed fell during a police arrest over a debt dispute. 
Witnesses believed the fall aggravated an existing heart condition, 
causing El-Sayeed to die of a heart attack. A government autopsy 
following a complaint filed by the family ruled El-Sayeed died from 
natural causes.
    At year's end the Government had not publicly taken action to 
investigate the 2008 killing by security forces of four individuals 
during violent clashes between police and protesters in Mahalla el 
Kubra or the 2008 killing by Central Security Forces (CSF) of three 
Bedouin tribesmen during demonstrations that followed the CSF killing 
of a suspected drug smuggler.
    On January 6, in the town of Naga Hammadi, men with automatic 
weapons shot Coptic churchgoers after Coptic Orthodox Christmas Mass. 
Seven persons were killed (six Coptic Christians and one off-duty 
Muslim police officer) and 11 others wounded (nine Coptic Christians 
and two Muslims). Authorities arrested three suspects; at the end of 
the year, they remained in detention and were being tried in state 
security court on charges of premeditated murder.

    b. Disappearance.--According to the most recent UN Human Rights 
Council Report of the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary 
Disappearances, there were 36 outstanding disappearance cases.
    On August 8, two human rights NGOs filed a request that the 
Government investigate the whereabouts of Mohammed Sayed Abdo Turk; his 
father believed him to be in the custody of the Ministry of Interior's 
State Security Investigative Services (SSIS). In July 2009 Turk 
reportedly disappeared in the Damanhour area.
    In 2008, according to the quasi-governmental National Council for 
Human Rights (NCHR), Ahmed Ismail Al Sheikh disappeared from a prison 
in Damanhour in the Delta. The Government and the prison gave the 
family contradictory accounts of his whereabouts.

    c. Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or 
Punishment.--Article 42 of the constitution prohibits the infliction of 
``physical or moral harm'' upon persons who have been arrested or 
detained; however, the law fails to account for mental or psychological 
abuse, abuse against persons who have not been formally accused, or 
abuse occurring for reasons other than securing a confession. Police, 
security personnel, and prison guards often tortured and abused 
prisoners and detainees, sometimes in cases of detentions under the 
Emergency Law, which authorizes incommunicado detention indefinitely, 
subject to a judge's ruling. The Government rarely held security 
officials accountable, and officials often operated with impunity.
    Domestic and international human rights groups reported that the 
SSIS, police, and other government entities continued to employ torture 
to extract information or force confessions. In numerous trials 
defendants alleged that police tortured them during questioning. Police 
and the SSIS reportedly employed methods such as stripping and 
blindfolding victims; suspending victims by the wrists and ankles in 
contorted positions or from a ceiling or door frame with feet just 
touching the floor; beating victims with fists, whips, metal rods, or 
other objects; using electric shocks; dousing victims with cold water; 
sleep deprivation; and sexual abuse, including sodomy. There was 
evidence that security officials sexually assaulted some victims or 
threatened to rape them or their family members. Human rights groups 
reported that the lack of legally required written police records often 
effectively blocked investigations.
    The Government investigated torture complaints in some criminal 
cases and punished some offending police officers. Courts sentenced 
officers to terms of one to six years in prison and ordered officers to 
pay compensation to victims in some cases. According to the most recent 
government figures, in 2009 the public prosecutor referred nine cases 
of cruel treatment to the criminal courts and one case to a 
disciplinary tribunal; it also requested administrative sanctions in 10 
cases. Of these cases, according to the Government, courts tried and 
convicted one police officer for torture, acquitted another officer, 
and had not ruled in two other cases in the first six months of the 
year. Also in the first six months of 2009, the time period for which 
the Government provided information, 16 police officers faced 
disciplinary action for committing abuse or torture.
    During the year human rights groups and the media documented a case 
of abuse of a blogger, and cases of harassment of journalists and 
bloggers who reported on controversial topics (see section 2.a.).
    The Government did not investigate a February 2009 cell phone video 
depicting police officers sodomizing a victim at a Cairo police station 
or an August 2009 cell phone video depicting police officers torturing 
an unidentified man suspended by his arms in a Port Said police 
    On March 7 and 8, according to an NGO source, a security officer 
beat Taha Abdel Tawab, a supporter of former International Atomic 
Energy Association chairman and opposition political activist Mohammed 
El-Baradei, in a police station in the city of Fayoum. An officer also 
allegedly withheld food and deprived Abdel Tawab of medication, causing 
him to be hospitalized. The public prosecutor ordered an investigation 
of the officer and questioned him on March 12. By year's end 
authorities had not taken further action on the case.
    On April 13, according to witnesses, police beat, stripped, and 
arrested activist Baha Saber during a demonstration in Cairo after he 
pushed police officers to move outside a cordoned area. According to 
NGO sources, police subsequently beat and sexually abused Saber in 
custody. On April 14, the public prosecutor charged Saber with 
resisting arrest and impeding traffic and released him the following 
day. The charges remained pending at year's end.
    On September 18, according to an NGO source, two police corporals 
arrested Mostafa Galal El-Din Abdel Hamid and subsequently shackled and 
beat him at Dar El-Salaam police station in Cairo. On September 28, the 
day of Abdel Hamid's release, his family filed a complaint with the 
public prosecutor, and at year's end the case was under investigation.
    In July 2009, according to NGO sources, security forces used 
electric shocks and sleep deprivation to torture members of an alleged 
terrorist cell arrested for allegedly smuggling weapons to Gaza, among 
other charges. At year's end the suspects were on trial in a state 
security court.
    In March 2009 a court sentenced police corporal Ahmed Antar Ibrahim 
to six years' imprisonment for his 2008 assault on anti-torture 
activists and doctors Magda Adly and Mona Hamed. Ibrahim had confessed 
that police intelligence officer Ahmad Maklad ordered him to attack 
Adly, but authorities reportedly did not investigate Maklad's role. 
According to NGO sources, Ibrahim's retrial on procedural grounds began 
in December 2009, and on April 4, Damanhour Criminal Court sentenced 
Ibrahim to two years in prison for assault. According to NGO sources, 
Ibrahim remained in prison at year's end.
    In November 2009 the Alexandria Criminal Court convicted police 
officer Akram Soliman of assaulting a mentally disabled man, Ragai 
Sultan, and sentenced Soliman to five years in prison. On July 4, an 
appeals court upheld the verdict. According to NGO sources, Soliman 
remained in prison at year's end.

    Prison and Detention Center Conditions.--Conditions in prisons and 
detention centers remained poor, although human rights lawyers and NCHR 
reported improvements. According to observers, prison cells were 
overcrowded, with a lack of medical care, proper hygiene, food, clean 
water, and proper ventilation. Tuberculosis was widespread; abuse was 
common, especially of juveniles in adult facilities; and guards 
brutalized prisoners. Provisions for temperature control, lighting, 
sanitation, and basic and emergency medical care varied but were not 
always adequate.
    The Government did not announce any investigations into the 2008 
alleged beating of detainees from the El-Mahallah demonstrations; the 
2008 alleged beating of a foreign detainee; or the killing of one 
prisoner and injury of 25 others during a 2008 prison riot in Assiut, 
following the alleged torture of a prisoner.
    Although separate prison facilities existed for men, women, and 
juveniles, adults were not always separated from juveniles. Pretrial 
detainees were sometimes held with convicted prisoners. The penal code 
provides for reasonable access to visitors; however, according to NGO 
observers, the Government sometimes prevented visitors' access to 
detainees held under the Emergency Law. Prisoners were permitted 
religious observance. Authorities permitted prisoners to submit 
complaints to judicial authorities without censorship and to request 
investigation of credible allegations of inhumane conditions; however, 
NGO observers claimed that prisoners were sometimes reluctant to do so 
out of fear of retribution from prison officials. Authorities rarely 
investigated credible allegations of inhumane conditions.
    The Government did not permit independent human rights observers to 
visit prisons or other places of detention during the year, despite 
repeated requests from the International Committee of the Red Cross and 
other domestic and international human rights monitors. Some prisons 
remained completely closed to the public. As required by law, the 
public prosecutor continued to inspect all regular prisons. SSIS 
detention centers were excluded from all inspections. The NCHR visited 
four prisons during the year, their first visits since 2005. The NCHR 
reported improved health care, food, and recreation. The NCHR 
considered itself an ombudsman serving on behalf of prisoners, but 
there was no official government ombudsman.

    d. Arbitrary Arrest or Detention.--The constitution prohibits 
arbitrary arrest and detention; however, during the year police and 
security forces engaged in such practices, including continued large-
scale detentions of hundreds of individuals without charge under the 
Emergency Law, which was extended in May for two years and limited to 
terrorism and drug trafficking cases.
    Throughout the year the Ministry of Interior awarded compensation 
to members of Islamic groups who were detained without trial in the 

    Role of the Police and Security Apparatus.--The Ministry of 
Interior controls local police forces, which operate in large cities 
and governorates; the SSIS, which conducts investigations; and the CSF, 
which maintains public order. SSIS and CSF officers are responsible for 
law enforcement at the national level and for providing security for 
infrastructure and key domestic and foreign officials. Single-mission 
law enforcement agencies, such as the Tourist and Antiquities Police 
and the Antinarcotics General Administration, also work at the national 
    The security forces operated under a central chain of command and 
were considered generally effective in combating crime and terrorism 
and maintaining public order. There was no systematic prosecution of 
security personnel who committed human rights abuses, and impunity was 
a problem. The Government failed to bring cases against police and 
security force personnel following credible allegations of torture.
    The UN Development Program, with government cooperation, provided 
human rights training for 255 judicial and law enforcement officials 
during the year.

    Arrest Procedures and Treatment While in Detention.--Individuals 
may be arrested and detained under the Emergency Law or the penal code, 
both of which give the Government broad powers.
    The Emergency Law allows arrest without a warrant and detention of 
an individual without charge for as long as 30 days, after which a 
detainee may demand a court hearing to challenge the legality of the 
detention order. A detainee may resubmit a motion for a hearing at one-
month intervals thereafter; however, there is no limit to the detention 
period if a judge continues to uphold the order or if the detainee 
fails to exercise the right to a hearing, and there is no possibility 
of bail. Many detainees under the Emergency Law remained incommunicado 
in state security detention facilities without access to family members 
or to lawyers before their cases were transferred to trial, and some 
faced torture in detention.
    Arrests under the penal code occurred openly and with warrants 
issued by a district prosecutor or judge. A prosecutor must bring 
charges within 48 hours following arrest or release the suspect. 
Detainees under the penal code sometimes were not informed promptly of 
charges against them. Authorities may hold a suspect for a maximum of 
six months while they investigate the case. There was a functioning 
system of bail for persons detained under the penal code. In criminal 
cases defendants have the right to counsel promptly after arrest and 
access to family members at the discretion of the court. In criminal 
cases the court is obligated to provide a lawyer to defendants who 
cannot afford one. However, in practice defendants often faced 
obstacles and were unable to secure regular access to lawyers or family 
    The Government continued to rely on the penal code for the majority 
of criminal investigations and prosecutions. In recent years 
authorities detained thousands of persons administratively under the 
Emergency Law on suspicion of terrorism or engaging in prohibited 
political activity. The Human Rights Association for the Assistance of 
Prisoners (HRAAP) estimated that the Government continued to hold 
between 3,000 and 4,000 persons in administrative detention without 
charge or trial under the Emergency Law; most of those detained were 
members of Islamic extremist groups arrested in the 1990s.
    In August the Government detained between 50 and 100 ``April 6'' 
activists involved in protests against power shortages and efforts to 
collect signatures for a petition calling for political reforms in the 
name of Mohammed El-Baradei. The Government released all the activists 
within 48 hours.
    In August the Government detained Emad El-Kebir for allegedly 
participating in a street brawl and charged him with offenses falling 
under the penal code's terrorism statutes. A state security court 
acquitted El-Kebir on December 19, and he was released from prison on 
December 21. El-Kebir was the victim in a high-profile police abuse 
case for which a court sentenced two police officers to prison 
sentences in 2007.
    On September 14, the Government detained an activist in the 
opposition Democratic Front Party and released him within 48 hours. 
According to observers, security forces questioned him about his 
political activities, including support for Mohammed El-Baradei.
    Authorities released approximately 240 Bedouin during the year, 
while approximately 60 remained in detention.
    During the year there were cases of pretrial detention exceeding 
legal limits. Failure to implement judicial rulings regarding the 
release of detainees remained a problem.

    Amnesty.--On July 23, President Mubarak ordered the release of 
3,525 prisoners on the country's national day.
    On October 6, President Mubarak issued a decree ordering the 
partial pardon and permanent release of 409 prisoners on the occasion 
of the holiday commemorating the 1973 Arab-Israeli war.

    e. Denial of Fair Public Trial.--The constitution provides for an 
independent judiciary, but in practice the judiciary was subject to 
executive influence and corruption. The constitution provides for the 
independence and immunity of judges and forbids interference by other 
authorities in the exercise of their judicial functions. The Government 
generally respected judicial independence in nonpolitical cases in 
civilian courts. The Government ignored court orders to halt 
parliamentary elections pending reinstatement of some candidates banned 
by the High Electoral Commission. State security courts constituted 
under the Emergency Law share jurisdiction with military courts over 
crimes affecting national security. State security courts were not 
independent, as the Emergency Law stipulates that all state security 
court verdicts are subject to the president's review and allows the 
president to modify sentences handed down by the judges. The Emergency 
Law also allows the president to replace two of an emergency court's 
three civilian judges with military judges. The president may refer 
criminal cases to state security or military courts, where the accused 
does not receive most of the constitutional protections of the civilian 
judicial system. The Government continued to use the Emergency Law to 
try nonsecurity cases in these courts and to restrict many other basic 
    The president can appoint civilian judges to emergency courts upon 
the recommendation of the minister of justice or military judges upon 
the recommendation of the minister of defense. Military courts were 
established under the code of military justice law 25 of 1966. Under 
the code of military justice, the president can refer civilians to 
military courts for certain offenses in the penal code, such as acts 
harmful to the security of the Government or deliberate destruction of 
property to harm national security. A 2007 amendment to the law 
includes an appeal mechanism for military court verdicts, which lawyers 
were sometimes able to use to bring cases on behalf of their clients. 
Military verdicts were subject to review by other military judges and 
confirmation by the president, who in practice usually delegated the 
review function to a senior military officer. Defense attorneys claimed 
that they were not given sufficient time to prepare and that military 
judges tended to rush cases involving large numbers of defendants. In 
June parliament amended the code of military justice to grant military 
courts jurisdiction over workers in military factories. In August a 
military court ruled on a case involving workers in a military 
production factory (see section 7.e.).
    According to information from the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) website 
in October, MB second deputy chairman Khairat El Shater and one other 
MB member remained in a military prison. In 2008 a closed military 
tribunal had sentenced El Shater and his other civilian colleagues, 
seven in absentia, to prison terms ranging from three to 10 years on 
charges of money laundering. In November 2009 the Supreme Military 
Appeals Court rejected their motion contesting their transfer to a 
military tribunal.

    Trial Procedures.--Defendants enjoy a presumption of innocence. 
There are no juries. Trials are usually public; however, observers 
needed government permission to attend court sessions. Human rights 
activists were generally able to attend trials in civilian courts but 
were excluded from most military trials. Defendants have the right to 
counsel in civilian courts, and the Government provides a lawyer at the 
state's expense if the defendant does not have counsel; however, 
detainees in certain high-security prisons continued to allege that 
they were denied access to counsel or that such access was delayed 
until trial, thus denying them time to prepare an adequate defense. 
Defendants in military courts also have the right to counsel, but 
lawyers complained they did not have full access to their clients. The 
law allows defendants to be present, question witnesses against them, 
and present witnesses and evidence on their own behalf. The law 
provides defendants and their attorneys the right to access government-
held evidence against them.
    In civilian courts defendants have the right of appeal up to the 
Court of Cassation. Sentences by military courts and death sentences in 
civilian criminal courts are subject to confirmation by the president. 
The president may alter or annul a decision of an emergency court, 
including a decision to release a defendant.

    Political Prisoners and Detainees.--HRAAP estimated that the 
Government continued to hold between 3,000 and 4,000 persons in 
administrative detention without charge or trial under the Emergency 
Law; most of those detained were members of Islamic extremist groups 
arrested in the 1990s (see section 1.d.). The Government held 
detainees, including many MB activists, for several weeks to several 
months or longer and did not permit international humanitarian 
organizations access to political prisoners.
    According to the Muslim Brotherhood's website, the Government 
arrested and detained 6,001 MB members during the year, mostly without 
formal charge or trial. According to public MB statements, the 
Government released most of these detainees soon after their 
detentions. According to public statements by the MB, approximately 702 
of their leaders and members remained in prison at year's end. 
According to press reports on November 25, MB lawyer Abdel Monem Abdel 
Maqsoud announced that authorities arrested 1,400 MB members in advance 
of the November 28 parliamentary elections, including 1,206 following 
the MB's October announcement that it would participate in 
parliamentary elections. According to the same press report, 
authorities released 700 MB activists following the elections; those 
remaining in detention had been charged for violations of the 
prohibition of the use of religion in politics. Maqsoud also claimed 
that a court convicted and sentenced 18 MB activists for using the 
political slogan ``Islam is the solution'' and that appeal processes in 
these cases continued at year's end.
    On February 8, the Government detained 15 MB members, including 
three members of the group's senior administrative body the Guidance 
Bureau (GB), for belonging to a banned organization, damaging ``social 
peace,'' and forming an underground organization that it claimed 
planned militant activity. On April 4, 13 members of the group were 
released. On April 7, the Government released two of the GB members, 
Mahmoud Ezzat and Essam El Eryan. On May 13, the Government released 
the last detainee, Osama Nasr.
    On March 27, the Government arrested ``April 6'' activist Tareq 
Khadr after he urged students in Alexandria to sign a petition calling 
for political reforms in the name of Mohammed El-Baradei. The 
Government detained Khadr without charge under the Emergency Law before 
releasing him on June 11.
    Approximately 20 members of the prohibited Hizb al-Tahrir al-Islami 
(Islamic Liberation Party) remained in prison at year's end. In 2004 
the Supreme State Security Emergency Court convicted 26 men linked to 
Hizb al-Tahrir for belonging to a prohibited organization. Several of 
the defendants, including three British citizens, alleged they were 
tortured to compel them to sign confessions.

    Civil Judicial Procedures and Remedies.--Individuals had access to 
civil courts for lawsuits relating to human rights violations and filed 
such lawsuits; however, the courts were not entirely independent, 
especially in politically high-profile cases.

    f. Arbitrary Interference With Privacy, Family, Home, or 
Correspondence.--The constitution provides for the privacy of the home, 
correspondence, telephone calls, and other means of communication; 
however, the Emergency Law suspends the constitutional provisions 
regarding the right to privacy, and the Government used the Emergency 
Law to limit these rights. Furthermore, authorities in terrorism cases 
may disregard constitutional protections of privacy of communications 
and personal residences.
    Under the law, police must obtain warrants or court orders before 
undertaking searches and wiretaps, but some human rights observers 
alleged that the Government routinely violated the law. Police officers 
who conducted searches without proper warrants were subject to criminal 
penalties, although courts seldom imposed such penalties. The Emergency 
Law empowers the Government to place wiretaps, intercept mail, and 
search persons or places without warrants. Security agencies frequently 
placed political activists, suspected subversives, journalists, 
foreigners, and writers under surveillance, screened their 
correspondence (especially international mail), searched them and their 
homes, and confiscated personal property.
    On March 6, according to Human Rights Watch (HRW), security 
officers entered and searched the home of Maha el-Khadrawy, a member of 
the ``April 6'' opposition group.
Section 2. Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:
    a. Freedom of Speech and Press.--The constitution provides for 
freedom of speech and of the press; however, the Government partially 
restricted these rights in practice through harassment, censorship, and 
arrests and detentions, sometimes under the Emergency Law and in other 
instances under provisions of the penal code that prohibit incitement 
or discrimination.
    Many citizens and journalists openly expressed their views on a 
wide range of political and social issues, including presidential 
succession and President Mubarak's health. There was vigorous criticism 
of senior government officials and policies, including direct criticism 
of the president, in the independent press, on satellite television, 
and on blogs. During the year a number of opposition political 
activists, journalists, and NGOs continued to advocate for political 
reform and openly criticized the Government. Government actions--
including arrests, wide-scale detentions of MB members, harassment of 
independent journalists and activists, and government restrictions on 
civil society organizations--led many observers to charge that the 
Government sought to curtail criticism and activism.
    The penal code and the press and publications law govern press 
issues. The constitution restricts ownership of newspapers to public or 
private legal entities, corporate bodies, and political parties. There 
were numerous restrictions on legal entities seeking to establish 
newspapers, including a limit of 10 percent ownership by any 
individual; the Government apparently enforced this limit unevenly. The 
Government owned stock in the three largest daily newspapers, which 
generally followed the Government line, and the president appointed 
their top editors. However, in some cases writers in progovernment 
newspapers criticized the Government's handling of the People's 
Assembly elections. The Government also controlled the licensing, 
printing, and distribution of newspapers, including independent papers 
and those of opposition political parties that frequently criticized 
the Government and gave greater prominence to human rights abuses than 
state-run newspapers.
    In September, according to observers, a Cairo studio cancelled the 
contract of the Saudi-owned channel Orbit for late rent payment, 
resulting in the cancellation of the talk show Cairo Today hosted by 
prominent host Amr Adeeb, which was generally critical of the 
Government. Observers asserted that the cancellations were politically 
    On October 4, according to multiple observers, Al-Sayeed Al-Bedawy, 
owner of the independent newspaper Al-Dostour and president of the 
opposition Wafd party, forced editor in chief and prominent government 
critic Ibrahim Eissa to leave the paper. Observers asserted Al-Bedawy 
forced Eissa to leave the paper for political reasons. Eissa continued 
to write critically in the separate, online newspaper Al-Dostour Al-
Asli. In mid-September the private satellite television station ONTV 
cancelled Eissa's talk show.
    The Ministry of Information owned and operated all ground-based 
domestic television and radio stations.
    The Government detained journalists and one writer and harassed 
others during the year.
    On April 3, the Government briefly detained publisher and blogger 
Ahmed Mahanna in Cairo and confiscated copies of a book he had 
published entitled, El-Baradei: Dream of a Peaceful Revolution.
    On July 18, independent newspaper Sawt Al-Uma's editor in chief 
Wael Ibrashy and journalist Samar El-Dowe went on trial in a suit filed 
by Minister of Finance Youssef Boutros-Ghali for allegedly urging 
citizens ``not to follow the law'' in two January articles criticizing 
the country's new real estate tax. The trial continued at year's end.
    On November 19 in Alexandria, the Government arrested Youssef 
Shaban, a journalist from the independent e-newspaper Al-Badeel Al-
Gadid, on drug charges and detained him for nine days before releasing 
him on November 28. NGO observers asserted the arrest was retribution 
for the journalist's coverage of a demonstration against housing 
demolitions in Alexandria.
    In March 2009 a court in Damanhour sentenced Al Fagr journalist 
Kamal Murad to six months' imprisonment and fined him 100 pounds ($17) 
for allegedly insulting a police officer in Rahmaniyah in 2008. In July 
2009 a Damanhour appeals court overturned the prison sentence but 
increased the fine to 200 pounds ($34). Authorities did not investigate 
the alleged police assault on Murad.
    During the year opposition party and other independent newspapers 
published articles critical of the president and foreign heads of state 
generally without being charged or harassed. Government officials and 
private individuals filed politically and nonpolitically motivated 
suits against journalists under the portion of the press and 
publication law that forbids malicious and unsubstantiated reporting. 
Under the law an editor in chief could be considered criminally 
responsible for libel contained in any portion of a newspaper, and 
journalists faced fines of as much as 20,000 pounds ($3,426) and 
sentences as long as five years in prison for criticizing foreign 
leaders or the president. According to the Moltaqa Forum for 
Development and Human Rights Dialogue, there were 68 lawsuits against 
24 journalists during the year. At year's end, according to a domestic 
NGO, approximately 70 defamation suits, some of which were political in 
nature, were pending against the leading independent newspaper, Al-
Masry Al-Youm.
    On November 20, the defamation trial of journalist and activist 
Hamdy Qandil began in Giza Criminal Court. Foreign Minister Aboul Gheit 
sued Qandil for alleged defamation in a May article in the independent 
daily newspaper Al-Sherouq that criticized the minister's performance. 
At year's end the trial continued.
    On February 2, courts in Giza sentenced independent newspaper 
editor Yasser Barakat to two six-month prison sentences and fines of 
20,000 pounds ($3,426) and 40,000 ($6,852) for defaming member of 
parliament Mustafa Bakry in two 2008 newspaper articles criticizing 
Bakry's business dealings and his relations with foreign governments. 
At year's end Barakat remained free pending an appeal. In 2009 police 
imprisoned Barakat for approximately five days after a court found him 
guilty in a similar case. The prosecutor ordered him released pending 
an appeal.
    In May 2009 a Cairo appeals court reversed a 2008 decision ruling 
against founding chairman of the Ibn Khaldun Center for Development 
Studies Saad Eddin Ibrahim in a civil lawsuit by an NDP activist for 
``tarnishing Egypt's image'' in a series of articles and speeches on 
democracy. The appeals court also ruled that other pending civil 
lawsuits against Ibrahim on similar grounds be referred to the public 
prosecutor for potential investigation. Ibrahim visited the country for 
the first time since he left in 2007 and spoke about political matters 
in media interviews.
    The Emergency Law authorizes censorship for reasons of public 
safety and national security. Domestic media practiced some self-
censorship on sensitive issues such as the military and the 
intelligence service due to fear of government reprisal. The Government 
regularly confiscated publications by Islamists and other critics of 
the state. It increasingly ceded confiscatory authority to government-
controlled Al-Azhar University, and authorities acted on the 
university's recommendations to confiscate publications.
    In February an appeals court upheld a fine and a ban on author 
Magdy El-Shafee's graphic novel Metro. In June 2009 El-Shafee was tried 
in connection with a lawsuit filed by an NDP member accusing him of 
using profanity and depicting nudity in Metro. Observers believed the 
suit was politically motivated due to the novel's criticism of the NDP 
and the Government.
    In 2008 authorities confiscated 5,000 copies of a book written by 
former senior police officer Amr Afifi that discussed legal procedures 
relating to interactions with police officers and explained citizens' 
rights vis-a-vis security forces. Afifi subsequently fled the country 
and remained abroad at year's end.
    On May 19, a Cairo appeals court upheld the one-year prison 
sentences handed down on January 6 and February 2 in absentia against 
Abdu Maghrabi and Ihab Agami, an editor and a journalist, respectively, 
from the weekly newspaper, Al-Balagh Al-Gadid for alleging that police 
questioned a group of popular male actors for engaging in a gay 
prostitution ring. The court also upheld the 40,000 pounds ($6,852) 
fines included in the sentences. Maghrabi entered prison on May 19 and 
remained in prison at year's end. Agami had not been apprehended nor 
had he turned himself in by year's end.
    Throughout the year the Government routinely searched imported 
written material to confiscate items deemed insulting to religious 
    On November 27, following a suit brought by an NGO, an 
administrative court ordered the cancellation of an October 11 
government decree to regulate bulk SMS messages. According to NGO 
sources, the court ruled the Government decree violated freedom of 
expression and the right to information. The Government appealed the 
court's decision, and at year's end the appeal was under review.

    Internet Freedom.--According to 2009 International 
Telecommunication Union statistics, approximately 21 percent of the 
country's inhabitants used the Internet, which the Government actively 
promoted through low-cost access. According to the Government, during 
the year there were more than 165,000 blogs in the country, and 
approximately 20 percent of them focused on politics. On rare occasions 
during the year, the Government blocked access to some websites and 
monitored the Internet. According to NGO observers, the Government 
blocked election-related websites belonging to the MB and an activist 
group on the day of the November 28 People's Assembly election and the 
December 5 run-off election. According to NGOs the Government required 
Internet cafes to gather personal information of Internet users, 
including names, e-mail addresses, and telephone numbers.
    During the year police harassed, detained, and allegedly abused 
certain bloggers and Internet activists.
    On March 1, blogger Ahmed Mustafa went on trial in a military court 
on charges of ``releasing military information'' for asserting on his 
blog in February 2009 that the Government dismissed a student from a 
military academy to create space for another student from a well-
connected family. Military police had arrested Mustafa on February 25. 
On March 7, the Government dropped its case against Mustafa and 
released him.
    On November 29, a military court sentenced Ahmed Hassan Bassiouny 
to six months in prison on charges of ``disclosing military information 
without permission.'' Bassiouny had created a Facebook page to answer 
questions about military service such as what documents are required 
and how to fill out the documents. The Facebook page also included 
patriotic messages and videos, and links to newspaper articles about 
the military. Bassiouny remained in prison at year's end.
    On May 6, a court acquitted blogger Wael Abbas of providing 
Internet services illegally and overturned a six-month prison sentence 
handed down in absentia on February 21. Observers believed the cases 
were politically motivated due to Abbas' blogging, which was often 
critical of the Government.
    On July 22, the Government released blogger Hany Nazir, who had 
been held without charge under the Emergency Law since 2008 following 
his blogging about allegedly sensitive religious issues.
    On July 13, the Government released blogger and activist Musad Abu 
Fagr, who had been jailed since 2007 without charge under the Emergency 
Law following blog posts about the difficulties faced by Sinai 
    On November 16, authorities released blogger Karim Amer, 
incarcerated since 2006; according to Amer's public statement on 
November 24, prison officials beat him on three occasions during his 
detention. According to Amer and NGO sources, an SSIS officer beat him 
during SSIS detention between November 5 and November 16, and warned 
him not to blog upon his release.

    Academic Freedom and Cultural Events.--The Government restricted 
academic freedom through various means. It selected deans rather than 
permitting the faculty to elect them, justifying the measure as a way 
to combat Islamist influence on campus. Professors published articles 
in academic journals covering a wide range of topics, but observers 
assessed that professors practiced degrees of self-censorship regarding 
commentary on sensitive issues such as the military, the security 
forces, and government corruption. According to an NGO source, the 
Government excluded MB-affiliated students from participating in 
student elections. During the year the Government harassed students 
collecting signatures endorsing Mohammed El-Baradei's political reform 
petition, and students belonging to the ``April 6'' movement.
    In March and April, according to an NGO source, police arrested 
under the Emergency Law 10 MB-affiliated students at Menufiya 
University in the Delta at parties where students sang songs supporting 
the Palestinian cause. The Government released all 10 students by 
September 11.
    On October 3, according to an NGO source, a police officer beat and 
kicked an MB-affiliated female student at Zagazig University, resulting 
in slight bruises, after she refused to allow security to check her bag 
while she was entering campus.
    On October 9, according to an NGO source, students at Ain Shams 
University in Cairo affiliated with the ``April 6'' movement, the 
National Association for Change, and the MB clashed with police after 
the students tried to convince others to sign Mohammed El-Baradei's 
political reform petition. According to the NGO, police slightly 
injured four students during the clashes.
    On October 23, the Supreme Administrative Court upheld a lower 
court decision to bar police from university campuses. At year's end 
the Government had not implemented the ruling.
    The Ministry of Culture must approve all scripts and final 
productions of plays and films. The ministry censored foreign films to 
be shown in theaters but was more lenient regarding the same films in 
videocassette or DVD format. Government censors sometimes tried to 
assure that foreign films made in the country portrayed the country in 
a favorable light. During the year domestic films playing in theaters 
addressed political and socioeconomic issues in a critical manner.

    b. Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association.--Freedom of 
Assembly.--The constitution provides for freedom of assembly, but the 
Government restricted this right. Citizens must obtain approval from 
the Ministry of Interior before holding public meetings, rallies, and 
protest marches. Protests may not be held in or near places of worship, 
in accord with a 2008 ministerial decree. The ministry refused to grant 
permits for some political events, and the Government tightly 
controlled public demonstrations, including some meetings on private 
property and university campuses.
    Throughout the year authorities tolerated a wide range of peaceful 
demonstrations by labor activists protesting labor conditions and 
government policies. However, police sometimes responded to political 
demonstrations in large numbers to contain the size, location, and 
effectiveness of the demonstrations, and they sometimes used excessive 
force. In certain demonstrations police detained suspected organizers; 
some alleged mistreatment in detention.
    On January 15, the Government arrested and detained a group of 
approximately 30 activists and bloggers as they arrived in Naga Hammadi 
to visit the families of those killed in the January 6 sectarian 
shootings. The Government released the detainees on January 16, with 
charges pending related to illegal assembly.
    Throughout the year police briefly detained members of the ``April 
6'' movement who distributed leaflets and planned political events. On 
April 6, according to bloggers and activists, police arrested 
approximately 70 members of the group during a protest in downtown 
Cairo. Witnesses reported several detained protesters appeared to have 
been beaten by police.
    On May 3, approximately 100 members of opposition groups, political 
parties, and independent members of parliament demonstrated in Cairo to 
demand electoral reforms and an end to the state of emergency. Security 
forces encircled the demonstrators to prevent them from marching a 
short distance to parliament to present their demands. When 
demonstrators tried to break through the security forces, police pushed 
the demonstrators back and beat some of them.
    On September 21, approximately 250 demonstrators from opposition 
groups and parties staged an antisuccession protest in Cairo against 
President Mubarak's son Gamal. When demonstrators tried to exit an area 
cordoned off for the protest, police pushed and hit some demonstrators. 
Police briefly detained an estimated 15 to 40 demonstrators.
    On December 12, several hundred protesters from opposition groups 
and parties protested the People's Assembly election results. According 
to observers police pushed and shoved protesters who tried to 
demonstrate outside a cordoned area but did not make arrests.

    Freedom of Association.--The constitution provides for freedom of 
association; however, the Government restricted this right. The 
minister of social solidarity has the authority to dissolve NGOs by 
decree, and the law requires NGOs to obtain permission from the 
Government before accepting foreign funds, apart from donations from 
foreign governments with established development programs in the 
    During the year the Ministry of Social Solidarity delayed or did 
not grant permission for some NGOs to receive foreign funding, and in a 
few cases the Government prevented NGOs from holding events, training, 
meetings, and workshops in different cities. In a few cases, the 
Government denied entry to foreign consultants supporting international 
NGO programs.

    c. Freedom of Religion.--For a complete description of religious 
freedom, see the 2010 International Religious Freedom Report at 

    d. Freedom of Movement, Internally Displaced Persons, Protection of 
Refugees, and Stateless Persons.--The law provides for freedom of 
movement within the country, foreign travel, emigration, and 
repatriation, and the Government generally respected these rights in 
practice, albeit with some notable exceptions. Citizens and foreigners 
may not travel in areas of the country designated as military zones. 
Males who have not completed compulsory military service may not travel 
abroad or emigrate, although this restriction may be deferred or 
bypassed under special but unclear circumstances. While some Bahai have 
obtained national identification cards with a ``dash'' for religion, 
married Bahai and their children continued to face difficulties 
obtaining national identification cards because the Government does not 
recognize Bahai marriages. As a result some Bahai men of draft age were 
unable to establish that they have fulfilled or are exempt from 
military service obligations and, therefore, faced difficulty obtaining 
passports. An unmarried woman younger than 21 years old must have 
permission from her father to obtain a passport and to travel, and 
police reportedly required such permission for married women in 
practice, although the law does not require it. Authorities 
occasionally held individuals at the airport to delay or prevent 
altogether their travel for what appeared to be political reasons. The 
Government also used travel prohibitions to punish dissidents.
    On December 28, a court revoked a travel ban imposed by the 
Ministry of Interior on Christian convert Maher al-Gohary. The ministry 
had reportedly denied foreign travel to al-Gohary since 2009 based on 
``security concerns,'' claiming his case would be used internationally 
to ``defame'' the country.
    The constitution prohibits forced exile, and the Government did not 
use it during the year; a number of citizens remained outside the 
country in self-imposed exile.
    The Government did not consistently cooperate with the Office of 
the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and other humanitarian 
organizations in providing protection and assistance to refugees, 
returning refugees, asylum seekers, stateless persons, and other 
persons of concern.

    Protection of Refugees.--The constitution includes provisions for 
the granting of refugee status or asylum; however, the country has no 
national legislative framework or system for granting asylum. The 
Government admits refugees on the understanding that their presence in 
the country is temporary and that the UNHCR assumes full responsibility 
for the determination of refugee status on behalf of the Government.
    In practice the Government sometimes did not provide protection 
against the expulsion or forced return of refugees to countries where 
their lives or freedom would be threatened on account of their race, 
religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or 
political opinion. Compared to past years in which the Government 
forcibly repatriated hundreds of Eritreans, during the year there was a 
marked decrease in the number of deportations. In April the Government 
tried to forcibly repatriate two Darfuris but was prevented by an 
administrative court decision. In September the Government attempted to 
deport two more Darfuris whose cases are still pending.
    Refugees faced violence by security forces, abuse, and 
    There was a consistent flow of Eritrean, Sudanese, and other 
African asylum seekers and economic migrants who attempted to migrate 
through the country to Israel during the year. During the year border 
police shot and killed at least 28 African migrants attempting to cross 
the border into Israel and injured many more. There was no indication 
the Government took action to punish border police involved in these 
    There were also increased reports from asylum seekers and migrants 
crossing the Sinai into Israel of extortion, rape, torture, and 
killings by Bedouin smugglers in Sinai. In December press and NGO 
reports alleged that smugglers were holding 250 Eritreans hostage and 
torturing them to extort money from their families. Information from 
asylum seekers, NGOs, and the UNHCR in Egypt corroborated accounts from 
African migrants in Israel that migrants endured extortion and serious 
abuse--such as beatings and being cut, burned, and deprived of water 
for extended periods of time--while transiting Sinai.
    Authorities arrested nearly 500 migrants during the year. Those 
apprehended while attempting illegal border crossings were generally 
sentenced to one year in prison and were subject to deportation 
following completion of the sentence. In a small number of cases, 
authorities detained unregistered asylum seekers for more than one year 
without access to the UNHCR. The Government maintained that these 
measures were necessary to provide for security along the border and 
combat smuggling. The UNHCR did not have access to those arrested to 
determine their refugee status.
    Imprisoned refugees, asylum seekers, and migrants were held in 
small cells with convicted criminals, where they had limited or no 
access to sunlight for periods of three to five months, no access to 
medical treatment, and poor food. African prisoners often faced race-
related beatings and discrimination.
    Refugees continued to face limitations with regard to access to 
work, education, and health services. African refugees in particular 
faced SSIS harassment, restrictions on employment, poor housing, 
limited access to health care and education, and societal 
discrimination based on race. Iraqi refugees faced restrictions on 
employment and on access to health and education services.
    Representatives of stateless persons living in Cairo expressed 
concern that such individuals often did not qualify for protection 
under the local refugee apparatus. Stateless persons made up less than 
1 percent of all registered refugees. Nearly all stateless persons, 
many of whom were the children of Eritrean fathers and Ethiopian 
mothers, lacked refugee status and were not considered citizens by 
either of their parents' countries. They received no monetary 
assistance, lacked the ability to work, and were isolated from other 
members of refugee communities.

Section 3. Respect for Political Rights: The Right of Citizens to 
        Change Their Government
    The constitution provides that citizens shall elect the president 
every six years and the 518-seat People's Assembly every five years, 
with 10 of the seats filled by presidential appointment. The 
constitution also provides that two-thirds of the 264-member Shura 
Council, the upper house of parliament, are elected and one-third are 
appointed by the president. Shura Council terms are six years, with 
half of the council's elected seats contested every three years. There 
continued to be limitations on citizens' rights to change their 
government peacefully.

    Elections and Political Participation.--On November 28, the country 
held elections for the People's Assembly, the lower house of 
parliament. Independent media, NGOs, and domestic election observers 
reported low voter turnout, widespread fraud, exclusion of accredited 
monitors and candidate representatives from polling stations, lack of 
independent oversight at polling stations, and interference and 
intimidation by security forces. The High Electoral Commission ignored 
court orders invalidating election results in some districts due to 
problems with candidate registration. Citing reports of electoral fraud 
in the first round, the opposition Wafd party and the MB boycotted the 
second round of the elections held on December 5. Observers reported 
similar instances of fraud and security intervention in the second 
round of voting. Non-NDP representation in the parliament declined from 
122 to 84 members, most of whom formerly belonged to the NDP. During 
the preelection period, authorities arrested hundreds of opposition 
activists. Political parties reported that state television refused to 
provide equal air time for their political advertisements. NGOs also 
reported problems with voter and candidate registration and domestic 
observer accreditation. On June 1, the country held elections for the 
Shura Council, the upper house of parliament, that were marked by 
similar problems.
    The NDP continued to dominate national politics by maintaining an 
overriding majority in the People's Assembly and the Shura Council. It 
also dominated local governments, mass media, labor, and the public 
sector and controlled licensing of new political parties, newspapers, 
and private organizations. The law prohibits political parties based on 
religion (and religious slogans in political campaigns)--and the MB 
remained an illegal organization; however, independent MB-affiliated 
members of parliament continued to participate in parliament. In 
previous years the Government refused to grant official registration to 
at least 12 political parties that had filed applications. In July the 
political parties committee rejected the Reform and Development Party's 
application for registration.
    The Government implemented a new 64-seat quota for women in the 
518-seat People's Assembly. In addition to the 64 quota seats held by 
women, two women won seats, and the president appointed another woman, 
for a total of 67 People's Assembly seats held by women. The 264-seat 
Shura Council included 12 women. Three women served among the 32 
ministers in the cabinet.
    There were 10 Christians (seven appointed and three elected) in the 
People's Assembly, eight Christians (all appointed) in the Shura 
Council, and two Christians in the cabinet. Christians, who represent 8 
to 12 percent of the population, held fewer than 2 percent of the seats 
in the People's Assembly and Shura Council. A Copt served as one of the 
country's 28 governors in Qena. According to available information, 
there were very few Christians in the upper ranks of the security 
services and armed forces. No other minorities served in political or 
other high-ranking positions.
Section 4. Official Corruption and Government Transparency
    The law provides criminal penalties for official corruption, but 
the Government did not consistently and effectively implement the law, 
and impunity was a problem. The media routinely reported on confirmed 
cases of low-level corruption, including the fraudulent alteration of 
official documents, embezzlement, and bribery and on corruption trials 
of former senior government officials. The Central Agency for Auditing 
and Accounting (CAA) is the Government's anticorruption body and 
submits biennial reports to the People's Assembly that are not 
available to the public. The CAA stations monitors at state-owned 
companies to report corrupt practices. Observers did not judge the CAA 
to be effective.
    According to observers there was widespread petty corruption in the 
police force, especially below senior levels. The Government claimed to 
investigate corruption and other instances of police malfeasance using 
a nontransparent internal affairs mechanism.
    On February 2, former housing minister Mohammed Ibrahim Soliman 
resigned from parliament following press reports that the Government 
was investigating him for corruption. Independent members of parliament 
filed a criminal complaint against Soliman in January 2009 for alleged 
corrupt real estate deals.
    In 2008 Cairo Criminal Court convicted former deputy agriculture 
minister Youssef Abdel Rahman of approving the importation of banned 
pesticides, harming the public interest, and receiving bribes and 
sentenced him to 10 years in prison. The court sentenced 13 other 
government officials to prison sentences of between six months and 
seven years. On April 21, an appeals court upheld the verdicts, and the 
officials were incarcerated.
    There are no financial disclosure laws for public officials, nor is 
there a legal framework stipulating how citizens could access 
government information. In practice the Government was not generally 
responsive to requests for documents regarding government activities 
and did not provide reasons for its lack of responsiveness. The 
Government released public statements and held press briefings for 
foreign and domestic journalists. According to the Government, 
ministries provided publications and pamphlets to citizens who 
requested information.
    In a December study by the Government, 57 percent of respondents 
reported that the payment of bribes was required to obtain government 
services and that corruption among civil servants had increased over 
the previous year. Requests for bribes were reported most often during 
interactions with police, courts, the traffic department, and officials 
issuing construction permits.

Section 5. Governmental Attitude Regarding International and 
        Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations of Human 
    Government restrictions on NGO and international organization 
activities, including limits on domestic organizations' ability to 
accept foreign funding, continued to limit investigation of and 
reporting on human rights abuses.
    Local independent human rights NGOs included the Egyptian 
Organization for Human Rights, HRAAP, Arab Penal Reform Organization, 
Association for Human Rights and Legal Aid, Cairo Institute for Human 
Rights Studies, Egyptian Initiative on Personal Rights, Ibn Khaldun 
Center, Arab Center for the Independence of the Judiciary and the Legal 
Profession, Arab Network for Human Rights Information, Nadim Center for 
the Rehabilitation of Victims of Torture and Violence, Association for 
Freedom of Thought and Expression, and Egyptian Center for Women's 
Rights (ECWR). NGOs formed a coalition to advance their objectives 
during the UN Human Rights Council Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of 
the country and issued reports compiled by the UN Office of the High 
Representative on Human Rights identifying areas of concern and making 
recommendations for issues the Government should address. Internet 
activists and bloggers continued to play a significant role in 
publicizing information about human rights abuses. Although 
unregistered organizations generally were allowed to conduct 
operations, they did so in violation of the law with the prospect of 
government interference or closure.
    The Government did not demonstrate a consistent approach to 
cooperating with human rights NGOs, sometimes harassing them or 
restricting their activities. In a few cases, the Government prevented 
NGOs from holding events during the year. Government officials were 
selectively cooperative and responsive to some NGOs' views. Throughout 
the year the Government met with a range of NGOs to discuss human 
rights, including the minister of state for parliamentary and legal 
affairs' meetings with NGOs in the context of the UPR process.
    On September 18, a court dismissed a lawsuit filed by Judge Abdel 
Fattah Murad alleging that the leaders of two prominent human rights 
NGOs and a blogger defamed Murad by publicly claiming he quoted without 
attribution from the work of one of the NGO leaders on Arab 
governments' policies toward bloggers.
    The Government generally allowed international human rights NGOs to 
establish informal operations. HRW maintained an office in the country. 
Other organizations, such as Amnesty International, made periodic 
visits as part of their regional research program and were able to work 
with domestic human rights groups. In 2008 the Ministry of Foreign 
Affairs withdrew approval for the International Federation for Human 
Rights to open a regional office in Cairo. At year's end the NGO was 
waiting for official approval. The Government registered the American 
Bar Association on October 4 and the International Foundation for 
Electoral Systems on December 6. The National Democratic Institute and 
the International Republican Institute, which provided technical 
assistance in support of expanded political and civil rights, remained 
unregistered but were able to pursue limited activities.
    The Government cooperated selectively with the UN and other 
international organizations. It permitted the visit of the UN special 
rapporteur on trafficking in persons. In an April 21 statement issued 
at the end of her visit, the special rapporteur congratulated the 
Government on the April 20 adoption of a comprehensive trafficking law, 
urged the Government to implement the law fully, and called for the 
Government to intensify its efforts to combat human trafficking. In 
December the special representative of the UN Secretary-General on the 
issue of human rights and transnational corporations and other business 
enterprises visited the country and met with government officials and 
members of the business community.
    According to UN information, the Government did not agree to visit 
requests from six special rapporteurs and one working group. The 
requests were from the special rapporteur on the independence of judges 
and lawyers; the special rapporteur on the situation of human rights 
defenders (requested in 2003 and renewed in 2008); the special 
rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief (requested in 2005); the 
special rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman, or degrading 
treatment or punishment (requested in 1996 and 2007); the Working Group 
on Arbitrary Detention (requested in 2008); the special rapporteur on 
extrajudicial, summary, or arbitrary executions (requested in 2008); 
and the UN special rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human 
rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism who visited 
in 2009 and requested a subsequent visit. The Government agreed to a 
future visit by the special rapporteur on the sale of children, child 
prostitution, and child pornography (requested in 2009).
    The UNDP Human Development Report on the country focused on the 
challenges faced by the country's youth, noting problems such as 
unemployment, poverty, and inequality of access to education and 
providing recommendations for how to address them. The UN Committee on 
the Elimination of Discrimination against Women issued a February 5 
report welcoming some government steps and recommending action on 
matters such as repealing discriminatory legislation.
    The NCHR is a consultative subsidiary of the Shura Council that 
monitored government abuses of human rights; it formally submitted 
citizen complaints to the Government and issued reports critical of the 
Government. During the week of March 14, the NCHR issued its sixth 
annual report on the status of human rights in the country, covering 
2009 and the beginning of the year. The report was critical of some 
government practices, including restrictive legislation governing 
political parties and NGOs, arbitrary deprivation of life cases, 
increased sectarian tensions, MB detentions, and the use of state 
security courts and military courts to try civilians. For the first 
time, the report made no recommendations. In February the Shura Council 
announced the new composition of the NCHR for a three-year term 
beginning that month. The Shura Council appointed former chief justice 
of the Court of Cassation Moqbel Shaker as the new vice president, 
replacing Kamal Aboulmagd, a former minister. The People's Assembly had 
a human rights committee that human rights activists deemed 

Section 6. Discrimination, Societal Abuses, and Trafficking in Persons
    The constitution provides for equality of the sexes and equal 
treatment of non-Muslims; however, aspects of the law and many 
traditional practices discriminated against women and religious 
minorities. The constitution prohibits discrimination based on race, 
ethnic origin, language, religion, or creed, but the Government did not 
effectively enforce these prohibitions.

    Women.--The law prohibits rape, prescribing penalties of 15 to 25 
years' imprisonment or life imprisonment for cases involving armed 
abduction. The number of cases investigated was small because women 
were reluctant to report rape. Spousal rape is not illegal. According 
to a 2007 study by the National Center for Criminal and Social 
Research, there were approximately 20,000 cases of rape annually.
    Although the law does not prohibit domestic violence or spousal 
abuse, provisions of law relating to assault may be applied with 
accompanying penalties. However, the law requires that an assault 
victim produce multiple eyewitnesses, which is a difficult condition 
for a domestic abuse victim. Domestic violence continued to be a 
significant problem. Several NGOs offered counseling, legal aid, and 
other services to women who were victims of domestic violence. The 
quasi-governmental National Council for Women (NCW) trained law 
enforcement personnel and attorneys on increasing their efforts to 
combat domestic violence against women. The NCW and independent NGOs 
also held sessions to train women on how to report domestic violence to 
attorneys and law enforcement personnel. The NCW had ombudsman 
officials in their 27 offices covering all of the country's 
    The law does not specifically address honor crimes, in which a man 
violently assaults or kills a woman, usually a family member, because 
of a perceived lack of chastity. There were no reliable statistics 
regarding the extent of honor killings, but observers believed such 
killings took place during the year, particularly in rural areas.
    Sex tourism existed in Luxor and at beach resorts such as Sharm El-
Sheikh. Most sex tourists came from Europe and the Persian Gulf region.
    There is no specific law criminalizing sexual harassment, but the 
Government prosecuted sexual harassment under existing law. Sexual 
harassment remained a serious problem. A 2008 ECWR survey found that 83 
percent of Egyptian women and 98 percent of foreign women in the 
country had been sexually harassed and that approximately half of women 
surveyed faced harassment daily. In June 2009, to combat increasing 
rates of sexual harassment, the Ministry of Islamic Endowments 
distributed a book entitled Sexual Harassment: Its Reasons and How to 
Address It to imams and preachers in all governorates. The ECWR noted 
the step but criticized the book's discussion of sexual harassment, 
which included blaming women for triggering harassment.
    The Government did not restrict citizens' family planning 
decisions. The Ministry of Health distributed contraception, provided 
personnel at no cost to attend births, postpartum care to mothers and 
children, and treatment for sexually transmitted diseases at no cost. 
According to the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination 
against Women's February 5 report, maternal mortality rates decreased 
from 84 per 100,000 live births in 2000 to 55 per 100,000 live births 
in 2008. NGO observers reported that poor reproductive health care 
contributed to the maternal mortality rate and that government family 
planning information and services were not adequate to meet the needs 
of the entire population. The UN Committee on the Elimination of 
Discrimination against Women's February 5 report called on the 
Government to strengthen access to affordable contraception throughout 
the country, assure women in rural areas do not face barriers in 
accessing family planning information and services, promote sex 
education for adolescents, and conduct national surveys on maternal 
mortality and morbidity. According to the most recent statistics from 
the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, 
the rate of contraception use in 2005 was 59 percent. NGOs expressed 
concern over lack of access to reproductive information and services 
for adolescent girls.
    The law provides for equality of the sexes; however, aspects of the 
law and traditional practices discriminated against women.
    Laws affecting marriage and personal status generally corresponded 
to an individual's religion. For example, a female Muslim citizen may 
not marry a non-Muslim man without risking arrest and conviction for 
apostasy; under the Government's interpretation of Sharia, any children 
from such a marriage could be put in the custody of a male Muslim 
guardian. Khul divorce allows a Muslim woman to obtain a divorce 
without her husband's consent, provided she is willing to forgo all her 
financial rights, including alimony, dowry, and other benefits. The 
Coptic Orthodox Church permits divorce only in specific circumstances, 
such as adultery or conversion of one spouse to another religion. A 
Muslim female heir receives half the amount of a male heir's 
inheritance, and Christian widows of Muslims have no inheritance 
rights. A sole Muslim female heir receives half her parents' estate, 
with the balance going to the siblings of the parents or to the 
children of the siblings if the siblings are deceased. A sole male heir 
inherits his parents' entire estate. A woman's testimony is equal to 
that of a man in courts dealing with all matters except for personal 
status, such as marriage and divorce.
    Labor laws provide for equal rates of pay for equal work for men 
and women in the public sector, although this did not always happen in 
practice. Educated women had employment opportunities, but social 
pressure against women pursuing a career was strong. Women's rights 
advocates claimed that Islamist influence and other traditional and 
cultural attitudes and practices inhibited further gains. According to 
the most recent government figures from 2007, women filled 19 percent 
of private sector jobs, 29 percent of public sector jobs, and 22 
percent of the total workforce.
    On July 12, the State Council's Special Council decided to stop 
hiring women in entry-level judicial positions indefinitely. A variety 
of government offices promoted women's legal rights. The Ministry of 
Social Solidarity operated more than 150 family counseling bureaus 
nationwide to provide legal and medical services. The NCW proposed and 
advocated policies to promote women's empowerment and designed 
development programs to benefit women. It also provided assistance to 
women facing discrimination in employment and housing, domestic 
violence, sexual assault, and child custody disputes. A number of 
active women's rights groups also worked to reform family law, educate 
women on their legal rights, promote literacy, and combat female 
genital mutilation (FGM).

    Children.--Citizenship is derived through a combination of the 
principles of birth within the country's territory and from one's 
parents. The February Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination 
against Women report welcomed a 2004 amendment that grants gender 
equality regarding the transfer of Egyptian nationality to the children 
of a man or a woman who marries a foreigner. The report expressed 
concern that Egyptian women cannot pass their nationality to their 
foreign husbands, unlike Egyptian men who have such right after two 
years of marriage. The Government generally attempted to register all 
births but faced resistance from citizens in some remote areas of the 
country, such as the Sinai. The Government worked with NGOs in an 
attempt to address this problem.
    Education is compulsory, free, and universal until the ninth grade.
    FGM remained a problem, but the Government addressed it seriously; 
FGM rates declined from previous years. According to the most recent 
government statistics, the Government received approximately 5,000 
reports of FGM cases from citizens between 2005 and 2009. In 2008 the 
minister of population and families stated publicly that FGM rates in 
Upper Egypt were 65 percent but did not exceed 9 percent in northern 
governorates. The law criminalizes FGM except in cases of medical 
necessity, with penalties of three months to two years in prison or a 
fine of up to 5,000 pounds ($857).
    Partnering with NGOs, the Justice Ministry, and the public 
prosecutor, the Ministry for Population and Families continued its 
campaign to combat FGM through public outreach and encouraging the 
public prosecutor to pursue prosecutions. The ministry organized 
renunciation ceremonies and made announcements through the year that 
certain villages were FGM-free.
    Although reliable data were lacking, several NGOs, including the 
Hope Village Society, ECWR, and the Alliance for Arab Women, reported 
that child marriages, including temporary marriages intended to mask 
prostitution, were a significant problem. In 2008, as part of the Child 
Law amendments, the Government raised the legal age of marriage from 16 
to 18 years old.
    The Ministry of Social Solidarity offered shelters for street 
children, but many children chose not to seek refuge there. The 
shelters closed at night, forcing the children back onto the street. 
The Ministry for Population and Families offered a hotline for street 
children and abused children and a day shelter for male street children 
that also provided literacy training, computer training, and health 
    The country is not a party to the 1980 Hague Convention on the 
Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. For information on 
international parental child abduction, please see the Department of 
State's annual report on compliance at http://travel.state.gov/

    Anti-Semitism.--Anti-Israel sentiment is common in the media and at 
times devolved into anti-Semitic rhetoric. Anti-Semitic editorial 
cartoons and articles depicting demonic images of Jews and Israeli 
leaders, stereotypical images of Jews along with Jewish symbols, and 
comparisons of Israeli leaders with Hitler and the Nazis were published 
throughout the year, particularly during and following Israeli Defense 
Force killings of persons on ships carrying aid headed to Gaza in June. 
The Government reportedly advised journalists and cartoonists to avoid 
anti-Semitism. Government officials insisted that anti-Semitic 
statements in the media were a reaction to Israeli government actions 
against Palestinians and did not constitute anti-Semitism. A number of 
private satellite television stations, licensed by the Government and 
broadcast on government-owned Nilesat, broadcast severe anti-Semitic 
programming; the programs used video and pictures of the Holocaust to 
glorify it. Other programs denied or diminished the Holocaust's 
existence. The Government removed 12 of these channels from Nilesat in 
October. On November 27, an administrative court ordered Nilesat to 
reinstate five of these stations, which Nilesat did. There were reports 
of imams using anti-Semitic rhetoric in their sermons, although the 
Minister of Islamic Endowments instructed imams to avoid anti-Semitism 
when making anti-Israel remarks. There were no reports of anti-Semitic 
violence directed toward the country's approximately 100 Jews.
    On February 23, police arrested a man who threw combustible 
material from a hotel facing a downtown Cairo synagogue February 21. 
The material caught on fire on the street outside the synagogue but 
caused no damage or injuries. According to multiple press reports, the 
assailant was scheduled to go on trial in 2011.

    Trafficking in Persons.--For information on trafficking in persons, 
please see the Department of State's annual Trafficking in Persons 
Report at www.state.gov/g/tip.

    Persons With Disabilities.--The law provides that all businesses 
must designate 5 percent of their positions for persons with physical 
or mental disabilities; however, there are no laws prohibiting 
discrimination against persons with disabilities in education, access 
to health care, or the provision of other state services, nor are there 
laws mandating access to buildings or transportation. Widespread 
societal discrimination continued against persons with disabilities, 
particularly mental disabilities, resulting in a lack of acceptance 
into mainstream society. Government-operated treatment centers for 
persons with disabilities, especially children, were poor.
    The ministries of education and social solidarity share 
responsibility for protecting rights of persons with disabilities. 
Persons with disabilities rode government-owned mass transit buses free 
of charge and received special subsidies to purchase household 
products, wheelchairs, and prosthetic devices. Persons with 
disabilities also received expeditious approval for the installation of 
new telephone lines and received reductions on customs duties for 
specially equipped private vehicles. The Government also worked closely 
with UN agencies and other international aid donors to design job-
training programs for persons with disabilities.

    Societal Abuses, Discrimination, and Acts of Violence Based on 
Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity.--Although the law does not 
explicitly criminalize homosexual acts, the law allows police to arrest 
gays on charges of debauchery. In January 2009 police arrested 10 men 
in Cairo on charges of debauchery. Authorities forced the men to 
undergo HIV tests and anal examinations in detention. Following a court 
order, police released the men in May 2009. Gays and lesbians faced 
significant social stigma in society and in the workplace.

    Other Societal Violence or Discrimination.--HIV-positive 
individuals faced significant social stigma in society and in the 
Section 7. Worker Rights
    a. The Right of Association.--The law permits workers to form 
unions, with several significant restrictions. All unions are required 
to join one of the 23 officially recognized industrial federations to 
operate, and these federations must affiliate with the Government-
affiliated Egyptian Trade Union Federation (ETUF) to be legally 
recognized. The Government considers all unions that are not part of 
ETUF to be operating as illegal entities. ETUF was strongly influenced 
by the ruling National Democratic Party. However, the Government 
allowed a number of small, independent unions--including the Real 
Estate Tax Collectors Authority (RETA) union--to operate with minimal 
interference. In practice there was minimal union representation in the 
private sector, and most of that was found in formerly state-owned 
factories that have been privatized.
    According to ETUF's website, it represents more than five million 
workers. ETUF influenced nomination and election procedures for trade 
union officers and permitted public authorities to intervene in union 
financial activities. State-owned enterprises employed most union 
members, who made up approximately one-quarter of the labor force.
    Workers seeking to form independent unions may face dismissal or 
refusal to register. However, in 2008 the country's 52,000 public-
sector real estate tax collectors announced the formation of the RETA 
union and refused to join the ETUF. The Ministry of Manpower and 
Migration (MOMM) did not formally reject the RETA application for 
registration, but the union continues to have uncertain legal standing 
because it has not been formally recognized by the ETUF. ETUF 
leadership filed a complaint with the public prosecutor against the 
RETA union president in September 2009. The public prosecutor 
interviewed the president but took no further action. At the same time, 
ETUF formed a rival union for tax collectors and other employees of the 
Ministry of Finance and has since directed funding to this 
organization, rather than to RETA. Two other workers' groups--medical 
technicians and teachers and school administrators--began the process 
of forming independent unions during the year.
    The 2003 Unified Labor Law permits peaceful strikes, but only after 
an extended negotiation process and only if the strike is announced in 
advance and approved by a general trade union affiliated with ETUF. In 
practice strikes were rarely, if ever, approved. Nevertheless, strikes 
and work stoppages occurred very frequently throughout the country. 
There were somewhat fewer strikes and worker actions during the year 
compared with the previous year, although workers' rights NGOs noted 
that they were often larger and more effective in achieving stated 
goals than in previous years. To legally call a strike, ETUF must 
notify the employer and concerned administrative authority at least 10 
days in advance, giving the reason for the strike and the date it would 
commence. Prior to this formal notification, approval from two-thirds 
majority of the ETUF-member general trade union is necessary. The law 
prohibits strikes while collective bargaining agreements are in force 
or during the mediation and arbitration process. The law also prohibits 
strikes in a lengthy list of ``strategic or vital'' entities, at which 
the interruption of work could result in disturbance of national 
security or basic services, which covers the majority of workers (see 
section 7.e.).
    Strikes were largely peaceful, despite the presence of government 
security forces at larger strikes. There was an increase in high-
profile strikes during the year, notably in the textile and steel 
industries, as well as government workers such as teachers, 
journalists, lawyers, and employees of the state statistical agency. 
The Government generally did not interfere in strikes in either the 
public or private sector, provided they did not become violent and 
strikers' demands were focused on economic issues.

    b. The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively.--The law 
provides for collective bargaining; however, it requires tripartite 
negotiations, including the employer, workers, and the Ministry of 
Manpower and Migration. In practice the requirement for tripartite 
negotiations was seldom followed, and workers negotiated directly with 
employers. In a few cases of strikes in the private sector, the 
Government reportedly involved itself in negotiations. In many cases, 
such as the large state-owned textile factories in Mahalla, the 
Government is the employer.
    The law does not permit antiunion discrimination; however, there 
were reports that such discrimination occurred in practice and that 
enforcement efforts were ineffective.
    Labor law and practice were the same in the approximately 10 
existing export processing zones as in the rest of the country. The 
International Trade Union Confederation reported that private sector 
workers throughout the country, including in special economic zones, 
complained of poor working conditions.

    c. Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor.--The constitution and 
law prohibit forced or compulsory labor. Such practices were reportedly 
rare. Also, see the Department of State's annual Trafficking in Persons 
Report at www.state.gov/g/tip.

    d. Prohibition of Child Labor and Minimum Age for Employment.--The 
law prohibits children younger than 17 years old from working in most 
sectors. However, in some cases employers abused, overworked, and 
generally endangered working children. The law also limits the type and 
conditions of work a child younger than 18 may perform. In 
nonagricultural work the minimum age for employment is 15. Provincial 
governors, with the approval of the minister of education, may 
authorize seasonal, often agricultural, work for children who are 13 
and 14, provided that duties are not hazardous and do not interfere 
with schooling. Children are prohibited from working for more than six 
hours per day, and one or more breaks totaling at least one hour must 
be included. Several other restrictions apply to children. They may not 
work overtime, during their weekly day(s) off, between 7 p.m. and 7 
a.m., or on official holidays. Children are also prohibited from 
working for more than four hours without a break. Children younger than 
16 are prohibited from working in 44 hazardous industries, including 
agricultural work involving the use of pesticides. A person convicted 
of forcing children below the minimum age to work may face a prison 
sentence of three to six months.
    According to recent UN, NGO, and American University in Cairo 
estimates, between 2.7 million and 5.5 million children worked in the 
country, 70 to 80 percent in agriculture. Many of these children worked 
legally, especially in agriculture. Children also worked in light 
industry, as domestic workers, on construction sites, and in service 
businesses such as auto repair shops. According to NGO and media 
reports, the number of street children in Cairo was increasing, and 
these children were at risk of being sexually exploited or forced to 
    The MOMM, working with the National Council for Childhood and 
Motherhood and the Ministry of Interior, generally enforced child labor 
laws in state-owned enterprises and formal private sector 
establishments through labor inspections and supervision of factory 
management, although enforcement in the informal sector was weak. As a 
result of limited and inconsistent funding for inspector training and 
enforcement, child labor enforcement inspectors generally operated 
without specific training on child labor issues and performed these 
inspections as part of their other duties. Training programs varied in 
quality by governorate. When offenders were prosecuted, the fines 
imposed were often as low as 500 pounds ($86) and thus had questionable 
deterrent effect. Child labor in the informal sector remained 
prevalent. Government efforts to address the problem focused on 
collecting data to design effective intervention programs and 
government support for a package of intervention programs with the 
assistance of international agencies. The Government established a 
national tripartite committee, which included relevant ministries, 
worker and employer representatives, and NGOs to address the problem of 
child labor.
    According to the independent Hisham Mubarak Center, the 
Government's efforts to combat child labor in the informal sector were 
ineffective. The Government made progress toward eliminating the worst 
forms of child labor, pursuant to the UN Convention on the Rights of 
the Child; however, challenges remained. The National Council for 
Childhood and Motherhood worked during the year to provide working 
children with social security safeguards and reduce school dropout 
rates by providing families with alternative sources of income. Also, 
see the Department of State's annual Trafficking in Persons Report at 

    e. Acceptable Conditions of Work.--The Government did not set a 
private sector minimum wage, although in November a court ordered the 
Government to establish one. There was a public-sector minimum wage, 
although it frequently did not provide a decent standard of living. 
Base government pay was commonly supplemented by a complex system of 
fringe benefits and bonuses that could double or triple a worker's 
salary. Following the court order, the National Council on Wages 
recommended a minimum wage of 400 pounds ($69) per month, which workers 
argued was not enough to provide a decent standard of living, according 
to press reports. Parliament had not addressed this recommendation by 
year's end. According to the Government, few workers in the formal 
private sector and no government workers earned less than this amount.
    The National Council of Wages determined working hours for 
government and public-sector employees, but there were no standards for 
the private sector. The law stipulates that the maximum workweek is 48 
hours. Most private-sector employees worked five days per week, usually 
Sunday to Thursday. Overtime for hours worked beyond 36 hours per week 
is payable at the rate of 35 percent extra for daylight hours and 70 
percent extra for work performed at night. The premium for work on rest 
days is 100 percent, and workers are supposed to receive 200 percent 
for work on national holidays. The labor law permits overtime work in 
limited circumstances; the law was enforced through labor inspections.
    The MOMM sets and enforces worker health and safety standards; 
enforcement and inspections were uneven. The law prohibits employers 
from maintaining hazardous working conditions, and workers have the 
right to remove themselves from hazardous conditions without risking 
loss of employment.
    On August 3, an explosion killed one worker and injured six others 
at Helwan Engineering Industries military factory. Workers staged a 
sit-in protest. On August 30, a military court handed down three 
acquittals and five suspended sentences with 1,000 pounds ($171) fines 
for stopping work, damaging factory equipment, assaulting a general, 
and disclosing military secrets. In June parliament amended a law 
covering military courts to grant them jurisdiction over workers in 
military factories.
    There were reports of employer abuse of citizen and undocumented 
foreign workers, especially domestic workers. Many claims of abuse were 
unsubstantiated because undocumented workers were reluctant to make 
their identities public.



    The Islamic Republic of Iran,\1\ with a population of approximately 
77 million, is a constitutional, theocratic republic in which Shia 
Muslim clergy, and political leaders vetted by the clergy, dominate the 
key power structures. Government legitimacy is based on the twin 
pillars of popular sovereignty--albeit restricted--and the rule of the 
supreme leader of the Islamic Revolution. The current supreme leader, 
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, was not directly elected but chosen by a 
directly elected body of religious leaders, the Assembly of Experts, in 
1989. Khamenei's writ dominates the legislative, executive, and 
judicial branches of government. He directly controls the armed forces 
and indirectly controls internal security forces, the judiciary, and 
other key institutions. The legislative branch is the popularly elected 
290-seat Islamic Consultative Assembly, or Majles. The unelected 12-
member Guardian Council reviews all legislation the Majles passes to 
ensure adherence to Islamic and constitutional principles; it also 
screens presidential and Majles candidates for eligibility. Mahmoud 
Ahmadi-Nejad, a member of the Alliance of Builders political party, was 
reelected president in June 2009 in a multiparty election that was 
generally considered neither free nor fair. There were numerous 
instances in which elements of the security forces acted independently 
of civilian control.
    \1\ The United States does not have an embassy in Iran. This report 
draws heavily on non-U.S. government sources.
    The Government severely limited citizens' right to peacefully 
change their government through free and fair elections, and it 
continued a campaign of postelection violence and intimidation. The 
Government committed extrajudicial killings and executed persons for 
criminal convictions as juveniles and through unfair trials, sometimes 
in group executions. Security forces under the Government's control 
committed acts of politically motivated violence and repression, 
including torture, beatings, and rape. The Government administered 
severe officially sanctioned punishments, including amputation and 
flogging. Vigilante groups with ties to the Government, such as Basij 
militia, also committed acts of violence. Prison conditions remained 
poor. Security forces arbitrarily arrested and detained individuals, 
often holding them incommunicado. Authorities held political prisoners 
and continued to crack down on women's rights activists, ethnic 
minority rights activists, student activists, and religious minorities. 
There was little judicial independence and few fair public trials. The 
Government severely restricted the right to privacy and civil liberties 
including freedoms of speech and the press, assembly, association, and 
movement; it placed severe restrictions on freedom of religion. 
Authorities denied admission to or expelled hundreds of university 
students and professors whose views were deemed unacceptable by the 
regime. Official corruption and a lack of government transparency 
persisted. Violence and legal and societal discrimination against 
women, children, ethnic and religious minorities, and lesbian, gay, 
bisexual, and transgender persons were extant. Trafficking in persons 
and incitement to anti-Semitism remained problems. The Government 
severely restricted workers' rights and arrested numerous union 
leaders. Child labor remained a serious problem.

                        RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS

Section 1. Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom 
    a. Arbitrary or Unlawful Deprivation of Life.--There were reports 
that the Government and its agents committed multiple acts of arbitrary 
or unlawful killings, and the Government made only limited attempts to 
investigate killings.
    There were at least two extrajudicial killings during the year, and 
there were few updates or investigations into cases from previous 
    On February 22, Yavar Khodadoust, held at Gohardasht Prison in 
Karaj, reportedly died as a result of severe torture. Prison officials 
reportedly warned Khodadoust's family from pursuing an investigation 
into his death.
    On April 30, according to multiple sources, unknown persons in Sari 
Prison reportedly tortured to death Hadi Aravand, a death row prisoner, 
who had been convicted of murder. Sari Prison's warden claimed that 
Aravand's death was the result of suicide, but the coroner ruled that 
Aravand died from suffocation with a plastic bag tied over his head and 
confirmed that Aravand's arms were tied behind his back and his legs 
tied together at the time of his death. Torture and bruise marks were 
reportedly visible on Aravand's body, including a broken arm, wounds on 
his back, and a small deep slit around his neck.
    There were no updates in the June 2009 killings in separate 
incidents of Amir Mirza or Taraneh Mousavi. After Basij militia 
arrested Mirza and Mousavi, authorities allegedly beat and tortured 
them in custody, including raping Mousavi.
    There was no update in the July 2009 killing of Mohammad 
Naderipour, chairman of the student chapter in former presidential 
candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi's election campaign. According to Iran 
Human Rights Voice (IHRV), Naderipour's body was found inside his 
vehicle 48 hours after plainclothes security forces had arrested him. 
The coroner determined that Naderipour's death was the result of ``a 
blow by a blunt object to the back of the head.'' Authorities 
reportedly demanded the family bury his body immediately, allegedly to 
avoid further investigation.
    In June a military court sentenced two unnamed prison officials to 
death in connection with the July 2009 beating deaths of university 
students and protesters Amir Javadifar, Mohammed Kamrani, and Mohsen 
Rouhalamini at Kahrizak Prison; nine others were sentenced to prison 
terms and lashes. The 12th was exonerated. The names and identities of 
the convicted were not published. In the wake of the torture 
allegations and the deaths of the three individuals, the supreme leader 
shut down the prison and launched an investigation into the case. In 
August Tehran Prosecutor General Saeed Mortazavi was suspended for his 
role in the deaths and promoted to deputy prosecutor general for Iran.
    There were no updates in the July 2009 death of former student 
activist Alireza Davoudi who suffered a heart attack under suspicious 
circumstances while in hospital care. His family said officials warned 
them not to publicize his funeral. Davoudi had been expelled from 
Isfahan University, reportedly for his political activities, when in 
February 2009 Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS) officers 
allegedly arrested him in his home in Isfahan and took him into 
custody. Security officials reportedly burned him with cigarettes, beat 
him, and hung him from the ceiling. In April 2009 authorities released 
him on bail awaiting trial, but his family hospitalized him soon 
afterward due to psychological problems stemming from the alleged 
    There were no updates in the September 2009 case of Saeedeh 
Pouraghai, whom security forces arrested for chanting ``Allahu Akbar'' 
(God is the greatest), considered a call to dissent, from the rooftop 
of her home in Tehran. Two days later, authorities summoned Pouraghai's 
mother to identify and claim her body, which reportedly had been 
partially burned to hide evidence of rape and torture.
    There were no updates in the November 2009 death under suspicious 
circumstances of Ramin Pourandarjani, a physician who worked at 
Kahrizak Prison. Officials gave conflicting reports of the cause of 
Pourandarjani's death, including a heart attack and an auto accident, 
before Police Chief Ismail Ahmadi Moghaddam announced that 
Pourandarjani had committed suicide and that a suicide note explained 
he feared charges over his alleged failure to give detainees adequate 
medical treatment. Some sources accused authorities of poisoning the 
26-year-old doctor to silence him. Earlier in the year, Pourandarjani 
testified to a parliamentary committee that authorities told him to 
list meningitis as the cause of death for Mohsen Rouhalamini (see 
above), whom Pourandarjani claimed actually died as a result of 
injuries inflicted during torture.
    According to multiple sources, the Government executed 
approximately 312 persons in summary executions during the year, many 
after trials that were conducted in secret or did not adhere to basic 
principles of due process. Some human rights groups reported the number 
was as high as 500 but had difficulty documenting the additional cases. 
Authorities did not release statistics on the implementation of death 
sentences, the names of those executed, or the crimes for which they 
were found guilty. Exiles and human rights monitors alleged that many 
persons supposedly executed for criminal offenses such as narcotics 
trafficking were actually political dissidents. The law criminalizes 
dissent and applies the death penalty to offenses such as apostasy 
(conversion from Islam), ``attempts against the security of the 
state,'' ``outrage against high-ranking officials,'' ``enmity towards 
god'' (moharebeh), and ``insults against the memory of Imam Khomeini 
and against the supreme leader of the Islamic Republic.'' According to 
Amnesty International (AI), an increasing number of people were charged 
with moharebeh, a vaguely defined offense that carries the death 
sentence. According to Philip Alston, the UN special rapporteur on 
extrajudicial, summary, or arbitrary executions, moharebeh is ``imposed 
for a wide range of crimes, often fairly ill defined and generally 
having some sort of political nature.'' Iran Human Rights (IHR) 
reported that 38 individuals were executed for the crime of moharebeh 
during the year.
    On January 28, the Government hanged Mohammad Reza Ali Zamani and 
Arash Rahmanipour for allegedly belonging to a military royalist group, 
the Kingdom Assembly of Iran, and for plotting assassinations of 
government officials. Rahmanipour was 17 at the time of the crime. 
According to AI, authorities denied both men access to legal counsel 
and coerced their confessions. Zamani and Rahmanipour were arrested 
three months prior to the June 12 election, and they appeared in the 
August 2009 ``show trials'' (see section 1.e.) with others who had been 
detained during postelection protests. For this reason many 
commentators believed that their execution was a warning to prevent 
further protests.
    On May 9, the Government hanged Kurdish activists Farrad Karmangar, 
Ali Heydarian, Farhad Vakili, Shirin Alam Holi, and Mehdi Eslamian at 
Evin Prison. In 2008 Karmangar received a death sentence for 
``endangering national security'' based on his alleged involvement with 
the Turkey-based Kurdish Workers Party. Karmangar, superintendent of 
high schools in Kamayaran, was affiliated with a number of civil 
society organizations, including the local teachers' union, an 
environmental group, and the Human Rights Organization of Kurdistan. 
According to the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran 
(ICHRI), the defendants' trials lacked due process or proper evidence, 
and authorities executed the individuals without prior notification to 
the families and lawyers.
    During the year the Government practiced public executions and 
group executions. The IHR reported that the Government executed at 
least 19 persons in public during the year. According to the ICHRI, 
judicial authorities ordered the hanging of hundreds of individuals 
inside Vakilabad Prison during the year. According to a former prisoner 
of Vakilabad, most of those executed were sentenced based on drug-
related charges, and the executions were conducted dozens at a time, 
most without the knowledge and presence of the lawyers and families of 
those executed.
    There were two reports during the year of persons executed for 
crimes committed when they were minors. In addition to the execution of 
Arash Rahmanipour (see above), according to IHR, in July authorities 
executed a juvenile offender known only as Muhammed. Domestic human 
rights lawyers reported that at least 100 juvenile offenders were on 
death row at year's end, many for offenses such as homosexual conduct, 
apostasy, or acts incompatible with chastity.
    Adultery remained punishable by death by stoning, but there were no 
reported executions by stoning during the year. The law provides that a 
victim of stoning is allowed to go free if he or she escapes. It is 
much more difficult for women to escape as they are buried to their 
necks whereas men are buried only to their waists. According to AI, 10 
women and four men were at imminent risk for death by stoning at year's 
end (see section 1.e.).
    There were no reports of the Government or its agents killing 
demonstrators during the year; however, during the June 2009 election 
protests, scores of protesters and nonprotesting bystanders were 
killed, especially during antigovernment rallies. Government sources 
reported the death toll at 37, opposition groups reported approximately 
70 individuals died, and human rights organizations suggested as many 
as 388. There were no reported arrests, charges, or investigations in 
conjunction with these deaths, nor were there updates in the killing 
cases of the following individuals: Sohran Arabi, Behzad Mohajer, Neda 
Agha-Soltan, Mahmud Raisi Najafi, and Ashkan Sohrabi.

    b. Disappearance.--There were reports of politically motivated 
abductions during the year. Plainclothes officers or security officials 
often seized journalists and activists without warning and detained 
them incommunicado for several days or longer before permitting them to 
contact family members (see section 1.d.). Families of executed 
prisoners did not always receive notification of their deaths.
    Sometime after January 2, according to AI, authorities arrested 
Sourena Hashemi and Alireza Firouzi, students who had been expelled 
from Zanjan University for their role in exposing the sexual abuse of a 
female student in 2008. Their arrest was not officially acknowledged 
for more than six weeks. Firouzi is a member of Human Rights Activists 
in Iran (HRAI), many of whose members were arrested in the wave of 
arrests of human rights defenders in March. Evin Prison authorities 
released Hashemi on bail on April 4 and Firouzi on May 12.
    On November 8, authorities arrested six followers of imprisoned 
Ayatollah Hossein Kazemeyni Boroujerdi, who called for separation of 
church and state, and on December 6, authorities reportedly detained 
Mohammad Mehman Navaz, a civil engineer and supporter of imprisoned 
Ayatollah Boroujerdi, in an unknown location after summoning Navaz to 
the special clerical court. At year's end there was no information 
about where the prisoners were held.
    During the year Fayzolah Arabsorkhi, a member of the central body 
of the reformist Islamic Revolution Mujahedin Organization and former 
deputy minister of commerce, reappeared at Evin Prison. Sources stated 
he was serving a six-year term at year's end; however, there was no 
information about any trial having been held. In July 2009 unidentified 
persons arrested Arabsorkhi without presenting a warrant or identifying 
themselves as police. Evin Prison guards allegedly beat Arabsorkhi in 
custody, necessitating a visit to the hospital. On April 10, according 
to The Green Voice of Freedom Web site, authorities released Arabsorkhi 
for five days on a bail of 10 million toman (approximately one million 
dollars). On December 19, authorities arrested his reformist daughter 
Fatemeh Arabsorkhi and released her on bail at the end of the year.
    The Iranian-American Jewish Federation reported that 11 Jewish men 
who disappeared in 1994 and 1997 remained missing. In 2007 witnesses 
claimed they saw some of the men in Evin Prison.

    c. Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or 
Punishment.--The constitution and law prohibit torture, but there were 
numerous credible reports that security forces and prison personnel 
tortured detainees and prisoners. A February 5 study by the UN special 
rapporteur on torture stated there were ``credible'' allegations that 
the country's security forces committed politically motivated torture 
following demonstrations in 2009.
    Common methods of torture and abuse in prisons included prolonged 
solitary confinement with extreme sensory deprivation (sometimes called 
``white torture''), beatings, rape and sexual humiliation, long 
confinement in contorted positions, kicking detainees with military 
boots, hanging detainees by the arms and legs, threats of execution, 
burning with cigarettes, pulling out toenails, sleep deprivation, and 
severe and repeated beatings with cables or other instruments on the 
back and on the soles of the feet. To intensify abuse, perpetrators 
reportedly soaked prisoners before beating them with electric cables, 
and there were some reports of electric shocks to sexual organs. 
Prisoners also reported beatings on the ears, inducing partial or 
complete deafness; blows in the area around the eyes, leading to 
partial or complete blindness; and the use of poison to induce illness.
    Some prison facilities, including Evin Prison in Tehran, were 
notorious for cruel and prolonged torture of political opponents of the 
Government. Authorities also maintained unofficial secret prisons and 
detention centers outside the national prison system where abuse 
reportedly occurred. The Government reportedly used white torture 
especially on political prisoners, often in detention centers outside 
the control of prison authorities, including Section 209 of Evin 
    There were reports of deaths attributed to torture by government 
security forces during the year (see section 1.a.). There were also 
reports of torture of political prisoners and labor leaders during the 
year, and in 2009 Ahvazi Arabs alleged that authorities tortured and 
raped community activists during the year (see section 6, Minorities).
    On May 18, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), 
guards at Evin Prison severely beat Kayhan columnist, blogger, and 
documentary filmmaker Mohammad Nourizad, causing what the prison 
physician classified as a serious head injury that affected his 
eyesight. Authorities had detained Nourizad in December 2009 and 
sentenced him to three and one-half years in prison and 50 lashes on 
charge that included ``propaganda against the regime'' and ``insulting 
the supreme leader, the president, and the head of the judiciary.'' The 
CPJ sent a letter on June 9 to judiciary chief Sadeq Larijani 
expressing concern regarding Nourizad's treatment in prison. On June 
24, authorities released Nourizad on 300 million toman ($300,000) bail; 
however, on August 20, after he published a critical letter addressed 
to the supreme leader on his blog, authorities rearrested him. Nourizad 
began a hunger strike on December 10 to protest the irregularities in 
his trial and prison conditions. On December 16, authorities arrested 
members of his family along with the wife of a reformist leader when 
the families gathered outside of Evin Prison to ask about Nourizad's 
health. According to the ICHRI, security officials interrogated and 
verbally abused them.
    On August 25, the brother of Azeri activist Youssef Soleiman 
reported that prison authorities administered electric shocks and gave 
psychotropic drugs to his brother. Soleiman was arrested on June 16; no 
charges had been announced in his case at year's end.
    During the year according to an August 3 report by the Iranian 
Committee of Human Rights Reporters, interrogators in the Intelligence 
Department's isolation cells tortured Ahmad Bab, an activist for 
Kurdish minority rights arrested in September 2009, and demanded that 
Bab admit to having connections with antigovernment groups. When Bab 
refused to confess, one of the interrogators pulled three of his teeth 
with pliers. Interrogators allegedly also beat Bab with a baton, tied 
his limbs to the bed and pulled them until he fainted, and verbally 
abused him.
    During the year according to various sources, authorities at Evin 
Prison tortured or abused and mistreated Mohammad Davari, who served as 
presidential candidate Mehdi Karroubi's chief of staff and editor in 
chief of the Saham News Web site until his September 2009 arrest. 
According to Karroubi's Web site, the torture was intended to force 
Davari to publicly cast doubt on Karroubi's 2009 claim that 
postelection prisoners had been raped.
    On July 22, journalist Reza Rafei-Forushan wrote a letter to 
judiciary head Ayatollah Sadegh Larijani describing his abuse in prison 
and his forced confession. Authorities arrested Rafei-Forushan in June 
2009 after the elections and held him for 43 days in solitary 
confinement during his interrogation.
    In June Supreme Leader Khamenei granted clemency to journalist and 
former Ministry of Intelligence official, reformist, and former 
presidential advisor Saeed Hajjarian, and authorities released him from 
Evin Prison in August. During his incommunicado detention beginning in 
June 2009, prison authorities reportedly interrogated Hajjarian in 
direct sunlight at high temperatures and then doused him with ice 
water, causing him to have heart palpitations. Since sustaining a 
spinal cord injury in an assassination attempt in 2000, Hajjarian has 
used a wheelchair and required a number of medications; according to 
the ICHRI, authorities denied him medication and allegedly gave him 
psychotropic drugs to weaken his mental state. In October 2009, after 
Hajjarian's appearance in the ``show trials'' (see section 1.e.), the 
Revolutionary Court of Tehran sentenced him to a five-year sentence for 
inciting postelection unrest.
    At year's end Ibrahim Sharifi remained outside the country. In June 
2009 security personnel sexually assaulted Sharifi after his arrest for 
participating in antigovernment demonstrations. In August 2009 an 
unidentified man Sharifi suspected of being a government agent warned 
him against testifying to a parliamentary committee about his 
allegations of abuse. There was no evidence that the Government pursued 
any investigation into Sharifi's abuse claim.
    At year's end Maryam Sabri resided outside the country. In July 
2009, according to Human Rights Watch (HRW), authorities arrested Sabri 
during a vigil after her photo appeared on a Web site connected to the 
Iran Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) that posted pictures of 
protesters and asked viewers to identify persons in the photos for 
arrest. According to Sabri, prison guards raped her four times before 
they released her in August 2009.
    At year's end Ebrahim Mehtari resided outside the country. In 
August 2009 security officers believed to be IRGC members abducted the 
computer science student and political activist from his workplace and 
transferred him to a location in eastern Tehran. Mehtari told HRW that 
his jailers beat him severely and repeatedly and sodomized him with a 
baton or stick during his detention. Passersby later found him on a 
street in Tehran semiconscious, bleeding, and with his hands and feet 
tied, and took him to a hospital. A physician from the medical 
examiner's office, which reports to the judiciary, examined Mehtari the 
next day, but when the medical examiner learned Mehtari had just been 
released from detention, officials tried to destroy the report.
    There were no updates in the 2008 beating case of Peyman Fatahi.
    Some judicially sanctioned corporal punishment constituted cruel 
and inhuman punishment, including execution by stoning (see section 
1.a.), amputation for multiple-theft offenses, and lashings. According 
to an October 11 report published by the semiofficial Iranian Students 
News Agency, Mashad prosecutor Mahmoud Zoghi said that amputations, 
which were often carried out in the presence of other prisoners, were 
an increasingly common punishment. The head of the country's delegation 
to the UN Human Rights Council, Mohammad Javad Larijani, told the 
council during the year that the Government does not consider such 
punishments torture or cruel or inhuman punishment and that they are 
culturally justified.
    On October 16, a judge sentenced a man convicted of robbing a 
confectionary shop to have one of his hands amputated. According to 
local press reports, authorities amputated his hand on October 24.
    On October 23, according to state media, authorities in Yazd 
amputated the hand of an unidentified man convicted of theft. According 
to the ICHRI, deputy judiciary head Seyed Ebrahim Raeisi said the 
amputation was ``based on the law and divine punishment'' and ``a 
source of pride for us.''
    On December 11, local press reported that the Supreme Court upheld 
a sentence of blinding with acid for a man who blinded his lover's 
husband in the same manner. At year's end there was no information as 
to whether this sentence was carried out.
    During the year the Government initiated limited investigations 
into reports of torture or cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or 
punishment; according to AI, these investigations focused more on 
covering up abuses than revealing the truth or punishing those believed 

    Prison and Detention Center Conditions.--Prison conditions were 
poor. There were frequent water shortages and sanitation problems. 
Prisoners were frequently subjected to harassment and discrimination. 
Many prisoners were held in solitary confinement or were denied 
adequate food or medical care as a way to force confessions. 
Overcrowding was a significant problem, forcing many prisoners to sleep 
on the floor. According to a June 11 statement by the Student Committee 
in Defense of Political Prisoners (SCDPP), Ward 4 of Gohardasht Prison 
(also known as Rajai Shahr) held more than 800 prisoners, but had a 
capacity for 240,with no bathrooms and only eight toilets. Numerous 
prisoners complained that authorities intentionally exposed them to 
extreme cold for prolonged periods and said they lacked access to 
medical care in prison. AI and Reporters Without Borders (RSF) reported 
on July 16 that many prisoners have had heart attacks or other cardiac 
problems in different prisons, especially Evin and Gohardasht. RSF also 
noted that prison authorities refused to transfer ailing prisoners to 
hospitals even when the prisoners urgently needed treatment that can 
only be provided outside a prison and even when the prison doctors 
themselves recommended it.
    On January 13, according to IHRV, Evin Prison authorities brutally 
beat Mahdi Mahmudian, a member of Mosharekat Front, who suffered from 
kidney disease. Mahmudian had reportedly protested the bathroom 
restrictions enforced on him.
    On January 19, former commander of the Center for Expert Naval 
Training Colonel Alborz Ghasemi died after spending 20 months in 
confinement in an intelligence detention center and in Evin Prison. 
Ghasemi suffered from stomach cancer and had been tortured; he 
allegedly received minimal medical care in detention. He was originally 
accused of providing intelligence to the People's Mojahedin 
Organization (MEK).
    As of mid-August authorities reportedly continued to refuse 
hospitalization requests from two imprisoned journalists with serious 
health conditions, Isa Saharkhiz, a reformist journalist held in 
Gohardasht Prison, and Hangameh Shahidi (see section 2.a.). On November 
11, according to a press report, Saharkhiz fainted and authorities 
transferred him to a hospital to receive treatment for his heart 
condition; however, he returned to prison almost immediately despite a 
cardiologist's recommendations that he be released from prison.
    On August 19, domestic human rights activists reported that 
authorities at Karoun Prison in Ahvaz had banned Abolfazl Abedini Nasr, 
a journalist and former head of a domestic human rights organization, 
from leaving his cell even though Abedini Nasr was medically required 
to visit the prison's clinic every three days to receive medical 
treatment (see section 2.a.).
    On July 26, after authorities granted him early release, student 
activist Iman Sadighi (see section 1.e., Political Prisoners) reported 
on conditions in Mati Kola prison in Babol: ``Fighting amongst 
prisoners.was a daily occurrence. In one incident two inmates had a 
fight with each other and one of them bit the other's ear off, then to 
prove how dangerous he was, he chewed and swallowed the ear--you felt 
that there was nothing of humanity left inside the prison. Our rooms 
were infested with cockroaches. Sometimes the cockroaches would even 
get in our food. At night, the cockroaches would get into our beds and 
we would wake up with them crawling over our faces. To add to all this, 
our blankets were infested with lice, and there were rats that came in 
the cell from time to time. There are no toilets in these solitary 
cells; prisoners are only ever allowed to use the toilets three times a 
day. Many times they can't wait for their turn and they have to do 
their toilet in the cell, which is why the solitary wing cells reek of 
excrement stench.''
    There were no updates, nor was there evidence of any government 
investigation, in the cases of two prisoners who allegedly died due to 
neglect: Karaj political prisoner Amir Hossein Heshmat Saran in 
February 2009 or Evin prisoner and blogger Omid Reza Mirsayafi in March 
2009 (see section 2.a., Internet Freedom).
    On January 7, the parliamentary special committee investigating 
reports of torture and abuse of postelection detainees in Kahrizak 
Detention Center in 2009 submitted its final report, which placed 
responsibility for the beating deaths of three detainees on then 
prosecutor general Saeed Mortazavi. Authorities transferred Mortazavi 
to head the country's task force against smuggling. On August 22, 
progovernment news sources reported that authorities had also suspended 
three top judicial officials at the Tehran prosecutor's office in 
connection to the case. In late July 2009 Supreme Leader Khamenei 
ordered Kahrizak detention center closed.
    In an April 14 interview with the Iran Human Rights Documentation 
Center, nongovernmental organization (NGO) activist Ali Kantoori 
described conditions in two prisons, Evin and Ghezal Hesar, where he 
was detained in 2008. In addition to beatings during interrogation, 
solitary confinement, and harassment of family members, Kantoori said 
lice infestations were common, prisoners had inadequate access to clean 
water or medical care, and the prisons lacked heat and air conditioning 
and had an insufficient number of bathing facilities. Guards reportedly 
regularly mistreated prisoners, including forcing them to kneel during 
prisoner counts. Authorities released Kantoori on bail after five 
months, but in August 2009 the Sanandaj General Court sentenced him to 
15 years' imprisonment. In mid-March Kantoori left the country, and he 
was living outside the country as a refugee at year's end.
    In June the UK-based International Center for Prison Studies 
reported that more than 166,000 prisoners in the country occupied 
facilities constructed to hold no more than 98,000 persons (170 percent 
of official capacity). There were reports of juvenile offenders 
detained with adult offenders. Pretrial detainees occasionally were 
held with convicted prisoners. Political prisoners were often held in 
separate prisons or wards--such as Evin Prison, especially Ward 240, 
and Ward Eight of Gohardasht Prison, known as the IRGC ward--or in 
isolation for long periods of time. Human rights activists and 
international media also reported cases of political prisoners confined 
with violent felons.
    The Government did not permit independent monitoring of prison 
conditions by any outside groups, including UN groups or special 
rapporteurs. A parliamentary committee investigating prison conditions 
paid a visit to Evin Prison in July 2009 and issued its report on 
January 10. According to press reports, the committee called for a 
complete investigation and blamed prosecutor Mortazavi for the rape and 
torture that took place in the prison. At the same time, the committee 
also blamed opposition candidates Mehdi Karroubi and Mir Houssein 
Mousavi for fomenting abuse; both previously expressed concern about 
sexual abuse in Evin Prison. The report claimed that reported sexual 
assaults did not occur, despite the testimony of numerous witnesses.

    d. Arbitrary Arrest or Detention.--Although the constitution 
prohibits arbitrary arrest and detention, these practices continued 
during the year.

    Role of the Police and Security Apparatus.--Several agencies share 
responsibility for law enforcement and maintaining order, including the 
MOIS, the Law Enforcement Forces under the Interior Ministry, and the 
IRGC. The Basij and informal groups known as the Ansar-e Hizballah 
(Helpers of the Party of God) were aligned with extreme conservative 
members of the leadership and acted as vigilantes. In October 2009 the 
Government announced the merger of the Basij into the IRGC ground 
forces. While some Basij units received formal training, many units 
were disorganized and undisciplined. During government-led crackdowns 
on demonstrations, the Basij were primarily responsible for the 
violence against the protesters.
    The security forces were not considered fully effective in 
combating crime. Videos posted on the Internet in October documented 
two stabbing murders that occurred in public spaces while police failed 
to intervene.
    Corruption and impunity were problems. Regular and paramilitary 
security forces committed numerous serious human rights abuses, but 
there were no transparent mechanisms to investigate security force 
abuses and no reports of government actions to reform the abusers.

    Arrest Procedures and Treatment While in Detention.--The 
constitution and penal code require a warrant or subpoena for an arrest 
and state that an arrested person must be informed of charges within 24 
hours. Authorities rarely followed these procedures in practice. 
Authorities held detainees, at times incommunicado, often for weeks or 
months without charge or trial, frequently denying them prompt contact 
with family or timely access to legal representation. In practice there 
was neither a time limit for detention nor judicial means to determine 
the legality of the detention. According to the law, the state is 
obligated to provide indigent defendants with attorneys only for 
certain types of crimes. The courts set prohibitively high bail, even 
for lesser crimes, and in many cases courts did not set bail. 
Authorities often compelled detainees and their families to submit 
property deeds to post bail. Prisoners released on bail did not always 
know how long their property would be retained or when their trials 
would be held.
    The intelligence arm of the IRGC reportedly conducted arrests 
during the year, sometimes without a warrant. Additionally, security 
forces executed general warrants to arrest protesters or those 
perceived as opponents of the Government. The use of these general 
warrants precluded the need for individual warrants.
    There were reports of arbitrary and false arrests during the year, 
including the arrest of dozens of students and journalists in February 
in anticipation of protests planned for February 11, the anniversary of 
the revolution.
    On February 7, authorities arrested Mahsa Jazini, a women's rights 
activist and journalist with Iran Newspaper, at her home in Isfahan. 
According to her attorney, charges against her included ``actions 
against national security'' and ``cooperation with foreign media''; 
however, Jazini reportedly said the officers who arrested her and 
confiscated her personal items described her crime as ``being a 
feminist.'' On March 1, authorities released her on bail for 100 
million toman ($100,000).
    On March 2, police arrested physician and blogger Hesam Firouzi on 
unknown charges and placed him in Ward 209 of Evin Prison. Firouzi 
served as physician to many political prisoners. In June judicial 
authorities reportedly set his bail at 100 million toman ($100,000); it 
was unknown whether he was in prison at year's end. Firouzi was 
previously arrested in March 2009 and served six months of a 15-month 
prison term for acting against the country's national security, 
distorting public opinion, distributing lies, and giving refuge and 
medical treatment to political prisoners.
    On November 2, authorities arrested journalist Nazanin Khosravani 
and charged her with acting against national security. There was no 
information as to the basis of the charges, and Khosravani's mother 
reportedly said Khosravani had not been working as a journalist for 
more than a year. According to media reports, Tehran Prosecutor General 
Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi warned Khosravani's mother not to conduct media 
interviews if she wanted to help her daughter. At year's end Khosravani 
remained in Evin Prison and had been permitted contact with her family 
only once, via telephone.
    There was no update in the March 2009 beating and arrest case of 
Yasser Torkman, a student at Amir Kabir University and member of the 
Islamic Students Organization in Tehran; authorities released Torkman 
on bail in April 2009.
    At year's end former government spokesman Abdollah Ramezanzadeh was 
serving his six-year sentence for ``acting against national security.'' 
In June 2009 police arrested and seriously beat Ramezanzadeh. He spent 
116 days in solitary confinement, 74 of which were incommunicado and 
without charge, and then appeared at the August 2009 ``show trial'' 
(see section 1.e.) and was convicted in December 2009. Ramezanzadeh was 
incarcerated due to a letter that he cowrote to the head of the 
judiciary calling for the prosecution of IRGC officials for their role 
in the June 2009 election and its aftermath.
    At year's end Mohammad Mostafaei, a human rights activist who 
represented the cases of many juveniles sentenced to death as well as 
that of Sakineh Mohammadi-Ashtiani, a woman sentenced to stoning for 
adultery, had claimed asylum in Norway. On November 11, media reported 
that the Islamic Revolutionary Court sentenced Mostafaei in absentia to 
six years in prison for acting against national security for discussing 
Mohammadi-Ashtiani's case with foreign-based Farsi-language media. In 
July and August, authorities detained Mostafaei's wife and brother- and 
father-in-law in an attempt to get Mostafaei to turn himself in, and 
the two men faced charges of concealing a suspect at year's end. 
Mostafaei was originally arrested by plainclothes police officers in 
June 2009.
    On May 16, Clotilde Reiss, a French national teaching assistant 
formerly employed at Isfahan University, returned to France. In July 
2009 authorities arrested Reiss on charges of espionage, and she was 
present at the August 2009 ``show trials'' along with French embassy 
employee Nazak Afshar and British embassy employee Hossein Rassam, who 
were also charged with espionage and plotting to overthrow the 
Government. On October 25, an appeals court overturned Rassam's 
conviction and four-year prison sentence for espionage, substituting a 
one-year suspended sentence for spreading propaganda against the regime 
and maintaining a five-year ban against his employment by foreign 
embassies or organizations. Afshar was released in August 2009 on bail 
of 500 million toman ($500,000).
    At year's end, authorities released on bail of 500 million toman 
($500,000) one of the U.S. citizens arrested by border guards in July 
2009 on the Iran-Iraq border and permitted her to leave the country; 
the other two remained in Evin Prison. Authorities held the Americans 
in solitary confinement for extended periods of time during the first 
months of their detention. Their trial for espionage and illegal entry 
into the country was scheduled for February 6, 2011.
    In November 2009, according to the ICHRI, security forces 
arbitrarily arrested scores of students throughout the country in an 
attempt to stifle protests expected on Students' Day, December 7. For 
instance, on November 3, media reported that authorities had arrested 
civil activists and student leaders Hasan Asadi Zaidabadi and Mohammad 
Sadeghi. Zaidabadi was released in December 2009, and Sadeghi was 
released after 40 days of detention. There was no information as to 
whether the two were ever tried.
    During protests in December 2009 after the death of Grand Ayatollah 
Hussein-Ali Montazeri and during Ashura celebrations, the ICHRI and 
IHRV reported that authorities detained between 200 and 1,000 persons, 
many of whom remained in prison at year's end, some facing death 
sentences. Death sentences were given to individuals who were accused 
of moharebeh (see section 1.a.) for participation in Ashura Day 
protests. On March 17, the ICHRI reported that Revolutionary Court 
judge Abolqasem Salavati sentenced teacher Abdolreza Ghanbari to death 
for moharebeh based on his participation in Ashura protests. According 
to the ICHRI, Ghanbari did not have access to a fair trial nor 
permission to select a lawyer for his defense. The Prosecutor's Office 
requested death sentences for at least 11 other individuals arrested 
during 2009 Ashura celebrations.
    There were no reports of Iranian-American journalists arrested 
during the year; however, in 2009 and previous years, security forces 
arrested several Iranian-American journalists and academics on charges 
of espionage and ``acting against national security.'' Prison 
authorities subjected the activists to harsh interrogation techniques 
and solitary confinement and in most cases kept them in prison for 
several months. At year's end one academic was free on bail but not 
permitted to depart the country.
    There were no updates in the 2008 cases of Ebrahim Mirnehad or Dr. 
Arash Alaei, both whom remained in prison at year's end. Authorities 
sentenced Mirnahad to five years' imprisonment on charges of ``acting 
against national security'' and ``spreading propaganda,'' charges that, 
according to AI, stemmed from his public condemnation of his brother's 
execution earlier in the year. Dr Alaei and his brother, physicians 
specializing in the prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS, were found 
guilty of ``cooperating with an enemy government.'' AI reported that 
Dr. Kamiar Alaei remained in prison at year's end.
    Pretrial detention was often arbitrarily lengthy, particularly in 
cases involving alleged violations of national security laws. 
Approximately 25 percent of prisoners held in state prison facilities 
were reportedly pretrial detainees. According to HRW, a judge may 
prolong detention at his discretion, and pretrial detention often 
lasted for months.
    The Government reportedly put individuals under house arrest 
without due process in order to restrict their movement and 
communication. Authorities placed former presidential candidates Mehdi 
Karroubi and Mir Hossein Mousavi under de facto house arrest during the 
year. In previous years the Government used house arrest for senior 
Shia religious leaders whose views regarding political and governance 
issues were at variance with the ruling orthodoxy; however, there were 
no new confirmed instances of this practice since 2009. Grand Ayatollah 
Montazeri, the most prominent cleric under such restrictions, died in 
December 2009.

    e. Denial of Fair Public Trial.--After the 1979 revolution, the 
judicial system was revised to conform to an Islamic canon based on the 
Qur'an, Sunna (the traditions of the Prophet), and other Islamic 
sources. The constitution provides that the judiciary be ``an 
independent power''; in practice the court system was corrupt and 
subject to political influence. The constitution provides that the head 
of the judiciary is a cleric chosen by the supreme leader. The head of 
the Supreme Court and prosecutor general also must be clerics.
    Islamic revolutionary courts try offenses viewed as potentially 
threatening to the Islamic Republic, including threats to internal or 
external security, narcotics and economic crimes, and official 
corruption. A special clerical court examines alleged transgressions 
within the clerical establishment, and a military court investigates 
crimes connected with military or security forces. A media court hears 
complaints against publishers, editors, and writers, including Internet 

    Trial Procedures.--Many aspects of the prerevolutionary judicial 
system survive in the civil and criminal courts. According to the 
constitution and criminal procedure code, a defendant has the right to 
a public trial, presumption of innocence, a lawyer of his or her 
choice, and the right of appeal in most cases that involve major 
penalties. These rights were not respected in practice. Panels of 
judges adjudicate trials; there is no jury system in the civil and 
criminal courts. In the media court, a council of 11 persons selected 
by the court adjudicates cases. No defendants in any court had the 
right to confront their accusers, nor were they granted access to 
government-held evidence. During the year human rights groups noted the 
absence of procedural safeguards in criminal trials.
    During the year AI, HRW, RSF, and several other human rights groups 
continued to condemn trials in the revolutionary courts for 
disregarding international standards of fairness. In August 2009 the UN 
special rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman, or degrading 
treatment or punishment, the special rapporteur on the situation of 
human rights defenders, and the vice chairperson of the working group 
on arbitrary detention expressed ``serious concern'' about the 
situation of detainees in the country.
    The Government often charged individuals with vague crimes such as 
``antirevolutionary behavior,'' ``moral corruption,'' ``siding with 
global arrogance,'' moharebeh, and ``crimes against Islam.'' 
Prosecutors imposed strict penalties on government critics for minor 
violations. When postrevolutionary statutes did not address a 
situation, the Government advised judges to give precedence to their 
knowledge and interpretation of Islamic law. The head of the judiciary 
chose revolutionary court judges in part due to their ideological 
commitment to the system. Secret or summary trials of only five 
minutes' duration frequently occurred. Other trials were deliberately 
designed to publicize a coerced confession.
    On February 3, a revolutionary court sentenced student activist 
Mohammad Amin Valian to death in a group trial for moharabeh for 
allegedly having thrown three stones and shouted ``death to the 
dictator!'' during a December 2009 Ashura protest. Government officials 
arrested Valian on January 12, after Damghan University's Basij student 
publication published an article about him. Authorities denied repeated 
requests from his family on his whereabouts, and according to ICHRI 
they only said he was held in a ``special location.'' According to the 
same report, he was also denied access to counsel. On May 15, an 
appeals court rejected the revolutionary court decision and sentenced 
him to a three-and-one-half years' imprisonment and a fine of 300,000 
toman ($300). As of September authorities had granted Valian 
conditional release.
    At year's end the ICHRI reported that approximately 600 inmates 
remained on death row in Vakilabad, with the majority convicted for 
narcotics-related crimes. Some inmates reported that they had been 
tortured and forced to make confessions but that judges ignored their 
claims of physical coercion.
    In August 2009 the Tehran Revolutionary Court convened the first of 
a series of televised mass trials for more than 100 opposition 
politicians and activists detained after the June 2009 election; the 
opposition referred to them as show trials. Among those on trial were 
senior proreform politicians, lawyers, and journalists, including 
former vice president Muhammad Ali Abtahi; journalist and former 
interior ministry official Muhammad Atrianfar; intellectual and 
prodemocracy activist Saeed Hajjarian, reportedly tortured in detention 
(see section 1.c.); filmmaker and Newsweek reporter Maziar Bahari (see 
section 2.a.); an Iranian-American academic; and Mohsen Mirdamadi, the 
leader of the largest reformist party, the Islamic Iran Participation 
Front. The prosecution accused the defendants of fomenting a ``velvet 
revolution,'' acting against national security, and having ties to 
British spies. Authorities did not permit any of the defendants access 
to legal counsel prior to the trial. Some of those charged read aloud 
``confessions'' in which they denounced former colleagues and declared 
there had been no fraud in the election. There were allegations that 
several defendants, including Abtahi and opposition candidate Mousavi 
supporters Mostafa Tajzadeh, Abdollah Ramezanzadeh (see section 1.d.), 
and Mohsen Aminzadeh, underwent ``massive interrogation'' in Evin 
    At year's end Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani awaited execution for 
alleged adultery and murder while her son and lawyer remained 
imprisoned. In 2006 after having already been convicted and punished 
with 99 lashes for involvement in her husband's murder, a court 
sentenced Ashtiani to death by stoning for adultery. According to the 
NGO Women Living Under Muslim Laws, two judges declared her not guilty 
based on the lack of evidence in the case, but the other three judges 
found her guilty based on ``divine knowledge of the judge'' (elm-e 
ghazi), a legal provision that allows judges to make a ruling in the 
absence of conclusive evidence. On September 8, a Foreign Ministry 
representative declared that the stoning sentence had been suspended 
but suggested she might still be hanged on charges related to her 
husband's murder. Human rights groups maintained that Ashtiani's 
confession was coerced and decried the lack of due process in this 
case. One of Ashtiani's lawyers, Mohammed Mostafaei, sought asylum in 
Norway during the year (see section 1.d.).
    Opposition groups continued to question the legitimacy of the 
special clerical court system. The court is headed by a scholar in 
Islamic law and is capable of ruling on legal matters through 
independent interpretation of Islamic legal sources. Clerical courts, 
which investigate alleged offenses and crimes by clerics and which the 
supreme leader directly oversees, are not provided for in the 
constitution, and they operated outside the domain of the judiciary. 
According to a 2007 AI report, defendants could be represented only by 
court-nominated clerics who are not required to be qualified lawyers. 
According to the AI report, in some cases a defendant was unable to 
find a cleric willing to act as defense counsel and was tried without 
legal representation. Critics alleged that clerical courts were used to 
prosecute clerics for expressing controversial ideas and for 
participating in activities outside the sphere of religion, such as 
journalism or reformist political activities.
    On December 6, the special clerical court summoned Mohammad Mehman 
Navaz, a supporter of Ayatollah Boroujerdi (see section 1.d.).

    Political Prisoners and Detainees.--Statistics regarding the number 
of citizens imprisoned for their political beliefs were not available, 
but human rights activists estimated the number in the hundreds. 
Approximately 500 democracy activists and journalists were in detention 
in Evin Prison alone at year's end. According to opposition press 
reports, the Government arrested, convicted, and executed persons on 
questionable criminal charges, including drug trafficking, when their 
actual offenses were reportedly political. The Government charged 
members of religious minorities and others with crimes such as 
``confronting the regime'' and apostasy and followed the same trial 
procedures as in cases of threats to national security. During the year 
the Government rounded up students, journalists, lawyers, and political 
activists to silence them or prevent them from organizing protests.
    Authorities occasionally gave political prisoners suspended 
sentences or released them for short or extended furloughs prior to 
completion of their sentences, but they could order them to return to 
prison at any time. Suspended sentences often were used to silence and 
intimidate individuals. The Government also controlled political 
activists by temporarily suspending baseless court proceedings against 
them and allowing authorities to rearrest them at any time, and it 
attempted to intimidate activists by calling them in repeatedly for 
questioning. The Government issued travel bans on former political 
prisoners; for instance, authorities continued to prevent former 
political prisoner Siamak Pourzand from leaving the country to receive 
medical care and to join his wife, also a former political prisoner, 
and family abroad.
    Authorities routinely held political prisoners in solitary 
confinement for extended periods and denied them due process and access 
to legal representation. Political prisoners were also at greater risk 
of torture and abuse in detention. The Government did not permit 
international humanitarian organizations or UN special rapporteurs 
access to political prisoners.
    The Government imprisoned persons throughout the year for political 
reasons (see sections 1.a. through 1.e. and section 7.a.), including 
minority activists (see section 6). Human rights organizations reported 
that 21 Kurdish political prisoners faced execution and 44 Baha'i 
remained in prison at year's end. The Government also reportedly held 
some persons in prison for years under charges of sympathizing with 
terrorist groups such as the MEK.
    On February 28, an appeals court upheld 10-month prison sentences 
for three student activists from Babol Norshirvani University (Mohsen 
Barzegar, Iman Sadighi, and Nima Nahvi) and one-year suspended 
sentences for Hamid Reza Jahantigh, Hessam Bagheri, Siavash Salimi 
Nejad, and Ali Taghipour. The students, most of whom were also banned 
from educational institutions for one to five years, were convicted of 
``actions against national security'' and ``propagation against the 
regime,'' based on their alleged planning of and participation in 
protests and contacts with antigovernment entities. Authorities 
conditionally released Barzegar and Sadighi on July 17, but on November 
9, police rearrested Barzegar at his home prior to National Students 
Day, allegedly without a warrant (see section 2.b., Freedom of 
Association). Nahvi remained in prison at year's end.
    On May 5, Revolutionary Court Branch 28 sentenced Bahareh Hedayat, 
a prominent student activist, to two years in prison for ``insulting 
the supreme leader,'' six months for ``insulting the president,'' and 
five years for ``actions against national security, propagation of 
falsehoods, and mutiny for congregation.'' An earlier suspended 
sentence of two years in prison for participating in a women's rights 
protest was added to make Hedayat's total sentence nine and one-half 
years in prison. In July Appellate Court Branch 24 upheld her sentence. 
In late December authorities reportedly presented her with new charges 
of ``disturbing public opinion'' based on a letter she wrote from 
prison on National Students Day. At year's end Hedayat was serving her 
sentence in Evin Prison where authorities had recently banned her 
visitors ``until further notice.''
    On August 8, the Supreme Court rejected Jafar Kazemi's death 
sentence appeal. Authorities arrested Kazemi, an editor and publisher 
of academic books at Amir Kabir University, during the 2009 election 
protests and reportedly tortured him physically and psychologically 
during his detention. His interrogators allegedly threatened to arrest 
his wife and children if he did not confess. Kazemi was convicted of 
moharebeh and sympathy with the MEK, but he pled not guilty. At year's 
end Kazemi awaited execution.
    On September 4, authorities summoned Nasrin Sotoudeh, a prominent 
human rights lawyer and women's rights activist, to Evin Prison where 
they arrested her on charges of ``propaganda against the state,'' ``a 
conspiracy to disturb order,'' and cooperation with Nobel Peace Prize 
laureate Shin Ebadi's Defenders of Human Rights Center (DHRC). Shortly 
after her detention, Sotoudeh went on a 70-day hunger strike to protest 
her treatment, including solitary confinement. On December 27, 
authorities presented more charges against her, including ``not wearing 
the hijab [headcovering]'' and ``not observing Islamic standards of 
conduct.'' At year's end she remained in solitary confinement and 
weakened from her hunger strike. During questioning, her interrogators 
reportedly told her they controlled the length of her sentence, which 
would be at least 10 years.
    On April 20, Branch 26 of the Revolutionary Court sentenced Mahdieh 
Golrou, student activist and member of the Advocacy Council for the 
Right to Education, to two years and four months in prison for 
association with the MEK. She began serving the sentence immediately, 
along with a suspended one-year sentence for her activities related to 
educational rights. In late December authorities reportedly presented 
her with new charges of ``disturbing public opinion'' based on a letter 
she wrote from prison on National Students Day. Golrou suffered from 
intestinal problems during her continuing imprisonment in Evin Prison.
    On January 26, a revolutionary court sentenced Shabnam Madadzadeh, 
a member of the Islamic Association and deputy general secretary of the 
student organization Tahkim Vahdat, and her brother Farzad Madadzadeh 
to five years' imprisonment for moharebeh and propaganda against the 
state, and in June an appeals court upheld the sentence. Their lawyer, 
Mohammad Oliyaeifard, was not present as he was serving a sentence for 
speaking out about another client, a juvenile executed for a murder 
allegedly committed when he was 17 years old. Authorities arrested the 
Madadzadehs in February 2009, and officials in Ward 209 of Evin Prison 
allegedly beat and whipped Farzad in front of Shabnam to coerce her to 
confess. Human rights groups reported during the year that Shabnam 
suffered from digestive ailments and heart problems and that she lacked 
medical care. The Madadzadehs remained in Gohardasht Prison at year's 
    At year's end Abdolfattah Soltani, a prominent human rights lawyer 
and DHRC spokesperson, continued to face a pending court case for 
security-related charges, In June 2009 authorities arrested him without 
a warrant and held him for 72 days without charges, including 17 days 
in solitary confinement, until his release in August 2009.
    On December 29, an interrogator known as ``Mahdavi'' reportedly 
informed Ebrahim Yazdi's wife that authorities had transferred the 
ailing former foreign minister and the secretary-general of the Freedom 
Movement of Iran to a safe house in a military zone. Authorities 
detained 80-year-old Yazdi at least three times since the June 2009 
elections, once when he was in an intensive care hospital ward. During 
one of his imprisonments, Yazdi spent 50 days in solitary confinement. 
On October 1, officials arrested Yazdi in a private home in Isfahan for 
allegedly participating in ``illegal prayer'' while he attended the 
memorial service for the daughter of a friend. His wife was allowed to 
visit him only after he had been jailed for 40 days. Yazdi was 
recovering from bladder cancer surgery as well as heart surgery, and 
his family believed his life is in danger because of the physical and 
psychological strains of prison, lack of medical care, and unsanitary 
    During the year Abdollah Momeni continued to serve a four and one-
half-year prison sentence for disseminating propaganda against the 
country by transmitting news of street protests and colluding to harm 
national security. In June 2009 police arrested Momeni, spokesperson 
for the Alumni Association of Iran (Advar-e Tahkim Vahdat), a legally 
registered political organization, and authorities sentenced him in 
November 2009 after he appeared at the fifth session of the ``show 
trials.'' AI reported that authorities used as evidence against him 
Momeni's ``contacts'' with AI and HRW. In August he wrote a letter to 
Supreme Leader Khamenei in which he detailed the physical and 
psychological abuse he had endured at Evin Prison including severe 
beatings and suffocations to the point of unconsciousness during 
interrogations, interrogators holding his head in a full toilet bowl, 
solitary confinement for 86 days, and repeated threats of rape and 
imminent execution. Momeni also said his interrogators forced him to 
practice false confessions before his trial.
    As of July 7, Naseh Faridi remained free pending an appeal of his 
January 7 sentence to six years in prison and 74 lashes for allegedly 
passing information to the MEK on account of his activities in the 
SCDPP, including interviews with foreign media. On June 29, authorities 
released Azeri minority activist Ali Bikas from Evin Prison after an 
appeals court acquitted him of all charges. Authorities arrested the 
two SCDPP members in June 2009 and tried them in the ``show trials'' 
later that year.
    At year's end there had been no verdict announced in the mid-
October revolutionary court trial of Mohammad-Ali Dadkhah, a member of 
the Center for Defending Human Rights and an attorney for several 
political activists. In July 2009 police arrested Dadkhah at his office 
and charged him with meeting with ``foreign enemies.'' HRW reported 
that at the time of his arrest he was meeting with colleagues to 
discuss the judiciary's proposal to restrict the independence of the 
bar association. Dadkhah remained free on a 500 million toman 
($500,000) bail at year's end.
    In March authorities released an Iranian-American academic on bail 
of 800 million toman ($800,000) but continued to prevent him from 
leaving the country at year's end. In July 2009 authorities first 
arrested him on charges of espionage based on his association with the 
Open Society Institute, which the Government had previously approved. 
He appeared before the ``show trials'' in August 2009 and in October 
2009 was sentenced to 15 years in prison, later reduced to five years 
by an appelate court.
    As of November 16, former university student Misagh Yazdan-Nejad 
was seriously ill with a respiratory illness, unable to walk or eat. 
Gohardasht Prison authorities reportedly refused to grant him leave to 
undergo surgery. In September 2009 a revolutionary court sentenced 
Yazdan-Nejad to 13 years' imprisonment for participating in a 2007 
demonstration. The Government had previously executed three of Yazdan-
Nejad's uncles and imprisoned both his parents on political grounds. At 
year's end there were no further updates on Yazdan-Nejad's status.
    In September 2009 a reformist Web site reported that police 
detained Mohammad Ozlati-Moghaddam, head of opposition leader Mousavi's 
veterans' affairs committee, following a search of his home; he was 
held for an unknown length of time. On November 15, a reformist Web 
site reported that security agents had again arrested Ozlati-Moghaddam, 
and his status was unknown at year's end.
    On March 16, authorities released economist and journalist Saeed 
Leylaz from prison on bail of 500 million toman ($500,000) to seek 
medical treatment. In December 2009 authorities sentenced Leylaz to 
nine years in prison, later reduced to five, for allegedly maintaining 
ties with foreigners and working to overthrow the Government.
    At year's end Emaddedin Baghi, founder of the Committee for the 
Defense of Prisoners' Rights, was incarcerated in Evin Prison, serving 
a six-year sentence for ``propaganda against the system'' and 
``colluding against the security of the regime'' in relation to an 
interview with the late Grand Ayatollah Montazeri and a one-year 
sentence for his work advocating for prisoners' rights. A revolutionary 
court also banned him from participating in political activity for five 
years. In December 2009 authorities arrested Baghi and detained him for 
180 days. Authorities imprisoned Baghi on previous occasions since 2000 
for his activities as a journalist and his campaigns against the 
Government's execution of juvenile offenders.
    At year's end Kurdish and women's rights activist Zeinab Bayazidi 
continued serving a four-year sentence for acting against national 
security. Security forces arrested her in 2008; she was reportedly 
tried behind closed doors without access to an attorney of her 
choosing. According to human rights organizations, Bayazidi went on a 
hunger strike in July to protest a prison official's treatment of 
several female prisoners.
    At year's end Abbas Khorsandi, a political activist and founder of 
the Iran Democratic Party, an Internet forum for political debate, 
remained in Evin Prison, where authorities reportedly prevented him 
from seeing a doctor despite his poor health. In 2008 a Tehran 
revolutionary court upheld an eight-year prison sentence against 
Khorsandi for ``acting against national security through formation of 
an illegal association.'' During the year Khorsandi's family repeatedly 
expressed concern about his poor health, especially his heart disease, 
but the Government made no response.
    There were no updates in the following 2008 cases; all individuals 
were believed to be in prison at year's end: writer and student leader 
Amin Ghazain Tehran; human rights lawyer Saleh Kamrani; Hadi Qabel, 
reformist cleric and member of the reformist political group Islamic 
Iran Participation Front; and Office for Consolidating Unity spokesman 
Ali Nikunesbati.
    Ayatollah Mohammad Kazemeini Boroujerdi remained in Evin Prison 
despite appeals for his release on medical grounds. Human rights groups 
claimed he had been in solitary confinement without access to an 
independent lawyer since his 2006 arrest. Prior to Boroujerdi's arrest, 
the Government had increased pressure on him for his belief that 
religion and the state should be separate.
    Political prisoner Behrouz Javid-Tehrani, who spent four years in 
prison for his activities during the 1999 student uprising and was 
sentenced in 2005 to seven more years in prison following a secret 
trial without legal representation, remained in prison at year's end. 
At the time of the most recent conviction, Javid-Tehrani was in 
solitary confinement in Gohardasht Prison in Karaj, where he alleged 
security agents severely tortured him on numerous occasions.

    Civil Judicial Procedures and Remedies.--By law the judiciary is 
independent from the executive and legislative branches; in practice it 
remained under the influence of executive and religious government 
authorities. According to the constitution, the Court of Administrative 
Justice, under the supervision of the head of the judiciary, 
investigates the grievances of citizens with regard to government 
officials, organs, and statutes. In practice citizens had limited 
ability to sue the Government. Citizens were not able to bring lawsuits 
against the Government for civil or human rights violations. Dispute 
resolution councils are available to settle minor civil and criminal 
cases through mediation before referral to courts.

    Property Restitution.--The constitution allows the Government to 
confiscate property acquired illicitly or in a manner not in conformity 
with Islamic law, and the Government particularly targeted religious 
minorities, especially members of the Baha'i faith. During the year 
there were reports that authorities destroyed several Sufi libraries 
containing sacred texts and took over nursing homes and hospitals 
connected to Sufi orders.

    f. Arbitrary Interference With Privacy, Family, Home, or 
Correspondence.--The constitution states that ``reputation, life, 
property, [and] dwelling[s]'' are protected from trespass except as 
``provided by law,'' but the Government routinely infringed on this 
right. Security forces monitored the social activities of citizens, 
entered homes and offices, monitored telephone conversations and 
Internet communications, and opened mail without court authorization. 
There were widespread reports that government agents entered, searched, 
and/or ransacked the homes and offices of reformist activists and 
journalists in an attempt to intimidate them.
    For example, on several occasions during the year government 
security forces raided the home and offices of human rights attorney 
Nasrin Sotoudeh (see section 1.e., Political Prisoners), confiscating 
her computer and cell phone, along with those belonging to her husband 
and children, and many of her clients' files.
    On September 16, government security forces raided the office of 
former presidential candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi and confiscated 
computers and other property (see section 3).
    Unlike in 2009, there were no reports that Basij forces carried out 
nightly raids throughout Tehran, destroying public property, entering 
homes, and beating civilians in an attempt to stop nightly protest 
chants. However, there were some reports that Basij forces raided 
universities in February to stop protesters.
    During the year vigilantes continued to attack young persons 
considered ``un-Islamic'' in their dress or activities, invade private 
homes, abuse unmarried couples, and disrupt concerts. In May according 
to press reports, authorities launched an intensified campaign to 
enforce the mandatory hijab and issued a list of acceptable men's 
hairstyles. According to press reports, morality police have stopped or 
detained more than two million individuals since 2007 for inappropriate 
hairstyles (usually related to the length of men's hair or beards) or 
bad hijab.
    There were reports during the year that the MOIS arrested and 
harassed family members of political prisoners and human rights 
activists, banning them from speaking to foreign media or traveling 
abroad, blocking their telephone conversations, making false criminal 
charges against them, and blocking their access to higher education.
    From early February to March 9, authorities detained Saleh 
Noghrehkar, the nephew of former presidential candidate Mir Hossein 
Mousavi and the head of the legal team for Mousavi's campaign, in Evin 
Prison, reportedly to intimidate Mousavi and his wife.
    Throughout the year authorities issued statements threatening to 
arrest Mehdi Hashemi on corruption charges, the expatriate son of 
influential cleric and former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani. Some 
human rights organizations alleged these threats were retaliation for 
Rafsanjani's criticism of the Government after the 2009 postelection 
    On January 13, authorities released from prison Nushin Ebadi, a 
professor of dentistry and sister to Nobel Prize-winning human rights 
lawyer and activist Shirin Ebadi. Intelligence officers arrested 
Nushin, who was not involved in human rights issues and did not 
participate in any of the postelection protests, in December 2009.
    There were also reports that authorities threatened and arrested 
family members of expatriates who posted critical comments about the 
country on social networking Web sites such as Facebook. According to 
media accounts, an Iranian-American studying abroad reported in 2009 
that he received an e-mail warning him that his relatives in Iran would 
be harmed if he did not delete an online petition he had created 
relating to the imprisonment in Iran of a human rights activist; he 
claimed that security agents arrested his father two days later and 
held him briefly.
    Authorities occasionally entered homes to remove satellite 
television dishes, which are illegal in the country.
Section 2. Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:
    a. Freedom of Speech and Press.--The constitution provides for 
freedom of expression and of the press, except when the words are 
deemed ``detrimental to the fundamental principles of Islam or the 
rights of the public.'' In practice the Government severely restricted 
freedom of speech and of the press. There were no basic legal 
safeguards for freedom of expression, and the Government--notably the 
judiciary--arbitrarily enforced censorship measures against the 
independent press. Government censorship and self-censorship limited 
dissemination of information during the year. The Government frequently 
threatened and jailed journalists as a consequence of their work. It 
also closed the offices of the journalists' union in August 2009.
    Individuals could not criticize the Government publicly or 
privately without reprisal, and the Government actively sought to 
impede criticism.
    On December 19, according to RSF, intelligence officials in 
civilian dress arrested Fariborz Rais Dana, an economist and a member 
of the board of directors of the country's writers' association. Other 
sources noted that Dana's arrest occurred shortly after his interview 
with BBC Persian in which he criticized the Government's subsidy reform 
policies. At year's end there were no updates in his case, and his 
whereabouts were unknown.
    The Government held significant influence over all media in the 
country. The country's media outlets were varied, including state-
controlled television, radio, and print publications, as well as 
private newspapers and magazines that cover current affairs, politics, 
the arts, and sports. The Government closely monitored reporters and 
media outlets, and private media lacked independence in practice. 
Journalists who failed to abide by government guidelines faced 
intimidation, arrest, or closure of their publications. The Government 
required foreign correspondents to provide detailed travel plans and 
topics of proposed stories before it granted visas, and it attempted to 
influence them to garner more favorable coverage. The Government's 
Press Supervisory Board (PSB) was responsible for issuing press 
licenses, which it sometimes revoked in response to articles critical 
of the Government, and for examining complaints filed against 
publications or individual journalists, editors, or publishers.
    According to Article 175 of the constitution, private broadcasting 
is illegal. The Government controlled and maintained a monopoly over 
all television and radio broadcasting facilities through a state-
controlled entity, the Voice and Vision Organization. Radio and 
television programming--the principal source of news for many citizens, 
especially in rural areas--reflected the Government's political and 
socioreligious ideology. Foreign programs such as BBC Persian and Voice 
of America were subject to government jamming. Satellite dishes that 
received foreign television broadcasts were forbidden, and the 
Government periodically confiscated them from homes. For instance, 
according to opposition websites, police began confiscating satellite 
dishes from rooftops in Tehran ahead of the February 11 anniversary of 
the Islamic revolution. However, most satellite dishes in individual 
homes reportedly continued to operate.
    During the year the Government detained, jailed, tortured, or fined 
numerous publishers, editors, and journalists (including Internet 
media) for their reporting. RSF reported that 37 journalists remained 
in detention as of December 20. The penal code states that ``anyone who 
undertakes any form of propaganda against the state'' can be imprisoned 
for as long as one year; the law does not define ``propaganda.'' The 
law also subjects writers to prosecution for instigating crimes against 
the state or national security or ``insulting'' Islam; the latter 
offense is punishable by death.
    On January 8, according to the CPJ, authorities arrested Mostafa 
Dehghan, a freelance journalist who wrote about social issues for 
several newspapers and the women's rights Web site, Change for 
Equality, and detained him in Evin Prison's Ward 209. According to PBS 
Frontline, he remained in prison as of December 10, and there was no 
evidence that authorities had charged him with any crime.
    On February 1, security officials beat and arrested Abolfazl 
Abedini Nasr, a reporter for Bahar Ahvaz, in his home in Ramhormoz and 
transferred him to Evin Prison,where he reportedly underwent harsh 
torture during interrogation, resulting in severe heart damage. On 
April 4, Branch 1 of the Revolutionary Court in Ahvaz sentenced him to 
11 years in Karoun Prison in Ahvaz for association with foreign 
governments, membership in HRAI, and ``propaganda against the regime'' 
based on his interviews with foreign media. On April 13, Abedini 
collapsed in and was admitted to the prison clinic, according to AI. On 
August 19, HRAI reported that prison authorities had banned Abedini 
from leaving his cell until further notice, preventing him from 
visiting the prison clinic to receive regular required medical 
treatment. There was no information about Abedini's status at year's 
end, and he remained in prison.
    On February 9, according to the CPJ, authorities arrested Ali 
Malihi, a journalist for Etemad, Irandokht, Shahrvand-e-Emruz, and 
Mehrnameh, and a revolutionary court tried and sentenced him to four 
years in prison for ``congregation and mutiny against the regime,'' 
``propagation against the regime,'' ``participation in illegal 
gatherings,'' ``publication of falsehoods,'' and ``insulting the 
president.'' As of October 1, authorities reportedly had not permitted 
him to meet with his lawyer except during court proceedings. The CPJ 
reported he was held in solitary confinement in Evin Prison and went on 
at least one hunger strike to protest his treatment.
    On March 2, authorities rearrested journalist and activist 
Mahboubeh Karami, the fifth time she was arrested in the last three 
years (see section 6, Women).
    From June 12 until his December 22 release on 500 million toman 
($500,000) bail, authorities detained Abdolreza Tajik, who writes for 
reformist newspapers Fath, Bonyan, Bahar, and Shargh, in Evin Prison. 
This was Tajik's third arrest since the disputed June 2009 elections. 
At year's end he faced charges of ``propagation against the regime'' in 
connection with his membership in the DHRC, according to news reports. 
His sister, Parvin Tajik was also sentenced to 18 months in prison for 
pursuing her brother's case.
    On July 28, a court sentenced Mostafa Kazzazi, the publisher of 
banned reformist daily Seda-ye Edalat, in absentia to 11 months in jail 
on charges of ``propaganda against the Islamic regime'' and inciting 
unrest. He was in prison at year's end.
    In October authorities arrested two German reporters while they 
were interviewing the family of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani (see section 
1.e.). At year's end the two reporters remained in custody.
    On at least two occasions in December, police officials raided the 
offices of reformist daily Sharq and arrested editor in chief Ahmad 
Gholami, managing director Ali Khodabaksh, and reporters Kayvan 
Mehregan, Amir Hadi Anvari, Rayhaneh Tabatabaee, and Mehran Faraji. 
Local news sites reported that Tehran's general and revolutionary 
courts prosecutor Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi said the arrests were based 
on ``security charges.'' Authorities reportedly released Gholami, 
Khodabaksh, and Anvari on bail before year's end, but Mehregan, 
Tabatabaee, and Faraji reportedly remained in prison. According to 
press reports, an unidentified Sharq journalist said authorities raided 
the newspaper offices because of an upcoming Students' Day issue.
    On December 9, Branch 28 of the Tehran Revolutionary Court 
sentenced Mashallah Shamsolvaezin, head of the journalists' association 
and a prominent reform journalist, to 16 months in prison for 
``insulting the president'' and ``weakening'' the Government based on 
interviews he gave to international media. At year's end it did not 
appear as though his sentence had begun.
    There were updates in several cases from previous years.
    On October 9, the Tehran Revolutionary Court sentenced Saeed 
Razavi-Faghih, a former editorial writer for several reformist 
newspapers and former member of the Office of Consolidating Unity (a 
reformist student organization), in absentia to four years' 
imprisonment and 74 lashes for antiregime propaganda, participating in 
illegal gatherings, and insulting the supreme leader, and it summoned 
him to Evin Prison to begin his sentence. In January 2009 security 
agents confiscated his passport when he returned to the country from 
France, where he had been studying since 2004. At year's end he 
remained in prison.
    On February 1, an intelligence court summoned Alireza Saghafi and 
held him until February 14. Saghafi, who edited the magazine Rah 
Ayandeh until authorities closed it in 2008, was sentenced to three 
years in prison. In January an appeals court confirmed the one-year 
suspended prison sentence for Amir Yaghoubali, a journalist for the 
daily Etemad for ``activities against national security'' and 
``disturbing public order'' based on his writings. Authorities arrested 
the two journalists along with several others in May 2009 during 
International Workers Day demonstrations.
    According to RSF, authorities arrested more than 100 journalists 
after the June 2009 election, and 30 others fled the country, the 
largest exodus of journalists since the 1979 revolution.
    Mohammad Ghouchani, a journalist and editor in chief of the banned 
Etemad Meli daily, who was detained from June through October 2009, 
reported that intelligence agents continued to harass him during the 
    In January a court sentenced journalist and editor of Khorade-no 
Bahman Ahmadi-Amoee to seven years in prison and 34 lashes, reduced in 
March by an appeals court to five years' imprisonment. There was no 
information as to whether the lashing sentence was upheld. After a 
brief visit home, Ahmadi-Amoee began serving his sentence in Evin 
Prison on May 30. He remained in prison at year's end. On June 8, the 
26th Chamber of the Tehran Revolutionary Court sentenced his wife Jila 
Baniyaghoub to one year in prison and banned her from working as a 
journalist for 30 years, reportedly due to her writings related to 
election events and women's rights, and October 25 press reports stated 
that an appeals court had confirmed the verdict. Baniyaghoub's lawyer 
said there was no legal basis for the 30-year journalism ban. In June 
2009 authorities arrested the two journalists in their home. 
Authorities reportedly prevented Ahmadi-Amoee's access to legal counsel 
and held him in solitary confinement for 65 days; his lawyer had no 
access to any government evidence against him.
    On May 10, Branch 26 of the Revolutionary Court sentenced Iranian-
Canadian Newsweek reporter Maziar Bahari in absentia to 13 years in 
prison and 74 lashes for conspiring against the state for his presence 
at postelection protests, possession of ``secret'' documents based on a 
public court document relating to arrests, propagandizing against the 
system, insulting the supreme leader by implying that he was a 
dictator, disrupting public order by reporting on a clash between 
protesters and Basij forces, and insulting the president. Authorities 
arrested Bahari in June 2009 and held him until they permitted him to 
leave the country in October. Bahari remained in outside the country at 
year's end.
    At year's end despite serious health problems, journalist and 
member of the Committee for Human Rights Reporters Hengameh Shahidi 
continued to serve her six-year sentence in Evin Prison for 
participating in postelection demonstrations and ``spreading propaganda 
against the holy Islamic Regime,'' based on an interview with the 
``antirevolutionary'' BBC. On October 28, authorities reportedly 
granted medical leave to Shahidi, originally arrested in June 2009, but 
returned her to prison on November 14 with no explanation.
    At year's end journalist and blogger Shiva Nazar Ahari was free 
pending the start of her sentence for four years' imprisonment and 74 
lashes based on her political and journalistic activities. In December 
2009 authorities arrested her and two of her colleagues from the 
Committee for Human Rights Reporters as they were headed to Qom for 
Grand Ayatollah Montazeri's funeral; she remained in prison until 
released on bail on September 12. On January 20, security forces 
released her colleague, Nasrin Vaziri, after detaining her for almost a 
    According to international media, authorities released Syrian 
national Reza al-Bacha on January 10. He was arrested in December 2009 
while reporting on demonstrations.
    On October 15, authorities released Kalemeh Sabz editor Alireza 
Behshtipour Shirazi on a bail of 5 million toman ($5,000) pending trial 
for ``acting against national security.'' The editor was arrested in 
December 2009.
    In December the CPJ reported that writer and journalist Mostafa 
Izadi remained in prison.
    There was no information as to the status of journalist Mohammad-
Hossein Falahiezadeh, whom authorities transferred to Evin Prison's 
medical clinic due to his critical health situation in September 2009. 
Falahiezadeh had served his 2008 prison sentence for reporting on 
street protests by members of the Ahvazi Arab minority, but MOIS 
officials reportedly stated his release was contingent on meeting bail, 
which he could not afford.
    During the year the Government banned, blocked, closed, and 
censored publications that were critical of the Government. The media 
law forbids government censorship, but it also forbids disseminating 
information that it considered damaging to the Government. Government 
officials also routinely intimidated journalists into practicing self-
censorship. Public officials often lodged criminal complaints against 
reformist newspapers; the PSB referred complaints to the media court 
for further action, including closure and fines. The court conducted 
its hearings in public with a jury of appointed clerics, government 
officials, and editors of government-controlled newspapers. Some human 
rights groups asserted that the increasingly conservative media court 
assumed responsibility for cases before PSB consideration. The 
Government censored both reformist and conservative newspapers after 
they published articles contradicting the official line, and it 
permanently closed others during the year, including more than 10 
national publications including Etemad, the country's largest 
circulation reformist daily, and the weekly Irandokht magazine (early 
March), Shahrvand-e Emrouz (November 8), Chelcheragh (November 20), and 
Shargh (December 8). The following papers banned in 2009 remained so: 
Kalameh Sabz, Etemad-e Melli, the business newspaper Sarmayeh, and 
Hayat-e no.
    According to an August 18 ruling by the Ministry of Culture and 
Islamic Guidance allegedly obtained by an opposition group, the 
publication ban on any news or information related to opposition 
figures Mehdi Karroubi and Mir-Hossein Mousavi and former president 
Mohamad Khatami continued.
    In December 2009 according to RSF, the Ministry of Culture and 
Islamic Guidance issued a directive banning print and Internet articles 
about cleric Grand Ayatollah Montazeri, a critic of the Government who 
died on December 19. At year's end the ban remained in effect.
    At various times in 2008, government officials advised reporters 
not to use the names of unauthorized political parties and to ``censor 
pages which are likely to create a dispute,'' observing the country's 
``religious, moral, and national sensitivities.''
    The Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance must grant permission 
to publish any book, and it inspected foreign printed materials prior 
to their domestic release.

    Internet Freedom.--NGOs reported that the Government continued to 
increase control over the Internet during the year as more citizens 
used it as a source for news and political debate. According to 2010 
Internet World Stats, approximately 43 percent of the country's 
inhabitants used the Internet.
    The Government monitored Internet communications, especially via 
social networking Web sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, and 
collected individuals' personally identifiable information in 
connection with peaceful expression of views. The Government 
threatened, harassed, and arrested individuals who posted comments 
critical of the Government on the Internet; in some cases it reportedly 
confiscated their passports or arrested their family members (see 
section 1.f.). Freedom House and other human rights organizations 
reported that authorities sometimes stopped citizens at Tehran 
International Airport as they arrived in the country, asked them to log 
into their YouTube and Facebook accounts, and in some cases forced them 
to delete information.
    On February 10, the country's telecommunications agency announced 
that it had permanently suspended Google's e-mail service; however, 
``G-mail'' services continued throughout the year and were only 
periodically interrupted.
    All Internet service providers (ISPs) must be approved by the 
Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance. The Government also required 
all owners of Web sites and blogs in the country to register with the 
Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance; in practice, this regulation 
was rarely enforced. The Press Law and penal code both apply to 
electronic media, and the PSB and judiciary used such laws to close Web 
sites during the year. The Government also used filtering software to 
block access to domestic blogs on all sides of the political spectrum 
and some Western Web sites, reportedly including the Web sites of 
prominent Western news organizations and NGOs. According to RSF the 
Government blocked access to thousands of Web sites during the year, 
and in some cases ISPs redirected computer users from opposition Web 
sites to progovernment news sites.
    The Government also censored Web site content to control citizens' 
access to information. According to Freedom House, content from 
opposition leaders' Web sites was deleted during the year. The 
Government also imposed limits on Internet speed and technology, making 
it difficult to download Internet material or to circumvent government 
restrictions to access blocked Web sites. According to multiple sources 
the Government's ability to censor the Internet improved during the 
year. Internet NGOs reported that the Government was attempting to 
block Internet users' access to circumvention technology. According to 
RSF, the Committee in Charge of Determining Unauthorized Web Sites--
which included representatives from the Ministry of Communications and 
Information Technology, the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance, 
the Ministry of National Security, and the Tehran Public Prosecutor's 
Office--determined blocking criteria.
    During the periods prior to the anniversary of the Islamic 
Revolution (February 11), the anniversary of the 2009 presidential 
election (June 12), and Students' Day (December 7), authorities slowed 
Internet access and blocked access to Facebook and Twitter.
    During the year the Government prosecuted and punished persons for 
peaceful expression of dissenting views via the Internet.
    On February 25, authorities issued a 91-day prison sentence for 
blogger Mohammad Esmaeelzadeh for ``insulting the supreme leader,'' and 
Esmaeelzadeh served the sentence during the year. According to ICHRI, 
the Babol prosecutor's office awarded him a four day furlough in April 
ostensibly attend his child's birth, although he was not allowed to 
leave the town of Babol and travel to Karaj where his family lived.
    From June 20 until his temporary release on bail on August 9, 
authorities detained Hamed Saber, a freelance photographer, after he 
posted photographs he took of Tehran street protests on photo-sharing 
Web sites such as Flickr and Picasa. There were no updates on his case 
at year's end.
    On September 18, according to RSF, eight intelligence ministry 
officials entered student blogger Navid Mohebbi's home and arrested 
him. Authorities released him from Sari Prison on December 25 after a 
revolutionary court sentenced him to a three-year suspended sentence. 
He was charged with membership in and support for the One Million 
Signatures Campaign (see section 6, Women), acting against national 
security, propaganda against the state through connection with foreign 
media, insulting the founder of the Islamic Republic, and insulting the 
supreme leader. Mohebbi's trial took place behind closed doors; not 
even his lawyer attended.
    There were developments in several cases from previous years.
    In July the Second Branch of the Ghazvin Revolutionary Court 
reportedly sentenced blogger and physician Ali Asguar Jamali, to three 
years' imprisonment for insulting the supreme leader and antiregime 
propaganda. Jamali, who defends workers' rights, wrote a blog called 
Dr. Social-Democrat. According to cyberdissidents.org, at year's end he 
remained in jail.
    At year's end Mohammad Nourizad, originally arrested in December 
2009, remained in Evin Prison serving a three-year sentence (see 
section 1.c.).
    There was no evidence of any government investigation into the 
March 2009 death of 25-year-old blogger Omid Reza Mirsayafi in the 
medical ward of Evin Prison, reportedly due to an overdose of a 
medication he received from the prison clinic for depression. In 2008 a 
Tehran revolutionary court sentenced Mirsayafi to 30 months in prison 
for propaganda against the state and criticism of the supreme leader.
    Internet journalist and cleric Mojtaba Lotfi continued to serve a 
four-year prison sentence imposed in 2008 for posting online a sermon 
by Grand Ayatollah Montazeri, a well-known opponent of Supreme Leader 
Khamenei, that criticized President Ahmadi-Nejad's claim that Iran was 
``the world's freest country.'' According to RSF, Lotfi suffered from 
lung problems stemming from Iran-Iraq war injuries.
    In September a court sentenced well-known blogger and dual Iranian-
Canadian citizen Hossein Derakhshan to 19 and one-half years in prison 
and a five-year ban from political or journalistic activities. At 
year's end he reportedly remained in Evin Prison pending appeal. 
Authorities arrested Derakhshan in 2008 while he was visiting the 
country and allegedly subjected him to psychological and physical abuse 
in detention, according to the NGO HRAI.
    Blogger and women's rights activist Shahnaz Gholami was in asylum 
in France at year's end. On April 3, IHRV reported that Branch 2 of the 
Revolutionary Court in Tabriz sentenced her to eight years in prison 
for publishing articles considered devoid of truth, spreading 
propaganda against the regime, and alleged MEK membership. Gholami was 
arrested in 2008 for publishing ``propaganda'' and ``jeopardizing 
national security.''
    There were no updates in the case of bloggers Omid Memarian, 
Roozbeh Mirebrahimi, Shahram Rafizadeh, and Javad Gholamtamimi, 
sentenced in February 2009 to prison terms of up to three years, fines, 
and flogging despite the judiciary head's admission that the bloggers' 
confessions were coerced. Memarian, Mirebrahimi, and Rafizadeh were 
sentenced in absentia as they remained abroad at year's end; 
Gholamtamimi continued to reside in the country during the year. The 
four were originally arrested in 2004.

    Academic Freedom and Cultural Events.--The Government significantly 
restricted academic freedom and the independence of higher education 
institutions. Authorities systematically targeted university campuses 
to suppress social and political activism, including by banning 
independent student organizations, imprisoning student activists, 
purging faculty, depriving targeted students from enrolling or 
continuing their higher education based on political affiliation or 
activism (see section 3), and banning social sciences and humanities 
curricula. Authorities continued to dismiss university professors in 
accordance with a 2006 presidential call for the removal of secular and 
liberal professors. To obtain tenure, professors had to refrain from 
criticism of authorities.
    In August the director of the Office of Development of Higher 
Education announced that the Government would begin restricting the 
number of students admitted to humanities programs at universities, and 
in October authorities placed restrictions on social sciences 
education, barring universities from opening new departments of law, 
philosophy, management, psychology, political science, women's studies, 
or human rights. The Government also announced it would revise at least 
70 percent of the existing social sciences curricula, and there were 
reports that the changes had begun at year's end.
    Also in October the supreme leader declared the private financial 
endowment of Azad University was religiously illegitimate, leading the 
way for a potential government takeover. Azad University, supported by 
former President Rafsanjani, has hundreds of branches in Iran and 
several outside the country. Azad University's main branch in Tehran 
was a major site for the June 2009 election protests.
    According to AI, in October 2009 authorities banned from teaching 
five prominent law professors from Alameh Tabatabai University's law 
school. Local news reports noted that the professors taught human 
rights courses at the university.
    The Government censored cultural events with stringent controls on 
cinema and theater and a ban on some foreign music. On June 1, the 
Government announced a ban on music education in private schools, 
already banned in public schools, and on August 3, media reported that 
the supreme leader advised against the practice and teaching of music 
in general, although music continued in the media at year's end. The 
Government monitored cultural associations and continued to crack down 
on underground music groups, especially those it considered inspired by 
Satan, such as heavy metal or similar foreign music. Authorities banned 
broadcasting of certain singers' music and certain songs from 
government-owned radio stations for unspecified reasons.
    Throughout the year there were reports that security forces raided 
recording studios and underground concerts. In May police raided an 
underground concert outside of Tehran and arrested 80 individuals for 
being improperly dressed and for drinking alcohol. In November Tehran 
police reportedly arrested male and female members of an underground 
rap group for ``immoral'' and ``un-Islamic'' behavior and for drinking 
alcohol. There was no information at year's end about the status or 
whereabouts of those arrested in either case.
    On July 21, President Ahmadinejad established the High Council for 
Cinema to conduct the country's cinema policy, and the group reportedly 
held its first meeting on December 30. As the main source of production 
funding, the Government effectively censored domestic filmmaking. 
Producers were required to submit scripts and film proposals to 
government officials in advance of funding approval. Movies promoting 
secularism, feminism, unethical behavior, drug abuse, violence, or 
alcoholism were illegal, and some domestic directors were blacklisted.
    On March 1, plainclothes police officers raided the home of award-
winning film director Jafar Panahi and arrested him along with his wife 
and daughter, film director Mohammad Rasulov, and 15 other individuals, 
most of whom were released a few days later. According to some sources, 
Panahi and Rasulov were working together to make a documentary about 
the 2009 postelection protests. On December 20, a court convicted 
Panahi and Rasulov with participating in a gathering and making 
propaganda against the regime and sentenced them both to six years in 
prison, and Panahi also to a 20-year ban from making films, writing 
scripts, giving interviews, and traveling abroad. At year's end both 
filmmakers remained free pending the outcome of their appeals. Most of 
Panahi's films are banned in the country.
    In September Culture Minister Sayyed Mohammad Hosseini publicly 
criticized the country's annual film festival for supporting the Green 
Movement. The Ministry later revoked the production license for Asghar 
Farhadi's film Separation of Nader and Simin. Farhardi was permitted to 
resume production in October.

    b. Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association.--Freedom of 
Assembly.--The constitution permits assemblies and marches ``provided 
they do not violate the principles of Islam''; in practice the 
Government restricted freedom of assembly and closely monitored 
gatherings to prevent antigovernment protests. Such gatherings included 
public entertainment and lectures, student meetings and protests, labor 
protests, women's gatherings and protests, funeral processions, and 
Friday prayer gatherings. According to activists, the Government 
arbitrarily applied rules governing permits to assemble, with 
conservative groups rarely experiencing difficulty and groups viewed as 
critical of the Government experiencing harassment regardless of 
whether a permit was issued. During the year authorities arrested, 
tried, and imprisoned individuals who participated in demonstrations 
since 2006.
    The Government continued to prohibit and forcibly disperse peaceful 
demonstrations during the year. Paramilitary organizations such as 
Ansar-e Hizballah also harassed, beat, and intimidated those who 
demonstrated publicly for reform. They particularly targeted university 
    According to a February ICHRI release, authorities collected 
photographs of expatriate citizens in protest gatherings outside the 
country. When those citizens entered or left the country via Imam 
Khomeini International Airport in Tehran, security officials 
temporarily detained them for questioning.
    On December 7, students held peaceful demonstrations at various 
universities in the country, including Qazvin Azad University, Tehran 
Polytechnic University, Gilan University, and the Tehran School of Art, 
to protest the restrictions on humanities studies (see section 2.a., 
Academic Freedom and Cultural Events), as well as the imprisonment of 
students. Paramilitary Basij forces responded by breaking up gatherings 
and detaining dozens of students.
    In a global study released on February 5, the UN special rapporteur 
on torture stated that the June 2009 election protests ``were met with 
excessive violence by the police and government militias.'' He said he 
received ``credible allegations'' of the killing of at least 12 
students participating in the protests and pointed at agents of the 
Revolutionary Guards, paramilitary Basij, and State Security Force as 
employing ``extreme force to suppress protesters by opening fire during 
demonstrations and using pepper spray and batons to disperse 
    In September an appeals court rejected the appeal of Mohammad 
Tavakoli, charged with ``gathering,'' ``collusion against the regime,'' 
``propagating against the regime,'' and ``insulting the supreme leader 
and the president.'' At year's end he was serving his eight and one-
half-year prison term in Ward 3 of Gohardasht Prison in Karaj. The 
ICHRI reported that he had no access to his lawyer during his 
imprisonment or trial. In February 2009 authorities arrested 
approximately 20 participants in a ceremony commemorating the life of 
Mehdi Bazargan, the first prime minister appointed after the 1979 
revolution. The group included Tavakoli and at least three other men 
from Tehran Polytechnic (Amir Kabir) University's Islamic Students 
Association--Esmail Salmanpour, Hossein Torkashvand, and Koroush 
Daneshyar--who reportedly were detained in Ward 209 of Evin Prison. All 
the detainees except Tavakoli were believed to be free at year's end. 
On December 5, prior to Student Day, authorities arrested Esmail 
Salmanpour and held him for two weeks.
    In February 2009 more than 1,500 Amir Kabir University students 
demonstrated against the Government's plan to rebury soldiers from the 
Iran-Iraq War on university grounds. According to AI, security forces 
arrested four Amir Kabir University students, Abbas Hakimzadeh, Mehdi 
Mashayekhi, Nariman Mostafavi, and Ahmad Qasaban, along with 70 other 
students during the demonstrations. Authorities later released 40 of 
the students. There was no information regarding the status of the 
remaining detained students at year's end.

    Freedom of Association.--The constitution provides for the 
establishment of political parties, professional associations, Islamic 
religious groups, and organizations for recognized religious 
minorities, as long as such groups do not violate the principles of 
``freedom, sovereignty, and national unity'' or question Islam as the 
basis of the Islamic Republic. The Government limited freedom of 
association in practice through threats, intimidation, imposing 
arbitrary requirements on organizations, and arresting group leaders 
and members. According to a January 2009 HRW report, under the Ahmadi-
Nejad administration, municipal, provincial, and national councils--
established by 2005 regulations ostensibly to facilitate NGOs' permit 
process--instead served to suppress NGO activities. Such councils 
generally denied NGOs' applications without written explanation, 
especially in minority regions, where those who successfully obtained 
permits nevertheless faced harassment (see section 6, National/Ethnic/
Racial Minorities).
    In November according to the Wall Street Journal, plainclothes 
agents without warrants arrested four of the five new central committee 
members of the Office for Fostering Student Unity (Tahkim-e Vahdat), a 
politically active student group, immediately after the group's 
elections were held. The group said the Government pressured it not to 
hold the elections. Authorities released Ali Qolizadeh, Alireza Kiani, 
and Mohamad Heydarzadeh by early December, but as of December 7, Mohsen 
Barzegar remained in Evin Prison without access to family or a lawyer. 
The Ministry of Science, Technology, and Research declared Tahkim-e 
Vahdat illegal in 2009. On October 31, Raja News, a Persian-language 
Web site HRW believes is affiliated with the Intelligence Ministry, ran 
an article accusing several Tahkim-e Vahdat members of having ties with 
the MEK. Tahkim-e Vahdat rejected these allegations.
    Throughout the year the Government reportedly continued to exert 
significant pressure on the DHRC, a Tehran NGO headed by Nobel Peace 
Prize laureate Shirin Ebadi (see section 5).
    The journalists' union and other labor-related groups also 
continued to face problems during the year (see section 7).

    c. Freedom of Religion.--For a complete description of religious 
freedom, please see the 2010 International Religious Freedom Report at 

    d. Freedom of Movement, Internally Displaced Persons, Protection of 
Refugees, and Stateless Persons.--The constitution provides for freedom 
of movement within the country, foreign travel, and emigration, and 
repatriation. The Government placed some restrictions on these rights. 
The Government cooperated with the Office of the UN High Commissioner 
for Refugees (UNHCR) with regard to refugees from Afghanistan and Iraq.
    The Government required exit permits for foreign travel for all 
citizens. Some citizens, particularly those whose skills were in demand 
and who were educated at government expense, had to post bond to obtain 
an exit permit. The Government also restricted foreign travel of some 
religious leaders and individual members of religious minorities and 
scientists in sensitive fields, and it increasingly targeted 
journalists, academics, opposition politicians, and activists--
including women's rights activists--for travel bans and passport 
confiscation during the year. The Government banned travel to Israel, 
but this ban was reportedly not enforced.
    There were no updates on the travel bans on prominent attorney 
Naser Zarafshan, academic Mehdi Zakerian, DHRC deputy Narges Mohammadi, 
and peace activist Sorayra Azizpanaha.
    In March, Simin Behbehani, a renowned Iranian poet, was barred from 
boarding a flight to France. Authorities questioned her and confiscated 
her passport. At year's end, authorities continued to bar her from 
leaving the country.
    On December 20, a court sentenced filmmaker Jafar Panahi, who was 
restricted from travel in October 2009, to six years in prison (see 
section 2.a., Academic Freedom and Cultural Events).
    A woman must have the permission of her husband, father, or other 
male relative to obtain a passport. A married woman must receive 
written permission from her husband before she leaves the country.
    The Government did not use forced external exile, but it used 
internal exile as a punishment. Many dissidents practiced self-imposed 
exile to be able to express their beliefs freely.
    There were indications that members of all religious minorities 
were emigrating at a high rate, although it was unclear whether the 
reasons for emigration were religious or economic.

    Protection of Refugees.--The country's laws provide means for 
granting asylum or refugee status to qualified applicants, and the 
Government reportedly had a system for providing protection to 
refugees, but the UNHCR did not have any information as to how the 
country made asylum determinations. The Government did not consistently 
provide protection against the expulsion or return of refugees to 
countries where their lives or freedom would be threatened on account 
of their race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social 
group, or political opinion. Unlike in the previous years, there were 
no reports of registered refugees included in mass deportations.
    As of March, according to information provided by the country's 
Bureau for Aliens and Foreign Immigrants' Affairs, 1,065,000 refugees 
were registered with the authorities, of whom approximately 1,021,600 
were Afghans and 43,800 were Iraqis. Approximately 70 percent of the 
Afghan refugees and their children had lived in the country for 20 to 
30 years. There were 3,590 Iraqis registered with the UNHCR at year's 
end. The UNHCR assisted with the voluntary repatriation of Afghan 
refugees under a tripartite agreement between the Islamic Republic of 
Iran, Afghanistan, and the UNHCR, which came back into force on June 28 
after three years of suspension.
    Twenty-two of 30 provinces were partially or fully closed to 
refugees; therefore, authorities generally required registered Afghan 
refugees in these ``No-Go Areas'' to choose either to relocate to 
refugee settlements, sometimes in other parts of the country, or to 
repatriate. However, the UNHCR noted that some of these refugee 
settlements needed rehabilitation. The limited number of resettlement 
locations is a major constraint for the UNHCR to assist refugees with 
relocation within the country. Of the 7,922 Afghans who repatriated 
from January 1 to November 7, the vast majority said they were under 
pressure to return due to the Government's No-Go Areas policy.
    According to the UNHCR, the Government's reregistration campaign 
launched in 2008 to assist male refugees to obtain work permits enabled 
more refugees to work in the country. The law allows only male refugees 
to work, but UNHCR has in the past provided limited assistance to 
female refugees.
    In July 2009 according to the UNHCR, the Government announced a 
policy to treat the enrollment of all school-age children, including 
lawful foreign residents and registered refugees, in the same manner. 
However, at year's end there was no information available about how the 
new policy was enforced. According to 2009 reports, more than a quarter 
of primary-school-aged refugees were not enrolled in school. The U.S. 
Committee for Refugees and Immigrants reported in 2008 that Afghan 
refugee children were charged fees to attend school, while Iraqi 
refugee children were able attend public school for free. In some 
cases, local government officials reportedly suspended education 
services for refugees to encourage them to repatriate.

Section 3. Respect for Political Rights: The Right of Citizens to 
        Change Their Government
    The constitution provides citizens the right to peacefully change 
the president and the parliament through free and fair elections, but 
the authority of unelected representatives over the election process 
severely abridged this right in practice. The Assembly of Experts 
elects the supreme leader, the recognized head of state, who may be 
removed only by a vote of the assembly. The supreme leader exercises 
influence over the Government appointments of the 12 clerics and 
religious jurists who make up the Guardian Council. The Guardian 
Council then approves the list of candidates for the Assembly of 
Experts, whose 86 members must also be clerics, who serve eight-year 
terms and are chosen by popular vote. There was no separation of state 
and religion, and clerical influence pervaded the Government. The 
supreme leader also approved presidential candidates.

    Elections and Political Participation.--In June 2009 the country 
held its 10th presidential election, which outside observers regarded 
as neither free nor fair. International observers were not allowed 
entry to monitor the election results. The Guardian Council approved 
only four candidates out of more than 450 prospective candidates, 
including 42 women and former officials. No women were approved to run 
as candidates. Authorities increased censorship and surveillance during 
the campaign, blocking cell phone signals and access to social 
networking and opposition Web sites. The Government also reportedly 
harassed and arbitrarily arrested political activists, members of the 
country's religious and ethnic minority communities, students, trade 
unionists, and women's rights activists during the preelection period.
    For example, in April 2009 authorities detained Mehdi Mo'tamedi 
Mehr, a member of the Committee to Defend Free, Healthy, and Fair 
Elections and the banned political organization the Freedom Movement of 
Iran, after the committee published a statement about civil society 
institutions as election observers. In December 2009 according to local 
press reports, the MOIS summoned Mehr and other members of the Freedom 
Movement, and at year's end they remained in detention.
    In May 2009 authorities detained Emad Bahavar, also a member of the 
Freedom Movement, for ``spreading propaganda against the system'' by 
campaigning for presidential candidate Mousavi. According to IHRV, he 
was released 96 hours later. He was detained again in June 2009 and was 
released after 46 days in solitary confinement. Nine months later on 
March 7, Bahavar defended himself at a trial for his June 2009 
detention and was immediately arrested. On November 29, Bahavar was 
convicted of ``assembly and collusion to act against national 
security,'' ``propagating against the regime,'' and ``insulting the 
leader.'' He was sentenced to a 10-year prison term and a 10-year ban 
on any political activity. At year's end he remained in Evin Prison.
    Anecdotal evidence suggested that authorities forced some election 
observers representing opposition candidates to leave polling stations 
and that millions of unused paper ballots went missing. Before all 
polls closed and ballot counting had commenced, government-controlled 
media announced that President Ahmadi-Nejad had been reelected in the 
first round of elections, obtaining a majority of the votes. Contrary 
to the election law, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei approved the 
election results before the Guardian Council certified the election and 
before the Interior Ministry announced the final results. Independent 
analysts studied election data and concluded there were a number of 
irregularities, including at least two provinces showing a turnout of 
more than 100 percent and the absence of longstanding regional 
variations in turnout, which appeared abnormal despite regulations that 
allow Iranians to vote at any polling station. According to official 
government data, President Ahmadi-Nejad took not only all former 
conservative voters, all former centrist voters, and all new voters, 
but also up to 44 percent of former reformist voters, a scenario 
analysts questioned.
    The constitution allows for the formation of political parties, 
although the Interior Ministry granted licenses only to parties with 
ideological and practical adherence to the system of government 
embodied in the constitution. There were more than 240 registered 
political organizations that generally operated without restriction or 
outside interference, but most were small entities, often focused 
around an individual, and did not have nationwide membership. Members 
of political parties and individuals with any political affiliation 
that the Government deemed unacceptable faced harassment, violence, and 
sometimes imprisonment.
    In 2009 both former presidential candidates experienced raids on 
their homes and offices. Specifically, in early September militants 
believed to be connected to the Government repeatedly targeted the home 
of former presidential candidate Mehdi Karroubi in consecutive evening 
attacks. On September 16, security forces raided the office of former 
presidential candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi.
    In March Minister of Science, Research, and Technology Kamrn 
Daneshjoo said that only those who have proven commitment to Islam and 
the ``rule of the jurisprudent'' (velayat-e-faghih) can teach or study 
at universities, and during the year the Government continued to 
dismiss professors and ban students from higher education institutions 
based on their political affiliations or actions. According to the 
ICHRI, university officials dismissed or forced the retirement of at 
least 50 university faculty members during the year for their 
affiliation or support of the Green Movement. For example, in August 
the Ministry of Science suddenly dismissed Yousef Sobouti, head of the 
Institute for Advanced Studies in Basic Sciences in Zanjan Province, 
allegedly for political reasons, and replaced him with a scientist 
reportedly known to have links with the Basij militia. Following calls 
for an investigation into the dismissals and retirements, various 
members of the parliament called for a review; however, at year's end, 
no formal investigation had been launched.
    The two leading reformist political parties, Islamic Iran 
Participation Front and the Islamic Revolution Mujahedin Organization, 
were banned in September.
    Admission to universities was politicized; in addition to 
standardized examinations, all applicants had to pass ``character 
tests'' in which officials eliminated applicants critical of the 
Government's ideology. According to a December ICHRI report, there were 
at least 70 such cases during the year. Basij members were given 
advantages in the admissions process. During the previous three years, 
according to the ICHRI, government interference with university 
admissions considerably increased.
    Authorities relied on university disciplinary committees to 
suspend, transfer, or expel enrolled students based on social and 
political activism, involvement in student publications, or 
participation in student associations. Student groups reported that a 
``star'' system inaugurated by the Government in 2005 to rank 
politically active students was still in use. Students deemed 
antigovernment through this system reportedly were prevented from 
registering for upcoming terms. Repeated suspensions through this 
mechanism resulted in effectively denying the rights of targeted 
students to complete and continue their studies.
    During the year Ministry of Intelligence agents used threats, 
intimidation, and arrests to silence students who attempted to seek 
accountability and legal justification for their deprivation from 
higher education.
    For instance, during the year a disciplinary committee at Qazvin 
International University expelled Payam Heydar Ghazvini, who was in the 
last term of his theology and law studies, and banned him from any 
university for three years. Ghazvini was the head student campaigner 
for opposition presidential candidate Mehdi Karroubi in Qazvin 
    Also during the year the Central Disciplinary Committee expelled 
Kazem Rezaee from Shiraz University, where he was studying mechanical 
engineering. Rezaee was editor in chief of the student publication 
Farvardin and was arrested four times for his student activism between 
2007 and 2009.
    In November the Ministry of Science confirmed the expulsion of 
Kaveh Daneshvar from Babol's Noshirvani Industrial University. 
Daneshvar went on a hunger strike in 2009 to protest the arrests of 
Babol University's student activists during the postelection events.
    According to the Guardian Council's interpretation, the 
constitution barred women and persons of non-Iranian origin or 
religions other than Shia Islam from becoming president. Women were 
also barred from serving as supreme leader; as members of the Assembly 
of Experts, Guardian Council, or Expediency Council (a body responsible 
for mediating between the Majles and the Guardian Council and serving 
as a consultative council for the supreme leader); and as certain types 
of judges (see section 6, Women). On December 20, President Ahmadi-
Nejad appointed Farahnaz Torkestani to a vicepresidential cabinet post 
as head of the National Youth Organization. Women also served as the 
vice presidents of legal affairs and science and technology and as the 
health minister. Twelve women served in the Majles during the year.
    Five Majles seats were reserved for recognized religious 
minorities. Other ethnic minorities in the Majles included Arabs and 
Kurds. There were no non-Muslims in the cabinet or on the Supreme 

Section 4. Official Corruption and Government Transparency
    The law provides criminal penalties for official corruption, but 
the Government did not implement the law effectively, and official 
corruption and impunity remained a serious and ubiquitous problem in 
all three branches of government. In a September interview with state 
media, former prosecutor general Ayatollah Abdolnabi Namazi alleged 
that judiciary officials were under pressure not to pursue corruption 
charges against cases referred to the Committee to Fight Economic 
Corruption. Many officials expected bribes for providing even routine 
service. Individuals routinely bribed officials in order to obtain 
permits for illegal construction.
    According to a May report by the Foundation for Defense of 
Democracies' Iran Energy Project, the supreme leader continued to 
transfer a large portion of the country's commerce, industry, oil and 
gas, and services sectors to the IRGC. In recent years the Government 
gave control over state enterprises to the IRGC through the granting of 
special privileges. IRGC companies were large enough to underbid 
competitors and were generally favored in the bidding process for large 
contracts. In October the IRGC was awarded a road-building contract of 
15 trillion toman ($15 billion), the largest in the country's history. 
According to the report, the IRGC does not answer to either the 
executive or legislative branches with regard to its economic 
activities and does not publish any records or reports about its 
revenues. Under a 1993 decree, all of the IRGC's economic activities 
are exempt from taxation. The IRGC is also widely considered to control 
the vast majority of the underground and black market economy. Up to 80 
percent of illegal goods enter the country through unregistered ports 
and jetties controlled by the IRGC.
    According to Freedom House, the hardline clerical establishment 
also grew wealthy through its control of bonyads, tax-exempt 
foundations that monopolize many sectors of the economy such as cement 
and sugar production. Bonyads receive benefits from the Government but 
are not required to have their budgets publicly approved.
    All government officials, including cabinet ministers and members 
of the Guardian Council, Expediency Council, and Assembly of Experts, 
were required to submit annual financial statements to the state 
inspectorate. There was no information available regarding whether 
these officials obeyed the law.
    Numerous government agencies existed to fight corruption, including 
the Anticorruption Headquarters, the Anticorruption Task Force, the 
Committee to Fight Economic Corruption, and the General Inspection 
    In late January according to media reports, intelligence agents 
arrested 15 individuals in Karaj, including the mayor and three city 
council members, under embezzlement charges. The cases of the detained 
were forwarded to the Karaj public prosecutor, but there was no further 
information regarding the case at year's end.
    On December 20, the judiciary announced that First Vice President 
Mohammad Reza Rahimi would face corruption charges. In April members of 
parliament had publicly accused Rahimi of corruption. Rahimi denied the 
charges. At year's end there were no updates about the status of the 
charges, and Rahimi remained in his position.
    There were no developments related to the February 2009 National 
Audit Office report that revealed that the Oil Ministry had not 
returned 1.2 trillion toman ($1.2 billion) in oil revenues to the 
treasury or to the November 2009 parliamentary commission's criticism 
of the Government's recent privatization efforts, which concluded that 
the Government essentially gave the national telecommunications company 
to the IRGC.
    There were no laws providing for public access to government 

Section 5. Governmental Attitude Regarding International and 
        Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations of Human 
    The Government continued to restrict the work of human rights 
groups and activists and sometimes responded to their inquiries and 
reports with harassment, arrests, monitoring, unlawful raids, and 
closures (see also sections 1.d., 1.e., 2.a., 6, and 7). The Government 
continued to deny the universality of human rights and stated that 
human rights issues should be viewed in the context of a country's 
``culture and beliefs.''
    Hundreds of domestic NGOs focused on issues such as health and 
population, women's rights, development, youth, environmental 
protection, human rights, and sustainable development, despite the 
restrictive environment, including pressure not to accept foreign 
grants. NGOs must register with the Interior Ministry and apply for 
permission to receive foreign grants. According to various sources, 
independent human rights groups and other NGOs faced intensifying 
harassment and threat of closure from government officials as a result 
of prolonged and often arbitrary delays in obtaining official 
    During the year the Government prevented human rights defenders, 
civil society activists, journalists, and scholars from traveling 
abroad (see section 2.d.). Human rights activists reported receiving 
intimidating phone calls and threats of blackmail from unidentified law 
enforcement and government officials. Government officials routinely 
harassed and sometimes arrested family members of human rights 
activists (see section 1.f.). Courts routinely applied suspended 
sentences to human rights activists; this form of sentencing acted as 
de facto probation, leaving open the option for authorities to suddenly 
and arbitrarily arrest or imprison individuals. This threat was 
sometimes enough to silence activists or pressure them into providing 
information about other activists.
    Professional groups representing writers, journalists, 
photographers, and others attempted to monitor government restrictions 
in their respective fields, as well as harassment and intimidation 
against individual members of their professions. The Government 
severely curtailed these groups' ability to meet, organize, or effect 
    In June according to the ICHRI, a government intelligence official 
traveled with the NGO delegation to the UN Human Rights Council's 
Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of the country and reviewed statements 
made by the NGOs.
    Throughout the year the Government reportedly continued to exert 
significant pressure on the DHRC, a Tehran NGO headed by Nobel Peace 
Prize laureate Shirin Ebadi, and it systematically harassed and 
arrested lawyers affiliated with the organization. On October 30, 
Branch 15 of the Revolutionary Court sentenced Mohammad Seifzadeh, a 
lawyer and one of DHRC's founders, to nine years in prison and a 10-
year ban on practicing law for ``acting against national security'' by 
establishing the DHRC. Seifzadeh told the ICHRI that his trial occurred 
behind closed doors.
    In 2009 a Basij-student mob attacked Ebadi's offices and home, and 
the Government pressured at least two of the DHRC's employees to 
resign; prevented several DHRC members from traveling outside the 
country; arrested and detained a DHRC secretary for 55 days; regularly 
summoned DHRC members for interrogation; and warned individuals not to 
attend the DHRC's gatherings, some of which police dispersed. On 
January 12, authorities released Ebadi's sister, Nushin, a professor of 
dentistry, after 17 days in detention. Nooshin reportedly also faced 
threats of dismissal from her university job.
    Despite numerous appeals, including from the UN, the Government 
denied requests from international human rights NGOs to establish 
offices in, or conduct regular investigative visits to, the country. 
The last visit by an international human rights NGO was AI's 2004 visit 
as part of the EU's human rights dialogue with the country.
    The International Committee of the Red Cross and the UNHCR both 
operated in the country with some restrictions. Since the Government 
issued a standing invitation to all UN human rights agencies in 2002, 
there have been six visits to the country by UN special human rights 
institutions, but none since 2005. The Government generally ignored 
recommendations these bodies made and failed to submit required reports 
to the UN Human Rights Committee or the UN Committee on Economic, 
Social, and Cultural Rights. The Government ignored repeated requests 
for visits by UN special rapporteurs.
    A February 5 global study by the UN special rapporteur on torture 
and other similar practices stated that there were ``credible'' 
allegations that the country's security forces used excessive force 
against peaceful demonstrators and committed politically motivated 
torture following demonstrations.
    In a March 11 interview with Radio Free Europe (RFE), then UN 
special rapporteur on torture Manfred Nowak said he was ``really 
concerned about the situation'' in the country, including allegations 
of torture in prisons following the 2009 elections, but that the 
Government would not permit him to visit and investigate the claims.
    In June the UN Human Rights Council reviewed the country's human 
rights record as part of the UPR process. The Government rejected 45 of 
the 189 UPR recommendations, including concerns over torture, the lack 
of due process, and independence of civil society. Mohammed Javad 
Larijani, chief of the country's High Council for Human Rights, said 
human rights activists were ``inciting violence.''
    On October 29, for the eighth consecutive year, the UN General 
Assembly adopted a resolution expressing concern about the country's 
``serious ongoing and recurring human rights violations.'' High Council 
for Human Rights head Larijani said the resolution was ``illegal'' and 
was designed to undermine ``constructive interaction between [his 
government] and the UN Human Rights Council.''
    The Governmental High Council for Human Rights has not conducted 
formal investigations into post-election abuses. Larijani, the 
council's head, is the brother of Ali Larijani, speaker of the 
parliament, and Sadeq Larijani, head of the judiciary.
Section 6. Discrimination, Societal Abuses, and Trafficking in Persons
    Although the constitution formally prohibits discrimination based 
on race, gender, disability, language, and social status ``in 
conformity with Islamic criteria,'' the Government did not effectively 
enforce these prohibitions.

    Women.--Rape is illegal and subject to strict penalties including 
the death penalty, but it remained a problem. There were reports of 
government forces raping individuals in custody (see sections 1.a., 
1.c., and others). Spousal rape is not illegal. Cases of rape were 
difficult to document due to social stigma against the victims. Most 
rape victims did not report the crime to authorities because they 
feared societal reprisal such as ostracism or punishment for having 
been raped. According to the penal code, rape is a capital offense, and 
four male witnesses or a combination of three male and two female 
witnesses are required for conviction. A woman or man found making a 
false accusation of rape is subject to 80 lashes.
    The law does not specifically prohibit domestic violence. Spousal 
abuse and violence against women occurred. According to a study 
published in 2008 using 2005 data, 52.7 percent of women reported being 
physically abused during their married lives. A study published in 2009 
using data from 2006 reported that half of the secondary students 
interviewed had witnessed spousal abuse in their families. A survey of 
women with infertility from August 2009 to January 2010 revealed that 
approximately 62 percent had experienced domestic abuse because of 
their infertility. Most women said their abuse was psychological; 22 
percent of women had experienced physical or sexual abuse because of 
infertility. Abuse in the family was considered a private matter and 
seldom discussed publicly, although there were some efforts to change 
this attitude, particularly by the ``One Million Signatures for the 
Repeal of Discriminatory Laws'' (also known as OMSC and ``Change for 
Equality'') campaign. Some nongovernmental shelters and hotlines 
assisted victims during the year.
    There is no law prohibiting ``honor'' killings, although no cases 
were documented during the year. The law permits a man to kill his 
adulterous wife and her consorts if he is certain she consented. Women 
convicted of adultery may also be sentenced to death, including by 
stoning. According to a police official quoted in a domestic newspaper 
in 2008, 50 honor killings were reported during a seven-month period, 
although official statistics were not available. The punishment for 
perpetrators was often a short prison sentence.
    There was no update on the February 2009 case where a father killed 
his 16-year-old daughter for suspicious activity; the 2008 cases of a 
man known as Ahmad, who allegedly killed his daughter after her former 
brother-in-law kidnapped and slept with her; or Morteza, who allegedly 
killed his sister after she married a man without her family's 
    There was a lack of reliable data on the prevalence of sexual 
harassment in the country. Media reports indicated that unwanted 
physical contact and verbal harassment occurred. Government officials, 
however, often blamed women's sexuality for problems in society; for 
example, on April 16, cleric Kazem Sadighi said, ``many of the ladies 
who do not have a proper appearance cause the hearts of the youth to be 
swayed and they become defiled by sin, and this leads to the spread of 
adultery in society, which increases earthquakes.'' There are laws 
addressing sexual harassment in the context of physical contact between 
men and women. Physical contact between unrelated men and women is 
strictly prohibited and is punishable by lashing.
    The 1993 family planning law recognizes the basic right of married 
couples to decide freely and responsibly the spacing and timing of 
their first three children and have the information and means to do so 
free from discrimination, coercion, and violence. According to the law, 
health and maternity benefits are cut for the family after three 
children. Local clinics and rural health centers disseminated 
information on family planning under the guidance of the Ministry of 
Health and Medical Education. There were no restrictions on the right 
of married persons to access contraceptives. According to the 
Population Reference Bureau, nearly 80 percent of married women of 
reproductive age used family planning methods, 75 percent of whom used 
modern methods of contraception. Couples who plan to marry must take a 
class in family planning. According to the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF), 
the 2008 adjusted maternal mortality ratio was 30 per 100,000 live 
births. According to UNICEF, 97 percent of women gave birth with a 
skilled attendant present. Men and women received equal access to 
diagnosis and treatment of sexually transmitted infections, including 
HIV. However, women tested less regularly than men because of social 
stigmas attached to doing so.
    The constitution nominally provides women with equal protection 
under the law and all human, political, economic, social, and cultural 
rights in conformity with Islam. Provisions in the Islamic civil and 
penal codes, particularly sections dealing with family and property 
law, discriminate against women. Shortly after the 1979 revolution, the 
Government replaced those laws that provided women with increased 
rights in the home and workplace with a legal system based largely on 
Shari'a practices. In March 2009 President Ahmadi-Nejad instructed the 
relevant bodies to implement a law in which women's share of their 
husband's inheritance would increase to one-fourth from the previously 
stipulated one-eighth of his property. At year's end there was no 
information on the law's implementation. The Governmental Center for 
Women and Family continued to publish reports on feminism with a 
negative slant and limited the debate on women's issues to matters 
related to the home. Women cannot directly transmit citizenship to 
their children or to a non-Iranian spouse (see section 6, Children).
    Although a man (or boy) can marry at age 15 without parental 
consent, the law states that a virgin woman or girl needs the consent 
of her father or grandfather to wed, or the court's permission, even if 
she is older than 18. The country's Islamic law permits a man to have 
as many as four wives and an unlimited number of sigheh, based on a 
Shia custom in which a woman may become the wife of a Muslim man after 
a simple religious ceremony and a civil contract outlining the union's 
conditions. Sigheh wives and any resulting children were not granted 
rights associated with traditional marriage. The Government does not 
recognize marriages between Muslim women and non-Muslim men or Baha'i 
    A woman has the right to divorce only if her husband signs a 
contract granting that right, cannot provide for his family, or is a 
drug addict, insane, or impotent. A husband was not required to cite a 
reason for divorcing his wife. Traditional interpretations of Islamic 
law recognized a divorced woman's right to part of shared property and 
to alimony. These laws were not enforced. According to a study by the 
National Organization for Civil Registration, quoted in a book by a 
women's rights activist, more than 89 percent of women did not receive 
their due alimony, and 9 percent did not receive their share of the 
wedding gift (wedding contracts traditionally stipulate that in case of 
divorce the groom give his bride the wedding gift for financial 
support). The law provides divorced women preference in custody for 
children up to age seven; divorced women who remarry are forced to give 
the child's father custody. After the child reaches age seven, the 
father is entitled to custody (unless the father has been proven unfit 
to care for the child). The court determines custody in disputed cases.
    Women sometimes received disproportionate punishment for crimes 
such as adultery, including death sentences (see sections 1.a. and 
1.e., Trial Procedures). The testimony of two women is equal to that of 
one man. The blood money paid to the family of a female crime victim is 
half the sum paid for a man.
    Women had access to primary and advanced education, and 
approximately 65 percent of university students were women. Government 
officials acknowledged the use of quotas to limit women's university 
admissions in certain fields such as medicine and engineering. In 
addition social and legal constraints limited women's professional 
opportunities. Women were represented in many fields, including the 
legislature, municipal councils, police, and firefighters, but a woman 
must seek her husband's consent before working outside the home. 
According to a 2009 World Economic Forum report, the unemployment rate 
for women, who constituted 33 percent of the workforce, was 15.8 
percent, compared with 9.3 percent for men. Cultural discrimination 
remained a factor; one member of parliament suggested that banning 
women from the workplace could solve the country's unemployment 
problems. Women cannot serve in many high-level political positions or 
as judges, except as consultant or research judges without the power to 
impose sentences.
    On November 17, Khadijeh Azadpour, who won a gold medal in martial 
arts at the Asian Games, told the local press that authorities told her 
she would only receive a promised apartment if she were married. 
Previously, she said she was promised an apartment if she won a gold 
    The Government enforced gender segregation in most public spaces, 
including for patients during medical care, and prohibited women from 
mixing openly with unmarried men or men not related to them. Women must 
ride in a reserved section on public buses and enter public buildings, 
universities, and airports through separate entrances. The penal code 
provides that a woman who appears in public without an appropriate 
hijab can be sentenced to lashings and fined. However, absent a clear 
legal definition of ``appropriate hijab'' or the punishment, women were 
subject to the opinions of disciplinary forces or judges. Pictures of 
uncovered or immodestly dressed women in the media or in films were 
often digitally altered.
    In August a controversial family law that would make polygamy more 
permissive was reintroduced to the parliament. Women's groups 
successfully lobbied to table the bill in 2008; the bill would allow 
men to take additional wives without the first wife's permission, tax 
women's dowries, and remove conditions for the registration of 
temporary marriages.
    The Government continued its intense crackdown against members of 
the OMSC, which activists launched in 2006 to promote women's rights, 
particularly by advocating reform of discriminatory laws. Several 
members of the OMSC remained under suspended prison sentences and 
travel bans, were in prison, or were in self-imposed exile at year's 
    On March 2, authorities rearrested Mahoubeh Karami and searched her 
house. IRGC officials took her to Evin Prison where according to the 
ICHRI she remained for 80 days. She reportedly suffered abuse during 
interrogation, including being hit on the head with a water bottle. 
According to her brother, her charges stemmed from her membership in 
OMSC and her support for the DHRC. On August 18, according to press 
reports, a court sentenced her to four years' imprisonment for 
membership in a prohibited organization and spreading of propaganda 
against the state, but at year's end she was free on bail of 500 
million toman ($500,000).
    In March according to the Human Rights House of Iran, the Branch 15 
of the Revolutionary Court acquitted Khadijeh Moghaddam on two counts 
of propaganda activity against the regime and disobeying police orders 
but sentenced her to a one-year suspended prison term for assembly and 
conspiracy with intent to act against national security.
    In March 2009 security forces detained Moghaddam for approximately 
one month along with 11 other members from OMSC and the NGO Mothers for 
Peace--Delaram Ali, Leila Nazari, Farkhondeh Ehtesabian, Mahboubeh 
Karami, Bahara Behravan, Ali Abdi, Amir Rashidi, Mohammad Shoorab, 
Arash Nasiri Eghbali, Soraya Yousefi and Shahla Forouzanfar--as the 
group met to make traditional Nowruz (New Year) visits to families of 
several political prisoners. The ICHR suggested that security and 
intelligence forces must have eavesdropped on activists' private 
communications to apprehend them. Judge Matin Rasekh charged the 12 
with ``disturbing public opinion'' and ``disrupting public order,'' and 
they were transferred to Section 209 of Evin Prison under MOIS control. 
All 12 were released on bail in June 2009.
    On December 5, local news reported that authorities arrested 
Hakimeh Shokri at at Behesht Zahara Cemetary along with several other 
mothers who were celebrating the birthday anniversary of Amir Arshad 
Tajmir, one of the protesters killed during the 2009 Ashura protest. 
They were gathered at Behesht Zahra Cemetery and were arrested. At 
year's end Hakimeh was transferred to Evin Prison and charged with 
``espionage'' and ``acting against national security''; the other women 
were released.
    There were no developments in the case of Maryam Malek, detained 
for several weeks in April 2009 and charged with ``propaganda against 
the system'' in connection with her OMSC membership.
    On December 29, authorities summoned Maryam Bidogli and Fatemeh 
Masjedi to report to prison to serve their one-year sentences for 
membership in a feminist organization. In May 2009 authorities in Qom 
arrested the OMSC members, along with the male author of The Women's 
Movement in the East, Gholamreza Salami. Intelligence agents searched 
homes of both women and took personal belongings. According to news 
reports, the women had previously been investigating an honor killing.
    In January and February, authorities released the activists 
reportedly arrested in December 2009, including Zohre Tonkaboni and 
Mahin Fahimi, members of Mothers for Peace; and OMSC members Atiey 
Youseffi, Somayeh Rashidi, and Mansourreh Shojaaiei. There were no 
other updates available in any cases related to these women.
    There were no developments reported in the case of Mehri Moshrefi, 
sentenced in January 2009 along with her husband to a two-year 
suspended sentence. In 2008 authorities arrested Moshrefi, her husband, 
and two of her children at a cemetery where One Million Signatures was 
staging a protest and transferred them to Evin Prison despite 
activists' claims that the family was not involved in the gathering.
    As of July Ronek Safazadeh remained in Sanadaj Prison. In April 
2009 a court sentenced her to six years in prison for spreading 
propaganda about the Government in relation to her distribution of One 
Million Signatures pamphlets in 2007 and membership in the armed 
opposition group Free Life Party of Kurdistan, with which her lawyer 
maintained she was only marginally involved.

    Children.--Citizenship is derived by descent when a child is born 
to a citizen father regardless of the child's country of birth. In 
general birth within the country's borders does not confer citizenship, 
except when a child is born to unknown parents; when both parents are 
noncitizens, but at least one parent was born in the country; or when a 
child born to noncitizens continues to reside in the country for at 
least one year after age 18. The birth registration law requires that 
all births be registered within 15 days. The responsibility for 
implementing birth registration law falls to the Ministries of Justice, 
Interior, and Foreign Affairs. According to UNICEF, despite efforts to 
register rural births, 13 percent of births were not reported in 2005.
    Although primary schooling up to age 11 is free and compulsory for 
all, media and other sources reported lower enrollment in rural areas 
for girls than for boys. More than 25 percent of refugee children of 
primary school age were not enrolled in school.
    There was little information available to reflect how the 
Government dealt with child abuse, including child labor. Abuse was 
largely regarded as a private family matter. In May the Government 
announced that approximately 150,000 cases of child abuse had been 
recorded in the six months prior, and a prominent attorney added that 
the Government did little to address the problem. According a 2005 
study by the UN's Integrated Regional Information Network, child sexual 
abuse was rarely reported.
    The law requires court approval for the marriage of girls younger 
than 13 and boys younger than 15, but it was reportedly not unusual in 
rural areas for parents to have their children marry before they became 
teenagers, often for economic reasons. The age of criminal 
responsibility for girls is nine years, while the law does not consider 
boys criminally responsible until age 15; thus, if a 12-year-old girl 
accuses a 14-year-old boy of rape, the 12-year-old girl would face any 
criminal penalties alone. Sex outside of marriage is illegal and is 
punishable by death, although media reported that the common punishment 
was imprisonment and lashing.
    In November 2009 according to the Mehr news agency, the leader of 
the student Basij organization, Mohammad Saleh Jokar, announced that 
6,000 Basij units would be created in the country's elementary schools. 
Jokar said the action aimed to expand and promote Basij and 
revolutionary ideals among young persons. He added that approximately 
4.5 million students and 320,000 teachers were members of the Basij. An 
RFE report noted that the Basij also began a program to register baby 
girls for later training in the Basji Hossein Haj Mousaee Basij unit. 
The report also discussed ``resource centers'' being built at 
elementary schools to prepare children to join the units.
    There were reportedly significant numbers of children working as 
street vendors in Tehran and other cities and not attending school. 
International media sources reported there were as many as 250,000 
street children in the country.
    International news reported on the plight of children of imprisoned 
mothers. According to State Prisons Organization regulations, children 
could stay in prison with their mothers until the age of three; 
according to a report by the Association for Defending Prisoners' 
Rights, children sometimes stayed through the age of six.
    In March authorities reportedly released child and women's rights 
activist Maryam Zia, arrested in December 2009, on bail of 30 million 
toman ($30,000) due to health concerns and, according to some press 
reports, a 13-day hunger strike. In September Branch 28 of the 
Revolutionary Court sentenced Zia to one year in prison for propaganda 
against the regime.
    The country is not a party to the 1980 Hague Convention on the 
Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. For information on 
international parental child abduction, please see the Department of 
State's annual report on compliance at http://travel.state.gov/
abduction/resources/congressreport/congressreport--4308.html, as well 
as country-specific information at http://travel.state.gov/abduction/

    Anti-Semitism.--The Government's anti-Israel stance, in particular 
the president's repeated speeches decrying the existence of Israel and 
calling for the destruction of its ``Zionist regime,'' created a 
threatening atmosphere for the 25,000-person Jewish community. 
Government officials continued to make anti-Semitic statements, 
organize events during the year designed to deny the Holocaust, and 
sanction anti-Semitic propaganda. The Government also limited 
distribution of nonreligious Hebrew texts and required Jewish schools 
to remain open on Jewish Sabbath.

    Trafficking in Persons.--For information on trafficking in persons, 
please see the Department of State's annual Trafficking in Persons 
Report at www.state.gov/g/tip.

    Persons With Disabilities.--The law prohibits discrimination 
against persons with disabilities. The law also provides for state-
funded vocational education for persons with disabilities, but 
according to domestic news reports, vocational centers were confined to 
urban areas and were unable to meet the needs of the entire population. 
Building accessibility for persons with disabilities remained a 
widespread problem. The Welfare Organization of Iran is the principal 
governmental agency charged with protecting the rights of persons with 

    National/Racial/Ethnic Minorities.--The constitution grants equal 
rights to all ethnic minorities and allows for minority languages to be 
used in the media and in schools; in practice minorities did not have 
equal rights, and the Government consistently denied their right to use 
their language in school. The Government disproportionately targeted 
minority groups, including Kurds, Arabs, Azeris, and Baluch, for 
arbitrary arrest, prolonged detention, and physical abuse. These groups 
reported political and economic discrimination, particularly in their 
access to economic aid, business licenses, university admissions, 
permission to publish books, and housing and land rights. The 
Government blamed foreign entities, including a number of governments, 
for instigating some of the ethnic unrest.
    In January 2009 HRW released a report documenting government 
persecution of the 4.5 million Kurds in the country, who have 
frequently campaigned for greater regional autonomy. The report 
documented the Government's use of security laws, media laws, and other 
legislation to arrest and persecute Kurds solely for exercising their 
right to freedom of expression and association (see section 1.e., 
Political Prisoners and Detainees). According to the report, the 
Government consistently banned Kurdish-language newspapers, journals, 
and books and punished publishers, journalists, and writers for 
opposing and criticizing government policies. Although the Kurdish 
language is not banned, schools did not teach it. Authorities 
suppressed legitimate activities of Kurdish NGOs by denying 
registration permits or bringing spurious charges of security offenses 
against individuals working with such organizations. Kurds were not 
allowed to register certain names for their children in official 
    IHRV reported that two Kurdish students who passed entrance exams 
for graduate school in 2009 were denied admission based on their 
    There were no developments in the case of Jebraeil Khosravi, 
sentenced in January 2009 to a 20-year prison term for membership in an 
illegal organization. At year's end he was believed to remain in 
Bandar-Abbas Prison.
    In November authorities reportedly released Kurdish writer Abbass 
Jalilian, who goes by the name ``AKO,'' upon completion of his 15-month 
sentence for espionage.
    On May 9, the Government executed by hanging Farrad Karmangar, 
fellow Kurdish activists Ali Heydarian and Farhad Vakili, and two other 
political prisoners at Evin Prison (see section 1.a.). Authorities 
originally arrested the three men in 2006 because of their human rights 
    Foreign representatives of the Ahvazi Arabs of Khuzestan claimed 
their community of two to four million in the country's southwest 
encountered oppression and discrimination, including the lack of 
freedom to study and speak Arabic. Ahvazi and human rights groups 
alleged torture and mistreatment of Ahvazi Arab activists, including 
allegations that in September 2009 IRGC intelligence officers raped two 
female activists.
    In October 2009 relatives of seven men sentenced to death for 
killing a clergy member in Ahvaz told local human rights organizations 
that authorities had tortured them to coerce confessions.
    Ethnic Azeris comprised approximately one-quarter of the country's 
population, were well integrated into government and society, and 
included the supreme leader among their numbers. Nonetheless, Azeris 
complained that the Government discriminated against them, banning the 
Azeri language in schools, harassing Azeri activists or organizers, and 
changing Azeri geographic names. Azeri groups also claimed a number of 
Azeri political prisoners had been jailed for advocating cultural and 
language rights for Azeris. The Government charged several of them with 
``revolting against the Islamic state.''
    On April 2, approximately 10,000 Azeris demonstrated near Lake 
Urmia, located between the provinces of West Azerbaijan and East 
Azerbaijan, to protest the Government's lack of attention to the drying 
out of the lake. The protesters also demanded the preservation of 
Azerbaijan's cultural heritage. Authorities arrested more than 100 
    On May 25, intelligence officials arrested Akbar Azad, an Azeri 
author and journalist, at his home in Tehran. After his arrest, 
security forces searched his home and confiscated his computer, books, 
and personal property. At year's end he remained in detention.
    On August 1, two to three thousand Azeris reportedly demonstrated 
for the right to be educated in Azeri Turkish and to condemn 
discrimination against their community. According to the RFE report, 
Basij militants broke up the demonstration and arrested at least 12 
    On August 25, the brother of Azeri activist Youssef Soleiman 
reported that prison authorities abused his brother (see section 1.c.).
    In May 2009 media sources reported that 16 ethnic Azeris were 
injured during clashes with police in the city of Tabriz and 15 
demonstrators were arrested. Protests also took place in the town of 
Orumiyeh and in Tehran. The demonstrations commemorated riots of 2006 
in Tabriz and other cities protesting a newspaper caricature depicting 
Azeris as cockroaches.
    Local and international human rights groups alleged serious 
economic, legal, and cultural discrimination against the Baluch 
minority during the year. Baluch journalists and human rights activists 
faced arbitrary arrest, physical abuse, and unfair trials, often ending 
in execution. In 2008 authorities executed Baluch journalist and 
education activist Yaghoob Mirnehad in Zahedan for alleged membership 
in the militant group People's Resistance Movement of Iran (formerly 
Jundallah), which the Government considers a terrorist group.

    Societal Abuses, Discrimination, and Acts of Violence Based on 
Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity.--The Government censored all 
materials relating to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) 
issues. In 2008 President Ahmadi-Nejad called homosexual activity an 
``unlikable and foreign act'' that ``shakes the foundations of 
    The Special Protection Division, a volunteer unit of the judiciary, 
monitored and reported ``moral crimes.'' The law prohibits and punishes 
homosexual conduct; sodomy between consenting adults is a capital 
crime. According to a December HRW report, security forces used 
discriminatory laws to harass, arrest, and detain individuals they 
suspected of being gay. In some cases security forces raided houses and 
monitored Internet sites for information on LGBT individuals. Those 
accused of sodomy often faced summary trials, and evidentiary standards 
were not always met. The punishment of a non-Muslim gay man or lesbian 
was harsher if the gay man or lesbian's partner was Muslim. Punishment 
for homosexual behavior between men was more severe than for such 
behavior between women.
    The law defines transgender persons as mentally ill, encouraging 
them to seek medical help in the form of gender-reassignment surgery. 
The Government provided grants of as much as 4.5 million toman ($4,500) 
and loans of as much as 5.5 million toman ($5,500) for transgender 
persons willing to undergo gender reassignment surgery. Human rights 
activists and NGOs reported that some members of the gay and bisexual 
community were pressured to undergo gender reassignment surgery to 
avoid legal and social persecutions in the country.
    The size of the LGBT community was unknown, as many individuals 
feared identifying themselves. There were active LGBT NGOs in the 
country, but most activities to support the LGBT community took place 
outside the country.
    On April 25, according to press reports, police found a 24-year-old 
transgender woman known as Mahsa strangled in her apartment. Mahsa had 
previously undergone male to female sex-change operations. Her two 
brothers confessed to killing her on moral grounds. Although the 
brothers were sentenced to prison time of eight years and three years, 
respectively, the sentences included suspended jail time, which reduced 
their actual sentence in prison to three years and one year, 
    In July according to HRW, a Tabriz court issued an execution order 
for Ebrahim Hamidi, who was originally charged at age 16 with raping a 
minor. After the victim retracted his accusation, the court acquitted 
three other defendants but convicted Hamidi of sodomy based on elm-e 
ghazi. According to his lawyer, Mohammed Mostafaei, officials tortured 
Hamidi into signing his confession. HRW reported four other men in the 
country were in danger of execution for sodomy.
    According to the HRW report, family members threatened and abused 
many young gay men, who also faced harassment from religious scholars, 
schools, and community elders. Some LGBT persons were expelled from 
university for allegations of homosexual activities. The HRW report 
also alleged that Basij forces attempted to entrap for arrest persons 
engaged in homosexual behavior.
    On July 10, officers raided a private party in Shirza and arrested 
17 gay men. According to a local NGO the charges against the men were 
eventually dropped.

    Other Societal Violence or Discrimination.--Persons with HIV/AIDS 
reportedly faced discrimination in schools and workplaces. The 
Government supported programs for HIV/AIDS awareness and generally did 
not interfere with private HIV/AIDS-related NGOs. Government hospitals 
diagnosed and treated AIDS patients free of charge.
Section 7. Worker Rights
    a. The Right of Association.--The law provides workers the right to 
establish unions; in practice the Government did not permit independent 
unions and severely restricted workers' attempts to organize. Workers 
in transportation, education, and other sectors were systematically 
suppressed. A national organization known as Workers' House was the 
sole authorized national labor organization. It served primarily as a 
conduit for government control over workers. The leadership of Workers' 
House coordinated activities with Islamic labor councils in industrial, 
agricultural, and service organizations comprising more than 35 
employees. According to the ICHRI, these councils, which consisted of 
representatives of workers and a representative of management, were 
essentially management-run unions that undermined workers' efforts to 
maintain independent unions, but they nonetheless frequently blocked 
layoffs and dismissals in support of workers' demands. During the year 
the Government pressured workers to join the Government-sponsored 
    The 1990 labor code stipulates that workers may establish an 
Islamic labor council or a guild at any workplace or that workers may 
appoint an official representative. The law strongly favors Islamic 
labor councils; no other form of representation is allowed in a 
workplace where such a council has been established. Although Workers' 
House oversees Islamic labor councils, the Interior Ministry, the 
Ministry of Labor, and the Islamic Information Organization draft 
councils' constitutions, operational rules, and election procedures. 
There is no representative workers' organization for workers who are 
    Restrictions on freedom of association for workers continued during 
the year as the Government and the judiciary imprisoned and aimed to 
silence labor activists. Because of the severe crackdown on labor 
unions from the previous year, many workers groups cancelled annual May 
Day protests, including activities focused on the banned teachers 
    On April 16, leaders of the country's teachers associations met in 
the city of Yazd to formulate a statement. Officials from the local 
intelligence office telephoned to threaten them and warn them to leave. 
The statement by the leaders of the Coordinating Council of Teacher's 
Trade Association called for hunger strikes after National Teachers Day 
on May 2.
    On April 22, intelligence officials summoned Tofigh Mortezapour and 
Hasan Kharatian, both from the Teachers' Trade Association in Tabriz. 
On April 26, authorities searched Mortezapour's house and confiscated 
personal items, including his computer and papers. On April 27, 
authorities interrogated both men.
    On April 24, intelligence officials summoned three members of the 
Teachers' Trade Association in Hamedan--Ali Najafi, Asghar Mohammad 
Khani, and Jalal Naderi--to the local intelligence office. The ICHRI 
reports that authorities detained Najafi for a day and night. The three 
faced interrogations again on April 26.
    Also on April 24, the Tehran Investigation Office of the 
Intelligence Ministry summoned Ali Akbar Baghani, the secretary general 
of the Teacher's Trade Association, and Mohammad Beheshti Langeroudi, 
the spokesperson for the association. On April 29, intelligence agents 
searched their houses and detained the two men without informing them 
of the charges. The events prefaced worker and teacher strikes planned 
for May 1 and 2. Both men were released in July after 63 days in 
    In a related incident on April 28, the Human Rights Activists News 
Agency reported that security forces entered the house of Alireza 
Hashemi, head of the Teachers' Organization, and took him to an unknown 
location after confiscating his computer and a number of personal 
belongings. In June 2009 during a general crackdown on dissidents, 
authorities arrested and detained him for 25 days. At year's end he 
remained in prison.
    On May 1, National Workers Day, union and student protesters 
clashed in Tehran, and dozens were reported injured. There were also 
reports of demonstrations in other cities including Tabriz, Shiraz, 
Kermanshah, Qazvin, and Esfahan. International media reported that more 
than 16 persons were injured. Also on May 1, authorities reportedly 
briefly detained Mahmoud Salehi, former head of the Saqqez Bakery 
Workers' Union who completed a prison term in 2008, and asked him not 
to participate in Workers' Day activities.
    On June 12, authorities arrested Reza Shahabi, a leader of the bus 
syndicate, and kept him in solitary confinement for 40 days. The Tehran 
bus company fired Shahabi four years prior for alleged union activity. 
The ICHRI reported that the Revolutionary Court had not at year's end 
charged Shahabi with any crime. In December Shahabi went on a hunger 
strike to protest that he had not been released after payment of his 
bail of one million toman ($100,000). At year's end he remained in 
    On August 3, a court sentenced Rasoul Bodaghi, a member of the 
board of directors of the teachers' association, to six years in prison 
and prohibited him from union activity for five years on charges of 
``propaganda against the system'' and ``assembly and attempt to disrupt 
the national security.'' Authorities arrested the veteran teacher in 
September 2009. Gohardasht Prison guards reportedly severely beat him 
on May 28.
    On November 2, intelligence officials in Karaj briefly detained and 
reportedly assaulted bus syndicate leaders Saeed Torabian and 
Gholamreza Gholamhosseini. Two days later, intelligence officials 
arrested the two as they were posting a message on the Internet about 
the November 2 incident. On November 3, authorities reportedly released 
Torabian, but Gholamhosseini remained in prison at year's end, along 
with other syndicate leaders arrested in November, including Morteza 
Komsari and Ali Akbar Nazari. Authorities also detained Torabian from 
June 9 to July 20, charging him with acting against national security 
and speaking against the regime.
    There was no update on the case of journalist and union organizer 
Sajad Khaksari, whose final charge was awaiting treatment by a public 
court in Tehran in December 2009. Khaksari is the son of Mohammad 
Khaksari and Soraya Darabi, both leaders of the Iran Teachers' Trade 
    On January 4, security agents arrested the then public relations 
officer of the Haft Tapeh Sugar Cane Company's trade union, Reza 
Rakhshan, and detained him until his January 20 release on bail of 15 
billion toman ($15 million). On December 1, the Avhaz appeals court 
reversed a lower court's acquittal of Rakhshan, by that time the new 
president of the union, and sentenced him to six months in prison for 
``propagation of lies.'' Rakhshan had written an article commemorating 
the second anniversary of the union and describing his firing earlier 
in the year for union activities. On April 14, authorities released 
then union president Ali Nejati on bail. Union leaders Mohammed Heydari 
Mehr, Feridoun Nikoufard, Jalil Ahmadi, and Ghorban Alipour were all 
released after serving sentences of between four and six months.
    In August 2009 security officers closed the offices of the 
Association of Iranian Journalists immediately before a union general 
meeting and President Ahmadi-Nejad's swearing-in. At year's end the 
association was inactive, and many of its members remained in prison.
    There was no further information about Ebrahim Madadi, who remained 
in prison at year's end on charges from 2007.
    On May 28, prison authorities transferred bus-driver syndicate 
leader Mansour Ossanloo from Evin Prison to solitary confinement in an 
IRGC ward at Gohardasht Prison. The ICHRI reported that intelligence 
ministry interrogators reportedly subjected Ossanloo to harsh 
interrogations and mental torture. AI noted that authorities denied 
Ossanloo medical care. In August Branch 1 of the Revolutionary Court 
reportedly sentenced Ossanloo to an additional year in prison for 
``propaganda against the regime.'' Ossanloo had no access to a lawyer 
during his sentencing, and authorities failed to notify his lawyers 
that he was going to court. Ossanloo's original charges dated from 
    The law prohibits public sector strikes, and the Government 
considered unlawful any strike deemed contrary to government economic 
and labor policies, including strikes in the private sector, but 
strikes did occur. According to international media reports, security 
forces continued to respond with arbitrary arrests and violence to 
workers' attempts to conduct labor strikes.

    b. The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively.--Workers did not 
have the right to organize independently or to negotiate collective 
bargaining agreements freely. According to the International Trade 
Union Confederation, labor legislation did not apply in export 
processing zones.

    c. Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor.--The labor code 
prohibits all forms of forced or compulsory labor, including by 
children; however, there were reports that such practices occurred. See 
also the Department of State's annual Trafficking in Persons Report at 

    d. Prohibition of Child Labor and Minimum Age for Employment.--The 
law prohibits employment of minors younger than 15 and places 
restrictions on employment of minors younger than 18, such as 
prohibitions on hard labor or night work; however, it permits children 
to work in agriculture, domestic service, and some small businesses. 
The Government did not adequately monitor or enforce laws pertaining to 
child labor, and child labor was a serious problem.
    According to government sources, three million children were 
prevented from obtaining education because their families forced them 
to work. Unofficial sources claimed the figure was closer to five 
million, and credible reports stated that approximately 14 percent of 
children in the country were forced to work in dangerous conditions. 
There were reportedly significant numbers of children--primarily 
Afghan, but also Iranian--working as street vendors in major urban 
areas. Traffickers also exploited children for forced commercial sexual 
exploitation and involuntary servitude as beggars and laborers. 
Children also worked as mechanic apprentices or in clay/brickmaking 
operations. Also see the Department of State's annual Trafficking in 
Persons Report at www.state.gov/g/tip.

    e. Acceptable Conditions of Work.--On March 16, according to 
international media, the Supreme Labor Council announced an annual 
minimum wage of 303,048 toman ($303); labor rights activists claimed 
that amount was insufficient to feed a family of four in Tehran.
    The labor law does not cover an estimated 700,000 legal workers, as 
it applies in full only to workplaces with 10 or more workers. 
Workplaces with fewer than five workers or in export processing zones 
are exempt from all labor laws. Afghan workers, especially those 
working illegally, often were paid less than the minimum wage.
    The law establishes a maximum six-day, 48-hour workweek with a 
weekly rest day (normally Friday), at least 12 days of paid annual 
leave, and several paid public holidays. Women have the right to 
maternity leave.
    The law establishes a safety council chaired by the labor minister 
or his representative to protect workplace safety and health. Labor 
organizations outside the country have alleged that hazardous work 
environments were common and resulted in thousands of worker deaths 
annually. The quality of safety regulation enforcement was unknown, and 
it was unknown whether workers could remove themselves from hazardous 
situations without risking the loss of employment.



    Iraq, with a population of approximately 29 million, is a republic 
with a freely elected government led by Prime Minister Nouri Kamal al-
Maliki. On December 22, the new government was sworn in after the 
parliament, the Council of Representatives (COR), approved a power-
sharing agreement reached by all of the country's major political blocs 
on November 11, approximately nine months after the March 7 elections. 
Despite the controversy surrounding the January 15 decision by Iraq's 
Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC) to ban approximately 500 
candidates for alleged ties to the banned Ba'ath Party, and violence 
before and on election day, the COR elections met internationally 
recognized standards for free and fair elections, and the results of 
these legislative elections reflected the general will of the voters.
    Iraqi security forces (ISF) reported to civilian authorities, but 
continuing violence, corruption, and organizational dysfunction 
undermined the Government's ability to protect human rights. During the 
year the following significant human rights problems were reported: 
arbitrary or unlawful deprivation of life; extremist and terrorist 
bombings and executions; disappearances; torture and other cruel, 
inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment; poor conditions in 
pretrial detention and prison facilities; arbitrary arrest and 
detention; impunity; denial of fair public trials; delays in resolving 
property restitution claims; insufficient judicial institutional 
capacity; arbitrary interference with privacy and home; limits on 
freedoms of speech, press, and assembly and extremist threats and 
violence; limits on religious freedom due to extremist threats and 
violence; restrictions on freedom of movement; large numbers of 
internally displaced persons (IDPs) and refugees; lack of transparency 
and significant, widespread corruption at all levels of government; 
constraints on international organizations and nongovernmental 
organizations' (NGOs) investigations of alleged violations of human 
rights; discrimination against and societal abuses of women and ethnic, 
religious, and racial minorities; human trafficking; societal 
discrimination and violence against individuals based on sexual 
orientation; and limited exercise of labor rights.
    Extremist violence, coupled with weak government performance in 
upholding the rule of law, resulted in widespread and severe human 
rights abuses. Terrorist groups, such as al-Qaida in Iraq (AQI), and 
other extremist elements continued to launch highly destructive 
attacks, attempting to influence the elections and government formation 
process, fuel sectarian tensions, and undermine the Government's 
ability to maintain law and order. Extremist and AQI attacks continued 
against ISF and government officials. AQI and other extremists also 
conducted high-profile bombings targeting urban areas, Shia markets, 
and mosques, and Shia religious pilgrims. Religious minorities, 
sometimes labeled ``anti-Islamic,'' were often targeted in the 
    During the year, despite some reconciliation and easing of tensions 
in several provinces, the Government's human rights performance 
consistently fell short of according citizens the protections the law 
provides. However, the credible and legitimate national parliamentary 
elections in all 18 provinces on March 7 reflected a significant 
achievement in advancing the free exercise of human rights.

                        RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS

Section 1. Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom 
    a. Arbitrary or Unlawful Deprivation of Life.--During the year 
there were press reports and personal accounts that the Government or 
its agents committed numerous arbitrary or unlawful killings connected 
to its security operations. These numerous accounts and press reports 
accused government security forces of being responsible for unlawful 
deprivation of life. The outcome of official investigations was often 
unpublished, unknown or incomplete.
    With the increased exercise of central government authority over 
security forces, widespread and confirmed unauthorized government agent 
involvement in extrajudicial killings largely ceased, although there 
were reports of individuals using their security positions to settle 
personal grievances and grudges. In addition, there were reports of 
attacks by individuals posing as ISF. On January 17, a group of 
approximately 30 men dressed in military uniforms executed three 
brothers from the Mjamma'i tribe. On April 2, 16 gunmen in ISF uniforms 
killed 24 persons in the Sunni village of Albusaifi. Victims of this 
attack included former members of the Sons of Iraq (SOI), government-
paid security forces who turned against al-Qaida. On October 11, gunmen 
wearing military uniforms killed four members of a government-supported 
Sunni militia in Yusufiya. In response, beginning in January the 
Government ordered tailors to sign pledges promising not to make or 
sell uniforms to nonsecurity personnel and imposed fines, business 
closures, and possible jail sentences for noncompliance.
    Violence against the civilian population perpetrated by terrorist 
groups remained a problem during the year, and bombings, executions, 
and killings were regular occurrences throughout all regions and 
sectors of society. For example, on January 25, suicide bombers 
attacked several hotels in Baghdad, killing 37 persons. On March 26, 
two bombs exploded in a restaurant, killing 57 persons. On May 10, 
coordinated bombings and shootings across the country resulted in at 
least 119 fatalities, including ISF and law enforcement personnel. On 
August 17, a suicide bomber blew himself up in a crowd of army recruits 
in Baghdad, killing 61 persons.
    Incidents of terrorist attacks by female suicide bombers continued 
to occur throughout the year. On February 1, a female suicide bomber 
killed 54 Shiite pilgrims in Baghdad. On July 4, a female suicide 
bomber killed at least four persons at the entrance to the provincial 
government offices in Ramadi.
    From January 1 through December 31, an estimated 652 ISF personnel 
were killed in combat (noncriminal) actions and 2,204 were wounded. 
During the year 962 Ministry of Interior (MOI) personnel were killed 
and 1,347 were injured. Police officers, in particular, were targeted. 
For example, in the week beginning August 1, gunmen or explosives 
killed at least five traffic officers and wounded 19 in Baghdad, 
forcing the authorities to arm some of the traffic officers with AK-47 
assault rifles. On August 25, coordinated attacks targeting security 
forces throughout the country killed at least 56 individuals. On 
November 2, a roadside bomb in Sa'diyah exploded near a police convoy, 
killing three officers. On December 29, an attack by three suicide 
bombers in Mosul killed a prominent police commander and caused the 
collapse of the police station. The police commander who was killed, 
Lt. Col. Shamel Ahmed al-Jabouri, had been recognized for confronting 
terrorist groups in the area. The attack was the sixth attempt on his 
life and the second in the previous three months. An AQI-affiliated 
group, Islamic State of Iraq, claimed responsibility for the attack.
    Terrorists also targeted government institutions and leaders. 
Terrorists subjected the International Zone, where many government 
institutions and foreign embassies are located, to rocket and mortar 
attacks throughout the year. On February 18, a suicide car bomber 
killed 13 individuals outside the main government complex in Ramadi. 
Suicide attackers targeted the same Ramadi government complex in Anbar 
province twice, on December 12 and 27, killing at least 13 in the first 
attack and at least 17 in the second attack. On April 4, suicide 
attackers detonated car bombs near embassies in Baghdad, resulting in 
42 fatalities. On October 19, the UN special representative to Iraq, Ad 
Melkert, escaped unharmed when a roadside bomb struck his convoy; one 
ISF member died from the attack.
    Terrorists also targeted religious institutions and minority groups 
(see section 2.c.).
    There was an increase in AQI attacks against Sunnis cooperating 
with the Government--the SOI and Sunni tribal leaders. On April 20, 
gunmen killed five family members, beheading three, of the local anti-
AQI militia in Tarmiyah. On June 17, gunmen killed Khudair Hamad al-
Issawi, his wife, and two sons in a village outside Falluja. On July 
18, a suicide bomber killed at least 45 anti-al-Qaida Sunni fighters 
waiting for their paychecks. On August 18, gunmen killed an SOI member 
at an official checkpoint in Madaen; a bomb attached to a vehicle 
killed another SOI member in Baquba. On December 18, Sheik Ahmed Abu 
Risha, head of the Anbar Awakening Council, survived an assassination 
attempt when police defused a bomb concealed in a laptop.
    In Erbil, Sulaymaniyah, and Dohuk, the three provinces under the 
authority of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), there were 
significantly fewer reports of extremist violence than elsewhere in the 
    There were press reports and credible accounts of KRG security 
forces committing arbitrary or unlawful killings and arrests.
    Although violence levels were lower in the KRG as compared with the 
rest of the country, there were incidents of terrorist attacks. For 
example, on September 29, in Qaladiza district, northeast of 
Sulamaniyah, a suicide bomber wearing a Peshmerga uniform attempted to 
detonate explosives among the Kurdish Peshmerga forces but was 
intercepted before gaining access to the facility and chose to detonate 
the explosives instead of surrendering to the security forces.
    On November 1, in Erbil, a vehicle-borne improvised explosive 
device was discovered at a checkpoint approximately three miles south 
of the inner city. Two passengers in the vehicle at the checkpoint were 
    On May 4, Sardasht Osman, a contributor to the independent news 
outlets, was abducted and killed. He was known for his articles 
alleging nepotism and corruption in the leadership of the Kurdish 
region, including President Massoud Barzani and his immediate family. 
His body was found on May 5 in Mosul.
    On several occasions throughout the year, the Turkish government 
used military aircraft to attack areas where the Kurdistan Workers' 
Party (PKK), a terrorist organization, were active in the north. 
According to press reports, one civilian was killed and two others were 
injured by artillery fire in Iraq on June 18.
    Iranian forces occasionally bombarded areas along the Iran-Iraq 
border, targeting members of the Party of Free Life of Kurdistan, an 
Iranian Kurdish separatist group. According to press reports on 
September 25, Iranian forces killed 30 Kurdish insurgents in the Qandil 
Mountains in northeastern Iraq as a reprisal for a bombing in the 
Iranian city of Mahabad, which killed 12 persons and wounded 80.
    There were no known developments in killings that were reported in 
2008 or 2009.
    Other parts of this report contain related information (see 
sections 2.a., 2.c., and 2.d.).

    b. Disappearance.--The majority of reported cases of disappearances 
or kidnappings appeared to be financially motivated. Religious 
minorities and children were often the target of such kidnappings. 
Kidnappers who did not receive a ransom often killed their victims.
    Police believed that the majority of these cases went unreported.
    As in 2009, there were fewer reports that police arrested civilians 
without an arrest warrant and held them for ransom. However, there were 
numerous reports of the police releasing legally arrested persons from 
custody after receiving monetary payment.
    New mass graves of thousands of persons who went missing under the 
Saddam Hussein-regime were found during the year. On January 5, the 
Karbala Provincial Council Human Rights Committee announced the 
discovery of a mass grave containing the remains of 23 persons killed 
during the al-Shabaniyah (Shiite uprising of 1991). On January 24, the 
Ministry of Human Rights (MOHR) in Karbala announced finding a mass 
grave also with the remains of victims from the al-Shabaniyah. On 
January 24, police found the remains of eight persons, believed to have 
died after 2003, at a grave site outside Fallujah. On March 17, the 
MOHR announced the discovery of three mass graves containing the 
remains of 255 persons killed in the 1980s and 1990s in Wasit Province. 
On March 23, the MOHR announced the discovery of a mass grave 
containing the remains dating to 1991 of 20 persons in Maysan Province. 
On June 20, police discovered the remains of eight persons in Baghdad, 
presumed to be victims of sectarian violence during 2006-07. On June 
25, police found a mass grave near Samarra containing the remains of 11 
persons presumed to be victims of 2006-07 sectarian violence following 
the attacks on a revered Shiite shrine during both years. In July the 
KRG Ministry of Martyrs Affairs discovered two mass graves in Sorya 
village in Dohuk Province: the first containing the remains of 28 
persons, mostly children and women; the second, the remains of 14 
persons. In October the MOHR in Ramadi announced the finding of a mass 
grave with the remains of victims of at least 69 persons who died in 
the 1980s.
    Reports indicated KRG authorities arrested some minorities without 
due process in Iraq's disputed internal boundary region, taking them to 
undisclosed locations for detention.
    Other parts of this report contain related information (see 
sections 1.b. and 2.a.).

    c. Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or 
Punishment.--The constitution expressly prohibits torture in all its 
forms under all circumstances, as well as cruel, inhuman, or degrading 
treatment. During the year there were documented instances of torture 
and other abuses by government agents and similar abuses by illegal 
armed groups. The Government's effectiveness in adhering to the rule of 
law in these circumstances faced obstacles from continuing large-scale 
violence, corruption, sectarian bias, and lack of civilian oversight 
and accountability, particularly in the security forces and detention 
    Local and international human rights organizations, the MOHR, and 
the human rights directorates of the MOI and Ministry of Defense (MOD) 
continued to report allegations of torture and abuse in several MOI and 
MOD detention facilities, as well as in KRG security forces' detention 
facilities. A MOHR prisons report for 2009 indicated that there were 
326 documented cases of torture and mistreatment at MOI facilities, 152 
cases at MOD facilities, 14 cases at Ministry of Labor and Social 
Affairs (MOLSA) facilities, one case at Ministry of Justice (MOJ) 
facilities, and 12 in Peshmerga facilities in the Kurdistan region 
during that year.
    As in previous years, reports of abuse at the point of arrest and 
investigation, particularly by the MOI's Federal Police and MOD 
battalion-level forces, continued to be common. Allegations of abuse 
included use of stress positions, beatings, electric shocks, sexual 
assault, denial of medical treatment, death threats, and death.
    On April 19, the local and international media reported the 
discovery of a secret prison operated by security forces under control 
of the Prime Minister's Office containing more than 400 Sunni 
detainees, of which over 100 were reportedly tortured. The detainees 
were arrested by the ISF during October 2009 security sweeps in Ninewa 
Province and then transferred to a prison in Baghdad. One prisoner 
reportedly died in January from the abuse, while others were allegedly 
beaten, raped, suffocated with plastic bags, and had electricity 
applied to them. Authorities initially arrested three officers, but 
they were later released without charge. There were no prosecutions of 
any officer or judge associated with the event. Subsequently, 75 of the 
prisoners were released and 200 were transferred to other jails, 
according to government officials.
    In May 2009 three detainees at the MOI's Al Forsan detention 
facility in Ramadi were allegedly tortured, and in June 2009 prison 
guards allegedly tortured and raped female detainees at an MOI 
detention facility in the Adamiya neighborhood of Baghdad. Charges were 
brought against the officers involved; no further updates were 
available. In June 2009, in response to three COR members' allegations 
that 11 detainees had been subjected to abuse and torture by MOI 
officials, the Government established a committee that charged 40 
police officers with abuse. According to government reports, one 
general, two colonels, two majors, and two lieutenants were suspended 
pending additional investigation into charges of detainee abuse; no 
further updates were available.
    Impunity for security forces continued, although there were 
indications that some disciplinary action was taken against security 
forces accused of having committed human rights abuses and judicial 
follow-up in some torture cases, but little information was publicly 
available. The MOI Human Rights Directorate, charged with investigating 
human rights allegations within the police force, had a staff of 90 
investigators based in Baghdad and 14 others, one in each province 
excluding the KRG. During 2009 the MOI Human Rights Directorate opened 
55 investigations into human rights abuse cases and sent 15 cases to 
court for further investigation, nine of which had substantiated 
allegations of torture against 14 officers, including one general, five 
colonels, and three majors. There was no comparable information 
available for 2010 at year's end.
    There were fewer reports of torture or abuse in the MOJ's pretrial 
detention facilities than in the MOI or MOD facilities.
    The KRG's Antiterrorist Law allows abusive interrogation under 
certain conditions, and such practices reportedly occurred in some 
detention facilities run by the KRG internal security forces, Asayish, 
and the party-affiliated intelligence services Parastin of the 
Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and Zaniyari of the Patriotic Union of 
Kurdistan (PUK). Allegations of abuse included stress positions, broken 
fingers, and application of electric shocks. A 2009 MOHR report on 
prison conditions in the Kurdistan region noted that inspectors had 
observed signs of ``systemic torture'' in Asayish detention facilities, 
although cases in prisons run by KRG Ministry of Labor and Social 
Affairs were limited to isolated instances.

    Prison and Detention Center Conditions.--By law the MOJ has full 
control and authority over all detention facilities, except for those 
administered by the MOD for military justice purposes. This law was not 
fully implemented, however, and four separate ministries--the MOJ, MOI, 
MOD, and MOLSA--continued to operate detention facilities. KRG social 
welfare authorities operated prisons in the KRG, and KRG security 
authorities operated pretrial detention facilities. KRG internal 
security forces and KRG intelligence services operated separate 
detention facilities as well. Kurdish authorities operated eight 
detention facilities that combined pretrial and postconviction housing 
and eight additional internal security pretrial detention facilities.
    Although the Government had not yet provided adequate resources 
(personnel, supplies, equipment, and facilities) to the MOJ for it to 
assume complete control over all detention operations throughout the 
country, there was progress in transferring MOD detainees to MOJ 
detention facilities. The country's fractured penal structure, in which 
the MOJ held convicts and the MOJ, MOI, and to a lesser extent the MOD, 
hold detainees complicated detention and prison operations. For 
example, the MOJ oversaw day-to-day operations in the Baghdad prison 
formerly known as Camp Honor, but another agency controlled outside 
access to the facility, resulting in the denial of family member access 
to detainees.
    At year's end, there were 12 MOJ prisons and 11 MOJ pretrial 
detention facilities.
    MOI detention facilities comprise an estimated six Federal Police 
facilities and 294 Iraqi Police facilities. There are an estimated 
1,200 smaller MOI police holding stations throughout the country 
managed, staffed, and operated by the Federal Police, Iraqi Police 
Services, Criminal Investigations Division, and the National 
Investigative and Information Agency. Although there were no 
independently verified statistics, it was estimated that the MOI 
facilities held as many as 8,000 pretrial detainees.
    The MOD operated 27 Iraqi army pretrial detention centers for 
detainees captured during military raids and operations. There were 
reports of unofficial detention centers throughout the country. The MOD 
lacked the legal authority to detain civilians and was required to 
transfer detainees to MOI or MOJ facilities within 24 hours. In May 
2009 the MOD began transferring its civilian detainees to MOJ custody. 
Approximately 325 civilian detainees remained in MOD custody at year's 
end (650 at the end of 2009), the majority located in a detention 
facility in the International Zone in Baghdad. After reports of 
systematic abuse in this facility, the Government closed it and 
transferred the detainees to MOJ facilities.
    The majority of individuals in MOI and MOD facilities were pretrial 
detainees. Overcrowding of pretrial detainees remained a problem in all 
detention facilities throughout the country due to slow case processing 
and lack of information sharing among relevant agencies.
    The MOJ is the only government entity with the legal authority to 
hold, care for, and guard posttrial detainees. The total capacity of 
MOJ's Iraqi Corrections Service (ICS) facilities was 26,469 beds for 
men (not including emergency capacity) and 553 beds for women. The 
total number of prisoners in the ICS was 25,020, 43 percent of whom 
were pretrial detainees.
    In MOI and MOD detention facilities, conditions and treatment of 
detainees were generally reported as poor. The MOI Human Rights 
Directorate reported conducting 1,020 inspections during the year, a 
significant increase from 270 inspections in 2009, and noted that 
overcrowding remained widespread. Many lacked adequate food, exercise 
facilities, medical care, and family visitation. Limited infrastructure 
or aging physical plants in some facilities resulted in marginal 
sanitation, limited access to water and electricity, and poor quality 
food. Medical care in MOI and MOD detention facilities was not provided 
consistently, and there continued to be allegations of abuse and 
torture in some facilities.
    Despite limited resources and funds, MOJ detention facilities 
provided detainees with better treatment and living conditions than MOI 
and MOD detention facilities. Medical care in MOJ's ICS prisons in some 
locations exceeded the community standard. ICS personnel made 
significant progress in meeting internationally accepted standards for 
prisoner needs. The MOJ is responsible for training ICS guards and 
correctional executive management staff, providing the facilities with 
necessary supplies and equipment, addressing overcrowding, facilitating 
case processing, and providing prison rehabilitation programs.
    The ICS internal affairs department monitored abuse or violations 
of prisoners' human rights. Allegations of abuse resulted in the 
disciplining of ICS officers in some cases. During the year there were 
seven allegations that ICS staff abused detainees. There was no 
information available on the disposition of these cases at year's end.
    The law mandates that women and juveniles be held separately from 
male adults. Although this law was generally observed, in some cases 
women were held in the same detention facility as men but in segregated 
quarters and cellblocks. A MOD inspection of a facility in Baghdad's 
International Zone found women at the facility, albeit in separate 
cells. Juveniles were also occasionally held with adults. MOD 
inspections of its International Zone facility and Old Muthanna 
detention facilities found juveniles living in the same cells as adult 
detainees. Additionally pretrial detainees and convicted prisoners were 
sometimes held in the same facility due to space limitations.
    During the year MOLSA's juvenile facilities improved. The end-of-
year population of the Tobschi juvenile facility in Baghdad was 297 
pretrial juveniles, while the facility's capacity was 327. Legal, 
medical, educational, and social services were available on site. The 
Karada female juvenile facility, which had a population within its 
capacity, had medical services on site. The Shalchiya facility also had 
a population within its capacity. The Kharq juvenile facility remained 
overcrowded, with a capacity of 245 and a total population of 490 
posttrial juveniles. There were no reported instances of abuse or 
mistreatment in MOLSA facilities. Small numbers of juveniles were also 
held at some MOJ and police stations; for example, 167 juveniles were 
at MOJ facilities at year's end.
    KRG security authorities operated male pretrial detention 
facilities, and KRG social welfare authorities operated male posttrial 
and female and juvenile pretrial and posttrial detention facilities in 
the Kurdistan region. The KRG internal security forces and the KRG 
intelligence services operated separate detention facilities. Domestic 
and international human rights NGOs and intergovernmental organizations 
generally had access to pretrial and posttrial facilities. Access by 
independent organizations to the facilities of the KRG internal 
security and intelligence services was limited to the MOHR, the 
International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), and the UN.
    Until the April media reports of an extrajudicial detention 
facility appeared, the national detention facilities occasionally 
permitted visits by representatives of the national MOHR and members of 
parliament. After the press coverage, MOHR officials reported 
encountering resistance at some detention facilities to MOHR visits. 
KRG detention facilities permitted visits by the national MOHR and KRG 
human rights authorities. The MOHR's annual report covering 2009 was 
generally critical of prison standards across the country and addressed 
general conditions and populations of detention facilities, judicial 
processes, and torture allegations.
    Domestic and international human rights NGOs and intergovernmental 
organizations generally did not have access to national MOI detention 
and pretrial facilities, although the MOHR initiated a program in 2009 
to train NGOs in how to conduct prison inspections. Some 
intergovernmental organizations had access to similar facilities of the 
KRG internal security and intelligence forces, which were separate from 
the national facilities.
    The ICRC had access in accordance with its standard modalities to 
MOJ detention facilities, together with access to places of detention 
under other ministries, although at times with difficulties. The ICRC 
did not have access to the Counterterrorism Center detention facility. 
During the year the ICRC carried out 118 visits to 39 central 
government detention facilities. The ICRC also regularly visited 40 KRG 
detention facilities.
    The ICRC had a separate agreement with the KRG for access, although 
not full unrestricted access, to KRG detention facilities. They 
formally renewed the agreement in December 2009.
    Other parts of this report contain related information (see 
sections 1.d. and 5).

    d. Arbitrary Arrest or Detention.--The constitution provides for 
protection against arbitrary arrest and detention without a warrant, 
except in extreme exigent circumstances as provided for in a state of 
emergency. In practice there were many instances of arbitrary arrest 
and detention.

    Role of the Police and Security Apparatus.--The ISF consists of MOI 
security forces and MOD military forces and amounted to approximately 
793,000 persons at the end of October, consisting of 259,910 military 
and 4,120 special forces personnel. The MOI exercised its 
responsibilities throughout the country, except in the KRG area. These 
responsibilities included providing internal security through police 
and domestic intelligence capabilities, facilities protection, and 
regulating all domestic and foreign private security companies. The MOI 
was also responsible for emergency response, border enforcement, 
dignitary protection, firefighting, and internal monitoring of the 
conduct of MOI personnel. The army, under direction of the MOD, also 
played a part in providing domestic security. Official impunity was a 
serious problem.
    The MOI security forces included several components: the 301,286-
member Iraqi Police Service primarily deployed to police stations; the 
majority Shia 43,957-member Federal Police, organized into commandos 
and public order police; the 60,605-member Border Enforcement Police; 
and the 94,000 Facilities Protection Service security guards deployed 
at MOI direction at individual ministries. The MOI was responsible for 
approximately 529,000 employees, almost 10 percent of the country's 
male labor force as of the end of October.
    During the year the security services grappled with the problem of 
integrating the SOI into the ISF, strengthened chain of command and 
control, and promoted force modernization, enabling the ISF to improve 
operations against extremists. Although oversight by MOI and MOD 
internal affairs increased, problems continued with all security 
services arising from sectarian divisions, corruption, and 
unwillingness to serve outside the areas in which personnel were 
recruited. The effort of the head of the largely Shia Federal Police to 
have police serve in provinces other than their home provinces to 
reduce corruption was only partially successful.
    Government efforts to pay the approximately 94,000 SOI personnel, 
predominately Sunnis, and integrate them into long-term employment (20 
percent with state security agencies and 80 percent with civil 
ministries) were stalled in late 2009 in advance of the March 2010 
parliamentary elections. Prior to this period, the Government had 
transitioned 43 percent of the approximately 95,000 SOI members into 
the ISF or various civil ministries. During the elections the 
Government put the transition of the SOI into civilian and Iraqi 
security forces jobs on hold to afford extra security during and after 
the elections. Security needs during government formation extended this 
pause in SOI transition.
    A history of pay problems and slow transition to other employment, 
although coincidental, contribute to negative perceptions among the 
SOI. Despite these delays the Government continued to support the Sons 
of Iraq. Since May 2009 the Government has been responsible for paying 
all SOI salaries, and timeliness continued to improve. In two of the 
last four months of the year (September and December), the SOI were 
paid early, with only minor delays in four provinces in October and 
November. Other recent government actions to address the problem 
included establishing a joint interagency coordination center for the 
SOI, more timely payments, and the creation by the prime minister of a 
committee focused on how best to promote successful SOI integration. In 
addition, the Government's draft 2011 budget included $195 million for 
salaries and other payments for the SOI. Suspected government targeting 
and arrest of SOI personnel for alleged previous terrorist activity 
continued to be a point of tension between the Sunni population and the 
    The KRG maintained its own regional security forces, the Peshmerga, 
as set forth in the constitution. The two main parties of the Kurdish 
region maintained ties to these Peshmerga units, which remained 
separated in practice along party lines, as well as to other security 
and intelligence units currently outside KRG or central government 
control. KRG security forces and intelligence services detained 
suspects in KRG-controlled areas. The poorly defined borders between 
the KRG and the central government and contested areas of authority 
remained a cause of confusion, and therefore concern, with regard to 
the jurisdiction of security and courts. In April 2009 the chief judge 
of Sulaymaniyah Province and the head of the PUK branch of the KRG 
internal security forces signed a memorandum of understanding, 
acknowledging the supremacy of the civilian court system in all 
security matters. KRG internal security forces pledged not to carry out 
arrests and other actions without court authority in the memorandum. 
Due to a lack of progress in the integration of security forces, 
effective control by political leaders continued through political 
party channels.
    The MOI established the internal security forces disciplinary and 
criminal court system in 2008. By year's end, the courts had heard more 
than 6,000 cases and returned 2,000 convictions for violations and 
crimes committed by MOI police.
    A significant number of allegations of MOI and MOD abuses were 
raised during the year, although few of these allegations led to 
convictions. There were continued reports of torture and abuse 
throughout the country in many MOI police stations and MOD facilities; 
the incidents generally occurred during the interrogation phases. The 
MOI Internal Affairs Division did not release the number of officers 
punished during the year.
    Security force officials were rarely pursued for suspected crimes 
because ministers, responsible for the suspect, have the legal ability 
block an arrest warrant. Section 136(b) of the criminal procedure code 
gives ministers the opportunity to review and prevent the execution of 
arrest warrants that sitting judges presiding over criminal 
investigations have issued against members of the security forces. 
Permission was rarely given during the year to prosecute higher-level 

    Arrest Procedures and Treatment While in Detention.--The 
constitution prohibits ``unlawful detention'' and mandates that 
preliminary investigative documents be submitted to an investigative 
judge within 24 hours from time of arrest, a period that can be 
extended by one day. For offenses punishable by death, the defendant 
can be detained for as long as necessary to complete the judicial 
process. Law enforcement authorities reportedly continued to detain and 
search individuals without an arrest warrant after the state of 
emergency law expired in 2007, although there were no reliable 
statistics available on such incidents.
    In practice many detainees were held for months or years without 
access to defense counsel or without being formally charged or brought 
before a judge. Police and army personnel frequently arrested and 
detained suspects without judicial approval. MOHR and MOD Human Rights 
Directorate inspections of the MOD detention facilities in the 
International Zone and at Old Muthanna Airfield found many detainees 
without case files or valid detention orders. Police often failed to 
notify family members of the arrest or location of detention, resulting 
in incommunicado detention. Unlike in the previous year, fewer security 
sweeps were conducted throughout entire neighborhoods or provinces.
    At year's end, the number of detainees in government hands was 
estimated at 21,000, not including those in central government 
facilities in the KRG or Asayish and KRG intelligence service 
facilities. At year's end, the ICS held 11,063; the MOI, an unverified 
number estimated at 8,000; the MOD, 325; and MOLSA, approximately 350. 
The KRG total was reported to be approximately 338, not including 
central government facilities in the KRG or Asayish and KRG 
intelligence service facilities.
    In practice few detainees saw an investigative judge within the 
legally mandated time period. Many complained they did not see the 
investigative judge until months or sometimes years after arrest and 
detention. Incommunicado detention took place. Lengthy detention 
periods without judicial action were a systemic problem. The lack of 
judicial review was due to a number of factors that included 
undocumented detentions, backlogs in the judiciary, slow processing of 
criminal investigations, and an insufficient number of judges. There 
were allegations of detention beyond judicial release dates as well as 
unlawful releases.
    The Government periodically released detainees, usually after 
concluding it had insufficient evidence for the courts to convict them. 
During the year the Government released approximately 560 detainees.
    Detainees initiated hunger strikes to protest either poor detention 
conditions or slow case processing. It was unclear if the hunger 
strikes resulted in any improvement in detention conditions or case 
processing. On February 19, detainees at al-Minaa detention facility in 
Basrah went on a hunger strike to protest detention conditions ``not 
fit for animals.'' On May 31, the media reported detainees at al-
Rusafah facility in Baghdad initiated a hunger strike to protest 
conditions there. On October 30, the media reported detainees at al-
Miqdadiyah facility in Diyala Province embarked on a hunger strike to 
protest conditions there and the slow processing of their cases. This 
was the second time during the year that al-Miqdadiyah detainees 
launched a hunger strike.
    There were reports that KRG internal security units detained 
suspects incommunicado and without an arrest warrant and that they 
transported detainees to undisclosed detention facilities.
    Police across the country continued to use coerced confessions and 
abuse as methods of investigation.
    The law allows release on bond, and in practice criminal (but not 
security) detainees were considered for release on bail.
    Judges are authorized to appoint paid counsel for the indigent and 
did so in practice. Attorneys appointed to represent detainees 
frequently complained that poor access to their clients after their 
appointment hampered adequate attorney-client consultation.
    Other sections of this report contain related information (see 
sections 2.a. and 2.d.).

    Amnesty.--During the year the Government granted amnesty to 72 

    e. Denial of Fair Public Trial.--The law provides for an 
independent judiciary. Although the judicial system was credited with 
efforts to maintain an independent stance, the security situation in 
the country rendered the judiciary weak and dependent on other parts of 
the Government. Threats and killings by sectarian, tribal, extremist, 
and criminal elements impaired judicial independence in many places. 
The Central Criminal Court of Iraq (CCC-I), Kharkh and the Felony 
Court, Rusafa (formerly the Rusafa CCC-I), which operated in heavily 
guarded locations in Baghdad, were notable exceptions. The MOI agreed 
to supplement security for judges and allowed judges to select which 
police officers would be assigned to their security detail. 
Approximately 2,000 police officers under MOI authority were assigned 
to protect judges.
    Judges frequently faced death threats and attacks. Judges' family 
members also faced death threats and attacks. On June 6, an appeal 
judge survived an assassination attempt when a roadside bomb exploded 
near his convoy. On July 14, Judge Hassan Aziz of the Cassation Court 
was assassinated after an adhesive bomb was placed in his car in 
western Baghdad. Between August 10 and September 7, there were 12 
assassination attempts on judges throughout the country.
    Although individual judges were generally viewed as objective and 
courageous, judges were vulnerable to intimidation and violence. There 
were reports that criminal cases at the trial level or on appeal to the 
Court of Cassation were decided by corruption or intimidation. There 
were reports that court-issued detainee release orders were not 
consistently enforced.
    The law restricted the free investigation of wrongdoing. As 
referenced above, section 136(b) of the criminal procedure code gives 
ministers the opportunity to review and prevent the execution of arrest 
warrants that sitting judges presiding over criminal investigations 
have issued against ministry employees. This provision provided 
immunity to selected government employees and enabled a component of 
the executive branch to terminate proceedings initiated by the judicial 
branch. During the year permission was given to arrest only lower-level 
ministry employees under Section 136(b).
    The constitution provides for an independent judiciary in all 
    The KRG 2007 Judicial Power Law attempted to create a more 
independent judiciary. The Kurdish Judicial Council, which had been 
part of the executive branch's MOJ, became legally independent and took 
responsibility for its own budget, human resource management, and 
reporting. KRG judicial authorities no longer have direct operational 
control over the judiciary, the KRG financial authorities relinquished 
control of the council's budget, and the chief justice was appointed by 
other judges and not by the executive branch. Nonetheless, the KRG 
executive continued to influence cases in politically sensitive areas, 
such as freedom of speech and the press (see section 2.a.).
    The NGO Human Rights Watch claimed in a 2008 report that the CCC-I 
seriously failed to ensure detainees' rights to due process and fair 
trial. The reported failures included long periods of pretrial 
detention without judicial review, inability to pursue a meaningful 
defense or challenge evidence, and abuse in detention to extract 
confessions. The lack of judicial review was due to a number of 
factors, whose relative weight was difficult to assess, including a 
large number of pretrial detainees, undocumented detentions, backlogs 
in the judiciary, slow processing of criminal investigations, and an 
insufficient number of judges.
    The Iraqi High Tribunal (IHT), formerly the Iraqi Special Tribunal, 
tried persons accused of committing war crimes, genocide, crimes 
against humanity, and specified offenses from July 1968, through May 
    In the 2007 Anfal trial, Ali Hassan al-Majid, widely referred to as 
``Chemical Ali,'' and two codefendants, Sultan Hashem Ahmed and Hussein 
Rashid Muhamad, were convicted of genocide and related charges and 
sentenced to death. The sentences were upheld on appeal. The Anfal 
trial concerned the deaths of an estimated 182,000 Kurdish men, women, 
and children, caused in part by the use of chemical weapons by the 
former Ba'athist regime in a 1986-89 campaign against the Kurds. In 
2008 the Presidency Council ratified the death sentence of Ali Hassan 
Al Majid, who was executed on January 25. At year's end, the death 
sentence for Sultan Hashem Ahmed has not been carried out. No further 
information was available regarding Hussein Rashid Muhammad.
    Two additional cases were referred to the trial chamber. The 
Halabja case, which included five defendants and began in 2008, 
involved chemical attacks on the Kurdish town of Halabja in March 1988 
that resulted in the death of more than 5,000 civilians. On January 17, 
Ali Hassan al-Majid was convicted of genocide and executed on January 
25. The remaining defendants were acquitted on genocide charges but 
received 15 year sentences for crimes against humanity. In 2008 the 
trial began of 24 defendants who were part of the former regime and 
were allegedly involved in the persecution of Dawa party members 
(religious parties case). During the year there were nine acquittals 
and five death sentences (including for former foreign minister and 
former deputy prime minister Tariq Aziz, issued on October 26) in the 
religious parties case.
    In April 2009 the IHT began the ``ethnic cleansing'' case, in which 
13 defendants were charged with involvement in forcibly relocating 
Kurds from Kirkuk to other areas of the country. The case ended with a 
verdict on August 2009 acquitting five defendants and convicting the 
remaining eight. All prison sentences in the case ranged from six to 
seven years. The prosecutor appealed three of the acquittals. The case 
remained under consideration by the appeals court at year's end.
    In September 2009 the IHT issued a warrant for the arrest of Abdel 
Basit Turki, now in self-exile, who was the former head of the Board of 
Supreme Audit responsible for auditing the financial records of all 
central government institutions. Turki was charged with ``wasting 
national wealth'' during his time as a senior government official under 
Saddam Hussein's regime, in particular for the transfer of billions of 
dollars in cash out of the country prior to Saddam's removal. Turki 
claimed that the allegations resulted from his exposure of corruption 
after the fall of Saddam Hussein. The allegations against Turki fell 
under the jurisdiction of the IHT due to their nature and the time 
period in which the offenses were allegedly committed.
    On October 25, the IHT sentenced Tariq Aziz to death for crimes 
against humanity, specifically for torture and murder of Shia political 
opponents. President Jalal Talabani publicly stated he would not sign 
the execution order. At year's end, Aziz remained in prison, serving 
sentences for other crimes for which he was convicted.
    During the year the IHT continued to investigate a number of crimes 
allegedly committed by members of the former regime, including other 
atrocities following the 1991 uprising, the draining of the southern 
marshes, and the invasion of Kuwait. The IHT also dropped charges 
against some detainees.

    Trial Procedures.--The constitution provides for the right to a 
fair trial, and judges--investigative, trial, and appellate--generally 
sought to enforce that right, which is extended to all citizens. An 
accused person is considered innocent until proven guilty and has the 
right to privately retained or court-appointed counsel. One of the 
significant challenges facing the criminal trial courts was 
insufficient access to defense attorneys. Many defendants met their 
lawyers for the first time during the initial hearing. Defense 
attorneys were provided at public expense if needed. Trials, except in 
some national security cases were public, and judges assembled evidence 
and adjudicated guilt or innocence. Defendants and their attorneys had 
access to government-held evidence relevant to their cases before 
trial. Criminal judgments of conviction and acquittal may be appealed 
to the Court of Cassation, a judicial panel that reviews the evidence 
assembled in the investigative and trial stages and renders a decision. 
There is the right of appeal also in civil cases.
    The constitution provides for the establishment of military courts, 
but only military crimes committed by the armed forces and the security 
forces may come before such courts. The MOI courts investigate and try 
crimes committed by MOI employees related to their employment.

    Political Prisoners and Detainees.--Some detainees alleged 
political reasons motivating their arrests, which authorities countered 
with criminal charges ranging from corruption to facilitating terrorism 
and murder. The prevalence of corruption, slow case processing, and 
inaccessibility to detainees, especially those held by 
counterterrorism, intelligence, and military authorities, made most 
claims hard to assess.
    In 2009 there appeared to be an orchestrated political campaign 
against Sunni politicians from Diyala Province with arrest warrants 
issued for four members of the provincial council, the deputy governor, 
and a member of the parliament from Diyala. In May 2009 Iraqi special 
forces affiliated with the prime minister arrested Abdel Jabbar Ali 
Ibrahim on terrorism-related charges; he remained in custody at year's 
end. In November 2009 the deputy governor, Muhamad Hassayn Jasim, was 
arrested on charges related to terrorism financing. He was being held 
in a MOD detention facility at year's end. A former Sunni provincial 
council member, Hussayn al-Zubaydi, was convicted in October of 
terrorism-related charges and given a life sentence.
    There was little information available concerning persons detained 
in Kurdish Asayish facilities.

    Civil Judicial Procedures and Remedies.--The country has a legal 
framework, as well as an independent and impartial judiciary, for 
dealing with civil issues in lawsuits seeking damages for or cessation 
of human rights violations. Administrative remedies also exist. 
However, during the year the priorities of an understaffed judiciary 
and government administration focused on issues more directly related 
to security, and these procedures as well as administrative remedies 
were not effectively implemented.

    Property Restitution.--There was a problem with serious delays and 
corruption in adjudicating claims for property restitution. The 
Property Claims Commission (PCC), formerly the Commission for the 
Resolution of Real Property Disputes and originally called the Iraq 
Property Claims Commission, is an independent governmental commission. 
Its purpose is to resolve claims for real property confiscated, 
forcibly acquired, or otherwise taken for less than fair value by the 
former regime between 1968 and 2003 for reasons other than land reform 
or lawfully applied eminent domain. The PCC process was intended 
primarily to benefit those whose land was confiscated for ethnic or 
political reasons as part of the former regime's ``Arabization'' 
program and other policies of sectarian displacements. In response to 
the delays and corruption in adjudicating claims, in June the prime 
minister installed new management, which initiated a claim verification 
process and extended the deadline for filing claims to June 2011.
    As of year's end, the PCC had received more than 165,000 claims 
nationwide since its founding. At year's end, more than 25,000 claims 
had reportedly been reviewed, of which approximately 13,500 were 
approved and 11,500 rejected. Of the total claims filed, more than 
47,000 were from Kirkuk; of the claims approved, more than 1,780 were 
from Kirkuk. The Higher Judicial Council appointed 39 judges and the 
KRG appointed five, for a total of 44 judges hearing cases.
    Since 2003 a number of wafadin, Arabs previously settled in the 
Kirkuk region under Saddam Hussein's anti-Kurdish policies, returned to 
their previous homes in the center and south of the country and applied 
for compensation. Since the PCC was established, more than 28,000 
wafadin have applied for compensation to the Article 140 Committee, 
which resolves claims for wafadin who seek compensation for returning 
to their original provinces. At the end of 2009, approval for 
compensation had been given to 16,500, and 10,917 wafadin had received 
compensation and in theory have returned to their original provinces.

    f. Arbitrary Interference With Privacy, Family, Home, or 
Correspondence.--The constitution mandates that authorities not enter 
or search homes except with a judicial order. The constitution also 
prohibits arbitrary interference with privacy. In practice security 
forces often entered homes without search warrants and took other 
measures interfering with privacy, family, and correspondence, although 
this happened less than in previous years.
    In the KRG-controlled provinces, there was pressure on citizens to 
join the PUK party in the province of Sulaymaniyah and the KDP party in 
the provinces of Erbil and Dohuk.

Section 2. Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:
    a. Freedom of Speech and Press.--The constitution broadly provides 
for the right of free expression, provided it does not violate public 
order and morality, and the Government restricted that right in some 
    Despite this constitutional protection of freedom of expression, 
the law provides, if authorized by the prime minister, for fines or a 
term of imprisonment not to exceed seven years for any person who 
publicly insults the COR, the Government, or public authorities. The 
law also restricts media organizations from expressing support for the 
banned Ba'ath Party or for ``alterations to Iraq's borders by violent 
means.'' In practice the main limitation on the exercise of these 
rights was self-censorship due to fear of reprisals by the Government, 
political parties, criminal gangs, insurgent and sectarian forces, or 
    Individuals could criticize the Government publicly or privately, 
but not without concern of reprisal if the criticism was seen as 
``crossing the line'' by challenging one's personal sense of honor. 
Individuals exercised self-censorship accordingly. There was no 
evidence that the Government attempted to impede criticism by 
monitoring political meetings.
    Concerning freedom of the press, the independent media were active 
and expressed a wide variety of views subject to the Government's 
interpretation of lawful restrictions on violations of public order and 
morality. Political parties strongly influenced most of the several 
hundred daily and weekly publications, as well as dozens of radio and 
television stations.
    Journalists were subject to violence and harassment. Eight 
journalists and media workers were killed during the year in Mosul, 
Baghdad, East Fallujah, and Ramadi. At least 12 others were targets of 
attacks, nine of whom suffered injuries from bombings of cars or 
offices. Journalists were targets of government security forces, 
corrupt officials, terrorists, religious groups that were unwilling to 
accept media independence, and unknown actors who, for whatever reason, 
wished to affect the flow of news. Despite multiple killings of 
journalists during the year, there were no convictions for these or 
previous killings of journalists.
    For example, on April 14, the Iraqi Army's Baghdad Operations 
Command allegedly arrested Saad Al-Aossi, the editor in chief of the 
independent newspaper Al-Shahed. Baghdad Operations Command denied any 
involvement with the disappearance of Al-Aossi, whose fate remained 
unknown at year's end. On September 7, gunmen assassinated Riad al-
Sary, a journalist and presenter of political and religious programs 
for Al-Iraqiya state-run television, in a Baghdad drive-by shooting. 
Al-Saray hosted religious-based programs that promoted reconciliation 
between Shia and Sunni. A day later, on September 8, gunmen fired from 
a speeding car and killed Safa al-Din Abdel Hamid in front of his home 
in Mosul. Abdel Hamid had worked at Al-Mosuliya, a private channel that 
covers Ninewa Province in the north. Abdel Hamid's program Our Mosques 
detailed the history of religious sites in Ninewa.
    Security forces harassed local journalists. On January 15, the 
domestic NGO Journalistic Freedoms Observatory (JFO) reported that 
Najaf police assaulted journalists and damaged their equipment as they 
tried to complete a follow-up report on recent bombings. On January 31, 
security forces detained eight journalists in Maysan Province when the 
journalists, who were part of the media corps covering a local story, 
protested when the security forces attempted to prevent them from 
covering the story and confiscated their equipment. On September 21, 
police beat several journalists at a Baghdad checkpoint, even though 
the journalists had shown their press cards and were lying face down on 
the ground.
    The Government acted to restrict media freedom in some 
circumstances by penalizing those who published items counter to 
government guidelines. On February 28, security forces raided three 
publishers and confiscated copies of the 16-page booklet, Where has 
Iraq's Money Gone?, which accused the Government of financial 
corruption. On July 6, a media report alleged that the Baghdad 
Operations Command discharged firearms to prevent a crew of the Beladi 
satellite channel from covering a Shiite anniversary celebration, even 
though the crew possessed the necessary documents to access the area.
    On October 31, the Baghdad Operations Command accused and arrested 
two Al-Baghdadia television employees, who were released two days 
later, for assisting the terrorists who attacked Our Lady of Salvation 
Church. The employees received the terrorists' calls, resulting in the 
station announcing their demands on television. On November 1, the 
media commission ordered the Baghdad Operations Command to close Al-
Baghdadia's Baghdad office, which it did by disconnecting the station's 
power and ordering everyone to leave the premises. The station 
continued broadcasting into Iraq from Egypt. On December 23, COR 
members formed a fact-finding committee to inquire into the closing of 
the station's Baghdad office, about which some members expressed 
freedom of press/media/speech concerns.
    The law prohibits reporters from publishing stories that defame 
public officials. Many in the media complained that these provisions 
prevented them from freely practicing their trade by creating strong 
fears of prosecution. There was widespread self-censorship.
    In July the chief justice established a special court (the Court of 
Publication and Media) in Baghdad to adjudicate civil and criminal 
claims against the press and media, which some media organizations, 
journalists, and NGOs fear may have a negative impact on freedom of 
speech and press. The court heard a lawsuit against an independent 
newspaper that reported irregularities at a construction site in Basra. 
In October the court ruled in favor of the newspaper.
    On November 12, a court ordered the United Kingdom newspaper The 
Guardian to pay damages to the prime minister in a 2008 suit for 1.1 
billion dinars (approximately $940,000) for describing Prime Minister 
Maliki as ``authoritarian''; the suit also called for the closure of 
the paper's Baghdad bureau. The news organization, which continued 
operating in the country, appealed the ruling, which the appellate 
court overturned on December 28.
    Media workers often reported that politicians pressured them to not 
publish articles criticizing the Government. They offered accounts of 
intimidation, threats, and harassment of the media by government or 
partisan officials. The Government frequently used the threat of legal 
action against media workers. The Government used its authority to deny 
journalists permits to impede potentially unfavorable media coverage.
    In compliance with regulations introduced in July 2009, all book 
imports were subject to inspection by the Ministry of Culture. Books 
produced and published within the country required the ministry's 
approval before going on sale. According to the ministry, new vetting 
procedures applying to imports were established to stop the entry of 
literature promoting sectarianism.
    In the Kurdistan region, a 2008 law provides for media freedom, and 
imprisonment is no longer a penalty for publication-related offenses. 
However, journalists continued to be tried, convicted, and imprisoned 
under the 1969 penal code. The Kurdistan Journalists Syndicate (KJS) 
documented 44 lawsuits against journalists during the year in the 
Kurdistan region, approximately one-third under the penal code. 
According to syndicate officials, the 2008 law is the sole basis for 
prosecution of journalists for publication offenses, but the law allows 
prosecution on the basis of offending public morals and other crimes. 
Public officials regularly resorted to punitive fines through legal 
actions against individual media outlets and editors, often for 
publishing articles on alleged corruption.
    During the year political parties filed lawsuits against media 
organizations and journalists in Kurdistan ``in self-defense.'' For 
example, on August 2, Fadhil Mirani, the KDP politburo secretary, filed 
a one billion dinar (approximately $860,000) suit against the 
opposition (Goran) newspaper Rozhnama. The suit was in response to a 
July 20 report that accused the KDP of receiving money from oil 
smuggling deals with Iran. On September 23, the Kurdiu.org news service 
reported that the KDP filed a lawsuit against the chief editor of the 
Kurdonia news agency regarding an article about the KDP's views towards 
the PKK and Kirkuk.
    Regarding prosecution for offending public morals, on February 1, 
KRG authorities used paragraph 372 of the 1969 penal code to arrest the 
editor in chief of Chavder, a Dohuk-based newspaper, and a journalist-
poet for publishing a poem that allegedly compared features of mosque 
architecture to parts of the human body. The authorities released the 
editor and journalist after 48 hours; however, the director general of 
(religious) endowments in Dohuk filed a lawsuit against them. On 
December 12, a Dohuk court fined both the editor and poet one million 
dinar ($860,000) each for publishing the poem.
    On April 2009 KRG minister for martyrs and victims of Anfal Chnar 
Sa'ad filed four defamation lawsuits against Jihan magazine editor in 
chief Nabaz Goran seeking damages of one billion dinars ($860,000) and 
imposition of a travel ban following an article reporting on the 
minister's two-month trip to London. On December 7, the court ruled on 
two of the cases and permanently blocked Goran from traveling abroad 
and, in a decision which Goran appealed, fined him seven million dinars 
($6,000). Government and party officials filed five other defamation 
lawsuits against Goran during the year.
    The KDP subsequently dropped all lawsuits as a gesture of goodwill 
to media and journalists.
    Libel remains a criminal offense in the Kurdistan region, and 
judges may issue pretrial arrest warrants for journalists on this 
basis. Journalists were sometimes imprisoned while police investigated 
the veracity of published information. When named in a lawsuit, 
journalists were typically detained at police stations and were not 
released until they posted bail. Police often kept journalists in 
custody during investigations.
    Journalists in the Kurdistan region asserted that they routinely 
encountered personal intimidation by KRG officials, security services, 
tribal elements, and business leaders. The KJS documented more than 300 
incidents (threats, suits, and attacks) in 2009. In a report that 
covered the period from July 1 to December 25, the KJS documented 52 
court subpoenas.
    On January 19, freelance journalist Sabah Ali Qaraman alleged that 
persons affiliated with the PUK tried to abduct him because of his 
articles criticizing alleged PUK corruption. On February 24, Hawlati, 
an independent Kurdish newspaper, printed a blank front page containing 
only the headline, ``You have the guns.and we have the pens'' in 
response to alleged abuse and attacks from the intelligence agency 
Asayish affiliated with the PUK. The newspaper linked the persecution 
with authorities trying to influence press coverage of the elections. 
Political parties owned or had significant influence over all but a few 
newspapers based in the region. According to the Office of the UN High 
Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), in April 2009 criticism of the 
ruling PUK and KDP in the Kurdish region resulted in intimidation, 
beatings, arrest and detention, and extrajudicial killings, with 
journalists particularly at risk.
    On May 4 in Erbil, men abducted and killed Sardasht Osman, a 
contributor to the independent newspaper Ashtiname and news Web sites 
Sbei, Awene, Hawlati, and Lvinpress, who was known for his articles 
alleging nepotism and corruption in the leadership of the Kurdistan 
region, including President Massoud Barzani. In the month preceding his 
killing, Osman had written an article appearing in the Sweden-based 
Kurdistan Post that accused a high-ranking official of corruption. His 
body was found the next day 50 miles away in Mosul; he had been shot in 
the head. Even though the Kurdistan Regional Government officially 
condemned the crime and launched an investigation, many persons 
protested the killing, suspecting that Osman had been silenced by the 
leadership he criticized in his articles. After launching an 
investigation, Kurdish authorities in September issued a 430-word 
report claiming that Osman had been killed by a member of Ansar al-
Islam, a Sunni terrorist group, for not carrying out work he had 
promised to do. The report provided no evidence for the assertion. The 
Committee to Protect Journalists and other press groups said the report 
lacked credibility.

    Internet Freedom.--There were no government restrictions on access 
to the Internet or reports that the Government monitored e-mail or 
Internet chat rooms. According to International Telecommunications 
Union June data, there were an estimated 325,000 (1.1 percent of the 
population) Internet users. Individuals and groups could engage in the 
peaceful expression of views via the Internet, including e-mail. Direct 
Internet access was generally low due to a lack of infrastructure in 
homes; however, the prevalence of Internet cafes contributed to usage 
among youth.
    In January the Babylon City Council referred to investigators a 
media employee at the council after he published on a Web site the 
proceedings from an open, public council meeting. The JFO reported that 
the council claimed the media report could hurt the reputations of 
members planning to run for parliament seats.

    Academic Freedom and Cultural Events.--Social, religious, and 
political pressures restricted the exercise of freedom of choice in 
academic and cultural matters. In all regions, various groups 
reportedly sought to control the pursuit of formal education and 
granting of academic positions. During the year extremists and 
terrorists targeted cultural figures. In the central and southern parts 
of the country, there were a number of reports of threats by extremists 
and sectarian militants against schools and universities, urging them 
to modify activities, favor certain students, or face violence. 
Educational institutions at times complied with the threats, and 
academics practiced self-censorship to comply with them.
    There was a report of a government attempt to restrict academic 
freedom. On December 7, Al-Arabiya television reported that the 
Ministry of Education banned theater and music classes in Baghdad's 
Fine Arts Institute and ordered the removal of statues at the 
institute's entrance, all of which the ministry denied. The ministry 
said it closed the music and theater department but that the subjects 
were still being taught. The Education Ministry did not provide a 
reason for its actions, although the demonstrating students and 
professors speculated that religious reasons were behind the actions. 
At year's end, the subjects continued to be taught at the school.
    Unlike in 2009, there was one report of a government effort to 
restrict a cultural event for political reasons. On October 1, the 
deputy governor of Babil Province banned music and dance, ostensibly in 
observance of the birthday of Shia Islam's sixth imam, Jaafar ibn 
Muhammad al-Sadiq. Media sources, however, suggested political motives 
behind the deputy governor's action, which effectively cancelled the 
Ministry of Culture's Babylon Festival.
    Other parts of this report contain related information (see 
sections 1.b. and 1.d.).

    b. Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association.--Freedom of 
Assembly.--The constitution provides for freedom of assembly and 
peaceful demonstration, and the Government generally respected this 
right in practice, although there were reports of abusive practices 
against protesters.
    The Government refused permits for demonstrations on electricity 
shortages in the summer and also intimidated, arrested, and used 
excessive force against protesters. On June 19, police in Basra killed 
two persons when it opened fire on demonstrators demanding more 
electricity and the resignation of the electricity minister. Following 
the incident, police used more traditional nonlethal means to disperse 
violent protests, such as water cannons during an August 22 electricity 
protest in Nasiriyah.
    On November 3, the Iraqi Kurdistan Parliament approved a new law, 
which the KRG president approved in early December, designed to 
regulate demonstrations throughout the region. The law mandates that 
protestors obtain permission in advance before demonstrating and that 
the local authority has the right to deny the request. Civil society 
and opposition parties opposed the law, believing the authorities would 
use the requirement to limit their freedom of assembly. There were 
demonstrations, both authorized and unauthorized, against the law, all 
without incident. There were no reports that KRG security forces killed 
or detained demonstrators protesting government acts.

    Freedom of Association.--The constitution provides for the right to 
form and join associations and political parties and specifically 
mandates that this right be regulated by law. The Government generally 
respected this right in practice, except for the legal prohibition on 
expressing support for the Ba'ath Party.

    c. Freedom of Religion.--For a complete description of religious 
freedom, please see the 2010 International Religious Freedom Report at 

    d. Freedom of Movement, Internally Displaced Persons, Protection of 
Refugees, and Stateless Persons.--The constitution provides for freedom 
of movement in all parts of the country and the right to travel abroad 
and return freely. The Government generally respected these rights. 
There were some limitations in practice, particularly regarding travel 
into and residence in the Kurdistan region, but the KRG allowed 
Christian families displaced from Baghdad to Erbil to enter without 
restriction. Approximately 1,400 Christian families moved from Baghdad 
to Erbil and from Mosul to the Ninewa Plains seeking better security in 
the months following the bombing of a church in Baghdad on October 31. 
Restrictions by provinces on the entry of new internally displaced 
persons (IDPs) had little impact because there was little new 
displacement during the year.
    The Government generally cooperated with the UNHCR, the 
International Organization for Migration, and other humanitarian 
organizations in providing protection and assistance to IDPs, refugees, 
returning refugees, asylum seekers, stateless persons, and other 
persons of concern, although effective systems to assist these 
individuals were not fully established by year's end. For example, some 
IDPs were unable to access the public distribution system in the 
governorate to which they were displaced. In some instances the World 
Food Program and the ICRC delivered food rations to these IDPs.
    Under the state of emergency, the prime minister can restrict 
movement pursuant to a warrant, impose a curfew, cordon off and search 
an area, and take other necessary security and military measures (in 
the Kurdistan region, only in coordination with the KRG). In practice 
the security authorities have recourse to the same powers in response 
to security threats and attacks. The security forces tended not to 
abuse these powers since they were unpopular with residents.
    There are no KRG laws that restrict movement across the areas 
administered by the KRG, but due to security procedures in practice 
movement was restricted. Citizens (of any ethnicity, including Kurds) 
crossing into the region from the south were obliged to stop at 
checkpoints, undergo personal and vehicle inspection, and receive 
permission to proceed. Officials prevented individuals from entering 
into the region if deemed a security threat. Entry for male Arabs was 
reportedly more difficult than for others. The officer in charge at the 
checkpoint was empowered to decline entry into the region.
    To accommodate increasing numbers of summer and holiday visitors, 
the KRG security authorities worked out agreements with other provinces 
whereby tourist agencies submitted names of visitors in advance for 
preclearance. Visitors must show where they are lodging and how long 
they intend to stay.
    The MOI Passport Office maintained a policy of requiring women to 
obtain the approval of a close male relative before receiving a 
passport. In the KRG, unlike in the rest of the country, women over the 
age of 18 obtained passports without such approval.
    The constitution expressly prohibits forced exile of all native-
born citizens. The injunction also applies to naturalized citizens, 
unless a judicial decision establishes that the naturalized citizen was 
granted citizenship on the basis of material falsifications. Forced 
exile did not occur.
    There were no known government restrictions on emigration. There 
were few reports of citizens having difficulty obtaining passports. 
Exit permits were required for citizens leaving the country, but the 
requirement was not enforced.
    Members of the Mujahedin-e-Khalq (MEK), a terrorist organization, 
who were invited to the country under the Saddam Hussein regime and who 
are not considered refugees, stateless persons, or IDPs, reported 
allegations during the year that MEK leaders attempted to prevent 
defection of some of the 3,400 residents at the MEK's Camp Ashraf in 
Diyala Province, under threat of reprisal. MEK leaders denied such 
allegations. In the past individuals claimed to have been subjected to 
psychological and physical abuse, including threats of reprisal against 
family members and solitary confinement in Ashraf, to discourage 
    The Government, which assumed security responsibility for Ashraf in 
January 2009, engaged in provocative acts against MEK residents. Such 
acts included the placement of high-powered loudspeakers that broadcast 
anti-MEK propaganda and refusal of entry for some consumer and 
industrial goods. In response MEK residents conducted provocative 
protests of their own, which reflected the continuing contentious 
relations between the MEK and the Government. There were numerous 
protests and reaction throughout the year.

    Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs).--The Government officially 
estimated at year's end that there were 2.56 million IDPs, including 
166,664 post-2003 IDPs present in the KRG. An estimated 1.3 million 
were displaced following sectarian violence that began in 2006, 
approximately 200,000 were displaced between 2003 and 2005, and 
approximately a million were displaced prior to 2003, according to the 
UNHCR. The official government estimate was revised down toward the end 
of the year to reflect both IDP returns and clarifications in the 
    The majority of those displaced pre-2003 were moved under the prior 
regime's policy of Arabization; many of them had returned to their 
areas of origin but were included in the displaced population because 
they were unable to regain their original property and residences. Both 
Arabs and Kurds displaced in this way had access to compensation under 
a process outlined in article 58 of the Transitional Administration 
Law, which was further confirmed in article 140 of the constitution. A 
structure to implement this process was in place, albeit moving at a 
very slow pace.
    Throughout the country most IDPs occupied abandoned buildings, 
public buildings, or homes other displaced families had abandoned. 
Approximately 500,000 lived in ad hoc ``clusters'' or settlements 
located throughout the country with limited water, sanitation, and 
electricity. The UNHCR identified 116 settlements in Baghdad, with an 
estimated 226,118 residents. Other IDPs rented homes at increasingly 
high cost or lived with friends or family members. Lack of registration 
limited IDPs' access to basic services and legal documentation to 
receive food rations from the public distribution system.
    Hygiene and sanitation for IDPs were generally better in the KRG 
than in other areas, but education, livelihoods, and other concerns 
remained critical. Kurds whose villages were destroyed during the Iran-
Iraq war remained without adequate housing. In October the 
representative of the UN secretary general on the human rights of 
internally displaced persons called on the KRG to assist those IDPs who 
have no access to education, shelter, and health care. Access to 
education was a particular challenge for Arabic-speaking IDPs in the 
KRG. In Kirkuk the representative reported that IDPs had been targets 
of harassment and detention, particularly during the run-up to the 
anticipated census exercise.
    Targeted attacks and threats against Christians in Baghdad, Mosul, 
and other cities resulted in the displacement of 1,380 Christian 
families to the KRG and Ninewa Plains by year's end. According to the 
UNHCR, more than half of the Christian population has left the country 
since 2003 and Christian families are disproportionately represented in 
the Iraqi refugee population.
    Overall, only a small number of the country's displaced persons had 
returned to their places of origin. A significant number of IDPs, 
420,000, and a smaller number of refugees, nearly 80,000, moved back to 
their places of origin, particularly in Baghdad and Diyala provinces, 
during the period 2008-09.
    During the year there was a significant decline in both IDP and 
refugee returns; by the end of October, IDP and refugee return levels 
were only 51 percent of returns in 2009. The UNHCR reported that 61 
percent of refugees surveyed who returned to Baghdad in the past four 
years regretted their return because of terrorism and insecurity, and 
87 percent of the total number interviewed said their income was 
insufficient to cover their family needs. (The UNHCR does not promote 
refugee returns because of insecurity.) Returning refugees also 
expressed concerns regarding insufficient health care, poor educational 
opportunities, and housing shortages. Of those returning, 77 percent of 
refugees did not return to their original residences because of 
insecurity or a fear of being targeted. Others reported it was not 
possible to return because their homes were damaged or occupied by 
    There is a legal and administrative process for restitution of 
property and eviction of squatters, along with a system of grants and 
stipends for returnees and evictees. The Government offered stipends of 
1.5 million dinars ($1,290) to returning families who deregistered as 
IDPs or refugees. As of mid-November, according to the Ministry of 
Displacement and Migration (MoDM), 52,967 families had received the 
grant and another 3,856 claims were in process. There were six returnee 
assistance centers, although one Baghdad center was inoperable for a 
period of several months beginning in April due to lack of MoDM 
support. In general the IDP housing assistance program was burdensome 
bureaucratically and did not produce satisfactory results.
    Prime Minister's Order 440 from mid-2008, which authorized eviction 
of IDPs from government buildings, was again not implemented. This stay 
expired in mid-year, and evictions rose during the second half of the 
year. During the period May to December, 18 verbal and eight written 
eviction orders were delivered to IDP settlements in Baghdad; the IDP 
communities of Al Ameen and Air Force Camp were evicted. In November, 
2,000 IDP families were evicted in Hillah. Two hundred IDP families 
were evicted from Furat, and, according to Karbala provincial council 
officials, 34 IDP settlements in the province were put under eviction 
orders in May. Some communities were able to negotiate with authorities 
to postpone their evictions. Communities particularly at risk included 
those living in abandoned public buildings that the relevant ministry 
wanted to reclaim and those living near oil pipelines. In some 
provinces those evicted were provided with land grants in alternate 
locations, but in many cases evictions took place without viable 
    The Government has no comprehensive policy for undoing sectarian 
cleansing, but it encouraged returns to secure areas where violence had 
occurred previously. The Government promised to provide essential 
services to support returnees in Baghdad and Diyala provinces upon 
their return home; however, delivery on these promises has remained 
largely unfulfilled. Many humanitarian organizations and Sunni leaders 
cited the lack of steps to reverse the worst of sectarian cleansing, 
claiming that the Government wished to discourage Sunni Arab refugees 
and IDPs from returning. Government officials vigorously denied these 
charges. In its view practical obstacles often discouraged greater 
numbers of returns. For example, the Government's property restitution 
policy depended on individual requests for restitution from property 
owners, and these requests often became bogged down in an overburdened 
legal system. Many property owners did not file claims due to fears of 
retribution from those evicted. In addition, the restitution system was 
unduly complex to navigate.
    A 2008 national policy to address displacement led to some positive 
measures for the displaced, including property restitution, but a plan 
for a durable solution remained to be agreed upon at year's end. On 
September 29, during his visit the representative of the secretary 
general for the human rights of IDPs urged the Government, as well as 
the international community, to make stronger efforts to meet the human 
rights, humanitarian, and longer-term development needs of IDPs in 
accordance with international human rights standards.
    The Government, through the MoDM, allowed IDPs access to domestic 
and international humanitarian organizations, collected information 
about IDPs, and provided some protection and assistance in the form of 
humanitarian supplies. The Government did not target IDPs or forcibly 
return them under dangerous conditions.

    Protection of Refugees.--The country is not a party to the 1951 UN 
Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and its 1967 Protocol. 
Its laws do not provide for the granting of asylum or refugee status, 
and the Government has not established a system for providing 
protection to refugees. In practice the Government provided protection 
against the expulsion or return of persons to countries where their 
lives or freedom would be threatened on account of their race, 
religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or 
political opinion.
    The Government generally cooperated with the UNHCR and other 
humanitarian organizations to provide protection and assistance to the 
approximately 40,000 refugees living in the country. Reports of attacks 
and arrests of refugees in the central and southern parts of the 
country declined during the year, although they continued to be 
targeted periodically in attacks by sectarian groups, extremists, and 
    Generally, refugee groups of Turkish and Iranian Kurds in the KRG 
achieved a high level of integration. For the majority of the 7,825 
Iranian Kurds whom the UNHCR registered as refugees in the north, local 
integration remained the best and most likely option. Refugee groups in 
central and southern regions, particularly refugees who were perceived 
to have been privileged by the former regime, such as Palestinians, 
Ahwazis in the south, and Syrian Arabs in Baghdad and Mosul, had less 
chance of integration and continued to face discrimination and require 
    The Government began a registration of the 15,626 UNHCR-recognized 
Kurdish refugees from Turkey in November, most of whom had resided 
since 1998 in a UNHCR-administered camp in Makhmour, Erbil Province. 
The registration included the issuance of an identification card that 
provided greater mobility, employment opportunities, and access to 
civil documentation. It was hoped that the registration would lead to 
greater possibility for voluntary return and de facto local integration 
for the group.
    According to the UNHCR, general violence in the central region and 
targeted attacks against Palestinians decreased. Notwithstanding 
improvements in security, Palestinian refugees continued to experience 
a deep level of uncertainty with regard to their place within the 
fabric of society. Economic challenges placed Palestinian refugees in 
the lowest socioeconomic rankings; their declining economic situation 
was in part attributable to a loss of employment opportunities due to 
discrimination. The UNHCR reported that it worked with the MoDM to 
provide identification cards to the 11,500 Palestinians remaining in 
the country. The MOI, in coordination with the UNHCR, issued 
approximately 10,000 identification cards to Palestinians, and 
approximately 2,000 more were in process at year's end. The cards 
facilitate increased mobility within Iraq by the Palestinians.

    Stateless Persons.--The UNHCR estimated the total number of 
stateless persons in the country as less than 120,000, most of whom had 
already commenced the process of reacquiring nationality. The MOI 
Nationality Department anticipated resolving all such cases over the 
course of the next two years. Since 2003 more than 25,000 persons have 
regained their nationality, 4,000 of them during the year, in 
accordance with articles 17 and 18 of the nationality law of 2006. 
However, approximately 54,500 Bidoun (literally ``without 
nationality'') individuals living as nomads in the desert near Basra, 
Thi-Qar, and Samawa southern governorates remained stateless at year's 
end. In the north an estimated 560 stateless Syrian Kurds were 
registered as asylum seekers.

Section 3. Respect for Political Rights: The Right of Citizens to 
        Change Their Government
    The constitution provides for the right of citizens to change their 
government peacefully, and citizens exercised this right through 
periodic, free, and fair elections based on universal suffrage.

    Elections and Political Participation.--In March 7 parliamentary 
elections, nearly 12 million votes were cast, drawing from a pool of 
more than 18.9 million registered voters. The majority Sunni Iraqi 
National Movement (known popularly as Iraqiyya), led by former prime 
minister Ayad Allawi, won a plurality with 91 seats in the 325-member 
body. Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki's largely Shia State of Law 
Coalition was close behind with 89 seats, while the Iraqi National 
Alliance and Kurdistan Alliance followed with 70 and 57 seats, 
respectively, with the Kurdistan Alliance retaining 47 seats after the 
Goran party left the alliance in November. Small minority blocs and 
independent candidates won the remainder of the seats. International 
observer missions and indigenous observer networks declared the 
elections free from widespread or systemic fraud.
    The IHEC announced preliminary election results on March 27, based 
on 100 percent of the vote tabulation and resolution of approximately 
200 complaints. The Federal Supreme Court certified the election 
results on June 1. Following the procedural calendar requirements, the 
new COR convened on June 14 but adjourned less than 20 minutes later to 
allow political blocs more time to negotiate the formation of a 
government. Following eight months of negotiations, the COR finally 
reconvened on November 11 and elected a speaker and deputy speakers. On 
November 25, President Talabani charged Maliki with forming a new 
government. The COR gave unanimous approval to this new government on 
December 21.
    The number of votes cast exceeded that in the 2005 COR elections by 
100,000; the turnout of registered voters was 62 percent compared with 
76 percent in 2005, attributable in large part to the much higher 
number of registered voters that resulted from concerted voter 
registration campaigns by IHEC, political parties, and civil society 
organizations. IHEC instituted antifraud measures and procedures to 
handle complaints in compliance with an April 19 order issued by the 
Electoral Judicial Panel. The results of the Baghdad recount closely 
mirrored the original tally, dispelling lingering concerns about 
electoral irregularities.
    A series of terrorist bombings, most targeting Sunni and Iraqiyya 
candidates but also Assyrians and Christians, marred the final three 
weeks of the election campaign. On election day, 42 persons were killed 
and 110 wounded in attacks in Baghdad, while several more were killed 
or injured in other cities around the country. According to reports, 
228 persons died in election-related violence during the three-week 
campaign period prior to March 7, while another 178 were killed in 
postelection violence before official results were announced on March 
27. Levels of violence were considerably lower than in the 2005 
national elections.
    IHEC, with nine COR-appointed commissioners, had sole 
responsibility for administering the elections, including the 49,640 
official polling stations. IHEC welcomed strong civil society 
participation and technical assistance and observers from other 
countries and international organizations. IHEC credentialed 114,500 
domestic monitors from more than 492 national monitoring organizations, 
657 observers from 35 international organizations, and 476,366 
representatives of political entities.
    Political parties and candidates had the right to propose 
themselves or be nominated by other groups, including the innovation of 
a select number of political parties holding primaries to develop their 
respective slates. The Government did not restrict political opponents, 
nor did it interfere with their right to organize, seek votes, or 
publicize their views, apart from the legal prohibition on supporting 
the Ba'ath Party.
    A number of candidates were disqualified. The 2008 Accountability 
and Justice (de-Ba'athification) Law prevented active Ba'athists and 
high-level former Ba'athists from running for elected office. On 
January 14, the Accountability and Justice Commission (AJC) 
disqualified approximately 500 candidates due to alleged Ba'ath Party 
ties. Sixty-three candidates were later reinstated under the auspices 
of an ad hoc COR committee. Approximately half of the remaining 
disqualifications affected secular nationalists including those from 
the Iraqiyya bloc. Sunni parties with affected slates could voluntarily 
name replacement candidates. Candidates on the disqualified list could 
avail themselves of an appeals process through a special cassation 
chamber empowered to review AJC decisions.
    Because the cassation chamber could not complete its review of 210 
appeals prior to the deadline for ballot printing, it issued a legal 
opinion on February 3 allowing candidates who formally appealed to run 
in the March election, with the proviso that candidates who won seats 
during their appeal would be subject to postelection vetting. 
Ultimately the cassation chamber completed its vetting process prior to 
the elections, reinstating 26 candidates.
    The country's political parties tended to be organized along either 
religious or ethnic lines. Shia Islamist parties, such as the Islamic 
Supreme Council of Iraq, al-Dawa al-Islamiyya Party, and Sadrist Trend, 
as well as Kurdish nationalist parties such as the KDP and PUK, were 
the predominant political forces. Other political players included the 
secular Iraqiyya, Sunni Iraqi Islamic Party, and ethnic minority 
parties, such as the Assyrian Democratic Movement. Membership in some 
political parties conferred special privileges and advantages in 
employment and education. The KDP and PUK reportedly give preference in 
government employment to their respective members. In all, 160 regular 
parties, 36 independents, and 10 minority parties and candidates 
participated in the elections. In the month prior to the elections, the 
five major political party coalitions signed an electoral code of 
conduct pledging to refrain from inciting sectarian or ethnic tensions 
and promising to accept the results of the election.
    The 2009 election law calls for an open list election in multiple 
districts. The open list measure contributed to enhanced transparency 
of electoral politics and accountability of elected officials, but it 
created additional challenges for voter education, ballot design, and 
related electoral preparations necessitating a postponement from a 
January 21 to March 7 polling day for most voters. Polling procedures 
included special voting periods for security personnel as well as 
citizens who were hospitalized and incarcerated. The law expanded the 
number of seats in the parliament from 275 to 325. Of those seats, the 
law reserves eight compensatory seats for minorities: five for 
Christian candidates from Baghdad, Ninewa, Kirkuk, Erbil, and Dohuk; 
one Yazidi representing Ninewa; one Sabean-Mandaean representing 
Baghdad; and one Shabak representing Ninewa. The law also harmonized 
language defining internally displaced persons and opened the process 
to out-of-country voting for refugees and citizens abroad.
    The constitution mandates that female members of parliament 
constitute 25 percent of the COR. There were 81 women elected to the 
COR, including candidates elected through the open list system. In the 
previous COR, women chaired two of the 24 standing committees. In the 
previous government, there were five female ministers of 37 in the 
cabinet: the ministers of state for women's affairs and for provincial 
affairs, and the ministers of human rights, environment, and housing 
and construction. Three cabinet members were from religious and ethnic 
minority groups: the minister of human rights, the minister of industry 
and minerals, and the minister of youth and sports. In the current 
government, there were two female ministers of 44 in the cabinet 
(minister of state for women's affairs and minister of state without 
portfolio), and three cabinet members from religious and ethnic 
minority groups: minister of environment, minister of youth and sports, 
and minister of state for provincial affairs. In the current COR, there 
were two women chairing a standing committee.
    The KRG had planned provincial elections for November for the 
provincial councils in Sulaymaniyah, Erbil, and Dohuk, but the KRG 
postponed the elections. At year's end, the Kurdish parliament had not 
set a new date for the elections. Press reports suggested that the KRG 
postponed the elections in order to avoid anticipated electoral losses 
by the PUK party in Sulaymaniyah, where the opposition Goran party was 
expected to gain electoral votes.

Section 4. Official Corruption and Government Transparency
    Although the law provides criminal penalties for official 
corruption, the Government did not implement the law effectively. 
Large-scale corruption pervaded the Government, and public perception 
of government corruption and impunity continued to be strong. 
Intimidation and political influence were factors in some allegations 
of corruption, and officials sometimes used the ``de-Ba'athification'' 
process to pursue political and personal agendas. The World Bank's 
worldwide governance indicators reflected that corruption was a serious 
problem. In July the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, the 
United Nations Development Program, and the Central Organization for 
Statistics and Technology within the Ministry of Planning and 
Cooperation Development released a report on the working conditions and 
integrity of civil servants within four ministries. Among the findings, 
24 percent of the staff that had daily contacts with private business 
within the Ministry of Trade received at least one bribe offer, and 72 
percent of all civil servants would not feel adequately protected if 
they reported corruption within their ministries, of whom 73 percent 
would not feel adequately protected from physical harm. Government 
anticorruption officials and the media consistently commented on the 
pervasive corruption in society.
    During the first six months of the year, prosecution of corruption 
cases increased, but officials combating corruption faced persistent 
political, social, and capacity restraints. They also faced physical 
threats and attacks. One inspector general reported that those involved 
in investigating corruption ``are facing serious risks without personal 
security details and other protective measures to do their jobs and 
stay alive at the same time.'' On September 26, Laieh Muhammed, who 
executed arrest warrants for the Commission on Integrity (COI), was 
killed on his way to work at a checkpoint into the International Zone. 
He was the second COI employee killed by a silenced pistol. According 
to the COI, 40 personnel had been murdered in the line of duty since 
2004. Credible information on the nature and extent of corruption in 
the judiciary was lacking, but such corruption was widely believed to 
    Anticorruption institutions were fragmented, and their interaction 
was hampered by a lack of consensus about their role, partly due to a 
lack of effective legislation as well as to insufficient political will 
to eliminate widespread corruption. Lack of accountability continued to 
be widespread, reinforced by several statutory provisions, unclear 
regulatory processes, and limited transparency.
    The law does not provide public access to government information 
for citizens or noncitizens, including foreign media. Certain 
government officials, such as ministers, governors, and 
parliamentarians, are required by law to file financial disclosure 
reports, but the Government did not enforce the requirement. The COI 
reported that only 24 percent of new COR members had complied with the 
law,while 76 percent of former (pre-March 7 elections) COR members had 
complied. Ten of the 18 provincial governors had complied. The Council 
of Ministers had a 100 percent response rate.
    The COI, established in 2004 as the Commission on Public Integrity, 
is the Government body charged with preventing and investigating cases 
of corruption in all ministries and other components of the Government 
nationwide (except for the KRG). The COI, with a staff of approximately 
1,300, reports to the commissioner of integrity, and the COR and has 
the authority to refer cases to the judicial investigators for possible 
criminal prosecution. The commissioner was appointed by the prime 
minister in 2007. He has never been confirmed by the COR and was 
therefore subject to replacement at the prime minister's discretion. 
The same was true of most investigators general (IG).
    According to a prime ministerial order, the COI does not initiate 
cases and has instructed the ministerial IGs to perform all initial 
investigations. Although the order remains in effect with the IGs 
initiating 95 percent of all investigations, the COI initiated several 
high-profile investigations with the knowledge of the Prime Minister's 
Office. Each ministry has an IG charged with performing audits, 
inspections, and investigations to reduce fraud, waste, and corruption. 
In practice this order placed the ministers in control of any 
investigation of corruption within their own ministry and permitted 
them to halt corruption proceedings against their employees. There were 
documented instances where the ministers have ordered major corruption 
investigations to be dropped. As in previous years, ministries 
effectively stalled investigations by failing to provide information or 
not complying with requests for officials to appear in court.
    The prime minister's approval is required before corruption cases 
proceed against members of the presidency or the Council of Ministers. 
Information on specific instances of the prime minister and ministers 
using these tactics during the year was not available. Judicial 
authorities reported that the practice constituted a significant 
obstacle to the prosecution of corruption cases.
    Under a section of the criminal code (136[b]), prosecutors must 
receive permission from the relevant minister before an official can be 
brought to trial for an offense related to official duties. In 2009, 54 
persons were shielded from prosecution by the use of the provision. In 
the first half of the year, ministers halted 96 investigations. The 
threat of invoking 136[b] or failing to provide information was usually 
effective in stopping investigations. For example, the interior 
minister terminated an investigation into the ministry's purchase of 
fraudulent bomb detectors from a British company, although the 
ministry's IG determined that 75 percent of the contract value was 
given to government officials in bribes.
    While the COI remained undeveloped as an institution, especially in 
the provinces, it steadily increased the number of corruption-related 
arrests. For the first six months of the year, 982 cases were sent to 
court, compared with 972 during 2009. For the first six months of the 
year, there were 181 convictions, compared with 285 in 2009. According 
to the COI, by October 31, approximately 2,300 defendants were referred 
to the courts during the year, resulting in 600 individuals receiving 
jail sentences. An estimated 10 percent of the persons convicted were 
government officials with the rank of general director or higher. The 
Ministry of Defense had the largest number of employees referred to the 
judicial system, followed by the Ministry of Interior and Ministry of 
Municipalities. On May 30, the COI arrested three state-owned bank 
managers and issued arrest warrants for four merchants and an owner of 
an Iraqi company for using government funds to fund a private business.
    The addition to the ministry IGs and the IGs for the municipality 
of Baghdad, the Property Resolution Commission, the Hajj and Umrah 
Pilgrimage Commission, the Commission of Political Prisoners, and the 
country's multiple religious endowments, and the Board of Supreme 
Audits (BSA), which is the country's oldest anticorruption agency, 
perform external audits of government ministries and agencies. The BSA 
also audits the offices of the prime minister, the Presidency Council, 
and the presidency of the COR, as well as expenses claimed by members 
of the COR.
    Aside from the core institutions of the COI, the inspector general, 
and the audit board, the COR maintains an Integrity Committee charged 
with oversight of executive branch and anticorruption agencies. By 
executive order the prime minister created the Joint Anticorruption 
Council in 2007 to integrate anticorruption initiatives; it includes 
representatives of the COI, IGs, the BSA, COR's Integrity Committee, 
and the Higher Judicial Council and is chaired by the Council of 
Ministers secretary general.
    The media and NGOs continued to expose corruption, although their 
capacity to do so was limited.
    Published on March 24, the Government's Anticorruption Strategy for 
2010-14 identifies more than 200 specific anticorruption challenges, 
along with an action plan for addressing each. The Joint Anticorruption 
Council, with the COI acting as the lead, has responsibility for 
supervising compliance with the strategy, which also seeks 
participation from religious and community leaders, civil society 
representatives, and journalists. At the end of the year, 29 of the 34 
ministries had complied with the strategy's requirement to submit an 
anticorruption plan for COI review.
    In 2008 the KRG established a corruption committee, composed of 
government officials, to review levels of corruption and make 
recommendations on how to prevent corruption. The KRG contracted an 
international accounting firm to study KRG institutions and make 
recommendations on anticorruption measures. In July 2009 KRG Prime 
Minister Nechirvan Barzani announced the summary results of the 
accounting firm's report, including a recommended anticorruption 
strategy. In December, KRG parliamentarians established the Kurdistan 
Integrity Committee with the objective to create a centralized BSA and 
a Commission of Integrity in the KRG. As of year's end, the separate 
BSAs in Erbil and Suleymaniyah had yet to merge, and the Iraqi COI had 
not received permission to operate officially in the KRG.
    On April 21, former minister of trade Abd Falah al-Sudani was 
acquitted for lack of evidence on certain charges of corruption and 
mismanagement within his ministry which oversees the country's vast 
public food ration program. Sudani remained at large, and the 
Commission of Integrity continued to pursue other corruption charges 
against him at year's end, while others indicated an intent to repeal 
the acquittal. Al-Sudani resigned from his post in May 2009 and was 
then charged with corruption and arrested while fleeing the country. 
The court released al-Sudani's brother, Sabah al-Sudani, who was also 
arrested after he was stopped with 170 million dinars ($150,000) and 
attempted to bribe a police officer. Three Ministry of Trade officials 
involved in the case, including the director general of the Grain 
Import Board, were convicted of negligence; one received a two-year 
prison sentence, and the other two received one-year sentences.
    In November 2009 authorities discovered that the head of the 
Baghdad Amanat's Accounting Department and 13 other persons, several of 
them her relatives, had stolen more than 23 billion dinars ($20 
million). The authorities arrested the 13 suspects, but the department 
head fled the country. Government authorities worked in coordination 
with neighboring countries to arrest her on June 19 as well as recover 
a substantial portion of the stolen funds. The suspects remained in 
custody at year's end.
    As of year's end, the commissioner of integrity and several IGs 
lacked full authority because their names had not been submitted for 
parliamentary confirmation, as required by law.
    The constitution provides COR members immunity from arrest unless 
the member was caught in a criminal act or charged with a felony and 
the COR overturned immunity by a majority vote.
    The central government and the KRG maintained inflated public 
payrolls. Ministries and public sector institutions employed 
nonexistent ``ghost'' employees, and political patronage was common at 
all levels of government. Ministries were beginning to establish 
automated payroll deposits and conduct workplace audits with the BSA to 
cut back on ``ghost'' employees. Rates of absenteeism and desertion 
among the ISF continued to decrease. During the year in the KRG there 
were an estimated one million employees on the Government payroll of a 
total population of approximately 3.9 million.
    Political parties subjected the COI to a number of high-level 
attempts to influence prosecutions. Members of the legislature also 
reportedly attempted to pressure the court on numerous occasions.
    There were reports in all 18 provinces, at the national and 
regional levels, of opaque public tender processes, favoritism in 
contracting, and excessive discretion of public officials in 
procurement decisions.
    Corruption along the country's borders existed as well. A September 
22 media report detailed a security operation against trucks smuggling 
oil outside the country. The Government worked independently and with 
the international community to address structural and capacity issues 
in this area.
    Local and foreign business organizations in the KRG complained that 
the KRG did not publicly tender contracts in sufficient time to allow 
local business owners to compete, and that political and personal 
favoritism determined the results.
    Anticorruption, law enforcement, and judicial officials, along with 
members of civil society and the media, continued to face threats and 
intimidation for vigorous pursuit of corrupt practices.

Section 5. Governmental Attitude Regarding International and 
        Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations of Human 
    During the year the Government had a mixed record cooperating with 
NGOs. Although the Government expressed a willingness to cooperate with 
the UN and its agencies on human rights issues, as seen in its 
participation in the Universal Periodic Review, practical cooperation 
was limited, with the Government citing security restrictions. 
Government cooperation with NGOs was evident during the election, with 
tens of thousands of independent election observers deployed throughout 
the country.
    During the year activity and advocacy by the country's NGOs 
contributed to democratic governance. While domestic human rights NGOs 
remained affiliated with a political party or with a particular sect, 
space for independent NGOs was opening. Branches of international NGOs 
and NGOs serving women remained the most forward leaning. Overall, NGOs 
still faced numerous challenges and did not systematically serve as 
bulwarks against failures in governance and human rights abuses.
    On January 25, the Government passed a law on NGOs that was 
designed to facilitate NGO registration and operations while providing 
extra protections from onerous and arbitrary government actions. 
Provisions in the new law included the following: NGOs are permitted to 
receive foreign funding and affiliate with foreign entities (including 
the UN and ICRC, for example) without prior approval from the 
Government; the Government cannot deny NGO registration without 
attributing the denial to a specific provision of law; criminal 
penalties (including imprisonment) were removed for membership in an 
improperly registered NGO; the Government can only audit or inspect an 
NGO office with cause; and the Government must obtain a court order to 
suspend an NGO or confiscate its property. The new law became effective 
on April 7. The Council of Ministers Secretariat NGO Assistance Office 
was in the process of implementing regulations consistent with the new 
law. One office in the country located in Baghdad accepted 
registrations for NGOs.
    During the year there were reports that the police conducted 
unannounced and intimidating visits to some NGOs, demanding 
photographs, passport details, names, and addresses of all staff and 
their family members. NGOs reported that the new law aimed to remedy 
this situation.
    The poor security situation continued to limit the work of NGOs. On 
January 18, gunmen killed five persons of a domestic humanitarian NGO 
in its Baghdad office and afterwards detonated a car bomb, wounding two 
police responders. However, such direct attacks specifically aimed at 
NGOs remained rare. The Government did not take special steps to 
protect NGOs from targeting or harassment.
    The Kurdish areas had an active NGO community, although local 
Kurdish NGOs generally were closely linked to and funded by the PUK and 
KDP political parties. The KRG and Kurdish political parties generally 
supported humanitarian NGO activities and programs.
    The central government's attitude toward international human rights 
and humanitarian NGOs was one of moderate cooperation. The Government 
did not mandate additional registration requirements for international 
human rights and humanitarian NGOs outside visa requirements for 
international staff. Information was not available regarding the 
existence of any government efforts to refuse visas for international 
NGO staff or restrict access into the country. Due to security concerns 
and the costs of addressing those concerns, many international NGOs 
established offices in Erbil in the KRG and then hired local staff for 
activities outside the KRG.
    The Government generally cooperated with the UN Assistance Mission 
for Iraq (UNAMI) and the international governmental organizations 
associated with it. For example, Security Council Resolution 1883 
(2009) mandated the UNAMI to advise, support, and assist the Government 
and IHEC with the March 7 COR elections, which international observer 
missions and Iraqi observer networks declared were free from widespread 
or systemic fraud. The Government permitted visits by various UN 
representatives of all levels; for example, by the UN representative of 
the secretary general on the human rights of internally displaced 
persons, Walter Kalin, in late September and the UN secretary general's 
high-level coordinator who handles Iraq-Kuwait issues, Ambassador 
Gennady Tarasov. UNAMI and its affiliated organizations regularly 
release reports on a wide range of issues. There have been no reports 
of any government efforts to block release or distribution of UNAMI 
    In 2008 the Government signed a headquarters agreement with the 
ICRC, granting it legal status and permanent representation in the 
country. The COR had not ratified the agreement by year's end, but the 
ICRC benefited nonetheless from its provisions.
    All nongovernmental investigations of alleged human rights 
violations continued to be restricted. The Government attributed 
restrictions to the security situation and its policy of allowing only 
the MOHR and the ICRC restricted access to detention facilities. The 
Government generally did not permit detention center or prison visits 
by NGOs. The MOHR met with domestic NGO monitors and responded to their 
inquiries by opening MOHR investigations into alleged violations. In 
2009 the MOHR also initiated a program to train representatives of 32 
domestic NGOs to visit and monitor prison conditions.
    The MOHR attempted to monitor human rights abuses and advocate for 
and assist victims, and it issued public reports on prisons and 
detention centers, minorities, and victims of terrorism. Limited 
resources and poor cooperation from other ministries limited the 
ministry's effectiveness. The effectiveness of KRG human rights 
authorities was limited by a lack of trained personnel and effective 
follow-up throughout the Government on human rights issues.
    In 2008 the COR's Committee on Human Rights passed legislation 
establishing an Independent High Commission on Human Rights. In 
December 2009 a Committee of Experts to select the commission's 
directors was formed, but the COR had not ratified its membership at 
year's end. The Government had not contributed any funds, and support 
from the international donor community was limited. The COR committee 
advocated publicly for raising standards in government detention 
facilities and prisons, and credible human rights organizations 
considered that to be valuable. The KRG's legislature formed a special 
committee to deal with human rights and detainee issues, but did not 
issue any public reports.

Section 6. Discrimination, Societal Abuses, and Trafficking in Persons
    The constitution provides that all citizens are equal before the 
law without regard to gender, sect, opinion, belief, nationality, 
religion, or origin. The law prohibits discrimination on the basis of 
race, disability, or social status. The Government did not effectively 
enforce these provisions.

    Women.--The constitution provides for equal treatment before the 
law without discrimination based on gender; in practice, discrimination 
existed, and enforcement of equal treatment was uneven. The general 
lack of security in the country and increasingly conservative societal 
tendencies had a serious negative impact on women.
    The penal code criminalizes rape, does not address spousal rape, 
and permits a maximum sentence of life imprisonment for rapists. There 
was no reliable estimate of the incidence of rape or the effectiveness 
of government enforcement of the law.
    The constitution prohibits all forms of violence and abuse in the 
family, school, and society. Local NGOs and media reporting indicated 
that domestic violence often went unreported and unpunished with abuses 
customarily addressed within the family and tribal structure. 
Harassment of legal personnel working on domestic violence cases, as 
well as a lack of police and judicial personnel, further hampered 
efforts to bring perpetrators to justice.
    There are no specific laws that concern domestic violence. Under 
the penal code, a husband is legally entitled to punish his wife 
``within certain limits prescribed by law or custom.'' Existing laws 
were widely unenforced, including those on domestic violence.
    During the year NGOs reported that domestic violence against women 
remained a serious problem, although no reliable statistics existed.
    Domestic violence was also widespread in the Kurdistan region, 
including beatings, shootings, and burnings. Women have an unequal role 
in the family and in the social structure of the region. Although 
technology has made it easier for women to contact others outside their 
immediate family, this has led to sometimes violent disputes over who a 
woman can talk to or what she can do outside the home. For the first 
eight months of 2009, the domestic NGO Human Rights Data Bank recorded 
363 incidents of battery against women, 295 reported threats, 40 
murders, and 32 sexual assaults in the KRG.
    Honor killings remained a serious problem. Legislation in force 
permits honor considerations to mitigate sentences.
    According to a 2009 UNHCR report, honor killings were prevalent in 
all parts of the country. For the first nine months of 2009, the 
domestic NGO Human Rights Data Bank recorded 314 burn victims (125 
instances of self-immolation and 189 cases of burning), compared with 
234 burn victim during the same period in 2008.
    A KRG human rights official reported in 2008 that the KRG does not 
consider an honor killing legally different from murder, thus making 
punishment for an honor killing equal to punishment for murder. The 
nature of the crime made it difficult for authorities to find 
sufficient evidence to prosecute cases. KRG human rights authorities 
reported that 117 women died in honor killings in 2008; the KRG 
reported a total of 528 honor killings in 2009. UNAMI and civil society 
observers considered both figures to be low. KRG human rights 
authorities and the KRG's Honor Killing Monitoring Commission were 
active on women's issues, particularly on steps to end honor killings.
    Both public and private shelters for women existed, but space was 
limited and service delivery was poor, with private shelters providing 
a slightly higher level of service. Shelters closely protected 
information regarding their locations. Some NGOs worked with local 
community mental health workers, employed by the Ministry of Health, 
who provided assistance to victims of gender-based violence. Other NGOs 
worked to provide legal assistance to these victims. NGOs played a role 
in providing services to victims of domestic violence who received no 
assistance from the Government. Authorities frequently attempted to 
mediate between women and their families to work out a peaceful 
solution for the women to return home. Other than marrying or returning 
to their families (which often resulted in the family or community 
revictimizing the shelter resident), there were few options for women 
who were housed at shelters.
    Sexual relations outside of marriage for any reason are prohibited 
by law, including sexual solicitation often present in sexual 
harassment situations. The penalties include fines and detention. The 
criminal code provides relief from penalties if unmarried participants 
marry. No information was available regarding the effectiveness of 
government enforcement. Due to social conventions and retribution 
against both the victim and perpetrator of sexual harassment, victims 
of sexual harassment did not usually come forward to pursue legal 
    The Government generally respected the basic rights of couples and 
individuals to decide freely and responsibly the number, timing, and 
spacing of children and to have the means to do so free from 
discrimination, coercion, and violence. Apart from the general 
insecurity in the country and attendant economic difficulties, there 
were no impediments to access to information on family planning, 
contraception, and maternal health services, including skilled 
attendance during childbirth, prenatal care, and essential obstetric 
care and postpartum care. Many women received inadequate medical care 
due to a lack of essential drugs, transport to referral institutions, 
and medical personnel lacking training in emergency obstetric care. 
Women were at increased risk of poor birth outcomes with high rates of 
anemia, short birth intervals, early marriage, and early pregnancy.
    Although the constitution forbids discrimination on the basis of 
gender, in practice conservative societal standards impeded women's 
abilities to exercise their rights equally to men. Throughout the 
country women reported pressure to wear veils. Islamic extremists 
targeted women for undertaking normal activities, such as driving a car 
and wearing trousers, in an effort to force them to remain at home, 
wear veils, and adhere to a conservative interpretation of Islam. 
Islamic extremists also reportedly continued to target women in a 
number of cities, demanding they stop wearing Western-style clothing 
and cover their heads while in public.
    The Ministry of State for Women's Affairs, with an approximately 
18-person professional staff, functioned primarily as a policy office 
without an independent budget or the ability to hire more employees.
    Women experienced economic discrimination in access to, and in 
terms of, employment and occupation, credit, and pay equity for 
performing similar work or managing similar businesses as men. The 
security situation disproportionately affected women's ability to work 
outside the home. Weak labor laws and the lack of an equal opportunity 
employment law left women vulnerable to arbitrary dismissal. Government 
efforts to combat economic discrimination against women are minimal and 

    Children.--The constitution states that anyone born with at least 
one Iraqi parent shall be considered a citizen. The Government in 
general was committed to children's rights and welfare, although it 
denied benefits to noncitizen children. Their families had to pay for 
services that were otherwise free, such as public schools and health 
services. Except for several hundred Palestinian families, they were 
not eligible for the national food rationing program.
    Primary education is compulsory for citizen children for six years, 
and 89 percent of students reached the fifth grade. Education is free 
for children at all levels.
    Helping street children remained a challenge for the Government, 
NGOs, and international organizations. Many street children remained 
from the war and the ensuing sectarian fighting. Extremists' attacks 
also resulted in orphaned children. There is no adoption under the law, 
only guardianship for extended family or friends who can provide for 
the child in Iraq. The law does not permit foreigners to obtain legal 
guardianship of Iraqi children. Although orphanages existed, there was 
little evidence of an established culture of informal adoption for 
nonrelated children.
    Female genital mutilation (FGM) is not illegal and is a common 
practice particularly in the rural areas of the Kurdistan region and 
other areas of the country where Kurdish communities live. Several NGOs 
that worked to halt FGM had anecdotal evidence that in rural villages 
as many as 90 percent of women had undergone the procedure, and in 
urban areas as many as 30 percent. The Government offered no 
substantive assistance for victims of FGM.
    On February 6, the Association for Crisis Assistance and 
Development Cooperation (WADI) released the findings of a 
representative empirical study on FGM in the Kurdistan region which 
noted that the majority of women in the region had undergone FGM. On 
June 16, Human Rights Watch released a report describing the 
experiences of girls and women who had undergone FGM. On July 6, the 
High Committee for Issuing Fatwas at the Kurdistan Islamic Scholars 
Union issued a fatwa declaring that ``female circumcision'' was a pre-
Islamic practice that should be avoided for health reasons. On July 12, 
the Ministry for Endowments and Religious Affairs in the KRG asked 
clerics to note in sermons and Friday prayers that FGM was not an 
Islamic practice.
    Although there were no statistics, a tradition of marrying young 
girls (as young as 14 years old) continued, particularly in rural 
    Sexual relations outside of marriage for any reason, including 
rape, are prohibited by law. Producing, importing, publishing, or 
possessing written material, drawings, photographs, or films that 
violates public integrity or decency (including pornography of any 
kind) is prohibited. Rape is a serious offense, which can result in 
long prison terms, including life imprisonment. The penalties for 
violating public integrity or decency include fines and detention. No 
information was available regarding the effectiveness of government 
enforcement. Due to social conventions and retribution against both the 
victim and perpetrator of sexual relations outside marriage, victims of 
sexual crimes did not usually come forward to pursue legal remedies.
    Individuals do not need parental permission for marriage upon 
reaching 18 years old. Consequently, the minimum age of consensual sex 
is 18.
    Despite laws against child labor, children often worked illegally 
on farms or in street commerce. In accordance with the labor law, MOLSA 
established an inspection service to ensure compliance with the law as 
it relates to prohibitions on child labor in the private and public 
    The country is not a party to the 1980 Hague Convention on the 
Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. For information on 
international parental child abduction, please see the Department of 
State's annual on compliance at http://travel.state.gov/abduction/

    Anti-Semitism.--The majority of the Jewish community, which was 
estimated to number 117,000 in 1947, left in the years immediately 
following the creation of the state of Israel in 1948. Virtually all of 
the remaining Jews left the country over the passage of the following 
decades. Fewer than 10 Jews remained in Baghdad, and none were known to 
live in other parts of the country.
    The criminal code stipulates that any person promoting Zionist 
principles, or who associates himself with Zionist organizations or 
assists them by giving material or moral support or works in any way 
towards the realization of Zionist objectives, is subject to punishment 
by death.
    There were no reports of anti-Semitic acts.

    Trafficking in Persons.--For information on trafficking in persons, 
please see the Department of State's annual Trafficking in Persons 
Report at www.state.gov/g/tip.

    Persons With Disabilities.--The law prohibits discrimination in 
employment, education, access to health care, and other state services 
against persons with physical disabilities. The Government enforced the 
law in the Government sector but not in the private sector. The 
Government made efforts to ensure access by persons with disabilities 
during the March 7 election.
    The constitution states that the Government, through laws and 
regulations, should care and rehabilitate persons with disabilities and 
special needs to reintegrate them into society. There are no laws 
prohibiting discrimination against persons with physical, sensory, 
intellectual and mental disabilities in employment, education, access 
to health care, or the provision of other state services. Access for 
persons with disabilities to buildings remained inconsistent.
    The Government has programs aimed to help persons with 
disabilities; however, numerous media reports documented the challenges 
these programs faced, namely in the lack of qualified, trained 
personnel and large special needs populations. Amputees, persons with 
other major physical injuries, and persons suffering from mental/
psychological trauma were the focus of most media reports. The Health 
Ministry provides medical care, benefits, and rehabilitation, when 
available, and persons with disabilities may qualify for benefits from 
other agencies, including the Prime Minister's Office. The Ministry of 
Labor and Social Affairs operates several institutions for children and 
young adults with disabilities. The Ministry of Health's most recent 
estimate of the number of persons with physical and mental disabilities 
was two to three million, approximately 10 percent of the population.

    National/Racial/Ethnic Minorities.--The country's population 
includes Arabs, Kurds, Turkmen, Chaldeans, Assyrians, and Armenians. 
The religious mix is likewise varied. Many consider the Assyrians and 
Chaldeans to be a distinct ethnic group. These communities speak a 
different language, preserve Christian traditions, and do not define 
themselves as Arabs. The country also has citizens of African descent, 
``Black Iraqis,'' a population that community representatives estimated 
to number more than one million. According to Minority Rights Group 
International, the largest Black Iraqi community is in Basra; a 
significant number reside in Sadr City in Baghdad as well.
    The constitution identifies Arabic and Kurdish as the two official 
languages of the state. It also provides the right of citizens to 
educate their children in their mother tongue, such as Turkmen, Syriac, 
or Armenian, in government educational institutions in accordance with 
educational guidelines or in any other language in private educational 
    During the year discrimination against ethnic minorities was a 
problem. There were numerous reports of Kurdish authorities 
discriminating against minorities in the disputed territories under the 
de facto control of the KRG, including Turkmen, Arabs, Yazidis, and 
Assyrians. According to these reports, authorities denied services to 
some villages, arrested minorities without due process, took them to 
undisclosed locations for detention, and pressured minority schools to 
teach in the Kurdish language. Ethnic and religious minorities in 
Tameem (Kirkuk) frequently charged that Kurdish security forces 
targeted Arabs and Turkmen. Within the three provinces of the KRG, 
there was little evidence of KRG discrimination against religious and 
ethnic minorities. Minority communities operated their own schools and 
were represented both in the parliament and executive branch of the 
    Palestinians reportedly experienced arrest, detention, harassment, 
and abuse by police, by individuals pretending to be police, and by the 
general public. A 2006 citizenship law prevents Palestinians from 
obtaining citizenship or Jews who emigrated to other countries from 
reclaiming citizenship.
    A population of 1.5 to 2 million Black Iraqis reported economic and 
social discrimination. UNAMI estimated in October 2009 that more than 
80 percent of the Black Iraqi population was unemployed. Minority 
Rights Group International reported that many were laborers or worked 
as domestic workers.

    Societal Abuses, Discrimination, and Acts of Violence Based on 
Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity.--There was no law specifically 
prohibiting homosexual relationships, although the penal code prohibits 
the act of ``buggery,'' or sodomy, irrespective of gender. The law 
calls for imprisonment only if the ``victim'' is under the age of 18. 
There was no data on how often, if ever, persons were prosecuted for 
sodomy. Due to social conventions and retribution against both victim 
and perpetrator of nonconsensual homosexual acts and persecution 
against participants in consensual homosexual relations, this activity 
was unreported.
    In light of the law, the authorities rely on public indecency 
charges or confessions of monetary exchange, (i.e., prostitution, which 
is illegal) to prosecute homosexual acts. Homosexual persons often 
faced persecution and violence from family and nongovernmental actors. 
The procedures used to arrest such persons were also used to arrest 
indiscreet heterosexuals who may be in sexual relations with persons 
other than their spouses.
    Due to social conventions and potential persecution, including 
violent attacks, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) 
organizations did not operate openly, nor were gay pride marches or gay 
rights advocacy events held. Societal discrimination based on sexual 
orientation and gender identity in employment, occupation, and housing 
was common. Information was not available regarding discrimination in 
access to education or health care due to sexual orientation or gender 
identity. There were no government efforts to address this 
    While there were fewer reports of discrimination and violence 
against gay men and lesbians than in 2009, discrimination and violence 
against such persons continued. On June 23, the London newspaper the 
Guardian reported that police in Karbala attacked and detained six 
persons, of whom two were gay men, one lesbian, and two transgender 
persons. The article reported that one of the men went to a hospital 
two days later with a throat wound and allegations of police torture. 
On June 29, the newspaper Al-Bayyna Al-Jadidah reported the arrest of 
college-age, gay men who allegedly confessed to committing 
``unethical'' acts. The article, which highlighted the legal steps 
taken to secure a judicial order prior to the search and arrest, ended 
with ``greetings to those awake eyes (security/informant forces) that 
pursue all homosexuals.''
    As of year's end, authorities had not announced any arrests or 
prosecutions of any persons for abusing, killing, torturing, or 
detaining any LGBT individuals.
    Other parts of this report contain related information (see 
sections 1.c, 2.c., and 6.d.).

Section 7. Worker Rights
    a. The Right of Association.--The constitution states that citizens 
have the right to form and join unions and professional associations 
with certain restrictions. The Saddam-era labor codes, which are still 
in effect, place limitations and conditions on these rights. Public 
sector workers who are not executives can legally form or join unions, 
but regulation classified most public sector workers as executives. 
Workers in state-owned enterprises can form or join unions. Unions in 
the public sector and state-owned enterprises are not independent; they 
are sponsored by the state. Private-sector employees who work at 
establishments employing more than 50 persons may form and join unions 
that have limited rights. Private-sector unions have the right to seek 
government arbitration for labor disputes, but not the right to strike.
    Labor Law 150 of 1987 is still in effect and states that trade 
union organizations should ``play an effective role in the organization 
of labor relations, in the protection of workers' rights, and in the 
development of their personalities.'' However, it declares virtually 
all public sector workers to be government ``executives,'' and 
therefore legally ineligible to form or to join unions. The rights of 
migrant workers are not covered under this law. The provision in effect 
eliminated unions and the right of association from the large public 
sector. Although the number of formal unions and associations remains 
undefined, workers in state-owned enterprises have generally been 
organized along sectoral lines stemming largely from state employment. 
The largest sectors with the most active unions or associations are 
oil/petrochemical, industrial and defense manufacturing, and education.
    In the private sector, the 1987 Trade Union Organization Law states 
that employees can form workers' committees, with limited rights of 
association, in private-sector work sites employing more than 50 
workers. Originally, this was also intended to remove the right of 
association from a majority of private-sector workers because most 
private-sector businesses employ fewer than 50 workers. Decree 8750 of 
2005, which cancelled unions' leadership boards, froze their assets, 
and formed an interministerial committee to administer unions' assets 
and assess their capacity to resume activity, also inhibited union 
    The legal and regulatory framework, combined with violence, 
insecurity, high unemployment, and lack of decent work standards 
provided for unacceptable conditions for working people. Nevertheless, 
labor organizations in state-owned enterprises were active during the 
year despite threats and harassment to union leaders. In January the 
Government imprisoned the president of Basra's Iraqi Teachers Union. In 
March the president of the Iraqi Federation of Oil Unions was charged 
with accusations that he was endangering the economy through union 
activity. On March 18, workers of the Southern Refinery Company held a 
three-hour strike. On April 1, the company transferred four leaders of 
the Refinery Workers Union in Basra. On July 21, the Government 
expelled the Electrical Utility Workers Union from its Basra offices.
    The MOLSA Labor Directorate has jurisdiction over the labor code, 
child labor, wages, occupational safety and health issues, and labor 
relations. Although the private sector expanded only modestly during 
the year, workers in the private sector continued to enjoy the right to 
form workers' committees at work sites employing fewer than 50 persons.
    The constitution states that every citizen has the right to 
demonstrate and strike peacefully in accordance with the law; however 
the 1987 labor code rules out the existence of public sector labor 
unions capable of carrying out industrial action and prohibits striking 
in the public and private sectors. Strikers were harassed and 
threatened for striking during the year. In March the media reported 
that security forces (army and police) dispersed an oil worker 
demonstration in Basra and arrested two demonstrators. According to 
October 10 press reports, Hassan Juma'a and Falih Abood, the president 
and general secretary, respectively, of the Federation of Oil Employees 
of Iraq were banned from travel outside the country. In June the 
authorities surrounded protesting longshoremen in Basra and transferred 
union leaders hundreds of miles from their homes.
    The Government was the largest employer in the country; reliable 
estimates indicated the public sector accounted for approximately 30 to 
35 percent of the total workforce. There were no government-sponsored 
prosecutions or attacks on trade union activists during the year, 
although the Government appeared to use transfers to remove troublesome 
union leaders from active union activity.

    b. The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively.--The 1987 labor 
code in practice ruled out the existence of labor unions able to carry 
out free and independent union activity and therefore effectively 
prohibited independent organizing and collective bargaining in the 
public and private sectors.
    Because unions have no legal power to negotiate with employers, 
proactive protection of workers' rights through collective bargaining 
and written collective contracts is not possible. Unions were able to 
play a supportive role in labor disputes, and they had the right to 
demand government arbitration, a process the Government only recently 
began to address in its commercial courts and judicial training. The 
1987 Trade Union Organization Law defined ``labor disputes'' as 
collective conflicts arising between workers and employers over the 
provisions of the labor code and/or individual employment contracts. 
Government labor courts were empowered to rule on labor code violations 
and disagreements. MOLSA officials, who were also charged with ensuring 
that public- and private-sector employers provided workers government-
mandated social security, pension, health care, and other benefits 
regardless of company size, readily acknowledged that enforcing these 
social safety net laws was more difficult without the partnership and 
cooperation of strong unions.
    Migrant workers are prohibited from collective bargaining rights 
and are not allowed to join unions. The absence of collective 
bargaining and collective contracts at national and local levels 
significantly diminished unions' power to defend workers' rights 
pertaining to their access to social protection.
    The laws and decrees did not prohibit antiunion discrimination by 
employers or others.
    There are no export processing zones.

    c. Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor.--The law prohibits 
forced or compulsory labor; however this is not monitored or enforced. 
Migrant workers were sometimes subjected to abusive forced labor. The 
MOI, in coordination with MOLSA, reviewed applications for special 
worker status. According to MOLSA, most migrant applications were 
denied to protect domestic workers and industry. When the Government 
uncovered cases of exploitation of foreign workers, it worked in 
conjunction with international organizations to repatriate the victims. 
The Government did not have an effective means of monitoring or 
enforcing decent work standards for the workforce, both citizens and 
migrant workers.
    Also see the Department of State's annual Trafficking in Persons 
Report at www.state.gov/g/tip.

    d. Prohibition of Child Labor and Minimum Age for Employment.--The 
constitution and law prohibit the worst forms of child labor. The 
Government was not able to monitor or enforce these laws effectively. 
The law limits working hours for workers younger than 18 and prohibits 
their employment in dangerous occupations. The minimum age for 
employment is 15. Employment of anyone younger than 16 in work that is 
detrimental to health, safety, or morals is prohibited. The MOLSA Child 
Labor Unit continued to enforce child labor standards, but its work 
suffered from insufficient personnel and budget resources. The ISF 
continued to make slow but steady progress in its ability to pursue and 
interdict nonviolent crimes such as child labor violations.
    Poor families routinely used children to augment their income-
earning potential. This work often took the form of seasonal labor in 
rural areas or begging or peddling in urban settings. There were 
anecdotal reports of children working in hazardous family-owned 
automobile shops or on construction sites. Unconfirmed reports alleged 
the sale of children for indentured servitude.
    The Government introduced a targeted, means-tested social safety 
network program in 2005 to reduce poverty and protect children against 
deteriorating living conditions in their households. Millions of 
families received benefits and services administered by MOLSA, but 
child labor remained problematic. The package included a child 
allowance, conditional upon school attendance; the Government also 
funded programs to assist former and current street children. 
International organizations and NGOs funded additional projects to 
enhance the protection of children.

    e. Acceptable Conditions of Work.--Wages are set by contract in the 
private sector and set by the Government in the public sector. The 
national minimum wage for a skilled worker was less than 12,000 dinars 
(approximately $10) per day and for an unskilled worker less than 5,250 
dinars ($4.50) per day. The standard workday is eight hours with one or 
more rest periods. Up to four hours of overtime work per day is 
permitted, and premium pay for overtime is required. These regulations 
were almost entirely unenforced. The Central Organization of Statistics 
and Information Technology reported that the average salary in 2009--
the latest year for which information was available--was approximately 
2.4 million dinars ($2,100) per year, an increase over the previous 
year's figure of 1.78 million dinars ($1,500). These earnings remained 
only marginally above poverty level and did not provide an adequate 
standard of living for a worker and family.
    According to international governmental organizations, NGOs, and 
press reports, some foreign workers in the country were subjected to 
abusive treatment, including confiscation of travel and identity 
documents, restrictions on movement and communication, physical abuse, 
sexual harassment and rape, withholding of wages, forced overtime, and 
hazardous working conditions. Migrant workers have no legal protections 
and were not allowed to form or join unions.
    The MOLSA occupational safety and health component had staff 
located throughout the country. The law provides that workers have the 
right to remove themselves from a situation endangering health and 
safety without prejudice to their employment; however, this right is 
not afforded to civil servants or migrant workers, who make up the 
majority of the country's workforce.



    Israel is a multiparty parliamentary democracy with a population of 
approximately 7.7 million, including Israelis living in the occupied 
territories. Israel has no constitution, although a series of ``Basic 
Laws'' enumerate fundamental rights. Certain fundamental laws, orders, 
and regulations legally depend on the existence of a ``State of 
Emergency,'' which has been in effect since 1948. The 120-member, 
unicameral Knesset has the power to dissolve the Government and mandate 
elections. The February 2009 elections for the Knesset were considered 
free and fair. They resulted in a coalition government led by Prime 
Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Israeli security forces reported to 
civilian authorities. (An annex to this report covers human rights in 
the occupied territories. This report deals with human rights in Israel 
and the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.)
    Principal human rights problems were institutional, legal, and 
societal discrimination against Arab citizens, Palestinian residents of 
the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, non-Orthodox Jews, and other 
religious groups; societal discrimination against persons with 
disabilities; and societal discrimination and domestic violence against 
women, particularly in Bedouin society. While trafficking in persons 
for the purpose of prostitution decreased in recent years, trafficking 
for the purpose of labor remained a serious problem, as did abuse of 
foreign workers and societal discrimination and incitement against 
asylum seekers.
                        RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS

Section 1. Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom 
    a. Arbitrary or Unlawful Deprivation of Life.--The Government or 
its agents did not commit politically motivated killings.
    The petitioners withdrew their appeal to the High Court against the 
closure of the inquiry by the Department for Investigations against 
Police Officers' (DIPO) into the 2008 beating and subsequent coma and 
death of Sabri al-Jarjawi, a Bedouin. Instead, they appealed to DIPO, 
which denied the petitioners' appeal to reopen the case.
    At year's end, an internal Israel Prison Service (IPS) 
investigation continued into the 2007 killing of a Palestinian 
prisoner, Mohammed al-Askar, during a riot at Ketziot Prison. Prisoners 
alleged that security forces improperly used crowd-dispersal weapons, 
including rubber bullets and beanbag projectiles. The IPS investigation 
was on hold pending the outcome of legal proceedings in the Beer Sheva 
Magistrate Court regarding the cause of death.
    On July 21, the Supreme Court doubled the manslaughter sentence 
imposed by a lower court on police officer Shahar Mizrahi to 30 months 
in prison. The lower court convicted Mizrahi in 2009 of manslaughter in 
the 2006 shooting death of Mahmoud Ghanayem, who had attacked Mizrahi 
with a screwdriver when he tried to apprehend Ghanayem for suspected 
car theft.
    Terrorist groups routinely fired rockets and mortars from the Gaza 
Strip into Israel. According to the Government, terrorists fired 
approximately 235 rockets and mortar shells into the country from the 
Gaza Strip during the year, an increase from 195 in 2009. On March 19, 
a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip killed a Thai citizen near the city 
of Ashkelon.
    Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) Military Advocate General Mandelblit 
investigated all allegations relating to the 2008-09 Operation Cast 
Lead military incursion into the Gaza Strip, examining over 150 
incidents, including those contained in the UN Human Rights Council's 
2009 Goldstone report. In January and July, Mandelblit released updates 
on the majority of investigations, which included details of 
indictments against several soldiers for manslaughter, improper use of 
civilians in wartime, and misconduct. As of July the military advocate 
general launched 47 military police criminal investigations into IDF 
conduct during Operation Cast Lead and completed a significant number 
of them. On August 1, the IDF issued a new order appointing 
humanitarian affairs officers to each battalion to provide further 
protections for civilian populations during wartime planning and combat 
    During the year the Military Investigative Police launched 147 
investigations with regard to cases of death, violence, and property 
damage against residents of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. In these 
cases the military advocate general filed 10 indictments against 12 
soldiers suspected of committing criminal offenses against 
Palestinians. There were three convictions of four soldiers, no 
acquittals, closure of three cases by the military advocate general, 
and seven cases pending as of year's end.

    b. Disappearance.--There were no reports of politically motivated 

    c. Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or 
Punishment.--A 1999 High Court of Justice ruling held that, although 
torture and the application of physical or psychological pain are 
illegal, Israel Security Agency (ISA) interrogators may be exempt from 
criminal prosecution if they use such methods in extraordinary cases 
determined to involve an imminent threat, or ``ticking bomb'' scenario.
    During the year nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) filed numerous 
complaints alleging that security forces tortured or abused Palestinian 
residents of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. On April 26, the Supreme 
Court rejected a July 2009 appeal by the NGO Public Committee against 
Torture in Israel alleging authorities use painful shackling during 
interrogations. The court noted the Government's response that 
shackling was governed by strictly defined procedures and observed that 
the Government had recently made several policy adjustments, including 
no longer shackling a detainee's hands behind the back.
    On October 19, officers from the Ministry of Interior's Oz 
immigration unit allegedly beat and verbally abused with racial 
epithets five members of a black noncitizen family living in Ashkelon 
who had converted to Judaism and were awaiting a decision on their 
citizenship request. The immigration unit admitted detaining a family 
member in error but denied using physical force. The Ashkelon police 
department refused to allow the family to file a complaint against the 
    On May 12, due to a police procedural error, the Jerusalem 
Magistrates Court canceled the indictment and postponed the trial of 
two Border Guard officers accused in November 2009 of assaulting 
Muhtaseb Muqtada, an Arab resident of Jerusalem. Officers Maor 
Malianker and Yossi Dahan allegedly beat Muqtada with a baton after 
asking for his identification. Malianker was also indicted on two other 
counts for allegedly using a radio device to hit a Jerusalem resident 
and falsely reporting he was attacked during a search.
    The case of two border guards arrested by police in December 2009 
for allegedly beating and stealing NIS 700 ($197) from a Sudanese man 
in Eilat remained pending at year's end at the Beer Sheva District 
    The case of three police officers who reportedly detained and 
severely beat East Jerusalem resident Tareq Abu Laban in 2008 remained 
pending at year's end. In November 2009 evidentiary hearings began in 
the case following a DIPO investigation.
    In October evidentiary hearings began at the Beer Sheva 
Magistrates' Court in the case of police officers Iyad Huzeyl and Dani 
Havery, who were indicted for assault involving grievous injury against 
Fadi Darab'i, an undocumented Palestinian laborer, in 2008 in the town 
of Gan Yavneh.
    On June 13, a court acquitted three border police officers of 
charges of aggravated assault for physically abusing Abd Tareq Ahrub, a 
West Bank resident detained for being in Jerusalem without a permit in 

    Prison and Detention Center Conditions.--The law provides prisoners 
and detainees the right to conditions that do not harm their health or 
dignity. While various organizations found deficiencies, conditions in 
IPS facilities for common criminals and security prisoners generally 
met international standards according to international and domestic 
NGOs. (Conditions in four facilities for detainees are covered in the 
    According to news reports, a classified report in December by the 
Israel Bar Association (IBA) found that most of the prison service's 
isolation cells did not meet international standards. The reports 
stated the IBA study also described many isolated inmates' development 
of mental and physical health problems such as paranoia, fits of rage, 
and eyesight loss due to lack of natural light. The Government 
acknowledged the need to improve conditions for Palestinian security 
prisoners in response to a 2008 IBA report on Sharon and Hadarim 
prisons that noted, among other points, poor health conditions in those 
    The annual report of the Public Defender's Office describing 
conditions in prisons and detention centers in 2008 found grave 
deficiencies in the infrastructure of most prison facilities and the 
living conditions in many of them. In response to the report's claim 
that convicts in one-third of the prisons visited complained of violent 
and humiliating treatment, the Warden's Investigation Unit within the 
National Police (which is independent of the IPS) found complaints to 
be unfounded.
    According to a December 27 Haaretz article, there were on average 
13 unnatural deaths (from suicide, murder, or neglect) in prisons over 
the past decade. At year's end both the police and the prison service 
were conducting separate investigations into the causes of the 
unnatural deaths that occurred during the year. According to news 
reports, the state comptroller began an investigation into prison 
suicides in 2009 to determine their causes.
    On April 16, 27-year-old Raed Abu Hammad died while in solitary 
confinement in a prison in the southern part of the country. Hammad was 
halfway through a 10-year sentence for attempted murder and suffered 
from medical conditions. The prison service was investigating the death 
at year's end.
    As of December 14, there were 5,935 Arab security prisoners and 
detainees, 1,438 Palestinian criminal prisoners, 3,903 Israeli Arab 
criminal prisoners, 17 Jewish Israeli security prisoners, and 6,462 
Jewish criminal prisoners.
    Prisoners and detainees had reasonable access to visitors, 
including through a program of the International Committee of the Red 
Cross (ICRC) that brought relatives from the West Bank into the country 
for prison visits. The Government stopped a similar program for 
visitors from the Gaza Strip following the Hamas takeover of the Gaza 
Strip in 2007. In December 2009 the High Court ruled against a petition 
from prisoners' family members from the Gaza Strip, finding such visits 
did not constitute a humanitarian need. Travel restrictions into the 
country also affected Palestinian administrative prisoners' access to 
visitors and lawyers.
    Prisoners were permitted religious observance.
    The law allows prisoners to submit a petition to judicial 
authorities in response to substandard prison conditions, and the 
authorities investigated credible allegations of inhumane conditions 
and documented results of such investigations publicly.
    The ICRC regularly monitored IPS facilities, interrogation 
facilities, and the two IDF provisional detention centers but did not 
monitor security detainees in military detention centers. The 
Government also permitted the IBA and Public Defenders' Office to 
inspect IPS facilities, and they did so during the year.
    The state comptroller serves as ombudsman and investigates public 
complaints received through the Public Complaints Commission against 
government ministries, local authorities, state enterprises and 
institutions, government corporations, and government employees. It 
functions as an effective mechanism for handling accusations of 
discrimination within government and public institutions, and it 
forwards complaints to the appropriate oversight bodies of 
nongovernmental entities that serve the public including banks and 
insurance companies. Any person may make a complaint regardless of 
citizenship, residency, or visa status.

    d. Arbitrary Arrest or Detention.--The law prohibits arbitrary 
arrest and detention, and the Government generally observed these 
prohibitions for all citizens. Non-Israeli residents of the Israeli-
annexed Golan Heights were subject to the same laws as Israeli 
citizens. Noncitizens of Palestinian origin detained on security 
grounds fell under military jurisdiction even if detained in Israel.

    Role of the Police and Security Apparatus.--Under the authority of 
the prime minister, the ISA combats terrorism and espionage in the 
country and the occupied territories. The National Police, including 
the Border Police and the Immigration Police, are under the authority 
of the Ministry of Internal Security. Civilian authorities maintained 
effective control over the ISA police forces, and the Government has 
effective mechanisms to investigate and punish abuse and corruption. 
There were no reports of impunity involving the security forces during 
the year. The military is responsible for external security and has no 
jurisdiction over citizens.
    DIPO investigates complaints against police officers and has the 
authority to indict or transfer cases for disciplinary trials. 
Continuing a plan to replace police with civil investigators, DIPO was 
staffed by 29 civil investigators and 19 police investigators at year's 
    The National Police carried out training programs in coordination 
with academic institutions and human rights NGOs to promote human 
rights awareness and cultural sensitivity. During the year the National 
Police also provided mandatory Arabic language and culture classes for 
all new cadets.

    Arrest Procedures and Treatment While in Detention.--The law 
provides that an arrested citizen is considered innocent until proven 
guilty and has the right to be represented by an attorney. According to 
a report by the Public Defender's Office covering 2008-09, many persons 
arrested by police were informed of their right to consult an attorney 
only after they were questioned and transferred to a holding facility. 
Authorities allowed detainees to contact family members promptly. The 
Government may withhold evidence from defense lawyers on security 
grounds; however, the evidence must be made available to the court. A 
bail system exists, and a decision denying bail can be appealed. As a 
general practice, noncitizens of Palestinian origin detained for 
security violations were not granted bail. An individual suspected of a 
criminal offense may be held without charge for 24 hours before being 
brought before a judge, with limited exceptions allowing for up to 48 
hours. Authorities respected this right in practice.
    Suspects in nonsecurity cases are apprehended openly with warrants 
based on sufficient evidence and issued by an authorized official and 
generally were informed promptly of charges against them.
    Persons detained on security grounds may fall under one or more of 
the three legal regimes. First, under a 2006 ``temporary law'' on 
criminal procedures that has been renewed three times, the IPS may hold 
individuals suspected of a security offense for 48 hours before being 
brought to a judge, with limited exceptions allowing up to 96 hours 
before being brought to the senior judge of a district court. The law 
allows the court to authorize holding a detainee for up to 20 days 
without an indictment in exceptional cases for interrogation. On 
February 11, the Supreme Court annulled a section of the temporary law 
that had barred access to a lawyer for up to 21 days and had enabled a 
court to impose further extensions without the detainee being present 
or informed of the hearing.
    Second, the 1979 Emergency Powers Law allows the Defense Ministry 
to detain persons administratively without charge for up to six months, 
renewable indefinitely. Administrative detention was used as an 
exception when intelligence sources could not be presented as evidence 
in regular criminal proceedings. Such detainees, almost all of whom 
were Palestinian residents of the West Bank, were permitted legal 
representation within seven days, extendable to as long as 21 days in 
limited cases with the attorney general's approval. If necessary the 
Government provided free legal representation. An administrative 
detainee has the right to appeal any decision to lengthen detention to 
a military court of appeals and ultimately to the Supreme Court. The 
military courts may rely on classified evidence denied to detainees and 
their lawyers when determining whether to prolong administrative 
    At the end of the year, according to government figures reported by 
the NGO B'Tselem, there were 204 administrative detainees in IPS 
detention centers, including two minors. Most administrative detainees 
were held for less than one year, with 21 administrative detainees 
having been held consecutively for more than two years. Administrative 
detainees constituted 3.4 percent of the 5,954 security-related 
    Third, the 2002 Illegal Combatant Law permits holding a detainee 
for 14 days before review by a district court judge, denying access to 
counsel for up to 21 days with the attorney general's approval, and 
allowing indefinite detention subject to twice-yearly district court 
reviews and appeals to the Supreme Court. In 2008 the Government 
extended for an additional four years a temporary provision that 
exempts law enforcement personnel from the law requiring them to film 
and audio record all interrogations of detainees suspected of security 
offenses. Amendments to the law in 2008 expanded its internment powers, 
which may be exercised in the event of ``widespread hostilities,'' an 
occurrence that has not happened to date. At the end of November, 
authorities held three Palestinian residents of the Gaza Strip in 
detention under the Illegal Combatant Law.
    Human rights groups alleged military commanders in the occupied 
territories used administrative security detention orders based on 
``security reasons'' even when the accused posed no clear danger. NGOs 
complained these laws removed the standard procedural safeguards from 
security suspects.
    The law provides that foreign nationals suspected of immigration 
violations be afforded a hearing within four days of detention. They 
have the right to, but no assurance of, legal representation. According 
to the NGO Hotline for Migrant Workers (Hotline), interpreters in 
Ketziot, where most asylum seekers were detained, were rarely present 
during hearings despite a 2002 written commitment by the Government to 
the Supreme Court to provide interpreters, and persons held in 
immigration detention rarely were released prior to judicial 
determination of their status. Moreover, if the detainee's country of 
origin had no diplomatic or consular representation, the individual 
could remain in detention for months.

    e. Denial of Fair Public Trial.--The law provides for an 
independent judiciary, and the Government respected this provision in 
    The judicial branch comprises magistrate courts, six district 
courts, and the Supreme Court, which also sits as the High Court of 
Justice. Magistrate courts adjudicate misdemeanors and lesser civil 
disputes. District courts adjudicate felonies, serious civil cases, 
appeals from the magistrate courts, and several other largely 
administrative matters. There are also military, religious, labor 
relations, and administrative courts. The High Court of Justice 
exercises judicial review over the other branches of government and can 
exercise power on matters that are not within the jurisdiction of any 
other court or tribunal. The High Court of Justice is a court of first 
instance for claims against the Government. Its members also sit as the 
Supreme Court and hear appeals of lower court rulings, Knesset 
elections, administrative detentions, prisoners' petitions, and rulings 
of the Civil Service Commission and bar association. Religious courts 
have jurisdiction over matters of personal status for their adherents; 
there are no civil courts for marriage or divorce for the hundreds of 
thousands of citizens for whom religious courts are not a legal option.

    Trial Procedures.--The law provides for the right to a fair trial, 
and an independent judiciary generally enforced this right. However, 
administrative detainee hearings are not trials and do not follow trial 
    By law an arrested citizen is considered innocent until proven 
guilty. There are no trials by jury. Trials are public except when the 
court determines that a closed trial is required to protect state 
security, foreign relations, a party's or witness's right to privacy, 
or a sexual offense victim. At the discretion of the court, security or 
military trials may be open to independent observers but not to the 
general public. Defendants have the right to be present and to consult 
with an attorney in a timely manner. All indigent defendants facing 
trial and imprisonment receive mandatory representation. According to 
the Government, counsel represented all defendants in district and 
Supreme Court trials and in approximately 80 percent of cases in the 
magistrate courts.
    Defendants have the right to question witnesses against them, 
present witnesses on their behalf, access evidence (except when the 
court determines such access would compromise state security), and 
    Military courts provide some, but not all, of the procedural rights 
granted in civil criminal courts. The 1970 evidentiary rules governing 
trials of Palestinians and others applicable in the occupied 
territories under military law are the same as evidentiary rules in 
criminal cases. According to the Ministry of Justice, the law does not 
permit convictions to be based solely on confessions. In military 
trials, prosecutors often present secret evidence that is not available 
to the defendant or counsel. Counsel may assist the accused in such 
trials, and a judge may assign counsel to defendants. Indigent 
detainees do not automatically receive free legal counsel for military 
trials, but in practice almost all detainees had counsel even in minor 
cases. The defendant and public are read the indictment in Hebrew and, 
unless the defendant waives this right, in Arabic. In past years, many 
indictments were translated into Arabic, but, since according to the 
Government no requests for translations were made, the practice during 
the year was to provide written translations of indictments into Arabic 
only upon request. At least one interpreter is present for simultaneous 
interpretation in every military court hearing, unless the defendant 
waives that right. Defendants can appeal through the Military Court of 
Appeals and petition the High Court of Justice.

    Political Prisoners and Detainees.--There were no reports of 
citizen political prisoners or detainees, although NGOs alleged there 
were noncitizen political detainees.

    Civil Judicial Procedures and Remedies.--An independent and 
impartial judiciary adjudicates lawsuits seeking damages for, or 
cessation of, human rights violations. Administrative remedies exist, 
and court orders were usually enforced. On February 7, former deputy 
attorney general Yehudit Karp sent a memo to Attorney General Yehuda 
Weinstein listing 11 contempt of court ordinances and Supreme Court 
rulings that had not been implemented. On August 1, Attorney General 
Weinstein issued guidelines noting the need to implement court orders.

    f. Arbitrary Interference With Privacy, Family, Home, or 
Correspondence.--The law provides for protection of privacy of the 
individual and the home. In criminal cases, the law permits wiretapping 
under court order; in security cases, the Ministry of Defense must 
issue the order. Under emergency regulations, authorities may open and 
destroy mail on the basis of security considerations.
    The law provides for police officers and other public investigators 
to request court orders to obtain personal information from private 
communications companies, including landline and cellular telephones 
and Internet service providers. To access private communications 
records, investigators must demonstrate that their goal is to save or 
preserve life, investigate or prevent crime, or seize property in 
accordance with the law.
    Separate religious court systems adjudicate matters such as 
marriage and divorce for the Jewish, Muslim, Christian, and Druze 
communities. Jews can marry only in Orthodox Jewish services, although 
the great majority of Jewish Israelis are not Orthodox. Civil 
marriages, marriages of some non-Orthodox Jews, marriages in non-
Orthodox ceremonies, or marriage of a Jew to a non-Jew must take place 
outside the country to be legal. According to the NGO New Family 
Organization, more than 5,000 couples married in civil ceremonies 
abroad each year, mostly in Cyprus, and then registered in Israel's 
population register. The Rabbinical Court presides over divorces if it 
recognizes both spouses as Jewish; the Family Matters Court grants 
divorces in all cases outside of the religious tribunal's jurisdiction. 
The Government allows consular marriages as long as both parties have 
no religion or belong to a religious community that the state does not 
    The law prohibits dismissing a worker who becomes pregnant who has 
worked at least six months for the same employer. However, the law also 
mandates that foreign workers leave the country no later than three 
months after giving birth; those who stay lose their legal status. In 
2005 several NGOs appealed to the Supreme Court against this procedure; 
the appeal remained pending at year's end.
    Many Jewish citizens objected to exclusive Orthodox rabbinic 
control over aspects of their personal lives. Approximately 310,000 
citizens who immigrated, either as Jews or as family members of Jews, 
are not considered Jewish by the Orthodox Rabbinate. They cannot be 
married, divorced, or buried in Jewish cemeteries within the country. 
The estimated 20,000 Messianic Jews, who believe Jesus is the Messiah 
and consider themselves to be Jews, also often experienced this 
infringement on their personal lives, since the Orthodox Rabbinate did 
not consider them Jewish. A 1996 law requiring the Government to 
establish civil cemeteries has not been fully implemented, although 
eight civil cemeteries exist.
    The authority to grant status (citizenship and residency) to a non-
Israeli spouse, including Palestinian and other non-Jewish foreign 
spouses, resides with the Ministry of Interior. On July 27, the Knesset 
extended for another year the temporary 2003 Citizenship and Entry Law, 
which prohibits a citizen's Palestinian spouse from the occupied 
territories not only from acquiring citizenship by marriage, but also 
from residing in the country. Palestinian male spouses who are 35 or 
older and female spouses who are 25 or older may apply for temporary 
visit permits. The Mossawa Advocacy Center for Arab Citizens in Israel 
(Mossawa) claimed the law affected more than 21,000 families, including 
couples with long-standing marriages. The Government originally enacted 
the law following 23 terrorist attacks involving suicide bombers from 
the occupied territories who had gained access to Israeli 
identification through family unification.

Section 2. Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:
    a. Freedom of Speech and Press.--The law provides for freedom of 
speech and of the press, and the Government generally respected these 
rights in practice. Individuals may criticize the Government publicly 
and privately without reprisal. The law prohibits hate speech and 
incitement to violence, and the 1948 Prevention of Terrorism Ordinance 
prohibits expressing support for illegal or terrorist organizations.
    The independent media were active and expressed a wide variety of 
views without restriction. The country has 13 daily newspapers, at 
least 90 weekly newspapers, more than 250 periodicals, and a number of 
Internet news sites. All newspapers were privately owned and managed. 
Laws dating from the British mandate require licenses from the Interior 
Ministry for newspapers and allow the minister, under certain 
conditions, to close a newspaper.
    The state-owned Israel Broadcast Authority controls the Hebrew-
language Israel Television and an Arabic-language channel, as well as 
Kol Israel (Voice of Israel) radio, which broadcasts news and other 
programming in Hebrew, Arabic, and other languages. The Second 
Television and Radio Authority, a public body, supervises the two 
privately owned commercial television channels and 14 privately owned 
radio stations.
    The Government prohibited all citizens, including journalists, from 
entering the Gaza Strip; those who entered were subject to legal 
penalties such as fines and restraining orders, but no journalists were 
fined during the year. All foreign journalists operating in the country 
require accreditation from the Government Press Office.
    All media organizations must submit to military censors any 
material relating to specific military issues or strategic 
infrastructure issues, such as oil and water supplies. The censor's 
decisions may be appealed to the High Court of Justice, and the censor 
cannot appeal a court judgment. The Interior Ministry has no authority 
over the military censor.
    News printed or broadcast abroad is subject to security censorship. 
The Government did not fine newspapers or other mass media for 
violating censorship regulations during the year. On June 6, the 
Supreme Court commuted to community service a sentence of two months in 
prison and six-month suspended sentence imposed by a district court on 
journalists Khader Shaheen and Muhammad Sarhan for breaching the 
military censorship law during the Gaza Strip offensive. Police had 
charged the two men in January 2009 with divulging secret information 
and transmitting information to the enemy in wartime. The charges were 
filming and broadcasting live to Iran the IDF movements toward the Gaza 
Strip a half hour before the start of the ground offensive.

    Internet Freedom.--There were no government restrictions on 
Internet access. Individuals and groups could engage in the peaceful 
expression of views via the Internet, including by e-mail, although the 
Government monitored cellular and landline telephones and Internet 
service providers for security purposes. The International 
Telecommunication Union reported that approximately 63 percent of the 
country's inhabitants were Internet users in 2009.

    Academic Freedom and Cultural Events.--There were no government 
restrictions on academic freedom or cultural events.
    Universities are required to justify to the IDF acceptance of 
Palestinian students from the occupied territories. According to 
revised government criteria submitted in response to a 2007 High Court 
of Justice order, no more than 70 students from the West Bank may 
pursue graduate studies in Israeli universities at any given time, 
provided there is no practical alternative and the chosen program is 
not in a field that could provide knowledge or skills that could be 
employed to harm the country. Students from the Gaza Strip are not 
eligible to apply.

    b. Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association.--Freedom of 
Assembly.--The law provides for freedom of assembly, and the Government 
generally respected this right in practice.
    Throughout the year weekly protests in the East Jerusalem 
neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah took place against the implementation of 
court decisions regarding property ownership. On January 15, police 
arrested 17 activists, including Association for Civil Rights in Israel 
(ACRI) Executive Director Hagai El-Ad, when they held a protest after 
being denied a permit. Two days later the Jerusalem Magistrate's Court 
ordered the protesters released and ruled that the police could not 
require a permit for the protests.
    Police have the authority to declare protests illegal and disperse 
them to uphold public safety. On November 17, police in Tel Aviv 
allowed a peaceful demonstration of students protesting a bill 
providing stipends solely to yeshiva students but declared the 
gathering illegal following protesters' use of smoke grenades and 
attempts to disrupt traffic. The students then violently clashed with 
police, resulting in 12 injured students.
    At year's end, a DIPO investigation continued into a complaint by 
NGOs Adalah and the Arab Association of Human Rights concerning police 
behavior during clashes with 15,000 Arab-Israeli demonstrators in 2008 
in the former Arab village of Safouriya, now a Jewish community. There 
were conflicting claims about responsibility for violence during the 
``Nakba'' (catastrophe in Arabic) demonstration that marked the 
anniversary of the establishment of the State of Israel. Adalah 
released video footage that reportedly showed police beating or kicking 
some demonstrators in the head and face as they sat handcuffed on the 
ground. According to press and NGO reports, police attacked several 
local and international journalists, including a CNN correspondent, and 
in some cases confiscated cameras and erased footage.

    Freedom of Association.--The law provides for the right of 
association, and the Government generally respected this right in 
    Under the 1980 Law of Associations, NGOs must register and pay 
annual fees. Some registered NGOs were eligible to receive funding from 
government ministries. According to government figures, such funding 
amounted to approximately NIS 2.5 billion ($703 million) per year. 
Government funding for NGOs disproportionately favored Jewish NGOs, 
especially those that promote ``traditional and religious Jewish 

    c. Freedom of Religion.--For a complete description of religious 
freedom, please see the 2010 International Religious Freedom Report at 

    d. Freedom of Movement, Internally Displaced Persons, Protection of 
Refugees, and Stateless Persons.--The law provides for freedom of 
movement within the country, foreign travel, emigration, and 
repatriation, and the Government respected them in practice for 
citizens. The Government cooperated with the Office of the UN High 
Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and other humanitarian organizations 
in providing protection and assistance to some refugees, asylum 
seekers, and other persons of concern.
    Citizens generally were free to travel abroad and to emigrate, 
provided they had no outstanding military obligations and no 
administrative restrictions. The Government may bar citizens from 
leaving the country based on security considerations. In addition no 
citizen is permitted to travel to any state officially at war with the 
country without government permission. All citizens required a special 
permit to enter area A (the area, according to the Interim Agreement, 
in which the Palestinian Authority exercises civil and security 
responsibility), although the Government allowed Arab citizens some 
access without permits. Arab citizens regularly complained of 
discrimination and degrading treatment by airport security officials. A 
Supreme Court decision in a 2007 petition by ACRI and Adalah regarding 
alleged ethnic profiling was still pending at year's end. The court 
postponed a December hearing on the Government's comparative legal 
analysis of its security screening methods.
    The law prohibits forced exile of citizens, and the Government 
respected this prohibition in practice.

    Protection of Refugees.--The Government has not enacted legislation 
implementing the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and 
its 1967 Protocol. NGOs criticized new asylum regulations released on 
December 13 that require applicants to submit claims within one year of 
arriving in the country; authorize the Ministry of Interior to reject 
applications without appeal even at the registration stage; and, in 
various accelerated procedures, exclude ``enemy nationals'' from 
receiving asylum in the country; and lack an independent appeal 
process. The Government arrested a number of persons immediately 
following rejection of their refugee status claims, causing a decrease 
in new applications. A number of formal and informal arrangements 
provide for the protection of some asylum seekers.
    The Interior Ministry's Authority for Immigration and Border 
Crossings implements government policy and is responsible for foreign 
nationals and population issues. The authority consolidates all 
relevant bodies dealing with immigration issues, including asylum 
seekers. In July 2009 the Government assumed from the UNHCR the process 
of registering and conducting determinations of refugee status for all 
asylum seekers; however, domestic NGOs argued that the new regulations 
and procedures for the registration and status determination of asylum 
seekers were flawed. According to the Tel Aviv University Refugee 
Rights Law Clinic, the Government failed to provide asylum seekers 
copies of their interview transcripts or sufficient explanations of 
their determinations. After an appeal by the Refugee Rights Law Clinic 
and other NGOs, the Supreme Court issued a temporary injunction 
mandating that asylum seekers be accompanied by legal representatives 
in interviews, but the Government continued to bar paralegals, and most 
asylum seekers could not afford counsel for hearings.
    The National Status Granting Board (NSGB), composed of four members 
from the ministries of interior, justice, and foreign affairs, 
processes asylum applications. It makes a recommendation that is sent 
to the minister of interior for final approval. Between 2008 and 2009, 
the NSGB reportedly reviewed 3,211 cases and provided positive 
recommendations in three. The UNHCR participated informally in NSGB 
    The Government issued three-month ``conditional release visas'' for 
asylum seekers waiting for a decision from the NSGB and Sudanese and 
Eritreans who were not reviewed for refugee status. The visa did not 
provide for the right to work or social benefits such as health 
insurance or housing subsidies, but in practice the Government 
generally allowed refugees to work. The Government generally gave 
Eritreans and Sudanese, who constituted the majority of asylum seekers, 
conditional release visas with deferred deportation status and 
temporary protection, and it did not require or allow them to undergo 
refugee status determinations. Asylum seekers of other nationalities 
must report to the Ministry of Interior's Refugee Status Unit for 
determination of their refugee claim.
    On November 17, the Ministry of Interior instituted a new procedure 
of marking conditional release visas ``this is not a work visa.'' The 
new procedure led to many asylum seekers being fired, according to 
NGOs. In August, following a government decision to enforce a 
prohibition on employment, the Refugee Rights Law Clinic petitioned the 
Supreme Court on behalf of eight human rights organizations, asking the 
Government to clarify the right to work for asylum seekers and persons 
who are provided deferred deportation status. The case was pending at 
year's end.
    Refugees recommended by the UNHCR or the Ministry of Interior and 
recognized by the NSGB received six-month renewable visas, with status 
evaluated after one year. Asylum seekers at the appeal stage were not 
provided with this visa but were protected from detention and 
deportation by the letter informing them of the rejection of their 
    No legal option exists for a refugee to become a naturalized 
citizen. In 2009 the Refugee Rights Law Clinic petitioned the Jerusalem 
Administrative Court on behalf of an Ethiopian refugee who had been in 
the country as a recognized refugee for more than 10 years. The 
petitioners argued that under the 1951 Refugee Convention, a state is 
obliged to facilitate the naturalization of refugees. The case was 
pending at year's end.
    In 2009 the Ministry of Interior opened an office in Lod for asylum 
seekers to register to receive documents allowing legal residence 
without which they would be subject to arrest. The NGO Hotline reported 
that many refugees and asylum seekers complained about discriminatory 
treatment, inefficiency, refusal to renew papers, and lost documents at 
the Lod office, but noted some improvements in operation during the 
    In practice the Government provided some protection against the 
expulsion or return of refugees to countries where their lives or 
freedom could be threatened on account of their race, religion, 
nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political 
opinion. At year's end the Supreme Court had not ruled on the question 
put to it in 2007 of whether it was safe to return asylum seekers to 
Egypt. Domestic and international NGOs and the UNHCR continued to be 
concerned with the practice of ``coordinated returns'' or ``hot 
returns'' of some asylum seekers to Egypt because of allegations that 
those individuals were later returned to their countries of origin in 
violation of their right to seek asylum and protection against such 
return. The Government stated that through October 10, it had summarily 
returned to Egypt 136 persons who had crossed the country's border. 
This was a decrease from 517 persons who returned to Egypt after 
crossing the border in 2008-09. In its petition Hotline submitted to 
the Supreme Court the testimony of an IDF soldier describing alleged 
incidents of ``hot returns'' he had witnessed at the Egyptian border. 
According to the testimony, while officially Egypt refused to accept 
asylum seekers returned to its territory, there was a field-level 
understanding between the border forces that the Egyptians would 
receive persons captured at the border or soon after crossing. NGOs 
asserted that these arrangements were temporary conditional agreements 
between Egyptian and Israeli border commands and not a uniform policy.
    The Government did not grant asylum to persons from states with 
which it was officially at war, such as Iraq, but stated that it 
attempted to find a third country to accept them. Sudanese, while also 
originating from an ``enemy state,'' in practice received conditional 
release visas. On December 13, the Government, with NGO assistance, 
carried out a voluntary return to Sudan of 150 refugees residing in the 
    Refugees and asylum seekers were targets of violence. On December 
18, an unknown arsonist threw a burning tire at the apartment door of 
five Sudanese refugees in Ashdod, setting the apartment on fire. The 
Sudanese refugees escaped by breaking through the barred glass window 
and were treated for smoke inhalation. Local residents and storeowners 
claimed they were attacked because they were refugees from Sudan. 
Ashdod police began an investigation that continued at year's end.
    Also on December 18, a group of approximately 20 teenagers severely 
beat three 16-year-old daughters of African asylum seekers in the 
Hatikva neighborhood of Tel Aviv. The victims reportedly did not file a 
police report because they feared retribution.
    Rhetoric by government officials and community protests concerning 
asylum seekers also intensified during the year. On March 22, Knesset 
member Yaakov Katz issued a letter that called for the establishment of 
an ``infiltrator'' city to hold asylum seekers and stated that in 10 
years the ``infiltrators'' could ``ruin'' the country. On July 19, 
Minister of Interior Eli Yishai called for IDF soldiers to ``block 
infiltrators'' coming from the southern part of the country and stated, 
``This is an existential threat to the State of Israel.'' On September 
2, Minister of Justice Yaakov Neeman stated that the ``infiltrators at 
the southern border create a real danger to the existence of the state 
of Israel, and Israel has to fight this phenomenon in every possible 
way.'' In July the mayor of Eilat called on city residents to 
demonstrate against the large community of ``infiltrators'' who had 
taken over the city, created a climate of fear, and lowered real estate 
value. Candidates for the October Eilat municipality elections also 
used anti-asylee campaigns as part of their platforms.
    The Government did not grant temporary status to persons with 
disputed nationalities, and prolonged detention of some of these 
persons continued throughout the year. According to Hotline and IPS, at 
year's end the Government was holding at least 1,000 asylum seekers for 
longer than 60 days in violation of the Entry of Israel Law. In 
addition authorities detained over 200 women and children in the 
Saaronim prison in cloth tents, with limited education services 
provided to the children for the detention period and insufficient 
health and medical treatment, according to NGOs. While authorities 
allowed the UNHCR full access to asylum seekers and refugees in 
detention, authorities curtailed access by NGOs to Saaronim prison 
following a 2008 petition by Hotline charging the IPS with inhumane 
treatment of prisoners. Hotline and a private law firm challenged the 
legality of several detention cases. In some decisions the district 
court ordered the release of asylum seekers with disputed nationalities 
and criticized the prolonged detention. According to an August 13 
report in Haaretz, 17 appeals were filed in the district court with 
regard to detention of refugees, and all of the asylum seekers were 
released. The UNHCR noted the country does not provide an adequate 
appeals procedure for asylum seekers, and many persons with disputed 
nationality remain in prison for long periods of time if their country 
of origin cannot be confirmed by the Ministry of Interior.
    According to the African Refugee Development Center, dozens of 
pregnant asylum seekers and single mothers were referred to the 
organization by authorities upon their release from prisons in the 
country. Despite many of them having been the victims of sexual and 
gender-based violence in Sinai and some allegedly having been held for 
ransom and forced labor there, the Government did not provide health 
insurance, pregnancy or postnatal related services, or trauma 
counseling to these women, according to Physicians for Human Rights-
Israel. Authorities sent some female victims of trafficking in persons 
to government shelters during the year, but many others were not 
properly identified in prison as having been trafficking victims.
    For a monthly fee of NIS 185 ($52), health services were provided 
for minors who stayed continuously in the country for a period of six 
months and were not insured by the National Health Insurance Law. Those 
services do not apply to previous health conditions or to children of 
parents who are residents of the Palestinian territories. Physicians 
for Human Rights-Israel (PHR-I) estimated that one-third of families 
with children who are not legal residents were able to purchase medical 
insurance. Although the law provides for emergency medical care for 
every resident, 16 migrant workers and asylum seekers reportedly stated 
that they were denied access to emergency medical treatment in 
hospitals between September 2009 and September due to lack of health 
insurance and inability to pay the required fees.
    By law the Government should provide education to all children 
living in the country, regardless of their status in the Ministry of 
Interior's population registry. NGO and media reports cited instances 
in which children of asylum seekers allegedly were not provided access 
to the country's educational system due to decisions by local school 
and government officials. For example, according to Hotline, children 
of asylum seekers in Eilat were not accepted into the local school 
system during the year.

Section 3. Respect for Political Rights: The Right of Citizens to 
        Change Their Government
    The law provides citizens with the right to change their government 
peacefully, and citizens exercised this right in practice through 
periodic, free, and fair elections based on universal suffrage.

    Elections and Political Participation.--The country is a 
parliamentary democracy with an active multiparty system. Relatively 
small parties, including those primarily supported by Arab-Israelis, 
regularly win Knesset seats. The law requires that a party obtain 2 
percent of the vote to win Knesset seats. In 2008 Prime Minister Ehud 
Olmert resigned after declining to run in a Kadima Party primary 
election. When Kadima Party head Tzipi Livni was unable to form a 
government, Olmert remained as caretaker prime minister until a 
government was formed following February 2009 elections that were 
considered free and fair. In March 2009 following protracted 
negotiations, Benjamin Netanyahu became prime minister of a Likud-led 
coalition government.
    The Basic Law prohibits the candidacy of any party or individual 
that denies the existence of the State of Israel as the state of the 
Jewish people or the democratic character of the state, or that incites 
racism. Otherwise political parties operated without restriction or 
interference. In January 2009 the Supreme Court overturned a Central 
Elections Committee decision to ban the Knesset's two Arab political 
parties, the United Arab List-Ta'al and Balad, from participating in 
the February 2009 elections on the grounds that they did not recognize 
the state and called for armed conflict against it.
    At year's end the Knesset had 23 female and 14 Arab members. The 
30-member cabinet included two women, but no Arabs; three women were 
deputy ministers. Five members of the 15-member Supreme Court, 
including its president, were women. One Arab was on the Supreme Court.

Section 4. Official Corruption and Government Transparency
    The law provides criminal penalties for official corruption, and 
the Government implemented the law effectively. There were reports of 
government corruption during the year, although impunity was not a 
problem. Media routinely reported on corruption. The National Police, 
the state comptroller, the attorney general, and the accountant general 
were responsible for combating official corruption. Senior officials 
were subject to comprehensive financial disclosure laws.
    During the year the Government investigated and prosecuted several 
senior political figures for alleged misconduct.
    On July 13, a court found Knesset Member and former minister of 
justice Tzachi Hanegbi guilty of perjury in a case related to political 
appointments. In November the judges ruled that the perjury involved 
``moral turpitude,'' thereby forcing him to leave the Knesset 
immediately; he was also assessed a fine of NIS 10,000 ($2,813).
    In September the minister of defense appointed an IDF ombudsman to 
investigate allegations of corruption surrounding IDF appointment 
processes, widely known as the ``Galant Document'' affair.
    On December 30, the Tel Aviv District Court convicted former 
president Moshe Katsav of rape and obstruction of justice, as well as 
of sexual assault and sexual harassment of three government employees 
in 2006.
    On May 24, police recommended indicting Foreign Minister Avigdor 
Lieberman for breach of trust based on evidence that he received 
classified information about an ongoing corruption investigation 
against him. The attorney general did not decide whether to issue an 
indictment by year's end. In August 2009 police recommended the 
attorney general indict Lieberman on bribery, money laundering, 
obstruction of justice, and other charges. The attorney general had yet 
to make a decision at year's end.
    On April 14, police arrested former Jerusalem mayor Uri Lupolianski 
on suspicion of accepting NIS three million ($844,000) in bribes. On 
August 23, the police recommended indicting him and a list of 
individuals for taking a bribe, bribery mediating, and breach of trust 
in connection with Jerusalem's Holyland residential construction 
project. The list included former prime minister Ehud Olmert for 
receiving a bribe while he was mayor of Jerusalem; Bank HaPoalim 
Directorate Chairman Danny Dankner for bribery and tax offenses; former 
Israel Land Administration head Yaakov Efrati for fraud and breach of 
trust; former deputy mayor Yehoshua Polak for bribery, fraud, breach of 
trust, money laundering, and tax offenses; Holyland developer Hillel 
Cherney; and Olmert's former bureau chief, Shula Zaken. At year's end 
state prosecutors had yet to decide whether to indict those whom the 
police recommended.
    In August 2009 Attorney General Menachem Mazuz indicted former 
prime minister Olmert along with his former chief of staff Zaken on 
three charges involving breach of trust, falsifying corporate 
documents, and fraudulent conduct. Mazuz also charged Olmert with tax 
evasion and Zaken with illegal eavesdropping. Olmert and Zaken both 
pled not guilty to all charges. At year's end the investigation 
regarding Olmert's political appointments was completed and 
notification letters were sent to the suspects, but a hearing had not 
been scheduled. An additional six persons were indicted on related 
charges, including former tax authority chief Jacky Matza, three tax 
authority officials, and two businessmen.
    The Government did not effectively implement its 1998 Freedom of 
Information Law. Many government bodies did not disclose their internal 
regulations as required, and others failed to publish annual reports. 
The 2008 state comptroller's report found that approximately half of 
governmental authorities did not make available to the public their 
administrative directives or procedures for requesting information or 
    On January 13, the High Court of Justice dismissed ACRI's 2005 
freedom of information petition to require the Government to provide 
timely public access to the ministries' unclassified archives. The 
court awarded legal expenses to ACRI, however, as it found the 
Government had adjusted its policies in the interim in response to the 
petition. In August the Government published the new archives' 
regulations shortening the limitation periods on archival materials and 
ensuring their public availability.

Section 5. Governmental Attitude Regarding International and 
        Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations of Human 
    Numerous domestic and international human rights groups operated 
without government restriction, investigating and publishing their 
findings on human rights cases. Human rights NGOs have standing to 
petition the Supreme Court directly regarding governmental policies and 
can appeal individual cases to the Supreme Court. Government officials 
were cooperative to varying degrees, and routinely invited domestic 
NGOs, including those critical of the Government, such as ACRI, 
Mossawa, Adalah, the PHR-I, and Gisha, among others, to participate in 
Knesset hearings on proposed legislation. A unit in the foreign 
ministry maintained relations with certain international and domestic 
NGOs. The Government responded publicly to criticisms that it believed 
to be unfounded.
    The state comptroller also served as ombudsman for human rights 
issues. The ombudsman investigates complaints against statutory bodies 
that are subject to audit by the state comptroller, including 
government ministries, local authorities, state enterprises and 
institutions, government corporations, and their employees. The 
ombudsman is entitled to use any relevant means of inquiry and has the 
capacity to order any person or body to assist in the inquiry.
    During the year the Ministry of Interior, operating under a 2002 
order, barred entry to foreign nationals affiliated with certain 
Palestinian human rights NGOs and solidarity organizations. The 
Government stated this was done on an individual basis, not according 
to the activities or platform of the NGOs with which they were 
    On September 22, the UN Human Rights Council released the report of 
a fact-finding mission that accused security forces of summarily 
executing six of the nine passengers killed on a Turkish NGO-organized 
flotilla of ships intending to reach the Gaza Strip. Prime Minister 
Netanyahu's office dismissed the report as ``biased'' and 
``distorted.'' On July 12, the IDF investigation into the May 31 events 
concluded that the use of live fire was justified, although it 
criticized organizational and intelligence failures for not being 
prepared for the level of violence committed by some of the flotilla's 
passengers. The Turkel Commission, appointed by the Government on June 
14 as an independent public commission of inquiry with international 
observers, concluded that the blockade was legally imposed and enforced 
according to international law; it found no instance of excessive use 
of force.
    On November 22, the UN Children's Fund criticized the Government 
for not having a comprehensive strategy to protect the rights of 
children and for excluding the West Bank and the Gaza Strip from the 
application of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
    The Government made several policy changes in response to criticism 
from NGOs and international organizations, including the UN Goldstone 
Report, regarding the protection of human rights during the 2008-09 
Operation Cast Lead incursion into the Gaza Strip. Following IDF 
investigations, changes included new limitations on the use of white 
phosphorus in urban settings; the introduction of population assistance 
officers into combat brigades and battalions to focus on minimizing 
civilian casualties and hardship; new written procedures for planners 
to provide for civilian safe havens, evacuation routes, medical 
treatment, and humanitarian access; and new written policies governing 
the destruction of private property and civilian infrastructure.
    During the year the Government introduced several programs to spur 
economic development in Arab towns and to encourage greater hiring of 
minorities. On March 21, the Government allocated NIS 778 million ($219 
million) for the economic development of 13 Arab towns to raise 
employment, improve transportation, encourage housing development, and 
improve security and law enforcement.

Section 6. Discrimination, Societal Abuses, and Trafficking in Persons
    The law prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, gender, 
marital status, political beliefs, disability, or age, and the 
Government effectively enforced these prohibitions.

    Women.--Rape, including spousal rape, is a felony, punishable by 16 
years in prison. The law doubles the penalty if the perpetrator 
assaults or rapes a relative. The Government reported 727 cases opened 
due to rape complaints through October. The Government effectively 
enforced rape laws during the year.
    On December 30, the Tel Aviv District Court convicted former 
president Moshe Katzav of two counts of rape (see section 4).
    NGOs supporting victims of sexual abuse reported a 13 percent rise 
in requests for assistance during the first half of the year in 
comparison with the same period in 2009. The NGOs reportedly received 
4,250 requests for assistance. More than 40 percent of applicants said 
they were victims of rape or attempted rape, and two-thirds said they 
were sexually assaulted before the age of 18. The law prohibits 
violence against women, but domestic violence against women was a 
problem. As of September women filed 11,123 domestic violence 
complaints with police, of which at year's end 2,688 were still being 
investigated, 4,364 were transferred to the State Attorney's Office, 
340 were heard by courts, and 3,741 were closed.
    The Ministry of Social Affairs operated a battered women's shelter 
and an abuse reporting hotline. The police operated a call center to 
inform victims about their cases. Women's organizations provided 
counseling, crisis intervention, legal assistance, and shelters.
    Women's rights NGO Kayan Feminist Organization (Kayan) and PHR-I 
petitioned the Supreme Court to require the Ministry of Health to 
provide health care to battered women living in shelters and to those 
who were without legal status in the country. The case was still 
pending at year's end.
    Several ``honor killings'' occurred within the Arab-Israeli 
community. On October 20, police arrested Ramadan and Khaled Musrati on 
suspicion of involvement in four ``honor killings'' in Lod. The victims 
were alleged to be two men and two women believed to be in 
relationships with each other that their families viewed as 
    Sexual harassment is illegal but remains widespread. The law 
requires that suspected victims be informed of their right to 
assistance. Penalties for sexual harassment depend on the severity of 
the act and whether blackmail is involved; range from two to nine 
years' imprisonment.
    According to a survey by the Ministry of Industry published in 
June, 35 to 40 percent of women reported experiencing sexual harassment 
at work, one-third of whom experienced it in the previous 12 months. 
Among the women who reported harassment, 69 percent said they had 
received ``proposals,'' 47 percent reported comments of a sexual 
nature, 22 percent cited physical violation, 10 percent reported 
humiliation, and 7.7 percent reported extortion and threats.
    In November DIPO opened an investigation into allegations by a 
Public Security Ministry employee that police commander Uri Bar-Lev 
sexually harassed her. The investigation continued at year's end.
    ``Modesty patrols'' continued to harass women in Haredi 
neighborhoods. An article in Yediot Ahronot on March 3 reported that 
police arrested two Haredi men at the Western Wall compound on 
suspicion that they threw chairs at a group of praying women from the 
Woman of the Wall organization, a group occasionally targeted by 
religious groups for exercising their religion at holy sites.
    In March 2009 the Jerusalem District Court sentenced Elhanan 
Buzaglo to four years' imprisonment and required him to pay NIS 10,000 
($2,813) in compensation to a woman who had divorced her husband and 
abandoned her religious way of life. Buzaglo and four other persons 
beat the woman at her home and threatened to kill her if she did not 
move out of the house.
    Couples and individuals had the right to decide the number, 
spacing, and timing of children, and had the information and means to 
do so free from discrimination. Access to information on contraception 
and skilled attendance at delivery and in postpartum care was widely 
available, although women in Haredi communities often had to seek 
approval from a rabbi to use contraception. According to data from the 
UN Population Fund for 2008, the maternal mortality rate in the country 
was seven per 100,000 births. Women and men were given equal access to 
diagnostic services and treatment for sexually transmitted diseases.
    In the secular judicial system, women and men enjoyed the same 
rights, but religious courts restricted the rights of Jewish and Muslim 
women. A Jewish woman is allowed to initiate divorce proceedings, but 
her husband must give his consent to make the divorce final. Because 
some men disappear or refuse to grant the divorce, thousands of so-
called ``agunot'' (chained women) may not remarry or give birth to 
legitimate children. Rabbinical tribunals may, and sometimes did, 
sanction a husband who refused divorce but still did not grant a 
divorce without his consent.
    A Muslim woman may petition for and receive a divorce through the 
Sharia courts without her husband's consent under certain conditions, 
and a marriage contract may provide for other circumstances in which 
she may obtain a divorce without her husband's consent. A Muslim man 
may divorce his wife without her consent and without petitioning the 
    Christians may seek official separations or divorces, depending on 
the denomination, through ecclesiastical courts. During the year Kayan 
criticized the Episcopal Ecclesiastical Court in Nazareth, which is not 
under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Justice, for lack of 
transparency, unnecessary delays, and a judge's refusal to rule in an 
alimony case.
    On September 28, the Supreme Court outlawed public gender 
segregation in Jerusalem's Haredi Mea Shearim neighborhood, in response 
to a petition submitted by NGOs and a Knesset Member asking the court 
to prevent enforcement of gender separation after conservative men 
physically and verbally assaulted women for walking on a designated 
men's only road. Dozens of women protested on September 29 to demand 
immediate enforcement of the court decision.
    According to its Web site, the Yad L'Achim's anti-assimilation 
department receives approximately 1,000 calls per year identifying 
Jewish women who become involved with foreign workers or Arab men. Yad 
L'Achim responded in some cases by what it termed ``launching military-
like rescues from hostile Arab villages and setting the women up in 
'safe' houses around the country, where they could build new lives for 
themselves.'' A December 2009 ``rescue'' from the Gaza Strip of Oshrit 
Ohana and her four children, reportedly coordinated with the IDF and 
Interior Minister Eli Yishai, was widely popular among the public, but 
critics claimed such ``rescues'' sometimes disregarded the will of the 
women involved.
    Although the law prohibits discrimination based on gender in 
employment and wages and provides for class action suits, complaints of 
significant wage disparities between men and women persisted.
    A May 2009 Yediot Ahronot article described a new regulation in the 
ultra-Orthodox Shas' Maayan Torah education network that prohibits 
female workers from working without a head covering that completely 
covers their hair. Many Haredi women expressed disagreement with the 
new regulation that also bans the use of wigs as head coverings.
    The Government enacted a number of programs to improve the status 
of women in the work place and society. The Authority for the 
Advancement of the Status of Women in the Prime Minister's Office 
approved 289 scholarships for higher education for Druze, Bedouin, and 
Circassian female students in the north. The authority held 
professional training courses in Arab, Druze, and Circassian 

    Children.--Citizenship is derived by birth within or outside of the 
country to at least one citizen parent.
    On August 1, the cabinet established guidelines mandating that 
children of foreign workers may remain in the country with their 
parents only if they meet the following five criteria: the child 
studied the preceding year in the state school system; the child is 
enrolled for the current school year in the first grade or higher; the 
child has lived for at least five consecutive years in the country; the 
child's parents entered the country on a valid visa; and the child 
speaks Hebrew. According to government statistics released in August, 
20,000 children of foreign workers were residing in the country 
illegally during the year, 6,000 under the age of five. The Ministry of 
Interior threatened to deport hundreds of children who did not meet the 
established criteria, and some deportations began during the year. The 
Government ensured at least one parent was deported with a child.
    Education is compulsory through the ninth grade. The Government 
operated separate school systems for Hebrew-speaking children, Arabic-
speaking children, and Orthodox Jews. Ultra-Orthodox Haredi political 
parties continued to oppose government regulation of their government-
funded school systems. Large Haredi demonstrations were held in 
Jerusalem throughout the year following the Supreme Court's August 2009 
ruling that outlawed discrimination between Ashkenazi and Sephardic 
students in a religious girls' school in the Emmanuel Settlement.
    According to a National Council of the Child (NCC) report, in 2009 
hospitals and clinics identified 2,907 children who had suffered 
violence within the family and sexual abuse, in comparison with 1,989 
in 2000, a rise of 46 percent.
    The NCC received more than 10,000 complaints during the year 
covering issues of physical and sexual abuse of children, child 
pornography, and poor educational, health, and welfare services.
    According to the Ministry of Welfare, there were many cases of 
children with disabilities who were sexually assaulted that awaited 
investigation during the year.
    The country is a party to the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil 
Aspects of International Child Abduction. For information on 
international parental child abduction, please see the Department of 
State's annual report on compliance at http://travel.state.gov/

    Trafficking in Persons.--For information on trafficking in persons, 
please see the Department of State's annual Trafficking in Persons 
Report, at http://www.state.gov/g/tip/.

    Persons With Disabilities.--The law prohibits discrimination 
against persons with disabilities in employment, education, access to 
health care, or the provision of other state services. Legislation 
mandates access to buildings and transportation, as well as 
accommodations for persons with disabilities in services and the work 
place. The Government enforced the laws with limited success but did 
not formulate specific regulations. Societal discrimination and lack of 
accessibility persisted in employment and housing. Television channels 
include subtitles or sign language, and the courts accommodate 
testimony from persons with intellectual disabilities or mental 
illness. The law mandates accessibility to urban public transportation, 
but not interurban buses; as of September 2009, approximately 40 
percent of buses did not have such access. Most train stations 
maintained access for persons with disabilities.
    There are an estimated 120,000 to 160,000 persons with severe 
mental illness, and very few receive rehabilitation services, according 
to research published by the Myers-JDC-Brookdale Institute.
    Various ministries and agencies maintained responsibility for 
persons with disabilities. The Commission for Equal Rights of People 
with Disabilities within the Ministry of Justice is responsible for 
protecting the rights of persons with disabilities. It receives public 
inquiries, provides legal advice, represents clients, and educates and 
promotes best practices. It took legal action in the areas of 
accessibility and employment, and issued regulations to provide access 
to services and public sites. However, improvements were slow, 
according to Bizchut, a domestic NGO that advocates for the rights of 
persons with disabilities. On December 20, the commission released a 
report which stated that, of approximately 1.5 million citizens who 
consider themselves disabled, 43 percent of those with severe 
disabilities and 29 percent with moderate disabilities went without 
food at some stage over the past year, while more than one-third of 
those with severe disabilities and 23 percent with moderate 
disabilities could not afford essential medicine during at least one 
period in the year. In addition according to the report, 60 percent of 
persons with severe disabilities and nearly half of those with moderate 
disabilities could not afford heat, and 41 percent had their phone 
disconnected in the reporting period.
    During the year Bizchut's public inquiries hotline received 2,400 
calls from individuals alleging that their rights had been violated due 
to their disability. The main complaints focused on national insurance, 
education, housing, hospitalization, and legal assistance.
    In response to a petition to the Supreme Court submitted by NGOs 
including Bizchut, the Ministry of Education began a pilot program in 
one town to award each child with special needs a personal education 
budget. Bizchut continued to claim throughout the year that the 
education system did not provide adequate support to children with 
special needs.
    The Division for Integrating Persons with Disabilities in the Labor 
Market within the Ministry of Industry examines and promotes employment 
for persons with disabilities. In August 2009 an amendment to the 
National Insurance Law came into effect that allows persons who receive 
a disability pension to earn more by permitting a combination of income 
and pension, rather than requiring the total forfeiture of the 
disability pension.
    The Ministry of Social Affairs and Social Services provides out-of-
home placement and sheltered employment for persons with cognitive, 
physical, and communication disabilities. It also handles criminal 
investigations involving persons with certain disabilities, either 
victims or offenders, when police request assistance.
    The National Insurance Agency provides financial benefits and 
stipends, the Ministry of Health provides mental health and 
rehabilitation services, and the Ministry of Education provides special 
education services. However, Bizchut continued to criticize the lack of 
services provided in practice to mainstreamed pupils, which effectively 
limited their integration into regular class settings.
    An article in Yediot Ahronot on July 25 described a new IDF program 
to allow persons with disabilities to complete basic army training; 19 
persons graduated from an initial course held in July.

    National/Racial/Ethnic Minorities.--Citizens of Arab origin and 
Palestinian residents of the West Bank and East Jerusalem living in the 
country faced discrimination in public and private life. Tensions 
between Arabs and Jews were high in areas where the two communities 
overlap, such as Jerusalem, the Galilee, and Negev, and in some cities 
with historically separate Jewish and Arab neighborhoods.
    On November 5, according to police and victim reports, a group of 
eight teenagers severely beat a Chilean tourist in downtown Jerusalem 
after mistaking him for an Arab. Police arrested the suspects on 
charges of committing an attack causing grave bodily harm.
    On December 21, police arrested a group of nine Jewish teenagers 
suspected of perpetrating a series of violent attacks against Arab 
youths in Jerusalem during November and December. In one case the group 
allegedly began beating a victim, asked for his identity card to 
determine whether he was Arab, and then continued beating him after the 
card showed that he was.
    In November Arab students in Safed reported experiencing anonymous 
harassment including telephone calls threatening to set their apartment 
on fire and one of their cars being spray painted, ``Arabs out.'' The 
students also alleged that a local rabbi asked them to leave the town 
and return to an Arab country, because ``Safed should be Jewish.''
    In December dozens of rabbis signed a letter urging Jewish owners 
of apartments not to rent their properties to Arabs, claiming it would 
deflate the value of their homes as well as those in the neighborhood. 
The rabbis also urged neighbors of anyone renting or selling property 
to Arabs to caution that individual and to inform the general public. A 
subsequent letter signed by 30 rabbis' wives urged Jewish women not to 
work, date, or do community service with non-Jews. Numerous government 
officials and senior rabbinic authorities expressed concern that the 
letters were encouraging racism in the Jewish population.
    At year's end a trial continued against Yaakov (Jack) Teitel, a 
Jewish settler in the West Bank who was indicted in 2009 for crimes 
including the 1997 killings of Palestinian shepherd Issa Jabrin near 
Hebron and Samir Akram Balbisi, an Arab taxi driver in Jerusalem, and 
the 2008 bombing deaths of professor Ze'ev Sternhell and a Messianic 
Jewish leader's 15-year-old son, Ami Ortiz. On August 30, the Jerusalem 
District Court ruled he was fit to stand trial.
    On January 6, the Tel Aviv District Court convicted Eliyahu Aharoni 
of conspiracy to commit arson with a racist motive and for illegally 
producing and carrying incendiary bombs. In 2008 police arrested him 
and five other young Jewish men in Tel Aviv for allegedly firebombing 
three Arab apartments in a Jewish neighborhood. The other five were not 
indicted due to lack of evidence.
    Arab and other minority residents of the country faced official and 
societal discrimination in a number of areas, including employment, 
education, land ownership, and naturalization.
    The law exempts Arab citizens, except for members of the Druze 
religion, from mandatory military service, but some serve voluntarily. 
Citizens who do not perform military service enjoy fewer social and 
economic benefits. Arab citizens generally were ineligible to work in 
companies with defense contracts or in security-related fields if they 
did not serve in the military. The Government managed a National Civil 
Service program for citizens not drafted for military service, giving 
Arab citizens, Haredi Jews, Orthodox Jewish women, and others the 
opportunity to provide public service in their own communities and thus 
be eligible for the same benefits accorded military veterans. Of the 
12,000 volunteers during the 2009-10 academic year, 1,256 were Arab 
citizens, half of whom served in education, 22 percent in health, 16 
percent in welfare, and the remainder in legal and environmental work 
and road accident prevention. Ninety percent of the Arab volunteers 
were women.
    The law requires that minorities have ``appropriate 
representation'' in the civil service and on the boards of government-
owned corporations, but Arab citizens were underrepresented in most 
fields of employment, including the Government. According to data as of 
June reported by the Committee for the Examination of Appointments, 
which works to provide for appropriate representation, 39 out of the 98 
governmental corporations satisfied the requirement, and 18 others were 
exempt. One percent of government company employees were Arab, Druze, 
or Circassian; these groups formed about 20 percent of the overall 
population. An affirmative action program undertaken to promote the 
hiring of Arabs, Druze, and Circassians in the civil service has 
slightly increased their representation each year. According to the 
Government, 6.97 percent of government employees in 2009 were Arab, 
Druze, or Circassian, compared with 6.17 percent in 2007.
    Resources devoted to the education of Arab children were inferior 
to those devoted to Jewish children in the public education system. In 
January the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development 
(OECD) estimated that public spending for children in Arab localities 
was at least one-third lower than for children in Jewish 
municipalities. There were on average 25 Jewish schoolchildren per 
classroom, while Arab children averaged 29 per classroom.
    According to the NGO Pedagogic Council for Arab Education, 
disparities in education between Jewish and Arab students limit Arab 
students' access to higher education. According to the NGO Dirasat, 
Arab-Israelis composed just 10.6 percent of all university 
undergraduate students and less than 1 percent of all tenured 
professors. Of 4,012 tenured university professors, 38 were Arab (34 
men and four women).
    Approximately 93 percent of land was in the public domain, 
including approximately 12.5 percent owned by the NGO Jewish National 
Fund (JNF), whose statutes prohibit sale or lease of land to non-Jews. 
According to a 2005 attorney general ruling, the Government cannot 
discriminate against Arab citizens in marketing and allocating lands it 
manages, including those of the JNF. As an interim measure, the 
Government agreed to compensate the JNF for any land it leased to an 
Arab by transferring an equal amount of land from the Israel Lands 
Administration (ILA) to the JNF. Legal petitions against the JNF policy 
of leasing public land only to Jews were ongoing at year's end. The NGO 
Israel Land Fund continued its program to purchase Arab land throughout 
the country and market it to Jewish buyers, including in the diaspora; 
the organization claimed that all the land belonged to Jewish people 
and described as a ``danger'' the purchase of Jewish-owned lands by 
    On November 8, the Supreme Court rejected a petition by Arab 
residents in Jaffa arguing that the ILA illegally leased public land to 
an organization that will market new apartments built on the land 
exclusively to Jewish citizens. The court stated that ILA is obligated 
to prevent discrimination, but it denied the petition because the land 
rights had already been sold.
    New construction is illegal in towns that do not have an authorized 
outline plan for development, which is the legal responsibility of 
local authorities. At year's end according to the Government, 41 of the 
country's 128 Arab communities had fully approved planning schemes, 28 
were awaiting approvals from district or national planning committees, 
35 had outline plans in the final stages of the localities' approval 
process, nine began developing their outline plans, and 15 were still 
working towards creating master plans. However, Arab advocacy 
organizations continued to challenge the demolition of illegal 
buildings in the Arab sector by claiming that the Government unfairly 
restricted building permits and rezoned open space areas to exclude 
Arabs from expanding built-up areas. In the country's 46 unrecognized 
Bedouin ``villages'' constructed haphazardly on state land in the Negev 
claimed by various tribes, all buildings were illegal since there were 
no recognized local authorities to promote an authorized detailed plan. 
Approximately 60,000 Bedouin resided in such unrecognized villages, 
while more than 120,000 lived in legally planned and constructed urban 
and suburban centers.
    On July 27, the police demolished the 45 structures of the 
unrecognized Bedouin ``village'' of al-Arakib, which had been built 
illegally on state land, after multiple eviction orders and a 2007 
Supreme Court decision. For decades the state had leased the area to 
Bedouins for agriculture, but in 1998 the el Tory tribe moved from 
Rahat and attempted to settle on the land they claimed was wrongly 
expropriated from their tribe in 1951. Despite 12 years of court 
proceedings producing repeated injunctions, including a 2003 evacuation 
notice against the nine individuals then found to be trespassing at Al-
Arakib, the Bedouin clan continued to return to the site. Many advocacy 
groups criticized the demolition as enforcing the expropriation of 
property that the Bedouin clan claimed was its own prior to 1951, 
although it was unable to prove prior ownership in court. Police 
repeatedly demolished rebuilt structures on eight separate occasions by 
the end of the year.
    The law bars family reunification in cases where one spouse is a 
non-Jewish citizen of Iran, Iraq, Syria, or Lebanon. Male spouses who 
are 35 or older and female spouses who are 25 or older may apply for 
temporary visit permits but may not receive residency based on their 
marriage and have no path to citizenship. The Government originally 
enacted the law following 23 terrorist attacks involving suicide 
bombers from the occupied territories who had gained access to Israeli 
identification through family unification. During the year human rights 
NGOs and international organizations continued to criticize this ban, 
which primarily affected Palestinian spouses of Arab citizens. Mossawa 
claimed the law affected more than 21,000 families, including couples 
with long-standing marriages. In June 2009 in response to a petition by 
Kayan, PHR-I, and ACRI, the Supreme Court demanded an explanation 
within six months from the Government for its refusal to grant social 
and health insurance to an estimated 5,000 Palestinian spouses of 
citizens who were granted ``staying permits'' to reside legally in 
Israel. On January 27, the court recommended the Government provide a 
temporary solution that would be in place until an official policy 
could be formulated. On July 4, the Government requested an additional 
five months to formulate a response regarding the provision of social 
benefits to nonresidents.
    Public debate continued over the suggestion of some Jewish 
politicians, including the foreign minister and members of his Yisrael 
Beitenu party in media interviews and speeches throughout the year, of 
``an exchange of populated territories'' of Arab villages in Israel to 
the West Bank (in return for transferring Jewish settlements in the 
West Bank to Israel, by way of adjusting the border) as part of a 
negotiated solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Arab citizens 
of Israel overwhelmingly condemned the proposal, while Jewish opinion 
ranged from support to condemnation.
    While Arab communities in the country generally faced economic 
difficulties (the NGO Dirasat, the Arab Center for Law and Policy, 
stated that 97 percent of all Arab local councils ranked in the bottom 
four economic development clusters on a national index), the Bedouin 
segment of the Arab population was the most disadvantaged. More than 
half of the population of about 160,000 Bedouin lived in seven state-
planned communities, which were among the eight poorest communities in 
the country, according to a 2008 report by Human Rights Watch. 
Approximately 60,000 Bedouin lived in at least 46 unrecognized tent or 
shack villages that did not have water and electricity, and lacked 
educational, health, and welfare services.
    Government planners noted there were insufficient funds to relocate 
Bedouin living in unrecognized villages to new towns, and the average 
Bedouin family could not afford to purchase a home in existing towns; 
however, the Government maintained a program to encourage such movement 
by providing low-cost land and compensation for demolition of illegal 
structures for those willing to move to designated permanent locations. 
Many Bedouin complained that moving to government-planned towns 
required giving up claims to land they had lived on for generations, 
while the Government claimed it was difficult to provide services to 
clusters of buildings throughout the Negev that ignored planning 
    At year's end a government implementation team was in the final 
stages of creating a plan for the Bedouin housing situation in the 
Negev, as recommended in 2008 by the Goldberg Committee.
    By year's end the Supreme Court had not ruled on a 2006 Adalah 
appeal of the Haifa District Court decision not to overturn a Water 
Tribunal decision denying water services to unrecognized villages. 
Bedouins living in established towns have municipal services; the 
Government additionally built water centers in six Bedouin localities.
    The Government prohibits Druze citizens, like all citizens, from 
visiting Syria. The Government allowed noncitizen Druze from the Golan 
Heights to visit holy sites in Syria through the ICRC-managed 
pilgrimage program, but it has prevented family visitations since 1982.
    A population of about 100,000 Ethiopian Jews faced persistent 
social discrimination although officials and the majority of citizens, 
quickly and publicly condemned discriminatory acts against them.
    On May 4, approximately 200 parents and children protested racial 
segregation in Beer Sheva's Otzar Haim kindergarten, where they claimed 
that Ethiopian Jewish children were educated in a separate room from 
the rest of the children. An official from the Industry, Trade, and 
Labor Ministry then visited the site and forced the school to cease the 
    On July 13, the NGO Tebeka, Advocacy for Equality and Justice for 
Ethiopian Israelis, filed suit against an Egged bus driver in the Petah 
Tikvah Magistrates Court for refusing a student entry and then making 
racist statements against Ethiopian Jews. The bus company suspended the 
driver, and the Ministry of Transport filed suit against the driver and 
the bus company.
    In the Bnei Brak neighborhood of Tel Aviv in November, a resident 
assaulted an Ethiopian Jewish teenager after refusing to allow her to 
enter a religious ritual bath. Police arrested the suspect and he was 
indicted before the Tel Aviv Magistrates Court.
    During the year the Government introduced several programs to spur 
economic development and to encourage greater hiring of minorities.

    Societal Abuses, Discrimination, and Acts of Violence Based on 
Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity.--The law prohibits 
discrimination based on sexual orientation, and the Government 
generally enforced these laws.
    Gay pride rallies occurred peacefully in Tel Aviv on June 11 and in 
Jerusalem on July 29. An estimated 2,000 persons participated in the 
Jerusalem rally. There were police authorization and protection for the 
participants. Three separate antigay rallies were held in conjunction 
with the Jerusalem rally, including one in Independence Park where 
protesters held up signs reading: ``Sick perverts, get out of 
Jerusalem,'' according to media reports. There was also a demonstration 
against the march in the ultra-Orthodox Jerusalem neighborhood of Mea 
    There were no reports of violence against the lesbian, gay, 
bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community during the year; however, in 
August 2009 a masked gunman killed Nir Katz, 26, and Liz Trobishi, 16, 
and wounded 15 others in the offices of the NGO GLBT Israel in Tel 
Aviv. At year's end, a police investigation continued, but the 
perpetrator had not been found. High-level politicians, including the 
president and prime minister, condemned the attacks. Authorities 
arrested settler Yaakov Teitel (see sections 1.a. and the annex) in 
October 2009 after he posted signs praising the attack, but police did 
not charge him with the killings. On August 30, in commemoration of the 
2009 attack, the Tel Aviv municipality launched an educational program 
for Tel Aviv schools focusing on LGBT issues, including the prevention 
of discrimination.
    There were cases of official and societal discrimination against 
the LGBT community during the year.
    On September 14, the Supreme Court ruled that the Jerusalem 
municipality discriminated against a LGBT community center by not 
providing similar funding that had been provided to similar community 
    An article in Yediot Ahronot on September 19 stated that Jerusalem 
Family Court Judge Phillip Marcus called on the Government to 
investigate whether LGBT petitioners are ``pedophiles or serial 

    Other Societal Violence or Discrimination.--There were no reports 
of societal violation or discrimination against persons with HIV/AIDS.

Section 7. Worker Rights
    a. The Right of Association.--The Government effectively 
implemented laws concerning the right of association and provided that 
citizens may join and establish independent labor organizations of 
their choice without previous authorization or excessive requirements. 
According to the Government, approximately 33 percent of the total 
workforce is unionized. The law allows unions to conduct their 
activities without government interference.
    Unions have the right to strike, and workers exercised this right. 
If essential public services are affected by a strike, the Government 
may appeal to labor courts for back-to-work orders while negotiations 
continue. Worker dismissals and the terms of severance arrangements 
traditionally have been the central issues of disputes.

    b. The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively.--The law 
provides for the right for citizens to bargain collectively, and it was 
enforced. There were no restrictions on collective bargaining 
agreements, which covered approximately 58 percent of all workers. 
Collective bargaining agreements extend to nonunion workplaces in the 
same sector. The law specifically prohibits antiunion discrimination, 
and none was reported.
    There are no export processing zones.

    c. Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor.--The law prohibits 
forced or compulsory labor and criminalizes labor exploitation. 
However, according to a March OECD review, the laws concerning minimum 
employment conditions and foreign workers were not effectively 
    The law provides that foreign laborers have legal status, decent 
working conditions, health insurance, and a written employment 
contract; nonetheless, some employers continued to force individual 
laborers who entered the country, legally and illegally, to live under 
conditions that constituted involuntary servitude.
    A 2009 reorganization of the immigration and employment law 
enforcement functions left the Ministry of Interior's Population, 
Immigration, and Border Crossings Authority with the power to arrest 
and detain workers but not to enforce labor or trafficking laws against 
employers. As a result, according to Hotline, even in cases when an 
illegal worker was detained when working, inspectors were unable to 
charge the employer with labor law violations or illegal employment.
    Some workers faced conditions of forced labor, including through 
such practices as the unlawful withholding of passports, restrictions 
on movement, the inability to change or otherwise choose one's 
employer, nonpayment of wages, threats, and physical intimidation. 
There were numerous documented cases but few resulting employer 
prosecutions, concerning foreign laborers' living in harsh conditions 
and subject to debt bondage. The NGO Kav LaOved identified several 
dozen employees in the agricultural sector held under conditions of 
slavery and subjugation and facilitated their release to government-run 
shelters. Thai agricultural workers, Chinese construction workers, and 
nursing care workers from India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and the 
Philippines--particularly women--were at greatest risk for abuse, 
including trafficking, forced labor, nonpayment, and withholding of 
    On February 7, Kav LaOved filed a complaint with police alleging 
human trafficking of Thai agricultural workers. According to Kav 
LaOved, the employer paid the workers NIS 120 ($34) a day, far below 
minimum wage; forced them to work 14-hour days with only one day off 
every two weeks; and made them sign falsified reports of hours and 
salary. At year's end, police had taken no action against the employer, 
but authorities had moved the workers to a government-operated shelter 
and found them new jobs.
    Kav LaOved also filed complaints with police regarding trafficking 
at a moshav (privately owned farm) in the Beit Shean Valley, 
underpayment and harassment by an owner of a moshav near the Gaza 
Strip, and violations of the Work and Rest Hours Law, the Migrant 
Workers Law, and Minimum Wage Law by employers at a moshav in the Beit 
Shean Valley.
    In the caregiving sector, Kav LaOved filed complaints of violations 
in several cases, including allegations that a caregiver employed in 
Herzelia was forced to work without compensation in exchange for a 
``fee'' for her visa, that two additional caregivers in Herzelia were 
not given sufficient food and had wages withheld, and that a caregiver 
employed in Ashdod was forced to have sex.
    In August 2009 following a complaint by Kav LaOved, a criminal 
indictment was filed in the Beer Sheva Magistrate's Court against the 
agricultural company Katif Venture and Development Limited and some of 
its employees, charging them with employing Thai and Nepalese 
agricultural workers in inhumane conditions. The charges included 
making the employees work for 15 to 20 hours each day, seven days per 
week, paying well below the minimum wage with no overtime compensation; 
constantly threatening to accelerate the employees' work pace lest they 
be returned to their home countries; and prohibiting use of a 
telephone. The workers were also required to live in extremely crowded 
conditions in temporary buildings that were completely exposed to the 
elements. The employers were charged with exploitation, fraud, and 
causing injury by negligence. The case was pending in court at year's 
    Also see the Department of State's annual Trafficking in Persons 
Report at www.state.gov/g.tip.

    d. Prohibition of Child Labor and Minimum Age for Employment.--Laws 
provide for protection of children from exploitation in the workplace 
and prohibit forced or compulsory labor; the Government generally 
enforced these laws.
    Children at least 14 years old may be employed during official 
school holidays in light work that will not harm their health. Children 
at least 15 years old who have completed education through grade nine 
may be employed as apprentices. Working hours for those children 
between16 and 18 years old are restricted in all sectors.
    During the year the Labor Laws Enforcement Division in the Ministry 
of Industry, Trade, and Labor initiated 250 investigations, 
investigated more than 1,000 employers for allegedly violating the law, 
filed 55 indictments against employers, and imposed 822 administrative 
fines totaling approximately NIS 10.5 million ($3 million).
    The Labor Law Enforcement Division also conducted national 
campaigns regarding employment terms of youth to promote the 
implementation of youth labor laws, especially during summer vacation.

    e. Acceptable Conditions of Work.--The Labor Inspection Service, 
along with union representatives, enforced labor, health, and safety 
standards in the workplace. Resource constraints affected overall 
enforcement, and according to the OECD the country continued to have a 
general problem of failing to enforce its labor laws.
    The minimum wage was NIS 3,850 ($1,083) per month for a 43-hour 
week. There are reduced minimum wages for youths and persons with 
disabilities. The Government considered the minimum wage, supplemented 
by special allowances for citizens, to provide a citizen worker a 
decent standard of living. Some union officials, NGOs, and social 
commentators disputed this claim. Noncitizen workers did not receive 
the special allowances. Resource constraints limited inspections, 
particularly of conditions in the settlements where many Thai citizens 
    The law allows for citizens a maximum 43-hour workweek at regular 
pay. The law provides for citizens a daily break for a period of 45 
minutes, which may be divided into two breaks. Premium pay was 125 
percent for the first two hours and 150 percent for any additional 
hours, with a limit of 15 hours of overtime per week.
    The law applies to noncitizens, although with modifications, and 
enforcement was not adequate, according to Hotline and other NGOs. 
Migrant workers in the homecare sector are not covered by the Work and 
Rest Hours Law.
    The Government set occupational health and safety standards. The 
Ministry of Industry carried out inspections. Health and safety 
inspections in the homecare sector were particularly insufficient, 
according to Kav LaOved.
    Documented foreign workers were not entitled to many of the same 
benefits as citizens, including national health care. Employers are 
legally required to provide such insurance, and most employers did so. 
Female migrant workers in the homecare sector remained particularly 
vulnerable to abuse and forced labor. The live-in arrangements and lack 
of labor law enforcement led to many cases of women migrant workers 
working ``on a 24-hour basis,'' according to Kav LaOved. These workers 
also worked without suitable compensation for overtime and were forced 
to perform domestic tasks such as cleaning and cooking for all family 
members without compensation.
    According to Kav LaOved, foreign workers in the agricultural sector 
also remained vulnerable to health and safety violations; prolonged 
exposure to pesticides led to complaints of breathing difficulties, 
burns, skin allergies, and cases of cancer; and there were several 
complaints from agricultural foreign workers of nonpayment for 
overtime, excessive working hours, and poor living conditions.
    According to the Government, workers, including foreign workers, 
can remove themselves from a dangerous work situation and seek 
alternate employment. However, Kav LaOved maintained that in practice 
workers in the homecare and agricultural sectors were not able to seek 
alternative employment due to pressures from their sponsoring agencies.
    Brokers and employers collected hiring fees from migrant workers. 
The Government limited such fees to NIS 3,135 (approximately $883) per 
    On August 24, after complaints about excessive commission rates and 
profiteering over money transfers, the Ministry of Interior closed 
Interman Management Initiatives and Consultations Limited. The company, 
which brought migrant workers, largely from Thailand, to the country's 
agriculture sector, charged an average commission rate of NIS 35,546 
($10,000) for each foreign worker.
    The Government reported that, during the last two years, it revoked 
at least18 companies' recruitment licenses and their special permits to 
recruit foreign workers. Investigations and administrative hearings led 
to the closure of some recruitment agencies.
    Workers may contest deportation orders, but lack of fluency in 
Hebrew placed them at a considerable disadvantage. Interpreters were 
provided when available, but no court-appointed attorneys were 
provided. According to Hotline, the lack of interpreters in various 
governmental agencies continued to be a ``grave problem,'' and public 
information in languages other than Hebrew was hard to obtain.
 the occupied territories (including areas subject to the jurisdiction 
                     of the palestinian authority)
    Israel began occupying the Gaza Strip, Golan Heights, the West 
Bank, and East Jerusalem during the 1967 War and continued to occupy 
those areas during the year. (For information about the Israeli-
occupied Golan Heights, please see the Israel report above.) During the 
year the Palestinian population of the West Bank was approximately 2.5 
million, and the Gaza Strip's population totaled 1.6 million, nearly 
all of whom were Palestinian. There were an estimated 260,000 Arabs 
living in East Jerusalem with residency permits rather than Israeli 
citizenship. Approximately 190,000 Israeli citizens, including a small 
number of Arab citizens of Israel, also lived in East Jerusalem; 
Israelis in the West Bank numbered approximately 300,000; and there 
were no Jewish settlements in the Gaza Strip.
    The Palestinian Authority (PA) had a democratically elected 
president and legislative council. The PA exercised varying degrees of 
authority over the Palestinian population in the West Bank and none 
over Arab residents of East Jerusalem due to the Israel Defense Force's 
(IDF) continuing presence in the West Bank and Israel's extension of 
Israeli law and authority in 1967 to East Jerusalem; it had little 
authority in the Gaza Strip and none over Israeli residents of the West 
    In 2005 Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Chairman Mahmoud 
Abbas won 62 percent of the vote in a presidential election regarded as 
generally free and fair. In the 2006 Palestinian Legislative Council 
(PLC) elections, Hamas (a terrorist organization)-backed candidates won 
74 of 132 seats in elections that generally met democratic standards. 
In 2007 President Abbas dismissed the national unity government after 
Hamas staged a violent takeover of PA government installations in the 
Gaza Strip and killed hundreds in the Fatah movement and PA security 
forces; he appointed a cabinet of independents led by Prime Minister 
Salam Fayyad that continued to govern the West Bank during the year. 
Elements of the Hamas government maintained authority in the Gaza 
Strip, where they selectively applied the laws and legal structures of 
the PA. West Bank authorities postponed municipal PA elections 
scheduled to be held in the West Bank in July; however, the Palestinian 
courts ruled the postponement illegal in November. Both Israeli and PA 
security forces reported to civilian authorities. Hamas maintained 
control of security forces in the Gaza Strip. Armed militias and 
terrorist organizations were still active in some areas in the West 
Bank and the Gaza Strip.
    Principal human rights problems related to the PA included 
mistreatment in detention, arbitrary and prolonged detention, poor 
prison conditions, impunity, corruption, and lack of transparency. 
Domestic abuse of women, societal discrimination against women and 
persons with disabilities, and child labor remained serious problems.
    Residents of the Gaza Strip under Hamas had no right to political 
participation or to choose their government. Other human rights 
problems in the Gaza Strip included reports that Hamas security forces 
continued to kill, torture, kidnap, arbitrarily detain, and harass 
Fatah members and other Palestinians with impunity. There were reports 
of abuse of prisoners and failure to provide fair trials to those 
accused. Hamas also strictly restricted the freedom of speech, 
religion, and movement of the Gaza Strip residents. Corruption 
reportedly was a problem. Hamas promoted gender discrimination against 
women. Domestic violence against women also remained a problem. Hamas 
and other Palestinian factions in the Gaza Strip launched rockets and 
mortars against civilian targets in Israel.
    Principal human rights problems related to Israeli authorities in 
the West Bank were reports of excessive use of force against civilians, 
including killings, torture of Palestinian detainees, improper use of 
security detention procedures, austere and overcrowded detention 
facilities, demolition and confiscation of Palestinian properties, 
limits on freedom of expression and assembly, and severe restrictions 
on Palestinians' internal and external freedom of movement. 
Additionally the IDF, in some cases, failed to pursue investigations 
and disciplinary actions related to violations. Violence by Israeli 
settlers was also reported. The IDF imposed serious restrictions on the 
importation of goods into the Gaza Strip and general prohibition on 
external travel for Gazans.
    (Note: Throughout the report, human rights concerns related to each 
actor (the PA, Hamas, and Israel) follow in sequential order.)
                        RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS

Section 1. Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom 
    a. Arbitrary or Unlawful Deprivation of Life.--There were no 
reports that the PA committed political killings; however, PA forces 
killed at least one civilian during the year. There were multiple 
reports that Palestinian terrorist groups, including Hamas, committed 
unlawful killings. The Israeli government reportedly committed at least 
one targeted killing in the occupied territories during the year, and 
reports of Israeli security forces killing civilian Palestinians, 
including protesters, continued.
    There was one reported killing by Palestinian security forces 
during the year. On May 1, PA security forces shot and killed 18-year-
old Rami Sa'id Salah al-Absi after he drove through a security 
checkpoint in Hebron; the PA actors reportedly suspected al-Absi was 
involved in the robbery of a Bethlehem clothing store. At year's end no 
action had resulted from an investigation of al-Absi's death.
    In July a Palestinian military court found five security officers 
negligent in the June 2009 death of Haitham Amer but acquitted the 
officers of more serious charges, according to Human Rights Watch 
(HRW). The court cited a lack of evidence in the case, despite an 
official Palestinian autopsy report stating that Amer had died during 
detention and interrogation at a General Intelligence Service facility 
in Hebron due to torture, as well as testimony by three detainees who 
witnessed his death.
    Civilian Palestinian factional violence during the year, including 
fights, family disputes, and manslaughter, resulted in 35 Palestinian 
fatalities in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, according to the quasi-
governmental Independent Commission for Human Rights (ICHR). The PA was 
not responsible for these fatalities.
    Hamas-controlled security forces and other Palestinian terrorist 
groups continued to kill Israelis and Arabs in the West Bank and the 
Gaza Strip. According to Israeli government statistics, Palestinian 
terrorist acts emanating from the West Bank killed six Israelis, 
including four civilians. No Israeli civilians died in violence 
emanating from the Gaza Strip, although the Israeli government 
attributed the death of a Thai migrant worker in Israel to a rocket 
attack launched from the northern Gaza Strip.
    In the Gaza Strip, according to local media and the ICHR, masked 
gunmen affiliated with Hamas unlawfully executed at least 32 persons 
during the year. By law the PA president must ratify the death penalty, 
but Hamas did not contact the PA regarding the executions. In some 
cases, such as that of Mohammed Ismail and Nasser Abu Freh on April 15, 
the executions were based on allegations that the victims collaborated 
with Israel.
    Hamas summoned 52-year-old Jamil Shafiq Shaqura for questioning at 
an internal security facility in Khan Yunis in the Gaza Strip, where he 
was tortured, according to Israeli human rights NGO B'Tselem; he died 
on January 6 from a stroke as a result of his abuse.
    On June 14, unknown actors shot and killed an Israeli police 
officer, Yehushua Sofer, in an attack on his patrol car near the 
Hebron-area Israeli settlement of Beit Haggai, according to IDF 
reports. The attack injured two other police officers. Israeli 
authorities opened an investigation and arrested suspects with Hamas 
affiliations on July 22. At year's end there were no updates.
    On August 31, Hamas gunmen shot and killed four Israeli residents 
of the West Bank settlement of Beit Haggai, who were traveling by car 
near Hebron. The four victims were identified as married couple Yitzak 
and Talia Ames, Avishai Shindler, and Kochba Even-Chaim; retaliatory 
skirmishes occurred near a number of West Bank settlements, with 
Israeli settlers reportedly throwing stones and Molotov cocktails at 
Palestinian villagers.
    Israeli security forces killed 79 Palestinians during the year, 
including seven minors in the Gaza Strip and two minors in the West 
Bank, which was an increase from the 59 killings in 2009 (not including 
deaths during Operation Cast Lead), according to statistics maintained 
by B'Tselem. Israel described all IDF actions in the occupied 
territories as ``operational activities,'' preventing accountability 
for breaches of law and investigations, according to B'Tselem.
    The Israeli government was responsible for at least one targeted 
killing. On September 17, Israeli security personnel shot and killed 
Iyad As'ad Abu Shelbaya in his home at the Palestinian Nur ash-Shams 
refugee camp during the night. The Israeli government suspected that 
Abu Shelbaya, known for his reported links to Hamas, had taken part in 
an August 31 attack that killed four Israeli settlers (see above).
    At year's end there was no update or investigation into the death 
of Khaled Harb Khaled Sh'alan, a 23-year-old resident of Gaza City and 
a reported Islamic Jihad commander, who was killed by Israeli 
helicopter fire in March 2009.
    Reports of Israeli forces killing Palestinians in restricted areas 
in the Gaza Strip and in waters off the Gaza Strip coast continued 
during the year. Israel acknowledged the land ``buffer zone'' in May 
2009 to be 328 yards from the border fence, although it generally 
enforced the buffer zone at 547 yards, with reports of Palestinians 
being shot at as far away as 1,640 yards from the border fence. Israel 
barred access to fishing areas beyond three nautical miles from the 
shore; for example, in four incidents in October, Israeli naval forces 
fired ``warning'' shots at Palestinian fishing boats, forcing them 
ashore. Israel enforced these restrictions with the stated intention of 
preventing attacks by Palestinian armed factions. The IDF rarely 
launched investigations into buffer zone shootings, although on 
September 15, it announced that three Gazans, ages17, 21, and 91, 
killed by the IDF earlier in the year near the border fence, had not 
been involved in terrorist activities.
    On March 21, Israeli security forces shot and killed two 
Palestinian 19-year-olds looking for scrap metal on farmland east of 
the West Bank village of Awarta, according to several NGOs and press 
reports. The two were not in a restricted area. The Israeli soldiers 
claimed that Salah Muhammad Kamel Quareq and Muhammad Feisal Mahmoud 
Quareq told them that they were on their way to work in the fields but 
did not produce identification documents upon request and, 
subsequently, attempted to attack the border guards with a pitchfork. 
Medical reports indicated that the shots came from close range. The 
Israeli chief military prosecutor ordered an investigation into the 
killings, the results of which were not available at year's end, 
although authorities dismissed the soldiers' squad commander.
    On May 14, the IDF shot and killed 75-year-old Fouad Ahmad Yusef 
Abu Matar, a resident of Beit Lahiya in the northern Gaza Strip, when 
he approached the perimeter fence east of Jabalya Refugee Camp.
    On June 11, according to local media sources, Israeli border police 
shot and killed Ziad Jilani, a Palestinian resident of East Jerusalem, 
while he lay on the ground. Jilani had swerved his vehicle into a group 
of officers, injuring several, but eyewitnesses told the media that 
Jilani did not pose a danger at the time of the shooting. It was 
unclear if Jilani hit the officers deliberately; eyewitness accounts 
reported that Jilani swerved to avoid stones that bystanders had thrown 
at the officers.
    On September 24, according B'Tselem, Israeli naval force machine-
gun fire killed 19-year-old Muhammad Mansur Omar Baqar while he was 
fishing off the coast of Jabalya in the Gaza Strip.
    Israeli security forces reportedly killed three demonstrators 
during the year. In most cases the protesters were demonstrating near 
restricted areas or the separation barrier.
    On March 20, Israeli security forces in the West Bank village of 
Iraq Burin shot and killed two Palestinian adolescents during a local 
demonstration related to a water dispute with a nearby settlement, 
according to several NGOs and press reports. There were conflicting 
reports as to whether Usaied Abd al-Naser Muhammad Qadous, 17 years 
old, and Muhammad Ibrahim 'Abd al-Qader Qadous, 15 years old, threw 
rocks at Israeli police during the demonstration. Israeli officials 
claimed that forces employed tear gas and rubber-coated bullets to 
disperse demonstrators but did not use live ammunition. Villagers, 
international protesters, PA officials, and Israeli NGOs all claimed 
that live ammunition caused the deaths, and PA medical personnel 
released an X ray to the media showing what doctors stated was a bullet 
lodged in the brain of one of the boys. On March 23, the IDF's chief 
prosecutor ordered the army to open an internal investigation into the 
circumstances that led the soldiers to open fire; no results were 
available at year's end.
    On April 28, an IDF soldier shot and killed Ahmad Suliman Salem 
Deeb, a 19-year-old resident of Gaza City who was taking part in a 
demonstration against the ``buffer zones,'' during which some 
demonstrators threw stones, according to press reports.
    On May 25, the Israeli central district prosecution filed an 
indictment for negligent manslaughter against an unidentified retired 
border policeman suspected of shooting 11-year-old Palestinian Ahmed 
Moussa in the West Bank in 2008. The incident was one of several 
connected to protests against construction of the separation barrier.
    On July 12, a judge advocate general (JAG) ordered the Military 
Police Investigation Unit to investigate the death of Bassem Abu 
Rahmah, who was struck in the chest by a tear gas canister during an 
antibarrier demonstration in April 2009. According to B'Tselem, the JAG 
initially declined to probe the incident but changed its stance after 
forensic evidence indicated that soldiers fired the canister directly 
at the victim, contrary to initial debriefing statements. Citing video 
footage of the incident, B'Tselem noted that Abu Rahmah remained on the 
Palestinian side of the fence and did not endanger soldiers. At year's 
end the IDF had not released an update in the case, according to local 
NGO reports.
    On December 31, Jawaher Abu Rahmah, a resident of the West Bank 
village of Bil'in, inhaled tear gas from canisters fired by the IDF to 
disrupt protests against the separation barrier, according to NGO and 
press reports. She died the following day of complications from the 
inhalation, according to the PA. The IDF claimed that she did not die 
as a result of the tear gas inhalation, but rather improper medical 
    At year's end no findings were available from an Israeli 
investigation into the 2008 death of Yousif Ahmed Amira, whom IDF 
soldiers shot in the head during a protest.
    Israeli forces also killed civilians during episodes of conflict 
throughout the year, including killings from tank fire and tear gas. 
The IDF regularly used tanks and remote-controlled weapons stations to 
fire on Palestinians inside the Gaza Strip, according to reports from 
the UN's Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA). 
IDF personnel maintained secure stations every several hundred yards 
along the border fence; each station contained machine guns with a 
nearly one-mile firing range. The IDF also used tanks firing 
``flechette'' projectiles, which explode in midair, releasing thousands 
of 1.5-inch metal darts. In July alone flechettes killed at least two 
civilians and injured 10, including four children, according to UNOCHA.
    On May 9, during hostilities at the Karmi Tsur settlement north of 
Hebron, a one-year-old boy from the southern West Bank village of Beit 
Ummar died, reportedly as the result of inhaling tear gas deployed by 
Israeli forces. The canister landed outside the boy's window, and he 
died of respiratory complications, according to press reports.
    B'Tselem reported that on December 9, Israeli tank fire killed 16-
year-olds Husam Khaled Ibrahim Abu Sa'id and Isma'il Walid Muhammad Abu 
'Odeh and 91-year-old Ibrahim Abdallah Suliman Abu Sa'id near Biet 
Hanoun, while the three grazed livestock. According to B'Tselem, none 
had engaged in hostile activity.
    The 147 military police investigations of the killings or injuries 
of Palestinians by Israeli forces led to few convictions. The NGO Yesh 
Din reported that in 2009 only 2 percent of investigations by the 
Israeli Military Police Criminal Investigation Division led to 
indictment (four investigations). Between 2000 and 2009, the average 
rate of indictment was 6 percent. B'Tselem attributed such statistics 
to a procedural conflict of interest in the investigation process 
because Israeli forces involved in the fatality are also responsible 
for collecting the information that the JAG uses to determine whether 
to launch a military police investigation. Since 2001 B'Tselem has 
monitored 35 cases of Palestinians injured or killed from bullets fired 
by Israeli police and border police officers. Only 16 of the cases were 
investigated, of which only two cases resulted in indictments.
    Human rights organizations also complained that the IDF--through 
the JAG--initiated many investigations months or more than a year after 
the incident, making it difficult to find evidence or identify 
witnesses, and that the investigations unit lacked sufficient Arabic 
    Israeli civilians killed two Palestinians. On May 13, a settler 
shot in the back and killed 15-year-old Aysar Yasser Fawaz Zaraqah, who 
threw stones at the settler's car near al-Mazra'a as-Sharqiya in the 
West Bank. There were no reports of an investigation into his death. On 
September 22, an Israeli private security guard shot and killed Samer 
Mahmoud Ahmad Sarhan in East Jerusalem. The guard responsible for 
Samer's death was released on bail. Yesh Din continued to claim that 
settler violence was insufficiently investigated. There was no evidence 
of a public investigation at year's end.
    The PA and Israel took steps to address and investigate allegations 
of abuses related to the 2008-09 Operation Cast Lead conflict; however, 
NGOs criticized Hamas for failing to investigate abuses adequately.
    During the year the PA established an independent commission to 
review the allegations against it in the context of the conflict.
    Amnesty International (AI) criticized Hamas authorities for failing 
to investigate fully abuses perpetrated by Gazans during the conflict, 
citing specifically the firing of indiscriminate rockets by Palestinian 
armed groups into southern Israel. AI claimed Hamas did not respond 
with legal or any other action against the al-Qassam Brigades, which 
claimed responsibility for rocket attacks aimed at civilian targets.
    During the year Israel provided specific examples of investigations 
relating to Operation Cast Lead and their outcomes, including new 
orders to enhance civilian protections. Local and international NGOs 
continued to criticize Israel's investigation and disciplinary action 
relating to casualties from Operation Cast Lead as insufficient. 
B'Tselem reported that 773 of the estimated 1,385 Palestinians killed 
were civilians. The Israeli government maintained that the civilian 
death count was 295 and noted that Hamas operated within civilian 
    Since 2009 the IDF has opened investigations into 150 incidents 
involving alleged violations of law of war by its forces. Various human 
rights organizations reiterated concern that Israeli army commanders or 
military police carried out the investigations, potentially reducing 
impartiality. NGOs also criticized the Israeli government's decision 
not to investigate fully allegations of serious violations, such as 
Israel's use of white phosphorus and the targeting of civilian 
infrastructure in the Gaza Strip.
    Israel issued two indictments related to Cast Lead in a human 
shield case (see section 2.c.) and in a civilian death during the year. 
The IDF reprimanded an officer and sanctioned two others for failing to 
exercise appropriate judgment during an incident that resulted in 
civilian casualties in the al-Maqadmah mosque during Operation Cast 
Lead. Additionally, an IDF brigadier general and a colonel were 
disciplined for approving the use of explosive shells in violation of 
the safety distances required in urban areas during Operation Cast 
    In 2009 the IDF chief of staff ordered operational debriefings for 
at least 60 investigations focused on law of war violations during 
Operation Cast Lead. Held by the army under the Military Justice Law, 
operational debriefing delayed criminal investigations because 
information provided cannot be released or used as evidence in a court 
of law.

    b. Disappearance.--There were few reports of politically motivated 
kidnappings and disappearances in connection with internal Palestinian 
conflict, largely due to improved security conditions in the West Bank.
    In the Gaza Strip, Hamas security operatives carried out 
extrajudicial detentions based on political affiliation during the 
year; information concerning the whereabouts and welfare of those 
detained was not consistently or reliably available, nor were those 
detained offered due process or access to family and legal counsel.
    In 2006 Popular Resistance Committee and Hamas militants tunneled 
from the Gaza Strip to Israel, killed two soldiers, and abducted a 
third, Gilad Shalit. At year's end Shalit remained detained in the Gaza 

    c. Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or 
Punishment.--The PA Basic Law prohibits torture or use of force against 
detainees; however, international human rights groups reported that 
torture remained a problem. Following allegations of abuse in the 
deaths of four prisoners in PA custody in 2009 (see section 1.a.), 
Prime Minister Fayyad dismissed a number of PA security officials and 
issued a directive against prisoner mistreatment, abuse, or torture, 
with a corresponding order for Palestinian prison and detention center 
monitoring. As a result the PA provided all security forces with 
written guidelines for interrogation and detention that remained in 
effect during the year, including a section on prisoners' rights. 
Nevertheless, according to HRW, reports of mistreatment were common 
during the year, and the PA was lax in prosecuting security officials 
for detainee mistreatment. Palestinian detainees registered 163 
complaints of torture with the ICHR during the year. Reported abuse by 
PA authorities in the West Bank included forcing prisoners to sit in a 
painful position for long periods, beating, punching, flogging, 
intimidation, and psychological pressure. International observers noted 
that abuse was not systematic or routinely practiced in PA prisons, 
although some prisoners experienced abuse during arrest or 
    A 2009 HRW report alleged abuses by Fatah-affiliated Palestinian 
security officials against Hamas members and supporters in the West 
Bank, as well as abuses by Hamas security forces against Fatah-
affiliated officials in Gaza Strip. According to reports these trends 
continued during the year.
    On September 16 and 19, according to HRW, PA security authorities 
arrested an unidentified man and Ahmad Salhab and tortured them in 
custody in a facility in Jericho. The PA suspected both men of ties to 
Hamas. Authorities released the first man after 10 days but held Salhab 
until October 16, when they transferred him to a hospital to treat 
injuries reportedly related to torture, as well as torn spinal disks 
that were a previous result of mistreatment during confinement in 2008.
    Torture carried out by the Gaza Strip Hamas Executive Force was not 
restricted to security detainees but also included persons associated 
with the Fatah political party, those held on suspicion of 
``collaboration'' with Israel, or those considered to engage in immoral 
activity. There were reports that Hamas deployed undercover officers to 
attack, beat, and (in some cases) detain these persons, usually without 
intent to kill. Hamas took no action to investigate reports of torture, 
and documentation of abuses was limited, due in part to fear of 
retribution by victims and, in part, to PA officials and NGOs lacking 
access to Gaza Strip prisoners. The ICHR reported that complaints of 
abuse included being forced to stand in an uncomfortable stress 
positions, flogging, hand binding, suspension, blindfolding, punching, 
and beatings with clubs or hoses.
    According to human rights NGO reports and photographic 
documentation released on May 12, Hamas forces beat Jamal Abu Qumsan, 
an unmarried art gallery owner, regarding the accusation that he had 
nonmarital sexual relations. Abu Qumsan sustained blows along his back, 
legs, and buttocks. Human rights organizations claimed that such 
attacks and interrogations were common, but victims were reticent to 
come forward.
    Hamas organized attacks in the West Bank. On September 1, Hamas 
members reportedly shot and wounded two Israeli residents of a Jordan 
Valley settlement near Ramallah; Hamas's military wing immediately 
claimed responsibility. On November 17, the PA arrested various Hamas 
members suspected of planning bomb attacks and abductions and targeting 
a prominent Palestinian government official.
    There were no reports that Hamas used human shields during the 
year. According to a 2009 report released by Israel's Ministry of 
Foreign Affairs, Hamas used human shields, including children, during 
Operation Cast Lead by placing launch pads and operation centers in 
civilian facilities.
    Israeli law, as interpreted by a 1999 High Court decision, 
prohibits torture and several interrogation techniques but allows 
``moderate physical pressure'' against detainees considered to possess 
information about an imminent terrorist attack. The decision also 
indicates that interrogators who abuse detainees suspected of 
possessing such information may be immune from prosecution. Human 
rights organizations reported that ``moderate physical pressure'' in 
practice included beatings, requiring an individual to hold a stress 
position for long periods, and painful pressure from shackles or 
restraints applied to the forearms. Israeli NGOs continued to criticize 
what they termed abusive Israeli detention practices, including 
isolation, sleep deprivation, protracted handcuffing, shackling, and 
psychological abuse, such as threats to interrogate elderly parents or 
demolish family homes.
    The NGO Defense for Children International-Palestine Section (DCI-
Palestine) claimed Israeli security authorities often tortured and 
abused minors in custody to coerce confessions during interrogation, 
employing tactics such as beatings, long-term handcuffing, threats, 
rape, and solitary confinement. In 40 affidavits collected by DCI-
Palestine in the last six months of the year, 28 children arrested and 
detained by the IDF claimed they were beaten and kicked, 24 experienced 
some form of position abuse, seven were stripped naked, and three were 
subjected to electric shocks.
    On March 23, Israeli soldiers arrested a 16-year-old known as Basel 
from the West Bank village of at-Tabaqa. According to sworn testimony 
collected by DCI-Palestine, soldiers blindfolded, bound, and beat 
Basel, then transferred him to local settlers, who also beat him. He 
claimed he was pressured into confessing to throwing stones and that he 
was threatened with imprisonment and electric shocks. The IDF later 
left him barefoot on a road outside a West Bank settlement at 1 a.m., 
approximately 10 miles from his home.
    On November 24, Israeli border police beat and kicked seven-year-
old Adam in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan, according to a 
DCI-Palestine affidavit.
    In 2008, according to the NGO the Public Committee Against Torture 
in Israel (PCATI), the Israeli Security Agency (known as the Shin Bet 
or ISA) arrested Jalal Sawafta and interrogated him and his parents. 
The Shin Bet interrogator allegedly threatened to demolish the family 
home if Sawafta's parents did not convince Sawafta to confess to 
complicity in rigging a car bomb. PCATI reported that Sawafta's 
complaint about the incident was closed at year's end, but the State 
Attorney's Office provided no detailed explanation for its decision to 
close the complaint, and there had been no investigation.
    Degrading treatment by Israeli soldiers was documented on the 
Internet. In August former Israeli soldier Eden Abergil posted online 
photographs of herself posing with blindfolded and handcuffed 
Palestinian detainees. Although Israeli authorities condemned the act 
as degrading, there was no evidence of results in any investigation. In 
October the IDF launched an investigation into an online video, 
purportedly posted in 2008, featuring a soldier mocking and dancing 
around a blindfolded Palestinian detainee.
    At year's end two policemen from the Ma'ale Adumim police station, 
who were arrested in 2008 for severely abusing a Palestinian from 
Bethany, remained under house arrest, and investigations continued, 
according to PCATI.
    Israeli law, high court rulings, and an IDF order prohibit Israeli 
forces from using human shields, but the prohibition was reportedly not 
always observed. Israeli soldiers used civilians, including three 
children, according to DCI-Palestine, as human shields, endangering 
their lives by forcing them to remain in or near houses being used as 
military positions or carrying out dangerous tasks such as inspecting 
properties. According to the Israeli Ministry of Justice, when a human 
shield complaint is registered, the Investigative Military Police opens 
an investigation.
    On February 18, during a raid on a house in Nablus, Israeli 
soldiers reportedly forced 16-year-old Dua'a to search her home for 
potential booby traps. The soldiers ordered her to open closets and 
lift mattresses in the house, according to DCI-Palestine. There was no 
investigation or update at year's end.
    On April 16, two IDF soldiers detained 14-year-old Sabri in front 
of a school in Beit Ummar and forced him to walk in front of them while 
Palestinian protesters, urged by the IDF personnel, threw stones. The 
incident was photographed and published widely in Palestinian media. On 
October 19, the Israeli Military prosecutor for operational matters 
indicated that military police had opened an investigation into the 
case, but there was no update at year's end.
    On August 19, IDF soldiers near Nablus beat a 13-year-old boy known 
as Nazzal during a raid and forced him to guide them through an 
inspection of his uncle's house, according to DCI-Palestine. There was 
no investigation or update at year's end.
    In the first conviction by Israeli courts in any human shield case, 
on October 3, an Israeli military court convicted two unidentified 
Israeli soldiers from the Givati Brigade who used a nine-year-old boy, 
identified as Majid Abd Rabbo, to search bags believed to contain 
explosives in January 2009 during Operation Cast Lead. Authorities 
sentenced the soldiers to three-month suspended prison terms for 
exceeding their authority by endangering a life and behavior unbecoming 
a soldier; both were also demoted. The IDF also disciplined a 
lieutenant colonel for permitting Rabbo to enter a structure where 
combatants were present.
    Nonstate Palestinian groups attacked Israeli targets in the West 
Bank. For example, the Syria-based Abu Musa group claimed 
responsibility for the September 26 shooting of two Israelis south of 
    Israeli civilians committed violent acts against Palestinian 
civilians and their property with reportedly little or no intervention 
and no subsequent investigation by Israeli officials. Some settlers 
reportedly used violence against Palestinians to keep them away from 
settlements and land that settlers sought to expropriate. The Palestine 
Center estimated that between 2009 and mid-year, settlers committed 
approximately 1,000 acts of violence against Palestinians and their 
property. DCI-Palestine claimed in July that it had documented 38 cases 
of children attacked and injured by settlers between March 2008 and 
July 2010 near settlements in the vicinity of Bethlehem, Ramallah, 
Salfit, Hebron, and Nablus; in three of those incidents, children were 
killed. Six of the attacks, affecting eight children, reportedly 
occurred during the year. A November 2009 UNOCHA report cited settler 
violence as ``a key factor undermining the physical security and 
livelihoods of Palestinians in many areas throughout the West Bank.''
    On July 26, settlers conducted a series of attacks for more than 12 
hours on the Palestinian village of Burin, during which time settlers 
assaulted Palestinians, looted vehicles, and burned nearby Palestinian 
fields, according to NGO and media reports. Local officials and NGO 
field workers on site stated that the IDF largely observed the attacks 
and took no action to prevent the attackers from regrouping. Local 
officials claimed PA fire service crews were restricted for more than 
an hour from entering the area to put out the flames.
    On September 1, following a Hamas-related shooting that killed four 
Israeli settlers, approximately 50 settlers from the Kiryat Arba 
settlement near Hebron threw rocks at the nearby home of the 
Palestinian Idris family. Settlers knocked over outside fixtures and 
set fire to grass in front of the house. According to media reports, 
IDF soldiers accompanied the settlers and did not prevent the attacks. 
On the same day, another settler attack arbitrarily targeted 
Palestinian vehicles by breaking windows near the Jet junction, between 
Nablus and Qalqilya.
    On November 11, settlers targeted a Palestinian woman and her two 
children, ages 10 and 11 years old, with rocks as they went to school 
in Tuqu village, near Bethlehem in the West Bank, according to media 
reports. A Palestinian group later protested the incident by burning 
tires and throwing rocks at Israeli vehicles, and a clash with Israeli 
forces ensued.
    Settler violence against Palestinians in the Old City of Hebron 
continued to decline, according to local NGOs, attributed primarily to 
Palestinian video documentation of settler harassment. Nevertheless, 
residents and several former IDF soldiers reported that Israeli 
authorities in the Old City consistently refrained from protecting 
Palestinians against settler violence and failed to enforce law and 
order on assailants.
    In April 2009 two male settlers near Ma'on settlement attacked a 
woman who was eight months pregnant. The men, whose faces were covered, 
pushed her to the ground, kicked her, and beat her with sticks. 
Although B'Tselem reported that Hebron police in May stated that they 
had interrogated three suspects, at year's end there was no evidence of 
an investigation.

    Prison and Detention Center Conditions.--PA prison conditions 
improved in recent years, although the PA prison system remained 
significantly inadequate for the prison population it served. PA civil 
police prisons, which held nonsecurity prisoners, remained severely 
overcrowded. Space and capacity issues also reduced the availability of 
medical care and vocational or other programs for inmates in civil 
police prisons.
    Unlike in the previous year, there were no deaths reported in PA 
civil police prisons from adverse conditions.
    In December there were approximately 1,050 prisoners in the seven 
PA civil police prisons; women and male juveniles each constituted 
approximately 2 percent of the prison population, according to PA 
statistics. Male juveniles were at times housed with adult male 
prisoners. PA intelligence services held several hundred security 
detainees separately from the general population. PA authorities 
undertook prison improvement efforts at various facilities.
    All PA civil police prisons allowed visitations on a weekly basis, 
religious observance, a procedure for submitting complaints, and an 
investigation process for complaints. During the year the PA generally 
permitted the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) access to 
detainees and allowed regular inspections of prison conditions. 
Preliminary, unpublished accounts by human rights groups, humanitarian 
organizations, and lawyers indicated that, as in previous years, there 
were some difficulties gaining access to specific detainees, depending 
on which security organization managed the facility.
    Ombudsmen cannot serve on behalf of prisoners.
    In the Gaza Strip prison conditions were reportedly poor, and 
little information was available. Detention facilities were 
unofficially reported below international legal or humanitarian 
standards. Hamas authorities announced an inquiry into the 2008 death 
of Taleb Mohammed Abu Sitta, who died of injuries following Hamas 
police detention. As a result Hamas suspended several police officers 
from duty, but there were no reports that any were tried, according to 
AI. The ICRC conducted monitoring visits to some prisoners in the Gaza 
Strip, but Hamas authorities denied representatives permission to visit 
captured IDF soldier Gilad Shalit.
    IDF detention centers were less likely than Israeli civilian 
prisons to meet international standards, with some, such as the Ofer 
detention center, providing living space as small as 15 square feet per 
detainee. In November B'Tselem and Hamoked reported unsatisfactory 
conditions in Shin Bet's Petah Tikva Prison, including poor hygienic 
conditions. Prisoners also continued to claim inadequate medical care. 
According to the Israeli Ministry of Justice, the IDF continued to 
ameliorate living conditions in two detention centers in the West Bank. 
Also, in November 2009 Israel began building a new detention complex 
next to the Ofer Camp military courts.
    According to Israeli official figures, approximately 5,935 
Palestinians were held in Israeli civilian prisons in December. 
Palestinian minors arrested in the West Bank were subject to the 
Israeli military courts system, which recognizes persons 16 years of 
age or older as adults; all minors between the ages of 16 and 18 were 
held in pretrial or posttrial detention with adults. Israeli minors 
between the ages of 16 and 18 arrested in the West Bank were subject to 
Israeli criminal and civil courts.
    PCATI reported that approximately 650 prisoner complaints of 
mistreatment in Shin Bet facilities were not forwarded to police for 
criminal investigation between 2001 and November 2010.
    Israel permitted the ICRC to monitor prison conditions. The Israeli 
Bar Association and NGOs sent representatives to meet with prisoners 
and inspect conditions in prisons, detention centers, and IDF 
facilities. Human rights groups reported delays and difficulties in 
gaining access to specific detainees, frequent transfers of detainees 
without notice, and the limited ability of families of imprisoned 
Palestinians, particularly Gazans, to visit.

    d. Arbitrary Arrest or Detention.--Palestinian law prohibits 
arbitrary arrest and detention; however, in practice the PA failed to 
charge detainees promptly and regularly held detainees for months 
without trial. Hamas also charged that the PA detained individuals 
during the year solely on the basis of their Hamas affiliation.
    Reportedly Hamas practiced widespread arbitrary detention in the 
Gaza Strip.
    Israeli law prohibits arbitrary arrest and detention, but Israeli 
security services did not always abide by these prohibitions.
    Palestinian security detainees were under the jurisdiction of 
military law, which permits 10 days' detention without access to a 
lawyer or appearing before a court. There is no requirement that a 
detainee have access to a lawyer until after interrogation, a process 
that may last weeks.

    Role of the Police and Security Apparatus.--In West Bank 
Palestinian population centers, mostly ``Area A'' as defined by the 
Oslo-era agreements, the PA has formal responsibility for security and 
civil control; however, Israeli security forces since 2002 have 
conducted regular security operations in Area A cities without 
coordinating with PA security forces. In ``Area B'' territory in the 
West Bank, composed mostly of small Palestinian villages and farmland, 
the PA has civil control--including civil policing--but Israel retains 
responsibility for security control. In ``Area C,'' which contains 
Israeli settlements, military installations, some small Palestinian 
villages and farmland, and open countryside, Israel retains full civil 
and security control.
    Six PA security forces operated in the West Bank. The PA Civil 
Police has primary responsibility for civil and community policing. The 
National Security Force (NSF) conducts gendarmerie-style security 
operations in circumstances that exceed the capabilities of the Civil 
Police. The Military Intelligence agency, a subunit of the NSF, handles 
intelligence and criminal matters involving PA security force 
personnel, including accusations of abuse. The General Intelligence 
service is responsible for external intelligence gathering and 
operations; the Preventive Security Organization is responsible for 
these matters internally. The Presidential Guard protects facilities 
and provides dignitary protection. The Civil Defense service provides 
emergency services. PA security services are under the operational 
control of the minister of the interior. Military Intelligence is 
responsible for investigations into allegations of abuse and corruption 
involving PA security forces and can refer cases to court.
    In the Gaza Strip, forces under Hamas control maintained security. 
Press and NGO reports suggested Hamas enforced strict control across 
all sectors of society. Hamas police reportedly facilitated and 
benefited from illegal activity, such as the operation of smuggling 
    Israeli authorities maintained their West Bank security presence 
through the IDF, Shin Bet, the Israeli National Police, and the Border 
Police. Israeli authorities in some instances investigated and punished 
abuse and corruption, but there were several reports of failure to take 
disciplinary action in cases of abuse.
    According to Israeli and Palestinian NGO and press reports, the IDF 
was insufficiently responsive to violence perpetrated by Israeli 
settlers in the West Bank against Palestinians. The Association for 
Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) stated that Israeli security and justice 
officials operating in predominantly Arab East Jerusalem displayed bias 
against Arab residents in investigating incidents involving Arab and 
Israeli actors. Palestinian residents, in several cases, sought to 
press charges against Israeli settlers or their security guards, but 
many complaints went uninvestigated despite the availability of 
evidence. Most complaints filed by Arab residents of East Jerusalem 
were of police misconduct from the Shalem and David police stations, 
which are responsible for Jerusalem's Old City and surrounding Arab 
neighborhoods where some Israeli settlers maintained highly defended 

    Arrest Procedures and Treatment While in Detention.--PA law 
provides for prompt judicial determination of the legality of 
detention, and this provision was largely--but not uniformly--observed 
in practice. PA law allows police to hold detainees without charge for 
24 hours and with court approval for up to 45 days; it requires that a 
trial must start within six months or the detainee must be released. In 
several reported cases, PA security forces detained persons without 
warrants and without bringing them before judicial authorities within 
the required timeframe; however, PA judicial officials claimed no 
detentions extended beyond the time limit without trial. Bail and 
conditional release were available upon discretion of judicial 
authorities. Authorities generally informed detainees of the charges 
against them, albeit sometimes not until interrogation.
    PA Military Intelligence in a number of cases reportedly exceeded 
its legal authority to investigate other security services' officers 
and detained civilians suspected of ``security offenses'' such as 
terrorist activities. Hamas charged that the PA detained individuals 
during the year solely on the basis of their Hamas affiliation, but the 
PA presented evidence that many of these individuals had been charged 
with criminal offenses under civil or military codes. For example, 
Hamas stated that the PA unnecessarily targeted and in some cases 
carried out wave arrests of Hamas affiliates after PA officers detained 
seven members of an armed Hamas cell in the West Bank suspected of 
killing Israelis in shootings in Hebron and Ramallah on August 31 and 
September 2, respectively. Similarly, on December 9, PA authorities 
arrested 28 suspected Hamas supporters within 24 hours in Hebron, 
Nablus, Bethlehem, Tulkarem, Qalqilia, Salfit, and Jenin.
    As in 2009 the PA sought military judicial review and court orders 
for detaining civilians suspected of terrorist activity. In several 
such cases, the PA disregarded civilian court orders requiring the 
release of these suspects, citing countervailing military court orders. 
In most of these incidents, the PA was unwilling to provide evidence 
required by the civilian court system, and the military courts provided 
a more efficient system to deal with any shortcomings in providing 
    There were reports that some PA security forces used 
disproportionate force during arrest operations. The PA General 
Administration for Reform and Rehabilitation Center, under the 
authority of the Ministry of Interior, operated a mechanism for 
reviewing complaints of prisoner abuse.
    In the Gaza Strip, Hamas reportedly detained a large but 
unverifiable number of persons during the year, largely without 
recourse to legal counsel, judicial review, or bail. Many of these 
detentions were apparently politically based, targeting former PA 
officials, Fatah party members, and those suspected of ties to Israel.
    In one case, on February 15, Hamas detained British journalist Paul 
Martin without charge and held him until March 11. Martin was 
reportedly suspected of espionage but never faced charges. He did not 
appear before a judge to assess the legality of his detention and had 
no access to his lawyer between February 19 and March 1. Reports also 
indicated that neither Martin nor his lawyer had access to the evidence 
that led to his arrest, according to HRW.
    Israeli authorities operate under military and legal codes in the 
occupied territories (see also Israel, section 1.d., Arrest Procedures 
and Treatment While in Detention). By law detainees can be held for up 
to 90 days without access to a lawyer. Israeli authorities stated that 
their policy is to post notification of arrests within 48 hours, but 
senior officers may delay notification for up to 12 days, effectively 
holding detainees incommunicado. A military commander may request that 
a judge extend this period indefinitely.
    Persons detained on security grounds fall under one or more of 
several legal regimes, which allow for the transfer of administrative 
detainees from the West Bank to detention in Israel. As a general 
practice, Arabs without Israeli citizenship detained for security 
violations were not granted bail.
    Several NGOs claimed that Israel continued to overuse the 
administrative detention process in unexceptional and nonsecurity cases 
and as an alternative to standard criminal proceedings, particularly in 
cases where evidence is insufficient or cannot be publicly presented. 
Administrative detainees, according to B'Tselem, were not provided 
sufficient information on the reasons for their detention or the 
charges against them; they were rarely given an opportunity to refute 
the suspicions or access the evidentiary material presented against 
them in court. At year's end, according to B'Tselem, Israel held 204 
Palestinians under ``administrative detention'' without having charged 
them with a crime; this was a decrease from the 278 held at the end of 
2009. A military judge can reportedly issue administrative detention 
orders for up to six months, renewable indefinitely. PCATI alleged 
military commanders in the occupied territories used administrative 
detention orders based on ``security reasons'' even when the accused 
posed no clear danger. On December 26, Israel released a 16-year-old 
known as Moatasem after holding him in administrative detention since 
March 20.
    Throughout the year there were reports that Israeli security forces 
in East Jerusalem and in the West Bank arbitrarily arrested and 
detained Palestinian protesters and activists, particularly those 
participating in antibarrier demonstrations. Israeli authorities 
generally provided Palestinians held in Israeli military custody inside 
Israel access to their lawyers, but impediments to movement on West 
Bank roads or at crossings often made consultation difficult and 
postponed trials and hearings. The Government frequently delayed 
notification to foreign government officials after detaining their 
citizens in the occupied territories.
    During the year the Shin Bet continued its practice of 
incommunicado detention, including isolation from the ICRC, legal 
counsel, and family, throughout the duration of interrogation. There 
were also reports of torture and cruel, inhuman, and degrading 
treatment during interrogation, often to elicit confessions (see 
section 1.c.). The Palestinian human rights organization Addameer 
reported that 39 Palestinians were held incommunicado during the year. 
In a study released in November, PCATI estimated that approximately 
8,000 to 10,000 of the 11,790 Palestinians held by Israeli authorities 
in the West Bank from 2005 and 2007 were for some period of time 
detained incommunicado. According to Physicians for Human Rights-Israel 
(PHR-Israel), isolation of prisoners with mental illness was common 
(see section 6, Persons with Disabilities). According to the Israeli 
government, the Israel Prison Service does not hold detainees in 
separate detention punitively or to induce confessions, but rather only 
when a detainee threatens himself or others and other options have been 
exhausted, or, in some cases, during interrogation to prevent 
disclosing information. In such cases the Israeli government maintained 
that the detainee had the right to meet with representatives of the 
ICRC, Israeli Prison Service personnel, and medical personnel if 
    Nevertheless, NGOs reported that the Government constrained access 
to prisoners by the ICRC and other independent groups. On January 21, 
the deputy state attorney denied October 2009 requests from PCATI, 
ACRI, and PHR-Israel for representatives of the Public Defender's 
Office to visit Shin Bet facilities to provide counsel. A study by 
PCATI and the Palestinian Prisoner Society revealed in December that up 
to 90 percent of Palestinians in Shin Bet detention did not have access 
to legal counsel until after signing confessions.
    B'Tselem cited a rise in the rate of Palestinian minors arrested 
and detained throughout the year in East Jerusalem, particularly in 
Silwan, in violation of Israel's youth law, which prohibits arrest or 
interrogation of minors after nightfall. NGO reports claimed that 
Israeli authorities routinely arrested minors at checkpoints, on the 
street, at night, and in early morning house raids, and transferred 
them to one of eight detention facilities for interrogation. In 
particular B'Tselem reported lack of parental presence at 
interrogation, as is permitted by law. In most cases authorities 
reportedly failed to inform parents where their children would be 
taken. According to DCI-Palestine, authorities also tortured and abused 
minors to coerce confessions (see section 1.c.).

    e. Denial of Fair Public Trial.--The 2002 Palestinian Basic Law, 
amended in 2005, provides for an independent judiciary. In practice the 
PA generally respected judicial independence and the autonomy of the 
High Judicial Council, maintained authority over most court operations 
in the West Bank. PA courts operated more efficiently than in previous 
years, demonstrating improvements in several procedural capacities, 
including case management, organization, transparency, evidence 
collection, and recordkeeping. Case backlogs were largely related to 
restrictions on movement imposed by Israeli authorities (see section 
2.d.). Additionally, PA-affiliated prosecutors and judges stated that 
these prohibitions hampered their ability to dispense justice, 
including restrictions on their ability to transport detainees and 
collect witnesses. The PA increased financial allocations to the courts 
to fund additional court administrative staff, in response to an 
existing lack of personnel. Efforts to expand reforms continued at 
year's end. In some cases involving investigations by PA intelligence 
services in the West Bank, civilian defendants appeared before the PA's 
military court system, which has jurisdiction over security personnel 
and crimes by civilians against security forces. Palestinian NGOs 
criticized the practice of trying civilian defendants in military 
courts, while the PA defended the practice based on the security nature 
of the crimes involved.
    In 2007 Hamas appointees replaced PA-appointed prosecutors and 
judges in the Gaza Strip. The PA declared the action illegal; however, 
courts operated by Hamas appointees continued functioning in the Gaza 
Strip throughout the year.
    Israeli law provides for an independent judiciary, and the 
Government generally respected civil court independence in practice. 
The IDF tried Palestinians accused of security offenses (ranging from 
rock throwing to membership in a terrorist organization to incitement) 
in military courts. Israeli law defines security offenses to include a 
variety of different charges. Israeli military courts rarely acquitted 
Palestinians charged with security offenses; sentences occasionally 
were reduced on appeal. Israeli civil law applied to Palestinian 
residents of East Jerusalem, and Israeli civil courts generally tended 
to rule against Palestinians.
    Several NGOs claimed that Israeli military courts, which processed 
approximately 7,000 Palestinians in the West Bank during the year, were 
not equipped to adjudicate each case properly. In a 2007 study, the 
Israeli NGO Yesh Din stated that plea bargains had largely replaced 
full legal proceedings. In a sampling of 118 detention hearings 
observed, of both minors and adults, the average hearing lasted three 
minutes and four seconds. Of the 9,123 detention hearings for 
Palestinians in 2006, only 23 hearings, approximately 0.29 percent, 
resulted in the defendant being found not guilty. DCI-Palestine, which 
represented several hundred Palestinian minors each year in Israeli 
military courts, claimed Israeli military justice officials had made 
only negligible improvements since 2006.

    Trial Procedures.--PA law provides for the right to a fair trial, 
and an independent judiciary generally enforced this right. Defendants 
enjoy a presumption of innocence. Juries are not used. Trials are 
public, except when the court determines privacy is required by PA 
security, foreign relations, a party's or witness's right to privacy, 
or protection of a victim of a sexual offense or an ``honor'' crime. 
Defendants have the right to be present and to consult with an attorney 
in a timely matter during the trial, although during the investigation 
phase, the defendant only has the right to observe. The law provides 
for legal representation, at public expense if needed, in felony cases, 
but only during the trial phase. Defendants can confront or question 
witnesses against them or present witnesses and evidence during the 
trial, but not during the investigation phase; defendants may also 
review government-held evidence and have the right to appeal. 
Authorities generally observed these rights in practice.
    Hamas authorities in the Gaza Strip follow the same criminal 
procedure law as the PA in the West Bank. However, Hamas does not use 
the same penal code as the PA in the West Bank, following instead the 
1936 penal code enacted by the British during the mandate period.
    Palestinians held by Israeli authorities in the West Bank or in 
Israel were subject to trial in Israeli military courts. Israelis 
living in settlements in the West Bank and in East Jerusalem were tried 
under Israeli civil law in the nearest Israeli district court.
    Signed confessions by Palestinian minors, which were written in 
Hebrew, a language most cannot read, constituted a source of evidence 
against minors prosecuted in Israeli military courts. Every Palestinian 
minor prosecuted in Israeli military courts during the year pleaded 
guilty; lawyers stated they were often reluctant to run full 
evidentiary hearings for fear the minor would remain longer in 
    According to HRW the August conviction of Abdullah Abu Rahmah, 
charged in relation to antibarrier protests in 2005 and 2009, did not 
specify particular events related to the charges against him and relied 
on statements in Hebrew signed by children unable to read the language 
that were later retracted. A court validated Abdullah Abu Rahmah's 
allegations of unfair trial and lack of proper investigation but 
acquitted him only partially (see section 2.b.).

    Political Prisoners and Detainees.--The PA during the year tried 
approximately 10 cases in which Palestinians were accused of 
collaborating with Israel. Following a Supreme Court ruling that found 
military court prosecution of civilians illegal, an unknown number of 
cases were transferred to governorate authorities during the year. 
Independent reports claimed that a variety of these cases may have 
included political prisoners. There were no statistics available on the 
number of political prisoners and detainees the PA may have held during 
the year.
    Hamas detained several hundred persons, allegedly because of their 
political affiliation, and held them for varying periods of time. 
Numerous allegations of denial of due process and some executions were 
associated with these detentions.
    There was no information at year's end about access to political 
prisoners by international humanitarian organizations.
    In two politically motivated events on April 12, Fatah stated that 
Hamas security forces raided the home of Fatah Revolutionary Council 
member Abdullah Abu Samhadana and later arrested Fatah official Ibrahim 
    Israel held noncitizen Palestinians in detention in Israel and in 
prisons in the West Bank. On March 28, the High Court of Justice 
rejected an NGO petition that called for a cessation of Palestinian 
prisoner and detainee transfers to Israeli territory inside the Green 
Line and an end to the use of military courts in such cases. PA 
officials claimed that at year's end there were 130 Palestinians held 
inside Israel serving sentences of at least 20 years--most were 
political and security prisoners.
    Ten Palestinians held by Israel were members of the PLC.
    On March 19, Israeli authorities arrested and held in 
administrative detention Hamas-affiliated PLC members Nezar Ramadan and 
Azzam Salhab; they were released without trial or charges on September 
8, according to Addameer.
    On October 18, Israeli soldiers arrested PLC member Hatem Qafisha, 
affiliated with Hamas via the ``Reform and Change Movement'' (Hamas' 
electoral campaign platform, see Section 3). Previously, authorities 
arrested Qafisha in 2007 and held him in administrative detention 
without charges or trial until November 2009. There were reports that 
he faced six months of administrative detention.
    On December 30, Israeli authorities rearrested Hamas politician 
Khalil al-Rabai in his Hebron home; al-Rabai previously served a three-
year prison term ending in 2009.

    Civil Judicial Procedures and Remedies.--The PA civil and 
magistrate courts handled civil suits and were able to provide an 
independent and impartial judiciary in most matters. However, there 
were unconfirmed reports of various factions trying to influence 
judicial decisions. A citizen can file a suit against the Government, 
including on matters related to alleged abuses of human rights, but 
this was uncommon. There are administrative remedies available in 
addition to judicial remedies, but they were seldom used. The execution 
of court orders was not systematic.
    Gaza Strip residents may file civil suits, including those related 
to human rights violations. Unofficial anecdotal reports claimed that 
Gaza Strip courts operated independently of the Hamas government and 
were, at times, impartial. There were reports that enforcement of court 
orders improved.
    Israeli law permits Palestinians residing in the occupied 
territories to seek compensation for death, injury, or property damage 
at the hands of the IDF, but a 2002 law denies Palestinians the 
possibility of obtaining compensation in most cases for human rights 
abuses or injuries resulting from illegal acts by Israeli security 
forces. Amendments in 2005, which the High Court in 2006 partially 
overturned, added obstacles to Palestinian plaintiffs seeking 

    Property Restitution.--When the IDF offered opportunities for 
compensation for demolished or seized homes, subject to an appraisal, 
verification, and appeals process, Palestinians generally refused, 
citing a desire not to legalize the confiscation. Due to documentation 
dating from the Ottoman period, a traditional land tenure system with 
communal, family, and individual rights commingled. According to 
Israeli-imposed definitions of land ownership, Palestinians had 
difficulty verifying ownership in Israeli courts (see section 1.f.).

    f. Arbitrary Interference With Privacy, Family, Home, or 
Correspondence.--The PA required the attorney general to issue warrants 
for entry and searches of private property; however, Palestinian 
security services often ignored these requirements.
    Palestinian civilians targeted Israeli setters' properties. For 
example, on August 22, according to Israeli settlers in Shilo, 
Palestinians burned approximately 13 acres of settler-owned vineyards.
    Hamas authorities in the Gaza Strip frequently interfered 
arbitrarily with personal privacy, family, and home, according to 
reporting from local media and NGO sources.
    There were no reports that Israeli security monitored private 
communications or movement of individuals without legal process. Under 
occupation orders only IDF officers of lieutenant colonel rank and 
above could authorize entry into Palestinian private homes and 
institutions in the West Bank without a warrant, based upon military 
necessity. There were no reported cases of IDF soldiers punished for 
acting contrary to this requirement.
    In the West Bank, Israel continued to demolish homes, other 
buildings, and other property constructed by Palestinians in areas of 
the West Bank under Israeli civil control on the basis that these 
buildings lacked Israeli planning licenses. Compensation was generally 
not offered in these cases. Properties 328 yards from the separation 
barrier or IDF military installations also remained subject to 
demolition or confiscation. There were 141 demolitions during the year. 
B'Tselem reported in July that more than 20 percent of the settlements' 
built-up areas rested on areas that Israel recognized as private 
Palestinian land. Exceptions to the November 2009 moratorium (which 
expired in September) on new residential settlement construction 
occurred on a case-by-case basis for projects with preexisting 
foundations and for public construction such as schools and 
    During the year Israeli authorities demolished 113 houses and 240 
other commercial or community-use structures in ``Area C,'' which is 
under the full jurisdiction of Israeli civil and military authority. 
The demolitions affected 13,847 persons, including 7,777 children. This 
was a significant increase from the 191 demolitions in 2009, which 
affected 572 persons, including 332 children, according to UNOCHA. Many 
of these demolitions occurred in Bedouin and herder communities in the 
Tubas Governorate, where Israeli policies largely prohibit Palestinian 
    In March IDF personnel leveled several acres of Palestinian 
farmland in the West Bank village of Beit Jala to continue construction 
of the separation barrier, in some cases clearing land within feet of 
existing residential structures, according to NGO reporting. Lawyers 
representing several of the affected families stated that the IDF did 
not have valid orders and that the families did not have an opportunity 
to appeal the confiscations legally. A Palestinian family in the 
Bethlehem area whose property straddled the Jerusalem municipal 
boundary was encircled with fencing and concertina wire by the IDF; the 
family was allowed limited access in and out of the residence.
    On July 19, IDF personnel demolished more than 70 structures in the 
small farming village of al-Farisiya in the Jordan Valley; the action 
displaced 113 persons, approximately half of whom were children, 
according to NGO and media reports. Residents reported the village was 
designated a ``closed military zone,'' although military activity was 
not observed during the year. IDF troops returned on August 5 and 
demolished rebuilt structures.
    On October 12, the IDF confiscated 250 acres of Palestinian-owned 
land in the West Bank village of Jaloud, near the Israeli settlement of 
Eli, for military purposes. This order followed a series of incidents 
on October 10-13 in which the IDF, as well as Israeli settlers, 
separately bulldozed what residents claimed was Palestinian-owned land 
in the vicinity of existing Israeli settlements.
    In East Jerusalem home demolitions decreased significantly compared 
with 2009, although the Jerusalem Municipality demolished twice as many 
nonresidential structures (54 during the year, compared with 23 in 
2009), often affecting private family businesses. The Jerusalem 
Municipality demolished 24 homes in East Jerusalem that it stated were 
built without municipal permits, compared with 57 in 2009, although 
seven additional homes were demolished during the year by their owners 
after receiving a demolition notice to avoid being charged by the 
municipality for the cost of demolition.
    Construction did not begin at the site of the historic Shepherd 
Hotel in East Jerusalem, although municipal authorities issued 
construction permits for the site in March. In July 2009 the Jerusalem 
Municipality approved plans to construct two apartment buildings on the 
site of the hotel, owned by the Palestinian Husseini family from 1945 
to 1967; it was confiscated as absentee property by the Government of 
Israel in 1967 and privately purchased in the 1980s.
    In 2009 the court ruled against two Palestinian families living in 
the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Shaykh Jarrah and ordered evictions 
for the Hanoun and al-Ghawi families, affecting 53 persons, including 
20 children. The Nakhalat Shimon group took control of the properties 
and submitted plans to demolish approximately 28 homes to make way for 
a new Israeli settlement, according to UNOCHA.
    In the Gaza Strip, B'Tselem reported that Israeli authorities 
destroyed 12 homes for alleged military purposes, displacing 38 
persons. The Israeli blockade on the Gaza Strip also inhibited all mail 
delivery and importation of construction supplies.
    There were reports that East Jerusalem municipal authorities 
invaded Arab residents' privacy. According to ACRI some security 
cameras positioned in Arab neighborhoods pointed directly inside homes. 
Palestinian residents in East Jerusalem and the West Bank also claimed 
Israeli settlers and security guards often arbitrarily videotaped them 
in public.
    Israeli settlers reportedly continued to confiscate and vandalize 
Palestinian property during the year. As in previous years, violence 
and vandalism occurred during the autumn olive harvest, prompting 
disputes over land. By October 25, Israeli authorities had recorded 27 
official complaints about settler theft of olives from Palestinian 
trees. Israeli human rights organizations stated that the olive-harvest 
incidents indicated a new trend of disruptive activity by settlers 
towards Palestinians in the West Bank. Rabbis for Human Rights reported 
that approximately 600 trees were harvested near the Havat Gilad 
settlement before being harvested by their Palestinian owners. The ICRC 
reported in February that settlers had cut down, burned, or uprooted 
approximately 10,000 olive trees since 2008. There were no known 
investigations into the incidents. Affected Palestinians and human 
rights NGOs reported that the IDF was largely unresponsive to actions 
against Palestinians in the West Bank. The Israeli NGO Yesh Din 
reported in October that more than 90 percent of investigations into 
offenses against Palestinians carried out by Israeli settlers in the 
West Bank were unsuccessful. Yesh Din monitored 97 complaints filed 
against Israeli settlers for damage caused to Palestinian-owned trees; 
police closed every case due to unidentifiable perpetrators or 
insufficient evidence. Although IDF and Palestinian officials took 
steps for the first time to mitigate olive-harvest violence, in some 
instances Israeli security authorities reportedly prevented Palestinian 
farmers from accessing their land to harvest the crop.
    On August 17, according to residents of the West Bank village of 
Qusra, Israeli settlers from newly established settlement outposts 
attacked Palestinian olive groves, causing damage to hundreds of trees.
    In incidents throughout September and October, Israeli settlers in 
Shilo and Ariel confiscated farmland and cut down hundreds of 
Palestinian-owned olive trees, prompting retaliations by Palestinians, 
who reportedly cut down more than 100 settler olive trees, according to 
both NGO and media reporting.
    In September Israeli settlers harvested olives from Palestinian 
olive trees near Nablus and Qalqiliya, several weeks ahead of the 
traditional harvest season.
    Settlers also exploited religious tensions to harass Palestinian 
villages by vandalizing, breaking into, or burning at least three 
mosques. These incidents aimed to accomplish political ends, such as 
warning Israeli officials against supporting policies that limit 
settlers' presence in the West Bank, in a policy the settlers publicly 
referred to as ``price tag.''

Section 2. Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:
    a. Freedom of Speech and Press.--The PA Basic Law provides every 
person the right to freedom of thought, conscience, and expression, 
orally, in writing, or through any other form. The PA does not have 
laws specifically providing for freedom of press; however, PA 
institutions applied aspects of an unratified 1995 press law as de 
facto law. In practice, however, the PA security forces in the West 
Bank and members of the Hamas security apparatus in the Gaza Strip 
continued to restrict freedom of speech and press. Self-censorship 
continued as a result of political and social pressures.
    Although there is no PA law prohibiting criticism of the 
Government, there were reports that the Government was not fully 
tolerant of criticism. The PA prohibits calls for violence, displays of 
arms, and racist slogans but rarely enforced these provisions.
    Across the occupied territories, three Palestinian daily and 
several weekly newspapers, several monthly magazines, and three 
tabloids were published. There were approximately 25 television and 65 
radio stations; the PA operated one of each. Since 2008 several 
factional satellite stations opened, including the pro-Hamas al-Quds, 
established in 2008. Violence between Hamas and Fatah resulted in 
polarization of the Palestinian press. International news outlets 
continued to maintain offices and stringers in the Gaza Strip.
    During the year the PA ministries of information, interior, and 
telecommunications established and enforced the registration and 
licensing of local Palestinian television and radio stations. 
Registration fees ranged from 3,500 to 25,000 Jordanian dinars 
(approximately $5,000 to $35,000). During the year a number of smaller 
local radio and television stations were forced to close, at least 
temporarily, as they raised funds to cover the registration and annual 
licensing fees.
    PA security forces reportedly harassed, detained, and prosecuted 
journalists several times during the year due to their reporting. In 
the West Bank, PA security forces raided the offices of several 
independent media outlets suspected of filming local demonstrations. 
They confiscated videotapes and briefly detained several journalists 
working for Gaza-based media. PA security services reportedly 
threatened pro-Hamas journalists working in the West Bank and West 
Bank-based journalists working for the Gaza-based outlets.
    On May 11, PA intelligence services arrested Amer Abu Arfa, a 
correspondent of the Gaza-based Shihab news agency, in connection with 
his reporting. In June a PA court in Hebron sentenced him to three 
months in prison and a fine of 500 Jordanian dinars ($700) for 
``resisting the policies of the authorities.'' According to the 
Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), the PA considered the Shihab 
news agency pro-Hamas.
    On July 17, PA security forces raided the offices of the 
independent Watan television, reportedly because the outlet filmed a 
demonstration by the pan-Islamic political organization Hizb al-Tahrir.
    In January, according to the CPJ, a PA military court sentenced 
Tareq Abu Zaid, a reporter for the Gaza-based al-Aqsa satellite 
channel, to 18 months in prison for allegedly ``transferring 
information and money.'' The Palestinian Center for Development and 
Media Freedoms (MADA) and the International Freedom of Expression 
Exchange (IFEX) reported that Abu Zaid was arrested in November 2009 
because of his work as a correspondent for al-Aqsa television. On 
November 14, according to IFEX, PA authorities released Abu Zaid. The 
PA banned the Hamas-affiliated al-Aqsa television in 2007; however, 
since it is a satellite station, Palestinians living outside the Gaza 
Strip maintained access to it.
    The PA maintained a distribution ban in the West Bank on the twice-
weekly pro-Hamas al-Risala and the Filistin daily, both Gaza-based 
    For the first time in 10 years, the Palestinian Journalists 
Syndicate, a membership-based union representing the majority of 
Palestinian journalists based in East Jerusalem, the West Bank, and the 
Gaza Strip, with more than 400 journalists, held an election. The 
syndicate's new leadership laid out a detailed agenda of reforms, 
including the establishment and adoption of a set of bylaws and the 
development of ties with international organizations dedicated to the 
protection and promotion of journalists' rights.
    In the Gaza Strip, individuals publicly criticizing authorities 
risked reprisal by Hamas. On December 5, Hamas internal security forces 
dispersed a peace protest in which participants were criticizing the 
Government. In January 2009, according to HRW, an unidentified man 
criticized a Hamas leader in a conversation on the street. That 
evening, he stated, more than a dozen armed men with black masks took 
him from his home and shot him three times in the lower legs and 
    Since 2007 only pro-Hamas broadcast media and the Voice of the 
People, a radio outlet affiliated with the terrorist organization 
Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, operated in the Gaza 
Strip. Hamas maintained the closure of all Fatah-affiliated television 
and radio broadcast outlets in the Gaza Strip. The Fatah-allied 
Palestinian television and Voice of Palestine radio continued operating 
in Ramallah after relocating there from the Gaza Strip in 2007. Two 
other Fatah-affiliated radio stations in the Gaza Strip, al-Hurriyah 
and al-Shabab, remained off the air during the year.
    Journalists faced arrest, harassment, and other pressure from Hamas 
due to their reporting or political affiliation (see also section 1.d., 
Arrest Procedures and Treatment While in Detention). Hamas constrained 
journalists' freedom of movement during the year, banning access to 
Rafah and hospitals in the Gaza Strip. On several occasions during the 
year, according to the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human 
Rights, Hamas detained journalists from independent and Fatah-
affiliated outlets.
    On August 14, Hamas raided the Gaza City Reuters office, following 
Reuters reporting about a violent Hamas-Salafist incident in Rafah.
    On November 10, Hamas representatives raided the Ramattan News 
Agency to stop a press conference hosted by the Palestinian National 
Action Committee.
    On December 13, Hamas authorities detained and questioned Ziad 
Ismail Awad, a contributor to the Kuwaiti television channel Wasl and 
the office director at the Fatah parliamentary bloc in the Gaza Strip. 
According to MADA, Awad stated that he was questioned about producing a 
television program depicting Palestinian suffering in the Gaza Strip 
and about his connections to the PLC. He was released that evening but 
reported poor treatment in detention.
    During the year Hamas continued to ban distribution of the PA's 
official daily, al-Hayat al-Jadida, in the Gaza Strip. On July 6, local 
Palestinian media reported that Israeli authorities agreed to allow the 
distribution of Palestinian newspapers into the Gaza Strip starting the 
following day. The purported change in policy represented the first 
time since February 2009 that Israel agreed to allow Palestinian 
newspapers to enter the Gaza Strip. The following day, despite the 
well-publicized announcement, Israeli authorities at the border 
crossing refused to allow the newspapers to enter the Gaza Strip. Both 
Hamas and Israeli authorities claimed that the other prevented 
circulation of the dailies.
    Israeli authorities placed limits on certain forms of expression in 
the occupied territories. For instance, in East Jerusalem, displays of 
Palestinian political symbols were punishable by fines or imprisonment, 
as were public expressions of anti-Israeli sentiment and of support for 
terrorist groups. Authorities reviewed Arabic publications for material 
perceived as a security threat; this review pertained to all Jerusalem-
based publications, but al-Quds was the only newspaper in the occupied 
territories subjected to regular Israeli censorship.
    As a general rule, Israeli media were able to cover the occupied 
territories, except for combat zones where the IDF temporarily 
restricted access, but closures, curfews, and checkpoints limited the 
ability of Palestinian and foreign journalists to do their jobs (see 
section 2.d.). Israel revoked the press credentials of the majority of 
Palestinian journalists during the Second Intifada in 2000, with the 
exception of a few Palestinian journalists who worked as stringers for 
prominent international media outlets. As a result most Palestinian 
journalists were unable to cover stories outside the Palestinian-
controlled areas of the West Bank.
    There were reports of Israeli authorities detaining or assaulting 
journalists during the year.
    On January 12, Israeli authorities detained and later deported 
Jared Malsin, editor in chief of the English-language section of the 
independent Bethlehem-based Ma'an News Agency. The CPJ reported that 
interrogation transcripts indicated Malsin was deemed a security risk 
because of his political beliefs and reporting.
    On January 28, Israeli forces reportedly assaulted a group of 
Palestinian journalists covering olive tree planting in the West Bank 
village of Burin. According to reports by MADA and the CPJ, soldiers 
informed the journalists that photographs were prohibited because the 
area is a closed military zone. When the reporters refused to stop 
taking photographs, the soldiers hit the reporters and attempted to 
seize their cameras before employing tear gas and stun grenades. 
According to MADA, there was no investigation or prosecution as a 
result of the incident.
    On April 30, the IDF prevented al-Jazeera from covering an 
antibarrier demonstration in Bil'in. Security forces arrested al 
Jazeera camera operator Maidi Bannoura and his assistant Nader Abu Zer, 
according to media reports. According to al-Jazeera, no investigation 
or prosecution took place as a result of the incident.

    Internet Freedom.--According to a report issued by the Palestinian 
Central Bureau of Statistics in 2009, 32.3 percent of Palestinians had 
access to the Internet. There were no PA restrictions on access to the 
Internet or reports that the PA monitored e-mail or Internet chat 
rooms. Individuals and groups could engage in the peaceful expression 
of views via the Internet, including by e-mail.
    On October 31, PA authorities arrested Walid Husayin, a 26-year-old 
barber from Qalqilya, and charged him with insulting Islam after he 
posted provocative comments about atheism on his blog and on social 
media. At year's end he had not been granted a trial and remained in 
    Hamas did not restrict Internet access; however, based on anecdotal 
reports from Palestinian civil society organizations and social media 
practitioners, Hamas authorities monitored Internet activities and 
postings of Gaza Strip residents. Individuals posting negative reports 
or commentary about Hamas, its policies, or affiliated organizations 
faced questioning and were at times required to remove or modify online 
postings. No information was available regarding punishment for not 
complying with such demands.
    In June Hamas authorities arrested Sri Mohammed Qudwah, the editor 
of the online al-Sabah newspaper, and confiscated his equipment, 
according to Freedom House.
    Israeli authorities did not restrict access to the Internet; 
however, they monitored some Internet activity. In March 2009 the IDF 
central military censor began to monitor blogs, and there was at least 
one report that the IDF monitored Internet chat rooms during the year.
    On March 20, the IDF reportedly arrested Moatasem Nazzal, a 16-
year-old from Qalandiya refugee camp, in his home and held him in 
administrative detention, which was renewed twice. During interrogation 
the IDF allegedly asked Nazzal about his Internet friendship with a 
Gaza Strip resident, whom he met in an Internet chat room.

    Academic Freedom and Cultural Events.--In the West Bank, the PA did 
not place restrictions on academic freedom or cultural events. During 
the year Palestinian authorities did not interfere with education; 
however, restrictions on movement adversely affected academic 
institutions in the West Bank, and violence affected them in the Gaza 
Strip (see section 2.b.).
    In the Gaza Strip, Hamas and other groups sought to disrupt UN-run 
academic programs that did not teach a strict interpretation of Islam. 
Twenty-five masked men of unknown affiliation burned and vandalized a 
UN summer camp on June 27; the perpetrators accused the UN of 
corrupting Gazan youth with a summer program of human rights studies, 
games, and sports.
    Israeli authorities generally did not permit students from the Gaza 
Strip to attend West Bank universities. On July 7, the Israeli High 
Court rejected a petition submitted by the Israeli NGO Gisha and the 
Palestinian NGO al-Mezan on behalf of Fatma Sharif, a human rights 
lawyer in the Gaza Strip, who had been accepted into a master's degree 
program in human rights and democracy studies at Bir Zeit University in 
the West Bank, explaining that it would not intervene with the existing 
    However, in August the Israeli coordinator of government activities 
in the occupied territories granted three Gazans short-term renewable 
permits to pursue their undergraduate studies in the West Bank.

    b. Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association.--Freedom of 
Assembly.--Palestinian law permits public meetings, processions, and 
assemblies within legal limits. It requires permits for rallies, 
demonstrations, and large cultural events, and authorities rarely 
denied them. However, there was at least one example of PA forces 
disrupting a meeting during the year.
    On August 25, according to several NGO and political activists, PA 
security officials disrupted a meeting of political activists and 
members of civil society organizations who were discussing Palestinian 
negotiations with Israel. NGOs and press reports claimed that 
plainclothes officers disrupted the event and initiated small 
altercations with the activists. On August 30, PA Prime Minister Fayyad 
issued a public apology for the disruption of the event; on September 
1, the organizers of the original conference staged a public rally 
without incident.
    Following the 2007 Fatah-Hamas clashes in the Gaza Strip, Hamas 
banned rallies and impeded freedom of assembly for Fatah members. In 
2008 Hamas decreed that any public assembly or celebration in the Gaza 
Strip required prior permission, in contradiction to the PA basic law.
    From the beginning of the year, according to B'Tselem reports, the 
IDF implemented for the first time since the Oslo peace process, a 
military order that effectively prohibited Palestinian demonstrations 
and limited freedom of speech in the West Bank. The regulations 
stipulate that a gathering of 10 or more persons requires a permit from 
the regional commander of military forces if the event relates to any 
``political subject'' or might be construed as such. The penalty for a 
breach of the order is 10 years' imprisonment or a heavy fine. 
According to IDF statistics requested by B'Tselem, there was one 
conviction during the year under the order.
    Israeli security forces used force against Palestinians and others 
involved in demonstrations in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, killing 
two West Bank protesters and one antibarrier demonstrator during the 
year. The IDF used force particularly against protests by the Popular 
Resistance Committee against the construction of the separation 
    On January 15, the Jerusalem District Police arrested 17 
demonstrators during a nonviolent protest in Jerusalem, including Hagai 
El-Ad, ACRI's executive director. The demonstrators claimed authorities 
detained them for 36 hours, then released them without condition after 
the Jerusalem Magistrate Court ruled that there was no legal cause for 
their arrest. ACRI stated the arrests exemplified what it described as 
a growing trend by the police to disperse demonstrators unlawfully and 
conduct arbitrary arrests to intimidate demonstrators.
    In February the IDF Central Command designated the areas adjacent 
to the separation barrier in the villages of Bil'in and Ni'lin as 
closed military areas every Friday during the hours in which 
Palestinian, Israeli, and international activists regularly 
demonstrated. There were frequent skirmishes between the antibarrier 
protesters and IDF personnel. IDF and Israeli police personnel 
stationed on the far side of the barrier during weekly protests in 
Bil'in and Ni'lin, for instance, responded to rock throwing with tear 
gas, stun grenades, sound bombs, and rubber-coated bullets. During the 
year Israeli forces began using a specially treated water to disperse 
the crowds; sprayed as a mist, it has an overwhelming odor of sewage 
that lasts for days and can induce vomiting. B'Tselem reported that 
Israeli forces also arrested many demonstration organizers, holding 
some of them without charge for periods of up to three weeks, and 
deported some foreign participants. The IDF continued to detain 80 
residents of Bil'in since 2005.
    In December 2009 Israeli authorities arrested Abdullah Abu Rahmah 
of the Bil'in Popular Committee and charged him in a military court 
with arms possession, stone throwing, incitement, and illegal assembly. 
In August the court acquitted Abu Rahmah of the charges of arms 
possession and stone throwing but convicted him on charges of 
incitement (defined as ``the attempt, verbally or otherwise, to 
influence public opinion in the area in a way that may disturb the 
public peace or public order'') and illegal assembly. On October 11, 
the court sentenced Abu Rahmah to one year in prison including time 
served, setting a release date of November 18. The military prosecutor 
appealed Abu Rahmah's sentence prior to his release date, asking that 
his release be delayed ``to serve as a deterrent not only to [Abu 
Rahmah] himself, but also to others who may follow in his footsteps.'' 
The court increased Abu Rahmah's sentence to 16 months. Several NGOs 
estimated that the strict sentence was also an attempt by Israeli 
authorities to intimidate Palestinian protesters.
    During the year Israeli authorities also arrested demonstrators 
protesting land ownership decisions, particularly in the East Jerusalem 
neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah. On March 4, the Israeli High Court of 
Justice ruled that police in Jerusalem had been overly restrictive in 
barring protests near contested properties in the Sheikh Jarrah area; 
the ruling temporarily prompted increased turnout at the weekly 

    Freedom of Association.--In the West Bank, the PA law allowed for 
freedom of association, but it was sometimes limited in practice.
    In the Gaza Strip, Hamas attempted to prevent various organizations 
from operating. On October 12, security forces reportedly closed the 
Gaza headquarters of the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate without 
prior notification or explanation. In November Hamas blocked a 
conciliatory International Federation of Journalists meeting that aimed 
to connect West Bank and Gaza journalists.
    In July 2009 Hamas closed at least 45 NGO offices. Most of the NGOs 
were Fatah-affiliated, but a number were politically independent.
    Israel maintained prohibitions on at least seven prominent East 
Jerusalem-based Palestinian institutions--the Orient House, the de 
facto PLO office in Jerusalem, the East Jerusalem Chamber of Commerce, 
the Higher Arab Council for Tourism, the Palestine Research Center, the 
Palestinian Prisoners Club, and the Social Research Office--claiming 
that the groups violated the Oslo Accords by operating on behalf of the 
PA in Jerusalem.
    On January 11, IDF and Israeli immigration officials entered 
Ramallah and arrested a Czech activist with the International 
Solidarity Movement (ISM), later deporting her on the basis that she 
lacked a valid Israeli visa. On February 7, according to local press 
reports, Israeli officials detained two foreign ISM activists; both 
were released on February 8 following their agreement not to reenter 
the West Bank. The ISM's stated purpose is to strengthen Palestinian 
popular resistance to the Israeli occupation through ``direct-action'' 
methods, such as demonstrations and protests.

    c. Freedom of Religion.--For a complete description of religious 
freedom, please see the 2010 International Religious Freedom Report at 

    d. Freedom of Movement, Internally Displaced Persons, Protection of 
Refugees, and Stateless Persons.--The Basic Law provides for freedom of 
movement, and the PA generally did not restrict freedom of movement. 
The Basic Law does not specify regulations regarding foreign travel, 
emigration, or repatriation.
    Hamas authorities in the Gaza Strip enforced movement restrictions 
on Gazans attempting to exit to Israel via the Erez Crossing and 
maintained more relaxed restrictions on transfer to Egypt via the Rafah 
Crossing; Hamas authorities did not appear to enforce routine 
restrictions on internal movement within the Gaza Strip, although there 
were some ``no go'' areas to which Hamas prohibited access.
    The PA, Hamas, and Israel governments generally cooperated with the 
Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees and other humanitarian 
organizations in providing protection and assistance to internally 
displaced persons and refugees, although the ability of the UN Relief 
and Works Agency (UNRWA) to operate freely in Gaza was constrained by 
both Hamas and Israeli officials.
    The IDF restricted Palestinians' movement within the occupied 
territories and for foreign travel, and it heightened these 
restrictions at times, citing military necessity. Barriers to movement 
included checkpoints, a separation barrier between the West Bank and 
Israel, internal road closures, and a blockade on the Gaza Strip. 
Restrictions on movement affected virtually all aspects of life, 
including access to places of worship, employment, agricultural lands, 
schools, hospitals, and the conduct of journalism, humanitarian, and 
NGO activities. During the year the IDF relaxed restrictions at several 
checkpoints and roads that previously posed significant barriers to 
movement by Palestinian populations between the West Bank and urban 
centers. Nevertheless, according to UNOCHA, as of June there were 505 
obstacles to movement inside the West Bank, identified as follows: 66 
fully manned checkpoints, 20 occasionally manned checkpoints, 106 road 
gates, 167 earth mounds, 46 road barriers, 70 roadblocks, 20 earth 
walls, and 10 trenches.
    According to UNOCHA, the Israeli government largely halted the 
remaining planned construction of a separation barrier along parts of 
the Green Line (the 1949 Armistice line) and in the West Bank, mostly 
due to a lack of political will and an overall increase in security. If 
completed, the barrier would separate approximately 9.5 percent of the 
West Bank (135,000 acres inhabited by up to 50,000 Palestinians), 
including parts of Jerusalem, from the rest of the West Bank territory 
in a ``seam zone.'' Israel continued to restrict movement and 
development within this area, including access by some international 
organizations. During the year approximately 34 of the checkpoints 
along the separation barrier were restricted to Israelis and 
Palestinians with permits. Palestinians with worker permits were 
required to pass through one of 11 pedestrian crossings. Palestinians 
with permits, those working in international organizations, and 
biometric card holders and their immediate families were able to pass 
in vehicles through any of the crossings. A 2003 petition by the NGO 
HaMoked against the legality of the permit system had not been ruled on 
by year's end, although a 2004 International Criminal Court advisory 
body deemed the barrier contrary to international law.
    Private security companies employed by the Israeli government 
controlled points of access through the barrier, and international 
organizations and local human rights groups claimed these companies did 
not respond to requests to move goods and officials through the 
barrier. The barrier affected the commutes of school children living on 
its eastern side and attending school in Jerusalem. For example, 
students from Bir Nabala, which is surrounded by the barrier, took 
detours of seven to 10 miles to pass through checkpoints to reach 
school. The barrier and the permit system also affected some farmers 
who were separated from land and water resources, which curtailed 
agricultural practice and resulted in deterioration of the harvest 
quality and quantity.
    Operating hours of the accessible gates were limited and erratic, 
although usually announced. Crossing procedures were relaxed at some 
checkpoints to the east of the separation barrier; Israeli authorities 
lifted permit requirements, extended operating hours, and performed 
fewer searches and random documentation checks in comparison with 
previous years, especially during holidays.
    Israeli authorities frequently prohibited travel between some or 
all West Bank towns. Palestinians who lived in affected villages stated 
that such ``internal closures,'' which could last years, had negative 
economic effects. During periods of potential unrest and during major 
Israeli, Jewish, and Muslim holidays, Israeli authorities enacted 
``comprehensive external closures,'' which precluded Palestinians from 
leaving the West Bank. The IDF also imposed temporary curfews confining 
Palestinians to their homes during arrest operations.
    Although Israeli authorities reopened Route 354 and Route 443, with 
some restrictions to Palestinian traffic, three other roadblocks on 
Route 60 impeded movement for tens of thousands of residents of 
Palestinian villages south of Hebron, cutting direct access for 
businesses to the city's commercial center. Palestinians not resident 
in the Jordan Valley generally were unable to drive on the main north-
south route, Highway 90.
    The blockade on the Gaza Strip imposed by Israel since 2007 
continued its significant effect on the population in the Gaza Strip, 
according to the UNRWA and other humanitarian and human rights groups. 
The UN estimated that 80 percent of the population of the Gaza Strip 
relied on international food aid during the year. International and 
Israeli human rights organizations described the blockade as 
``collective punishment'' of the residents of the Gaza Strip, as it 
restricted access to basic goods and prevented civilians from temporary 
travel abroad or changing their place of residence permanently. During 
the year Israel eased the blockade, but with only one open commercial 
crossing, the number of truckloads entering the Gaza Strip each week 
was less than 40 percent of that before the blockade began.
    Israel's strict closure on the Gaza Strip also resulted in the 
cessation of postal services. Humanitarian organizations reported that 
the closure significantly hindered their ability to operate and limited 
opportunities for Gazans to communicate with family and friends outside 
the Gaza Strip.
    The UNRWA operated 228 schools with more than 206,000 students in 
the Gaza Strip, but the agency claimed its capacity was severely 
overstretched by the Israeli blockade and that restrictions on movement 
and access undermined its ability to provide education. UNRWA schools 
in the Gaza Strip ran on a double-shift in ``compressed learning 
periods'' and were severely overcrowded with as many as 50 students per 
classroom. Thousands of students were schooled in makeshift classrooms, 
including one school serving 865 students built entirely from shipping 
    Essential infrastructure in the Gaza Strip, including water and 
sanitation services, was in a state of severe disrepair due in part to 
an inability to bring in spare parts and components under the blockade. 
The sewage and water systems were frequently inoperable, and as a 
result approximately 21 million gallons of raw or partially treated 
sewage was pumped into the ocean each day, according to the UNRWA. 
Israel prohibited private sector companies from importing cement and 
gravel; entry of these goods was permitted only for specific UN or 
other internationally coordinated projects. As a result Gaza Strip 
residents lacked the necessary supplies to rebuild homes destroyed 
during Operation Cast Lead.
    Personal travel in and out of the Gaza Strip was limited to one 
crossing point and was restricted to humanitarian cases only; however, 
Israeli authorities denied many Gazans access to Israel and Egypt for 
medical treatment and detained some during the year. PHR-Israel claimed 
that, based on security considerations, Israeli authorities did not 
issue medical or humanitarian exit permits to Palestinians in the Gaza 
Strip regardless of professional medical opinions. Israeli authorities 
also rejected requests for Palestinians to exit the Gaza Strip for 
medical treatment due to fears that the patients might emigrate and 
unite with family in the West Bank. On January 11, various NGOs, 
including al-Mezan Center for Human Rights, Adalah Legal Center, and 
PHR-Israel, petitioned the attorney general against the practice of 
detaining patients at the border, but on March 2, the General Security 
Service stated that Israel may legally arrest persons at the border 
seeking medical treatment.
    In March 2009 the Israeli Ministry of Defense released a detailed 
rubric for determining whether a resident of the Gaza Strip may be 
permitted exit and entry under exceptional humanitarian cases. Between 
January and June, Israel refused exit to all of the 1,095 orthopedic 
and neurology patients in need of medical treatment; in June Israeli 
authorities told PHR-Israel that hip and knee replacements did ``not 
meet the criteria `` for issuing exit permits. In January Israel 
prevented 17 patients from going to Ramallah for cornea transplants, 
resulting in the disposal of the donated organs.
    Movement to the West Bank from Gaza was severely restricted to a 
limited number of Palestinians holding Israeli-issued permits. In one 
case, Israeli authorities refused to allow Issam Hamdan, a 40-year-old 
man suffering severe back pain, to enter Israel to receive specialized 
medical care in Jerusalem because Israeli authorities suspected he 
might reunite with his wife and four children in the West Bank. On 
February 9, the NGOs PHR-Israel and Gisha filed a petition before the 
Supreme Court on behalf of Hamdan, prompting Israeli authorities to 
withdraw objection and allow him to seek treatment in Jerusalem.
    On October 16, two-year-old Gazan Nasma Abu Lashee died of 
treatable leukemia while waiting for permission from Israeli 
authorities to receive treatment in Israel.
    Israel continued to enforce restrictions on access to farmland in 
the Gaza Strip near the border with Israel and to fishing areas along 
the coast, with the stated intention of preventing attacks by 
Palestinian armed factions. Israel on average enforced an approximately 
1,000 yard-wide ``buffer zone'' and at times fired warning shots as far 
away as 1,640 yards from the border, according to UNOCHA (see also 
section 1.a.). The ``buffer zone'' encompassed approximately 24 square 
miles, representing 17 percent of the Gaza Strip's total land mass. 
UNOCHA estimated that nearly 35 percent of the Gaza Strip's cultivable 
land was located within the restricted area.
    Eighty percent of the maritime area designated accessible to Gazans 
under the Oslo Accords remained off-limits; the IDF implemented a 
three-nautical-mile-wide limit that was strictly enforced by Israeli 
naval patrol boats. In the northern Gaza Strip, Israel prevented 
Palestinians from accessing a 1.5-nautical-mile-wide strip along the 
maritime boundary with Israel and a one-nautical-mile-wide strip in the 
south, along the maritime boundary with Egypt, as established in the 
1994 Gaza-Jericho Agreement. Israeli naval forces regularly fired 
warning shots at Palestinian fishermen entering the restricted sea 
areas, in some cases directly targeting the fishermen, according to 
UNOCHA. The Israeli military often confiscated fishing boats 
intercepted in these areas and detained the fishermen.
    IDF soldiers at checkpoints sometimes subjected Palestine Red 
Crescent Society (PRCS) ambulances from the West Bank to delays or 
refused entry to Jerusalem, for security reasons. Patients were moved 
across checkpoints from one ambulance to another. The PRCS reported 
violations against its teams and humanitarian services during the year. 
Most incidents (159) included blocking access to those in need, 
preventing their transport to specialized medical centers, or 
maintaining delays on checkpoints for periods ranging from 30 minutes 
to two hours. Most incidents (142) took place on checkpoints leading to 
Jerusalem, while the remainder took place on other checkpoints circling 
the West Bank.
    On April 13, Israeli Military Order 1650 went into effect, 
broadening the definition of ``infiltrator'' in the Prevention of 
Infiltration Law to include anyone who enters the West Bank unlawfully 
or any persons in the West Bank without permits, making them subject to 
criminal charges and potential deportation to the Gaza Strip. 
Palestinians and human rights NGOs expressed concern about whether the 
order legalized the deportation of up to 35,000 Palestinians living in 
the West Bank with registered Gaza Strip addresses. In 2000 Israel 
stopped updating changes in address for Palestinians who moved from the 
Gaza Strip to the West Bank. As a result thousands of Palestinians, 
originally from the Gaza Strip but living in the West Bank for many 
years, continued to hold identity cards with home addresses in the Gaza 
Strip. There were reports that Palestinians were deported to the Gaza 
Strip border on these grounds during the year.
    On April 21, Israeli authorities transferred West Bank resident 
Ahmad Sabbah Said to the Gaza Strip following his release from an 
Israeli prison, where he had served a nine-year sentence on charges for 
offenses committed during the Second Intifada. Several NGOs claimed he 
was transferred immediately, without a judicial review. Authorities 
justified the deportation by his possession of an identity card issued 
in the Gaza Strip, where he lived for one year in the 1990s. Sabbah's 
wife and children remained in the West Bank city of Tulkarem.
    On April 27, the Israeli government expelled 19-year-old Hebron 
resident Fadi Aiada al-Azazma to the Gaza Strip. According to HaMoked, 
al-Azazma was taken into custody from his workplace and transferred to 
the Gaza Strip hours later, without a judicial review. Al-Azazma was 
born in the Gaza Strip but moved to the West Bank with his family when 
he was seven years old.
    Israeli authorities delivered both deportees to the Erez crossing 
point at the northern end of the Gaza Strip. According to press 
reports, Hamas refused to allow either Sabbah or al-Azazma to pass 
through a checkpoint inside the border so as not to ``legitimize'' 
Israel's removal of Gazan identity card holders from the West Bank. 
Both remained in a tent for more than one month in the area between the 
Israeli and Hamas positions; however, both were living in the Gaza 
Strip at year's end, according to reports.
    The IDF since 2000 restricted Gazan students from studying in the 
West Bank or Israel and limited West Bank Palestinians from university 
study in East Jerusalem and Israel (see section 2.a.). During the year 
students were allowed to leave the Gaza Strip only when escorted by 
foreign diplomats or contractors of the country accepting them for 
study. Some students from the Gaza Strip accepted for university study 
abroad were unable to apply for visas in Jerusalem and were therefore 
prevented from leaving for further education abroad.
    The PA issued passports for Palestinians in the West Bank and the 
Gaza Strip. Because there were no commercial flights from the occupied 
territories, and permits to use Ben Gurion airport were not available, 
travelers departed by land to Jordan or Egypt. Foreign citizens of 
Palestinian ethnicity had difficulty obtaining or renewing visas 
permitting them to enter Israel from either Ben Gurion airport or land 
entry points.
    Palestinians possessing Jerusalem identity cards issued by the 
Israeli government needed special documents to travel abroad. Upon the 
individual request of Palestinians, the Jordanian government issued 
them passports.
    Residency restrictions affected family reunification, as it did not 
qualify as a reason to enter the West Bank. For any child, access to a 
parent in the West Bank was permitted only if no other relative was 
resident in the Gaza Strip. Israeli authorities did not permit 
Palestinians who were abroad during the 1967 War, or whose residence 
permits the Government subsequently withdrew, to reside permanently in 
the occupied territories. It was difficult for foreign-born spouses and 
children of Palestinians to obtain residency. Palestinian spouses of 
Jerusalem residents were required to obtain a residency permit and 
reported delays of several years in obtaining them. Palestinians in 
Jerusalem also reported delays in registering newborn children.
    The PA basic law prohibits forced exile, and the PA did not use 
forced exile.
    In practice Israeli revocations of Jerusalem identity cards 
amounted to forced exile to the occupied territories or abroad and have 
continued in recent years. There were no statistics on residency 
revocations available at year's end. According to HaMoked, the Ministry 
of Interior revoked the Jerusalem residency of more than 700 
Palestinians in 2009. In 2008 the Ministry of Interior revoked the 
residency of 4,577 Palestinians in East Jerusalem, including 99 minors. 
The number of cases of residency revocation in 2008 alone was equal to 
approximately one-half the total number of cases of residency 
revocation between 1967 and 2007. Reasons for revocation include having 
acquired residency or citizenship in a third country, living abroad for 
more than seven years, or, most commonly, being unable to prove a 
``center of life'' in Jerusalem. Some Palestinians born in Jerusalem 
but who studied abroad reported losing their Jerusalem residency 
    On June 3, the Israeli National Police notified four Hamas-
affiliated PLC members of the revocation of their Jerusalem residency 
status, according to the Civic Coalition for Defending Palestinian 
Rights and press reports. The decision to revoke their Jerusalem 
residency permits came from the Israeli Ministry of Interior shortly 
after their election to the PLC in 2006. Israeli authorities arrested 
and detained the four individuals for three years; three were released 
during the year and continued to reside in Jerusalem under the 
administration of the ICRC, and the fourth remained in detention at 
year's end awaiting trial on illegal presence charges.

    Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs).--There were approximately 
20,500 IDPs in the occupied territories, nearly all of whom remained 
displaced as a result of Operation Cast Lead. Although they have no 
specific legislation to protect IDPs along UN principles and 
guidelines, West Bank and Gaza Strip authorities are bound by 
international human rights laws underlying these obligations on 
displacement. The PA provided some assistance to those displaced 
through rental subsidies and financial assistance to reconstruct 
demolished houses. The UNRWA and humanitarian organizations provided 
services to aid IDPs in the Gaza Strip.
    During the year the UNRWA provided rental assistance to 
approximately 2,000 families whose shelters were destroyed during 
hostilities, assisted with the living expenses of 3,810 families whose 
shelters were destroyed or severely damaged during hostilities, and 
identified 10,283 families whose shelters needed to be fully rebuilt. 
In March the UNRWA received approval to import construction materials 
to complete the construction of 151 shelters in Khan Younis, which had 
been stalled since Israel imposed the Gaza Strip blockade in 2007. 
However, due to the requirement that UN projects be approved on a case-
by-case basis and the general ban on the importation of cement and 
gravel, the UNRWA was unable to begin construction on any additional 
shelters. The UNRWA continued to provide psychological support and 
counseling, including for children traumatized by hostilities with 
Israel, through its community mental health program.
    During the year according to the UNRWA, the Israeli government 
obstructed IDP access to UNRWA-provided humanitarian assistance in 
refugee communities in at least 339 incidents in parts of the West 
Bank, causing lengthy detours.
    The Internal Displacement Monitoring Center reported that Israeli 
demolition of Palestinian property in East Jerusalem added to the 
threat of displacement for Palestinians (see section 1.f.).

    Protection of Refugees.--There were no reports of persons seeking 
asylum or residence in the occupied territories.

Section 3. Respect for Political Rights: The Right of Citizens to 
        Change Their Government
    Elections and Political Participation.--In 2006 the 132-member PLC 
was elected in a process under the Basic Law that international 
observers concluded generally met democratic standards in providing 
citizens the right to change their government peacefully. Hamas-backed 
candidates participated in the 2006 PLC elections under the name 
``Reform and Change Movement,'' rather than ``Hamas,'' and won 74 of 
132 seats. Fatah won 45 seats; independents and candidates from third 
parties won the remaining seats. The PLC lacked a quorum and did not 
meet during the year. Although the Israeli government and the PA 
followed mutually agreed guidelines for Palestinians residing in 
Jerusalem to vote in 2005 and 2006, not all Palestinians were allowed 
to vote in East Jerusalem, and those who could vote were required to do 
so via post offices (of which there were few), thereby complicating 
their efforts to vote.
    On June 10, immediately before candidate registration ended, the PA 
canceled municipal elections scheduled for July. The Hamas and Islamic 
Jihad parties had pledged to boycott the elections, and various Fatah 
members claimed plans to run as independents. The Ministry of Local 
Government stated that the decision to postpone came in response to the 
demands of some Arab nations and a number of ``friends in the world.'' 
The calls from abroad reportedly advised the PA to postpone the 
elections ``to pave the way for a successful end to the siege on the 
Gaza Strip and for continued efforts at unity,'' the statement 
    There were 17 women in the 132-member PLC (which was not called 
into session) and three women in the 16-member cabinet. There were 
seven Christians in the PLC and two in the cabinet.
    Civil society organizations in the Gaza Strip claimed Hamas 
authorities and other conservative Islamist groups did not tolerate 
public dissent, opponents, or the promotion of values that ran contrary 
to their political and religious ideology.

Section 4. Official Corruption and Government Transparency
    Palestinian law provides criminal penalties for official 
corruption. The PA operated a functioning anticorruption commission, 
special prosecutors, and an anticorruption court consisting of a panel 
of three judges. PA ministers were subject to financial disclosure 
laws. The PA attorney general had official responsibility for combating 
government corruption. Nevertheless, there were allegations of corrupt 
practices among Fatah officials, particularly in the theft of public 
funds and international assistance money. Supervisors dismissed 
anticorruption unit head Fahmi Shabaneh in 2009 after he uncovered a 
sex scandal relating to one of President Abbas' aides.
    In the Gaza Strip, local observers and NGOs alleged instances of 
Hamas complicity in corrupt practices, including involvement by the 
Hamas Executive Force, but access to information and reporting were 
severely inhibited.
    PA law requires official PA institutions to ``facilitate'' 
acquisition of requested documents or information by any Palestinian, 
but it does not require agencies to provide such information. Reasons 
for denial generally referred to privacy rights and security necessity.

Section 5. Governmental Attitude Regarding International and 
        Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations of Human 
    Palestinian human rights groups and several international 
organizations generally operated without PA restriction, and officials 
cooperated with their efforts to monitor the PA's human rights 
    PA officials generally cooperated with and permitted visits by UN 
representatives or other organizations, such as the ICRC. Several PA 
security agencies, including the General Intelligence Service and the 
Civil Police, appointed official liaisons with human rights groups.
    The quasi-governmental ICHR continued serving as the PA's ombudsman 
and human rights commission. The ICHR issued monthly and annual reports 
on human rights violations within Palestinian-controlled areas; the 
ICHR also issued formal recommendations to the PA.
    In the Gaza Strip, Hamas authorities pressed international and 
local aid organizations providing emergency assistance to coordinate 
relief efforts with the Hamas-controlled ``Ministry of Social 
Affairs.'' Several Gaza-based NGOs reported that Hamas prevented aid 
groups from distributing assistance after they refused to comply with 
Hamas regulations. Gaza-based NGOs reported that Hamas representatives 
appeared at their offices to assure compliance and summoned NGO 
representatives to police stations for questioning. On May 24, Hamas 
authorities prevented the ICHR from holding a press conference to 
release its annual human rights report.
    Israeli, Palestinian, and international NGOs monitored the Israeli 
government's practices in the occupied territories and published their 
findings, although restrictions on freedom of movement in the West 
Bank, fighting, and access restrictions in the Gaza Strip made it 
difficult to carry out their work. The Israeli government permitted 
some human rights groups to publish and hold press conferences; it 
provided the ICRC with access to most detainees.
    On January 31, several NGOs including B'Tselem, Gisha, Yesh Din, 
and PHR-Israel, submitted a complaint to Israel's president and prime 
minister regarding the Government's obstruction of their work in the 
occupied territories. They claimed that Shin Bet had summoned 
demonstrators and human rights activists for investigation and, in some 
cases, warned activists that they must refrain from political activity. 
The NGOs claimed that Israeli military authorities placed severe 
restrictions on organizations working in the occupied territories to 
provide medical care, accompany residents to their agricultural work 
and children to school, and help residents file complaints of violence 
by Israeli security forces or settlers.
    Also in January the Association of International Development 
Agencies (AIDA), an umbrella organization for NGOs operating in the 
occupied territories, reported that Israel ceased issuing the 
appropriate type of work visa to foreign nationals working for most 
international NGOs operating in the occupied territories. The 
Government instead issued most of these employees tourist visas, which 
do not permit employment, and some visas permitted only a single entry. 
AIDA claimed the new visa policy would impinge upon the international 
NGO community's ability to recruit international staff and operate in 
Jerusalem, where many NGOs keep offices. The decision does not apply to 
the 12 organizations, including the ICRC, that were active in the West 
Bank prior to 1967.
    International NGOs reported continued difficulty accessing ``seam 
zone'' communities in the northwestern West Bank, particularly Barta'a 
al-Sharqiya in the Jenin Governorate, due to excessive demands for 
searches of personnel, including UN employees, based on their 
    Israeli authorities throughout the year prevented PHR-Israel's 
medical delegations from entering the Gaza Strip to provide treatment 
and medical counseling, perform surgery, train Palestinian medical 
staff, distribute medication, and refer patients for follow-up 
treatment in Israeli hospitals. Israeli authorities also rejected two 
requests by a medical delegation from the Musallam Center in Ramallah 
to enter the Gaza Strip to perform eye surgery and cornea transplants, 
according to PHR-Israel.
    UN organizations and international NGOs criticized the Israeli 
government in regard to the May 31 flotilla incident, exclusion of the 
West Bank and Gaza Strip from the application of the UN Convention on 
the Rights of the Child, and the protection of human rights during the 
2008-09 Operation Cast Lead incursion into the Gaza Strip (see Israel, 
section 5).

Section 6. Discrimination and Societal Abuses
    Women.--Rape is illegal under PA law, but the legal definition does 
not address spousal rape. Punishment for rape is five to 15 years in 
    PA law does not explicitly prohibit domestic violence, but assault 
and battery are crimes. A woman must provide two eyewitnesses (who are 
not relatives) to initiate divorce on the grounds of spousal abuse. 
According to HRW few domestic violence cases have been successfully 
prosecuted in recent years. According to the Palestinian Central Bureau 
of Statistics, violence against wives, especially psychological 
violence, was common in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Specifically, 
a 2009 survey by the Palestinian Women's Information and Media Center 
found that 52 percent of Gazan women faced regular physical violence 
and 14 percent were subjected to sexual violence. Thirty-seven percent 
of women in the Gaza Strip cited domestic violence as the primary 
safety problem facing women and girls in their communities, according 
to a 2009 survey conducted by the UN Gender Task Force. The results 
reported increases in domestic violence against women among households 
displaced by conflict. Displaced women were more likely than other 
women to say they feel unsafe using a bathing or latrine facility, and 
they also cited a greater lack of reliable sanitary materials.
    During the year the UNRWA initiated a referral mechanism for 
refugee women who are victims of violence in the West Bank and the Gaza 
Strip. In some cases women approached village or religious leaders for 
assistance. The Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed 
Forces (DCAF) conducted a study of women's issues in the occupied 
territories in 2009, reporting that many women and girls were reluctant 
to resort to women's organizations, human rights organizations, or 
security and justice providers, such as the police and courts, because 
of the strong social stigma attached to reporting abuses. Many women 
and girls stated they believed the legal system discriminated against 
    Sexual harassment was a highly sensitive issue in the occupied 
territories, particularly abuses committed by family members. The DCAF 
reported that Palestinian women and girls claimed public harassment was 
commonplace; reports of verbal harassment, unwanted flirting, and 
inappropriate touching were frequent, causing anxiety and apprehension 
in some young women and girls. The DCAF and other NGOs reported that 
for some women, cultural taboos and fear of scandal compelled them to 
remain silent. Some young women claimed that they were held responsible 
for ``provoking'' men's harassing behavior.
    The ICHR reported no ``honor'' killings in the Palestinian 
territories during the year. According to NGO reports, the Jordanian 
penal code, as applied in the West Bank by the PA, reduces the penalty 
for honor-based killings.
    Couples and individuals in the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, and East 
Jerusalem had access to contraception. Information regarding family 
planning was lacking, although the UNRWA held workshops for Palestinian 
men, underscoring their role in family planning. High workload, poor 
compensation, and resource shortages continued to affect skilled 
attendance during labor and postpartum care, much of which was provided 
by midwives. There was no reliable data on figures of maternal 
mortality in the occupied territories. While governmental authorities 
and community and international NGOs operated HIV/AIDS education, 
prevention, and screening programs, limited information was available 
about the equality of services provided for women.
    A Palestinian Ministry of Women's Affairs existed to promote 
women's rights. The law provides for equality of the sexes, but 
personal status law and traditional practices discriminate against 
women. For Muslims in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, personal status 
law is derived from Sharia (Islamic law), which includes inheritance 
and marriage laws. Women can inherit, but not as much as men. Men may 
take more than one wife, although they rarely did in urban areas (the 
practice was more common in small villages). Women may add conditions 
to marriage contracts to protect their interests in divorce and child 
custody but rarely did so. Muslim women were generally discouraged from 
including divorce arrangements in a marriage contract as a result of 
societal pressure.
    Hamas maintained control of the Gaza Strip and enforced a 
conservative interpretation of Islam on the Gaza Strip's Muslim 
populations, which particularly discriminated against women. 
Authorities prohibited any public mixing of the sexes. Plainclothes 
officers routinely stopped, separated, and questioned couples to 
determine if they were married; premarital sex is a crime punishable by 
imprisonment. Hamas's ``morality police'' also punished women for 
riding motorcycles and dressing ``inappropriately.'' Hamas operated a 
women's prison to hold women convicted of ``ethical crimes'' such as 
``illegitimate pregnancy.'' On July 18, Hamas authorities banned women 
from smoking the traditional water pipe in public cafes on the grounds 
that it was inappropriate. According to media reports, plainclothes 
security officers enforced the decree, and several cafe owners were 
questioned or temporarily detained for nonenforcement. Although 
enforcement of ``ethical crimes'' was in some cases inconsistent, 
according to press reports, it continued to increase.
    Across the occupied territories, cultural restrictions associated 
with marriage occasionally prevented women from completing mandatory 
schooling or attending college. Families often disowned Muslim and 
Christian women who married outside their faith. Local officials 
sometimes advised such women to leave their communities to prevent 
    Palestinian labor law states that work is the right of every 
capable citizen; however, it regulates the work of women, preventing 
them from taking employment in dangerous occupations. According to the 
UN Development Program's 2005 Arab Human Development Report, 
Palestinian women experienced a significant employment gap in 
comparison with their male counterparts, with women consisting of 
approximately 15 percent of the labor force. Women endured prejudice 
and, in some cases, repressive conditions at work. Additionally some 
employers reportedly provided preferential treatment to their male 
counterparts. According to Freedom House, women earned 65 percent of 
men's wages in the West Bank and 77 percent in the Gaza Strip.
    The Palestinian Journalists Syndicate, a membership-based union 
representing the majority of Palestinian journalists based in East 
Jerusalem, the West Bank, and the Gaza Strip, did not allow female 
journalists' membership. There were specific reports that female 
journalists in the Gaza Strip faced hurdles in pursuing employment. The 
UN Development Fund for Women reported that gender-specific stereotypes 
restricted female journalists in their content coverage, limiting them 
to issues such as beauty, fashion, women, and children.
    Female education rates were high, particularly in the West Bank, 
and women's attendance at universities exceeded men's, but female 
university students reported discrimination by university 
administrators, professors, and their male peers, according to the 
DCAF. According to press and NGO reports, in some instances girls not 
wearing conservative attire in Hamas-run schools were sent home by 
teachers, although enforcement was not systematic.

    Children.--Israel registers the births of Palestinians in 
Jerusalem. The PA registers Palestinians born in the West Bank and the 
Gaza Strip, and Israel requires that the PA transmit this information 
to the Israeli Civil Administration. As the PA does not constitute a 
state, the PA does not determine ``citizenship'' alone. Children of 
Palestinian parents can receive a Palestinian identity card (issued by 
the Israeli Civil Administration) if they are born in the occupied 
territories to a father who holds a Palestinian identity card. The PA 
Ministry of the Interior and the Israeli Civil Administration both play 
a role in determining a person's eligibility.
    Education in PA-controlled areas is compulsory from age six through 
the ninth grade. Education is available to all Palestinians without 
cost through high school.
    In the Gaza Strip, primary education was not universal. The UNRWA 
and Hamas provided educational instruction.
    In Israeli-administered East Jerusalem, Palestinian children did 
not have access to the same educational resources as Israeli children 
(see section 6, Minorities).
    Child abuse was reportedly a widespread problem. The Basic Law 
prohibits violence against children; however, PA authorities rarely 
punished perpetrators of familial violence. A 2009 study by the UN 
Gender Task Force found that in the southern Gaza Strip, survey 
participants reported a high level of perceived domestic violence 
against children.
    Israeli security forces also participated in violence against 
children in custody or during arrest (see section 1.c.), according to 
NGO and UN reports. The IDF fired at minors working inside or near the 
Gaza Strip buffer zone; DCI-Palestine documented 23 cases between March 
and December of children shot while collecting building material and 
scrap metal, and in one case grazing goats, near the border fence with 
Israel. DCI-Palestine reported that most children were shot in the leg 
without intent to kill. The IDF fired on children as far as 875 yards 
from the border fence.
    There were reports of female genital mutilation performed on girls 
during the year, although the scope of the practice was unknown.
    The PA considers statutory rape a felony, based on the Jordanian 
penal code of 1960, which also outlaws all forms of pornography. The 
minimum age for consensual sex is 18. Palestinian judges reportedly 
issued harsher sentences to persons involved in pornography including 
images of children. Punishment for rape of a victim under the age of 15 
includes a minimum sentence of seven years.

    Anti-Semitism.--In both the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, 
Palestinian media published and broadcast material that included both 
anti-Israeli and anti-Semitic content, which sometimes amounted to 
incitement. Rhetoric by several Palestinian groups included expressions 
of anti-Semitism, as did sermons by some Muslim religious leaders. Some 
Palestinian religious leaders rejected the right of Israel to exist. 
Hamas's al-Aqsa television station carried shows for preschoolers 
extolling hatred of Jews and suicide bombings.
    Palestinian media not under the control of the PA, particularly 
those controlled by Hamas, continued to use inflammatory anti-Semitic 
language. Unofficial Palestinian television broadcast content that 
sometimes praised holy war to expel the Jewish presence in the region. 
Some children's programs shown on Hamas television legitimized the 
killing of Israelis and Jews via terrorist attacks.

    Persons With Disabilities.--The Basic Law states that all 
Palestinians are equal. There is no reference to discrimination or 
disability. Access to public facilities was not mandated.
    Palestinians with disabilities continued to receive poor quality 
services and care. The PA depended on UN agencies and NGOs to care for 
persons with physical disabilities and offered substandard care for 
persons with mental disabilities.
    Familial and societal discrimination against persons with 
disabilities existed. Press reports indicated that some parents in the 
West Bank performed hysterectomies on mentally ill girls to prevent 
them from becoming pregnant; most of these parents stated they intended 
to protect their daughters from rape.
    There were reports that Israeli authorities placed detainees deemed 
mentally ill or a threat to themselves or others in isolation without 
full medical evaluation. According to PHR-Israel, isolation of 
prisoners with mental disabilities was common. In March PHR-Israel and 
Addameer petitioned the Israeli High Court of Justice to amend article 
36 of the National Security Orders, which they claimed allows for 
indefinite detention of a Palestinian accused of a felony if the 
detainee is deemed unfit for punishment on mental health grounds. The 
NGOs filed the petition after PHR-Israel received a case in which 
Israel Prison Service authorities held an unnamed Palestinian found 
unfit for punishment for weeks in a prison psychiatric ward, although 
doctors determined it was not medically necessary.
    In another case PHR-Israel petitioned for the release of Ibrahim 
Abu Mustafa from isolation. Abu Mustafa had been detained in isolation 
since 2004 on the grounds that he posed a hazard to his surroundings 
due to his mental health condition. On August 25, the state notified 
Abu Mustafa that he would be released from isolation; however, at 
year's end his release was not confirmed.

    National/Racial/Ethnic Minorities.--Palestinians faced violence and 
discrimination in the occupied territories (see also sections 1.c. and 
1.f.). Access to social and commercial services, including housing, 
employment, education, and health care, in settlement areas in the West 
Bank was available only to Israelis. Israeli officials discriminated 
against Palestinians in the West Bank and Jerusalem regarding access to 
employment and legal housing by denying Palestinians access to 
registration paperwork. In both the West Bank and Jerusalem, Israeli 
authorities placed often insurmountable hurdles on Palestinian 
applicants for construction permits, including the requirement that 
they document land ownership in the absence of a uniform post-1967 land 
registration process, high application fees, and requirements that new 
housing be connected to often-unavailable municipal works. According to 
B'Tselem, since 2000 Israel has curtailed the Palestinian population 
registry, denying paperwork to Palestinians and effectively declaring 
Palestinians illegal residents. Some Palestinians defined as illegal 
residents faced harassment, arrest, or deportation to the Gaza Strip.
    Israeli settler radio stations broadcasting from the West Bank 
depicted Arabs as subhuman and called for expulsion of Palestinians 
from the West Bank.
    The Municipality of Ma'ale Adumim in the West Bank continued 
applying a 1965 Jordanian labor law to Palestinian employees that 
denied them some social benefits enshrined in Israeli labor law, such 
as rehabilitation pay, pensions, travel expenses, and education 
    Israel's system of water distribution in the West Bank 
discriminated against Palestinian populations and failed to provide 
Palestinian residents with a sufficient, regular, and safe water 
supply, according to ACRI. Israel controlled 85 percent of the water 
supply in the West Bank and allocated on average 16 gallons of water 
per person per day to Palestinians and 63 gallons per person per day to 
Israeli settlers. According to the World Health Organization, 26 
gallons per person per day is the minimum daily amount required to 
maintain basic hygiene standards and food security.
    In the West Bank, some NGOs reported an increase in settler 
expropriation of natural water springs located on privately owned 
Palestinian land. Yesh Din documented settler expropriation of 26 
springs and their conversion into recreational ``nature parks.'' 
Palestinian residents reported that water supplies were intermittent, 
and settlers and their security guards denied Palestinians, including 
shepherd and farmers, access to the springs. PA officials in July 
stated that Israeli authorities closed five Palestinian wells in the 
Tubas Governorate, while the Israeli national water company, Mekorot, 
drilled 17 new wells in the governorate. Mekorot reduced the water 
ration for one Tubas Governorate village, Bardala, from 315 cubic yards 
per hour to 120 on average; 30 percent of Bardala residents received no 
water on some days.
    There were reports that Israeli authorities attempted to reduce the 
Palestinian population and limit their movement in areas under Israeli 
control. Military authorities severely restricted Palestinian vehicular 
and foot traffic in the commercial center of Hebron, citing a need to 
protect several hundred Israeli settler residents. Palestinians were 
prohibited from driving on most roads in downtown Hebron and from 
walking on Shuhada Street and other roads in the Old City; however, 
Israeli settlers were permitted free access on these roads. The 
prohibition, which began in 2000, has resulted in the closure of 1,829 
business and 1,014 Palestinian housing units, according to B'Tselem; 
the IDF closed most shops on the street and sealed entrances to 
Palestinian houses. Four Palestinian families who maintained residence 
on the street had access during the year.
    Jerusalem municipal and Israeli national policies aimed to decrease 
the number of Palestinian residents and increase Israeli claim to East 
Jerusalem. The Israeli government and Jerusalem Municipality used a 
combination of zoning restrictions on building by Palestinians, 
confiscation of Palestinian lands, and demolition of Palestinian homes 
to ``contain'' non-Israeli neighborhoods, while simultaneously 
permitting construction of new housing for Israeli residents in 
predominantly Palestinian East Jerusalem. The Jerusalem Municipality 
maintained its longstanding policy of city planning along 
ethnoreligious demographic lines across the city in an effort to keep 
the Jewish population at 70 percent.
    The Israeli NGOs Bimkom and Ir Amim claimed that Palestinians in 
East Jerusalem were unable to purchase property or build on land owned 
by the Israeli Land Authority. Land owned or populated by Arabs 
(including Palestinians and Israeli Arabs) was generally zoned for low 
residential growth. Approximately 30 percent of East Jerusalem was 
designated for Israeli residents; Arabs were able in some cases to rent 
Israeli-owned property but were generally unable to purchase property 
in an Israeli neighborhood due to citizenship or military duty 
requirements that Arabs were unable to meet. Israeli NGOs claimed that 
of all land designated for housing in West Jerusalem and in the Israeli 
neighborhoods of East Jerusalem, at least 79 percent was unavailable 
for Arab construction.
    The Jerusalem Municipality and Jewish organizations in Jerusalem 
made efforts to increase Israeli property ownership or underscore 
Jewish history in areas occupied by Arabs or Muslim institutions. The 
Jerusalem Municipality advocated increased Jewish influence and 
property ownership in East Jerusalem's Kidron Valley, or ``Holy 
Basin.'' On June 21, the Jerusalem Municipal Planning Council voted to 
demolish at least 22 Arab-owned properties in the al-Bustan 
neighborhood to make way for a Jewish-themed historical park. Israeli 
NGOs claimed that this project, the evictions in Sheikh Jarrah, and 
other projects effectively encircled Jerusalem's Old City and Haram al-
Sharif/Temple Mount with Israeli-owned properties, severing Palestinian 
societal connections to the area.
    Although Israeli law entitles Arab residents of East Jerusalem to 
full and equal services provided by the municipality and other Israeli 
authorities, in practice the Jerusalem Municipality failed to provide 
sufficient social services, infrastructure, emergency planning, and 
postal service for Arab neighborhoods in East Jerusalem. ACRI reported 
in October that only 10.3 percent of the Arab population received 
social services. Approximately 160,000 Arab residents of East Jerusalem 
had no suitable or legal connection to the municipal water network. 
Trash collection was insufficient in most Arab neighborhoods of East 
Jerusalem and nonexistent in others.
    Disparities in social services provided by Israeli authorities in 
East Jerusalem correlated to ethnicity. The Jerusalem Municipality did 
not provide sufficient educational resources for Palestinian children 
in East Jerusalem, according to ACRI and the NGO Ir Amim, which claimed 
that thousands of Palestinian students studied in crowded classrooms, 
often in ill-fitting structures that did not meet municipal standards.
    Most municipal forms were not available in Arabic. Bus services in 
Jerusalem were largely segregated. According to ACRI, eight post office 
stations in East Jerusalem served a population of approximately 
300,000, whereas 42 post office stations in West Jerusalem served a 
population of 500,000. Only one postman, serving 260,000 residents, 
delivered mail in Arab neighborhoods of East Jerusalem.
    On August 6, the Israeli High Court ruled that an ultraorthodox 
school in the West Bank settlement of Emmanuel must stop separating 
students based on their ethnicity and remove all signs of 
discrimination. Since 2007 the school had separated students of 
different ethnic backgrounds and required them to wear different 

    Societal Abuses, Discrimination, and Acts of Violence Based on 
Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity.--Palestinian law, based on the 
1960 Jordanian penal code, prohibits homosexual activity, although in 
practice the PA did not prosecute individuals suspected of such 
activity. Cultural and religious traditions rejected homosexuality, and 
some Palestinians claimed that PA security officers and neighbors 
harassed, abused, and sometimes arrested homosexuals because of their 
sexual orientation.
    Israeli press reported that Majed Koka, a gay Palestinian man from 
the West Bank who immigrated illegally to Israel, was continued to 
await a response from the Israeli Interior Ministry regarding his 
petition for legal residency on humanitarian grounds. Koka in September 
stated that he could not safely live in Nablus, his hometown, as an 
openly gay man.
    In the Gaza Strip, an unidentified 19-year-old man remained in 
prison without trial because of his homosexual orientation, according 
to HRW.

    Other Societal Violence or Discrimination.--The PA Ministry of 
Health provided treatment and privacy protections for patients with 
HIV/AIDS; however, societal discrimination against affected individuals 
was common.

Section 7. Worker Rights
    a. The Right of Association.--The law permits workers to form and 
join independent unions of their choice, and this right was respected 
in practice. Labor unions in the Gaza Strip continued to operate 
despite a severely weakened economy. However, in many cases Hamas 
replaced Fatah-affiliated union leaders with Hamas members or 
sympathizers, and during the year Hamas detained a number of non-Hamas-
affiliated union activists.
    The two most active unions were the General Union for Palestinian 
Workers and the Palestine General Federation of Trade Unions, which was 
a member of the International Trade Union Confederation. Both unions 
were registered with the PA Ministry of Labor. Membership in the Union 
of Arab Employees (UAE) is automatic and mandatory for all West Bank 
UNRWA employees.
    According to the NGO United Civilians for Peace, Palestinians 
working in West Bank settlements reported hostile responses to their 
efforts to organize unions.
    Workers in Jerusalem may establish unions but may not join West 
Bank federations. Despite this restriction the West Bank-based PA 
Employees' Union and Teachers' Union counted East Jerusalem members 
among their ranks, and Israeli authorities rarely took steps to enforce 
this restriction unless high-profile events or senior PA officials were 
involved. Workers holding Jerusalem identity cards may belong to the 
Israeli General Federation of Labor (Histadrut), but they may not vote 
in Histadrut elections.
    PA law provides for the right to strike. In practice, however, 
strikers had little protection from retribution. Prospective strikers 
must provide written warning two weeks in advance of the basis for the 
strike (four weeks in the case of public utilities), accept Ministry of 
Labor arbitration, and submit to disciplinary action if they reject the 
result. If the ministry cannot resolve a dispute, it can be referred to 
a special committee and eventually to a court. Accordingly, in practice 
the right to strike remained questionable.
    PA employees organized fewer strikes than in previous years, in 
large part because the PA was able to pay salaries during the year in 
the West Bank. In general PA employees staged strikes over nonpayment 
of wages, to protest disparities between union claims and official cost 
of living statistics, or to demand payment of arrears. There were no 
reports of private-sector strikes during the year.
    UAE employees called for strikes throughout the year. The union 
engaged in some coercive actions during employee strikes in October and 
November by physically preventing nonstriking employees from entering 
the workplace and reportedly engaging in physical violence in a few 

    b. The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively.--The law 
protects collective bargaining, and this was enforced in certain cases. 
However, there were reports that PA enforcement of collective 
bargaining rights for unions serving other than PA employees was 
limited. Collective bargaining agreements covered 20 percent of 
    Antiunion discrimination and employer interference in union 
functions are illegal, and the Government enforced these prohibitions.
    There are no export processing zones.

    c. Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor.--While the PA labor 
law does not expressly forbid forced or compulsory labor, PA law states 
that work is a right and that the PA will attempt to provide it for any 
capable individual. The Ministry of Labor interpreted this statement to 
prohibit forced and compulsory labor. However, children were vulnerable 
to forced labor conditions.

    d. Prohibition of Child Labor and Minimum Age for Employment.--By 
law children under the age of 15 are not permitted to work in PA-
administered areas, and Ministry of Labor inspectors enforced this 
prohibition through factory visits and inspections. PA officials 
reported that the Ministry of Labor employed 45 labor inspectors, who 
investigated child labor violations. However, they are not specifically 
trained for child labor inspections, and they perform this function as 
part of their other duties as inspectors. The ministry acknowledged 
their need for more inspectors. Hiring of children between the ages of 
15 and 18 for limited types of employment is permitted under set 
conditions, including limited hours and a prohibition on operating 
certain types of machines and equipment. The law states that children 
shall not be allowed to perform work that might damage their safety, 
health, or education and prohibits working at night, hard labor, and 
travel beyond their domicile. Nevertheless, many underage children--
with estimates as high as 72 percent of Palestinian children--in PA-
administered areas worked on family farms and in shops, as street 
vendors, in factories, or in small enterprises.
    In the Gaza Strip, the UN estimated that hundreds of children were 
forced to find work, as the poor economy made it difficult for families 
to provide adequate resources solely through parental income. Children 
worked in high-risk activities and zones, including as laborers in the 
tunnel networks between the Gaza Strip and Egypt and in collecting 
scrap materials from areas close to the Israeli border, where they were 
at risk of live fire from Israeli troops (see sections 1.c. and 6, 
Children). Some children were used as informants and human shields in 
armed conflict. Information on respect for child labor laws in the Gaza 
Strip was not available.
    The PA Ministry of Labor stated that Palestinian children working 
in Israeli settlements faced security problems, exploitation, and 
harassment since there was no enforceable law to monitor and protect 
child laborers, and there were no Israeli inspectors in West Bank 
settlements and industrial zones. The Israeli government stated that it 
did not issue permits for Palestinian West Bank residents younger than 
18 years old to work in Israeli settlements, except in the Jordan 
Valley, where the law allows work permits for persons from the age of 
16 and older. Migrant workers living in the Jordan Valley during the 
harvest season brought their families with them, but their children did 
not have proper structures for schools because the Israeli government 
prohibited the construction of classrooms.

    e. Acceptable Conditions of Work.--There was no minimum wage in 
Palestinian-controlled areas. Prior to 2000, average wages for full-
time workers provided a decent living standard; however, living 
standards dropped significantly over the past decade due to increases 
in cost of living that outpaced salary increases. The average wage in 
the occupied territories was 1,000 Jordanian dinars (approximately 
$1,400) per month, approximately the same as the Israeli minimum wage.
    The NGO United Civilians for Peace and the Israeli NGO Kav laOved 
reported that the Israeli minimum wage was generally the highest wage 
paid to Palestinians working in settlements and that such workers 
complained of receiving much lower wages than Israelis working in the 
same areas. Palestinians reported that they continued to receive wages 
lower than the Israeli minimum wage, despite a 2008 high court ruling 
that Israeli labor laws apply to relations between Palestinian workers 
and Israeli employers in settlements in the occupied territories. The 
ruling granted Palestinian workers the same rights and benefits as 
workers in Israel. However, several cases brought by Palestinians 
against Israeli employers who offered less than the minimum wage 
remained pending in Israeli courts at year's end.
    On October 20, Palestinian workers in an Israeli Sol-Or factory on 
the Green Line went on strike for multiple days, demanding their legal 
entitlement to the Israeli minimum wage. The workers claimed they 
received an inadequate 90 shekels (approximately $24) for an eight-hour 
workday involving hazardous tasks.
    In the West Bank, the average workweek was 43 hours, and in the 
Gaza Strip it was approximately 40 hours, according to the Palestinian 
Central Bureau of Statistics. The maximum official Sunday to Thursday 
workweek was 48 hours. There were reports that PA government employees 
were pressured to work additional hours to be promoted. Employers are 
required to allow Christians to attend church on Sunday if the employee 
desires. Some employers offered Christians the option of not working on 
Sunday rather than Friday.
    The PA Ministry of Labor was responsible for safety standards, but 
its enforcement ability was limited. There were no reported exceptions 
for any sector, industry, or company to labor ministry standards. 
However, employees of small construction and service firms were at 
greatest risk for workplace injuries, according to union officials. 
Unions complained that the PA did not effectively monitor smaller 
worksites, which were at times below legal standards for safety.



    The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan is a constitutional monarchy ruled 
by King Abdullah II bin Hussein, with a population of six million. The 
constitution concentrates executive and legislative authority in the 
king. The multiparty parliament consists of the 55-member House of 
Notables (Majlis al-Ayan), appointed by the king, and a 120-member 
elected lower house, the Chamber of Deputies (Majlis al-Nuwwab). 
Parliamentary elections, which international observers deemed credible, 
were held on November 9 after the king dissolved parliament in November 
2009. Security forces reported to civilian authorities.
    There were limitations on the right of citizens to change their 
government peacefully, and a newly drafted electoral law perpetuated 
the significant underrepresentation of urban areas and citizens of 
Palestinian origin in leadership positions. Domestic and international 
nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) reported cases of arbitrary 
deprivation of life, torture, poor prison conditions, impunity, 
arbitrary arrest and denial of due process through administrative 
detention, prolonged detention, and external interference in judicial 
decisions. Citizens continued to describe infringements on their 
privacy rights. Restrictive legislation and regulations limited 
freedoms of speech and press, and government interference in the media 
and threats of fines and detention further encouraged self-censorship, 
according to journalists and human rights organizations. The Government 
also continued to restrict freedoms of assembly and association. Legal 
and societal discrimination and harassment remained a problem for 
women, religious minorities, converts from Islam, members of the 
lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community, and some 
persons of Palestinian origin. Local human rights organizations 
reported widespread violence against women and children. The Government 
restricted labor rights, and local and international human rights 
organizations reported high levels of abuse of foreign domestic 
                        RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS

Section 1. Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom 
    a. Arbitrary or Unlawful Deprivation of Life.--There were no 
reports during the year that the Government or its agents committed 
unlawful killings.
    In November 2009 Saddam al-Saoud died of injuries allegedly 
sustained in police custody at the Al Hussein Police Station. Saoud's 
family said Public Security Directorate (PSD) officers caused Saoud's 
injuries when they hit him on the head with a gun. At year's end, 
felony cases against six PSD officers remained pending.
    Also in November 2009 Fakhri Kreishan died of injuries sustained 
during an altercation with police two days earlier in the southern city 
of Ma'an. A police officer reportedly hit him on the head with a baton. 
At year's end, the felony case against the officer was pending.

    b. Disappearance.--There were no reports of politically motivated 

    c. Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or 
Punishment.--The law prohibits such practices; however, international 
NGOs continued to report incidences of torture and widespread 
mistreatment in police and security detention centers. Article 208 of 
the penal code prohibits torture by public officials, including 
psychological harm, and provides penalties of as long as three years' 
imprisonment for the use of torture, with an increased penalty of up to 
15 years if serious injury occurs. Human rights lawyers found the law 
ambiguous and supported amendments to better define ``torture'' and 
strengthen sentencing guidelines. The Government has not charged an 
individual under article 208.
    Local and international NGOs criticized the use of special police 
prosecutors and courts to try PSD personnel accused of torture and 
police misconduct as ineffective and not transparent. As part of the 
2009 reform process, the Government gave civilian prosecutors authority 
to assist in the investigation of torture allegations, even though such 
cases were tried in a police court.
    International and domestic organizations stated that security 
forces continued to practice torture, particularly in police stations; 
however, observers commented that allegations of torture in prisons 
decreased during the year. On May 14, as part of its periodic review 
process, the UN Committee against Torture expressed ``deep concern'' at 
``the numerous, consistent, and credible allegations of a widespread 
and routine practice of torture and ill-treatment of detainees in 
detention facilities and that such allegations were seldom investigated 
or prosecuted.'' A August 30 National Center for Human Rights (NCHR) 
report on prisons and police detention centers cited 33 complaints of 
mistreatment in detention centers and three complaints from prison 
inmates between January 1 and June 30. The NCHR report also commented 
on individual violations perpetrated by law enforcement staff in some 
police stations and observed that several forms of torture were 
practiced against the defendants and detainees. A report issued in 
January by the international NGO Human Rights Watch (HRW) also noted 
that torture continued to be practiced in the country's prisons and 
police stations. HRW claimed that the reform program does not address 
accountability for abuses and that initiatives by the NCHR and other 
groups were ``far from sufficient considering the lack of both 
political will and effective mechanisms to bring perpetrators to 
    On March 1, members of the Criminal Investigation Unit with the 
Public Security Directorate in Irbid reportedly arrested Sayed Mahmoud 
Hamed Talafha on allegations of attempted robbery and beat him severely 
in custody. Officers reportedly struck him on the right leg where he 
had metal pins from a previous operation, hung him by the wrists to the 
back of a door, and pierced one wrist with a drill. The PSD 
spokesperson claimed that Talafha inflicted the wounds himself. 
According to his lawyer, on March 2, he had emergency surgery to repair 
his hand. The general prosecutor dropped the charges against Talafha on 
November 13, but he remained in administrative detention on the Maffraq 
governor's order. Talafha was released from administrative detention on 
December 2.
    In 2008 the director of the Sahab Police Station, a police officer 
of the Criminal Investigations Department, and the director of public 
security allegedly tortured and mistreated an individual known only as 
Raad. On March 22, Raad reportedly filed a civil case in the amount of 
7,000 dinars ($10,000) for psychological, physical, and moral damages 
resulting from torture, beatings, and other forms of cruel, inhuman, 
and degrading treatment at Sahab prison facility. Additionally he 
claimed the defendants forced him to remove his clothes, leaving him 
naked, and used an electric baton on him. Also in 2008 an individual 
known only as Wasfi, together with the directors of North Marka 
Security Center and the director of public security, allegedly beat and 
insulted an individual known only as Dawood. On March 10, Dawood filed 
a civil case for psychological, physical and moral damages resulting 
from torture and cruel and degrading treatment. Both cases were pending 
at year's end.

    Prison and Detention Center Conditions.--Significant problems 
remained in prisons, including poor legal services, understaffing, 
inadequate food and health care, poor sanitation standards, poor 
ventilation, extreme temperatures, inadequate access to potable water, 
ineffective prerelease and postrelease programs, and insufficient basic 
and emergency medical care. Some detainees reported abuse and 
mistreatment by guards during the year. Hunger strikes remained common, 
but prison riots and allegations of mistreatment reportedly decreased. 
Prisoners filed complaints of poor prison conditions with the PSD and 
the NCHR. The construction of four prisons during the year alleviated 
overcrowding to some extent.
    On July 19, a Web site published a report detailing stories of 
government authorities physically and verbally abusing children in 
government-run juvenile detention centers. In response to the 
allegations, the Ministry of Social Development (MOSD) investigated 
these claims and concluded that there was no evidence to support the 
children's claims; however, some local children's rights activists 
noted that abuse occurred in some government-run juvenile detention 
centers. In 2009 former and current residents and parents of children 
in several ministry-operated juvenile rehabilitation centers and 
orphanages reported verbal and physical abuse of children by 
supervisors. For example, parents of children in an Irbid juvenile 
center and former residents of an orphanage in Madaba reported physical 
abuse of children. At year's end, the Government investigation remained 
    In November 2009 the Council of Ministers passed amendments placing 
stiffer disciplinary measures, including salary deductions and 
termination, on civil servants who used corporal punishment on 
children, including those in schools and juvenile centers. However, 
authorities rarely used this punishment in practice.
    The PSD reported that some prisoners went on hunger strikes during 
the year to protest mistreatment, poor prison conditions, and a 
prisoner classification system under which some prisoners had been 
moved to different wards or prisons based on the type of crime, number 
of offenses, and other factors. The NCHR reported 205 prison strikes 
from January 1 to August 1.
    In February 2009 the Institute of Forensic Medicine, a part of the 
Ministry of Health, issued a report stating that prison clinic 
conditions were unsuitable and deteriorating and that inmates did not 
have access to basic health services. The report also criticized the 
lack of psychiatric treatment and follow-up care.
    According to government statistics, there were approximately 18,449 
inmates in 14 correctional and rehabilitation center (CRC) facilities. 
The Government generally held men, women, and juveniles in separate 
prisons and detention facilities; however, pretrial detainees were 
often held in the same detention facilities as convicted prisoners. The 
General Intelligence Directorate (GID) held some persons detained on 
national security charges in separate detention facilities. According 
to the NCHR, GID detainees are generally held in solitary confinement 
and are not allowed to meet unsupervised with visitors, including their 
lawyers. Islamist prisoners in Jweidah were held in a separate wing and 
kept in small-group isolation. International and domestic NGOs also 
reported that in some instances Islamist prisoners faced harsher prison 
conditions than other inmates.
    Prisoners and detainees had restricted access to visitors and were 
permitted religious observance. Authorities permitted prisoners and 
detainees to submit complaints to judicial authorities without 
censorship and to request investigation of credible allegations of 
inhumane conditions. Authorities did not investigate credible 
allegations of inhumane conditions. The Government investigated and 
monitored prison and detention center conditions.
    The Government permitted local and international human rights 
observers to visit prisons and conduct private interviews. During the 
year the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) visited 
prisoners and detainees in all prisons, including those controlled by 
the GID and the military intelligence directorate, according to 
standard ICRC modalities. The Ombudsman's Bureau, a national 
institution that receives complaints about federal agencies, is unable 
to serve on behalf of prisoners to consider matters such as 
alternatives to incarceration, although it is permitted to look into 
cases of inhumane treatment. The NCHR conducted routine and unannounced 
prison inspections during the year, including visits to GID facilities.
    The Government continued its large-scale, long-term prison reform 
to transfer CRC management from the PSD to the Ministry of Justice. At 
year's end the Government had finished constructing four new CRCs with 
cells that meet international standards, raising the number of prisons 
from 14 to 18.

    d. Arbitrary Arrest or Detention.--The law prohibits arbitrary 
arrest and detention. According to local and international human rights 
groups, the Government did not always observe these prohibitions in 
practice. In particular, the governors of the country's 12 governorates 
continued to use the Crime Prevention Law to administratively detain 
individuals without due process.

    Role of the Police and Security Apparatus.--The PSD controls 
general police functions. The PSD, GID, gendarmerie, Civil Defense 
Directorate, and military share responsibility for maintaining internal 
security. Members of the gendarmerie assist police in emergencies, 
provide diplomatic security, and respond to riots, protests, and 
demonstrations. The Civil Defense Directorate is responsible for public 
safety during natural disasters and civil disturbances. The PSD and 
gendarmerie report to the minister of interior with direct access to 
the king when necessary, and the GID in practice reports directly to 
the king.
    Civilian authorities maintained control over security forces. 
According to local and international NGOs, the Government did not 
thoroughly investigate and punish all credible reports of corruption or 
abuse by security forces. The Government used mechanisms to investigate 
abuse and corruption, but there were wide-scale allegations of 
impunity. Citizens may file complaints of police abuse or corruption 
with the PSD's human rights office or with one of 50 police prosecutors 
stationed throughout the country. Complaints of abuse and corruption by 
the gendarmerie may be filed directly with the gendarmerie. A GID 
liaison officer receives complaints against the GID and refers them to 
GID personnel for investigation. Complaints against the PSD, 
gendarmerie, and GID may also be filed with the NCHR or several other 
NGOs, such as the Arab Organization for Human Rights (AOHR). The PSD's 
preventive security office is tasked with investigating allegations of 
police corruption. The PSD and gendarmerie try their personnel 
internally with their own courts, judges, and prosecutors, in a manner 
not transparent to the public.
    Allegations of torture and mistreatment continued, according to 
numerous credible observers. During the year citizens filed 46 
complaints, including allegations of mistreatment against PSD 
personnel. NGOs noted that victims may be reluctant to file formal 
complaints due to impunity within the police and security apparatus.

    Arrest Procedures and Treatment While in Detention.--The law allows 
suspects to be detained for up to 24 hours without a warrant in all 
cases. The criminal code requires that police notify authorities within 
24 hours of an arrest and that authorities file formal charges within 
15 days of an arrest. Human rights observers claimed that police 
continued to make arrests before obtaining warrants and prosecutors did 
not file charges or seek extensions in a timely manner. The period to 
file formal charges can be extended for as long as six months for a 
felony and two months for a misdemeanor. Local NGOs stated that 
prosecutors routinely requested extensions and judges granted them. 
This practice generally lengthened pretrial detention for protracted 
periods. As of year's end, approximately 800 persons were reportedly 
being held in prison without formal charge. Bail is allowed under the 
penal code and used in some cases. Some detainees reported not being 
allowed timely access to a lawyer, but authorities generally permitted 
family member visits. Authorities appointed lawyers to represent 
indigent defendants charged with felonies, although legal aid services 
remained minimal. There were allegations of long periods of 
incommunicado detention in GID facilities, and the UN Committee against 
Torture's May 14 report expressed serious concern about the 
Government's failure in practice to afford all detainees, including 
detainees held in GID and PSD facilities, with ``all fundamental legal 
safeguards from the very outset of their detention,'' including the 
right to notify a relative and to be informed of their rights and 
charges against them at the time of detention.
    The State Security Court gives judicial police, charged with 
conducting criminal investigations, authority to arrest and keep 
persons in custody for 10 days. This authority includes arrests for 
alleged misdemeanors. In cases purportedly involving state security, 
the security forces arrested and detained citizens without warrants or 
judicial review, held defendants in lengthy pretrial detention without 
informing them of the charges against them, and did not allow 
defendants to meet with their lawyers or permitted meetings only 
shortly before trial. Defendants before the State Security Court 
usually met with their attorneys at the start of a trial or only one or 
two days before. A case may be postponed for more than 48 hours only 
under exceptional circumstances determined by the court. In practice, 
cases routinely involved postponements of more than 10 days between 
sessions with proceedings lasting for several months. In most cases the 
accused remained in detention without bail during the proceedings. 
Several inmates were in detention without charge at year's end.
    Under the Crime Prevention Law, provincial governors may detain 
individuals suspected of planning to commit a crime or those who 
allegedly shelter thieves, habitually steal, or constitute a danger to 
the public, and in practice they used this provision widely. Those 
accused are subject to imprisonment or house arrest as ``administrative 
detention'' without formal charges. A detention order may be for as 
long as one year, but governors can impose new orders to prolong 
detentions. During the year governors administratively detained 12,345 
individuals. Several international and national NGOs noted that 
governors routinely abused the law, imprisoning individuals when there 
was not enough evidence to convict them and prolonging detentions of 
prisoners whose sentences had expired. The law was also widely used to 
incarcerate women at risk of being honor crime victims. The NCHR and 
other human rights organizations called for the abolishment of the 
Crime Prevention Law.

    e. Denial of Fair Public Trial.--The law provides for an 
independent judiciary; however, the judiciary's independence in 
practice was compromised by allegations of nepotism and the influence 
of special interests. Unlike the previous year, there were no reports 
of interference by senior judges in junior judges' cases. The Judicial 
Council, a committee led by the president of the Court of Cassation, is 
composed of other high-ranking judges from various courts and the 
Ministry of Justice. The council approves judicial appointments after 
initial nominations by the ministry, and it assigns and evaluates 
judges. The executive branch, through the ministry, controls most 
judicial functions, giving the Government the ability to influence 
judicial decisions. The Judicial Council continued to lack the internal 
capacity to effectively manage judicial administrative and financial 
matters and therefore lacked independence. Unlike the previous year, 
there were no allegations that the former council's head reassigned 
judges or forced them to retire early for personal instead of policy 

    Trial Procedures.--The law presumes that defendants are innocent. 
All civilian court trials, including state security court trials, are 
open to the public unless the court determines otherwise. Juries are 
not used. Defendants are entitled to legal counsel, provided at public 
expense for the indigent in cases involving the death penalty or 
potential life imprisonment. In many cases defendants have no legal 
representation. In July 2009 the Government passed an amendment that 
made court rulings legally binding without the presence of the 
defendant if an attorney for the defendant is present. Defendants could 
present witnesses on their behalf and question witnesses presented 
against them. Defense attorneys were generally granted access to 
government-held evidence relevant to their clients' cases. Defendants 
can appeal verdicts; appeals are automatic for cases involving the 
death penalty. In the State Security Court, defendants convicted of 
felonies have the right to appeal their sentences to the Court of 
Cassation, which is authorized to review issues of both fact and law. 
All citizens were accorded these rights. Civil, criminal, and 
commercial courts accord equal weight to the testimony of men and 
women; however, in Sharia courts, which have jurisdiction over Muslim 
marriage, divorce, and inheritance cases, the testimony of two women 
was equal to that of a man in most circumstances.

    Political Prisoners and Detainees.--Citizens and NGOs alleged that 
the Government continued to detain individuals, including political 
opposition members, for political reasons during the year, and that 
governors continued to use administrative detentions for what appeared 
to be political reasons. In a few cases, the media and human rights 
organizations reported that authorities kept detainees in solitary 
confinement and denied them access to lawyers.
    A 2008 HRW report stated that political prisoners, including 
Islamists convicted of crimes against national security, reportedly 
received greater abuse than other prisoners.

    Civil Judicial Procedures and Remedies.--There is an independent 
judiciary in civil matters. Individuals may bring lawsuits related to 
human rights violations and did so during the year. The High Court of 
Justice hears administrative complaints. The courts are open to all 
residents. Courts also have jurisdiction over any person in civil 
matters, including lawsuits in which the Government is a plaintiff or a 
    During the year at least two individuals who alleged being tortured 
in 2008 filed civil cases for damages (see section 1.c.).

    f. Arbitrary Interference With Privacy, Family, Home, or 
Correspondence.--The law prohibits arbitrary interference in private 
matters, but the Government did not respect this prohibition in 
practice. Citizens widely believed that security officers monitored 
telephone conversations and Internet communication, read private 
correspondence, and engaged in surveillance without court orders.
    The law requires that security forces obtain a warrant from the 
prosecutor general or a judge before conducting searches; however, 
during the year foreign migrant workers with valid work and residency 
permits reported that police forcibly entered their homes without 
warrants as part of a joint police and labor inspection campaign to 
verify the legal status of workers.
    A few religious activists reported that the GID withheld their 
certificates of good behavior required for job applications or to open 
a business, or threatened not to allow their children to enter or 
graduate from university. The GID usually withholds a certificate of 
good behavior if there is a criminal record; however, there is no 
public information outlining the GID's policies for issuing the 

Section 2. Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:
    a. Freedom of Speech and Press.--The constitution provides for 
freedom of speech and of the press; however, the Government did not 
respect these rights in practice. A 2009 Freedom House report on media 
freedom called the country ``not free.'' On May 8, the Amman-based 
National Center for Defending the Freedom of Journalists (CDFJ) issued 
its 2009 annual report, which concluded that media freedoms 
deteriorated in 2009. Journalists reported that the threat of detention 
and imprisonment under the penal code for a variety of offenses, and 
stringent fines of as much as 20,000 dinars ($28,000) under the press 
and publications law for defamation led to self-censorship. There were 
several incidents during the year in which the Government prohibited 
journalists from reporting on high-profile court cases. The 
Government's use of ``soft containment'' of journalists, such as 
financial support, scholarships for relatives, and special invitations, 
led to significant control of media content. In March the Government 
amended the Press and Publication Law to remove administrative 
detention as a punishment for journalists and created a court to deal 
specifically with matters of freedom of expression and speech. The 
amended law prohibits journalists from being referred to State Security 
Courts for freedom of expression or speech issues, and none were 
referred there during the year.
    The law provides punishment up to three years' imprisonment for 
insulting the king, slandering the Government or foreign leaders, 
offending religious beliefs, or stirring sectarian strife and sedition. 
In practice citizens were generally able to criticize the Government, 
although they reportedly exercised caution in regard to the king, the 
royal family, the GID, and other sensitive topics such as religion.
    On February 13, in response to a lawsuit brought by private 
citizens, state security forces detained journalist Muwaffaq Mahadin 
and environmentalist Sufian al-Tal for two weeks for having given 
separate public interviews criticizing the army's security role in 
Afghanistan. State security charged them with ``harming relations with 
a foreign country,'' ``stirring sectarianism,'' ``harming the stature 
of the state and the army,'' instigation, and slander. The case was 
sent to the State Security Court, which did not have jurisdiction, then 
to the prosecutor general. At year's end, the court case was pending.
    In late February the GID arrested university student Imad al-Ash 
for allegedly sending an instant message that ``insulted the monarchy'' 
and participating in online forums expressing ``controversial religious 
opinions.'' Ash denied the charges. On July 13, the security court 
sentenced him to two years in prison. Ash appealed the ruling, and the 
court upheld his two-year prison sentence on October 2.
    On July 25, PSD officers arrested university student Hatim al-
Shuili on charges of ``causing national strife'' and ``insulting the 
monarchy'' over a poem he denied writing that reportedly criticized the 
king. Shuili was detained until September 8, when the king pardoned him 
along with 17 others accused of insulting the monarchy.
    As of year's end, the PSD had not yet released any findings in its 
alleged investigation of the October 2009 beating of opposition figure 
Layth Shbeilat in an Amman bakery. Shbeilat and many local observers 
connected the assault to a lecture he presented at the Socialist 
Thought Forum two days earlier in which he called for increased efforts 
to fight government corruption and the need to question and hold 
officials accountable.
    Independent print media existed, including several major daily 
newspapers; however, such publications must obtain licenses from the 
state to operate. The independent print and broadcast media largely 
operated without restriction, but media observers reported governmental 
pressure to avoid sensitive topics such as the royal family, the GID, 
and religion. Media organizations and journalists reported that the 
Government influenced the appointment of editors in chief at some major 
publications, whether by virtue of officials' positions on the boards 
of directors of government-affiliated publications or through 
undisclosed contacts. The Government has a majority share on the board 
of directors for one major daily newspaper and a minority share in 
another. The Governmental Audiovisual Commission, whose mandate is to 
license private broadcast agencies, has authority to recommend 
rejection of a broadcast license without a stated reason. Media 
observers note that when covering controversial subjects, government-
owned Jordan Television, Jordan News Agency, and Radio Jordan reported 
only the Government's position.
    Apart from the arrest of Muwaffaq Mahadin, there were no reports of 
physical violence or harassment of journalists during the year. As of 
year's end, the Government had not released any findings of its alleged 
investigation into the January 2009 gendarmerie attack on an Al Jazeera 
television crew. There were no updates in the June 2009 case of poet 
and reporter Islam Samhan, sentenced to one year in prison and a fine 
of 10,000 dinars ($14,200) on charges of slandering Islam and insulting 
``religious sentiment'' for his use of Qur'an verses and prophets in 
his poetry, or the 2008 arrest of El-Ekhbariya editor in chief Fayez 
Al-Ajrashi on charges of ``inflaming sectarian strife'' and ``sowing 
national discord.'' Both men remained free on bail at year's end.
    The Government directly and indirectly censored the media. 
Authorities monitored and censored printing presses and edited articles 
deemed offensive before they could be printed. Journalists claimed the 
Government used informants in newsrooms and that GID officials 
monitored reporting. Editors reportedly received telephone calls from 
security officials instructing them how to cover events or to refrain 
from covering certain topics or events. Government officials also 
reportedly bribed journalists to influence their reporting. According 
to a 2009 Center for Defending the Freedom of Journalists survey, 95 
percent of journalists polled exercised self-censorship. The survey 
also reported that 70 percent of journalists thought the Government 
used ``soft containment'' to control the media at a medium to high 
degree. Ninety-four percent said they avoid writing about or 
broadcasting military matters, and 83 percent said they avoid 
discussing religious topics.
    On March 10, a State Security Court attorney general prohibited the 
press from reporting or commenting on the case of the Jordan Petroleum 
Refinery Company expansion project without his personal approval, 
purportedly to allow the judicial authorities to work ``calmly'' on the 
    The Government continued to enforce bans on the publication of 
selected books for religious, moral, and political reasons. Some 
foreign films were edited prior to release.

    Internet Freedom.--There were government restrictions on access to 
the Internet. Citizens and activists widely believed that the 
Government monitored electronic correspondence and Internet chat sites; 
therefore, they practiced self-censorship over such media. Individuals 
and groups were unable to express their views via the Internet, 
including by e-mail. According to the 2010 International Research and 
Exchange Board Jordan Media Strengthening Program, Internet usage was 
30 percent. Internet speech is regulated by the Press and Publication 
    On August 3, the Government issued the Information Systems Crime 
Law, a ``temporary'' law (see section 3) that would require law 
enforcement officials to have probable cause and a warrant before 
entering and searching any place suspected of being used to commit a 
cybercrime or to seize property and make arrests based on suspicion of 
illegal cybercrime activity.
    On August 5, authorities blocked 50 domestic news Web sites in 
government institutions and offices purportedly to ``end confusion 
about topics related to the Government.''
    During the year the Ministry of Interior continued to monitor 
Internet cafes for ``security reasons'' via video cameras. The ministry 
also required cafe owners to register users' personal data, submit 
records of visited Web sites, and prevent access to questionable Web 
sites, as defined by the ministry.

    Academic Freedom and Cultural Events.--The Government placed some 
limits on academic freedom. Some members of the academic community 
claimed there was an ongoing intelligence presence in academic 
institutions, including monitoring of academic conferences and 
    On April 29, the administration of Hashemite University introduced 
an amendment requiring that candidates running for student elections 
must have participated in religious and national occasions and 
cultural, scientific, social, artistic, and voluntary activities at the 
university. Local organizations and the media criticized the amendment, 
calling it a government attempt to control student elections by 
ensuring that the candidate is familiar to the administration.
    In September 2009 the National Campaign for Defending Students' 
Rights criticized the interference of security services in student 
activities, especially in university student council elections. 
Security personnel reportedly told students to vote for specific 
candidates. The group also noted that universities had punished or 
expelled students for distributing literature expressing solidarity 
with Palestinians.

    b. Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association.--Freedom of 
Assembly.--The constitution provides for freedom of assembly, but the 
Government restricted this right. The Public Gatherings Law stipulates 
that organizations do not need approval to hold routine internal 
meetings and activities but that routine public meetings--including 
workshops and training sessions--require approval. Governors are not 
required to provide a legal reason for denial of permission to hold an 
event, and there is no standard in the law for what constitutes an 
impermissible public gathering. If an organization fails to apply for 
permission for an event, its members face imprisonment from one to six 
months and a fine of as much as 3,000 dinars ($4,300). If a governor 
does not issue a response within 48 hours, applicants are entitled to 
hold the event without legal liability.
    Throughout the year several civil society organizations and 
political parties accused the Government of being stringent in issuing 
permits for public gatherings based on political factors rather than 
security concerns. Governors sometimes denied requests for peaceful 
demonstrations and civil society gatherings. In some cases the 
Government granted approval at the last moment, making it difficult for 
organizers to plan events.
    On May 10, Muhammad al-Sunaid and Ahmad al-Luwansa, leaders of the 
Committee of Day Laborers, gathered with 30 other day laborers to hold 
a peaceful protest outside an office where the minister of agriculture 
was scheduled to speak. After the protest they attended the minister's 
speech, where they questioned the firing of day laborers working at the 
ministry and called for the minister's removal. The governor ordered 
the PSD to arrest Sunaid and al-Luwansa and charged them with holding 
an unlawful gathering. Luwansa was detained at the Security Directorate 
in Madaba for one day and was released without charges. Sunaid was 
detained for 10 days and was charged with ``unlawful gathering,'' which 
carries a sentence of up to one year. On July 27, the Security Court 
sentenced Sunaid to three months in prison, and he was appealing the 
sentence at year's end.
    In late October the Islamic Action Front requested permission to 
hold a protest. On November 3, the Government denied their request; 
however, on November 6, the group staged a sit-in to protest the 
rejection of their permit request. There was no response from the 
    On November 6, the governor of Amman rejected a sit-in request by 
the Popular Unity Party's ``boycotters for change'' campaign.
    Government investigation committees cleared the gendarmerie of 
excessive use of force in the January 2009 case when the gendarmerie 
allegedly used batons, tear gas, and water cannons to disperse 
demonstrators throwing rocks and protesting outside the Israeli 
embassy. The gendarmerie were also cleared in the July 2009 incident in 
which they were accused of using batons to disperse a sit-in at the 
Ministry of Agriculture protesting importation of Israeli fruit and 

    Freedom of Association.--The constitution provides for the right of 
association, but the Government limited this freedom in practice. The 
law gives the MOSD the right to reject applications to register an 
organization or to receive foreign funding for any reason, and it 
prohibits the use of associations for the benefit of any political 
organization. The law also gives the ministry significant control over 
the internal management of associations, including the ability to 
dissolve associations, appoint new boards of directors, send government 
representatives to any board meeting, prevent associations from merging 
their operations, and appoint an auditor to examine an association's 
finances for any reason. The law requires associations to inform the 
ministry of board meetings, submit all board decisions for approval, 
disclose members' names, and obtain the Ministry of Interior's security 
clearances for board members. The law includes severe penalties, 
including fines up to 10,000 dinars ($14,200).
    The MOSD advisory board overseeing NGOs is chaired by the minister 
of social development and includes representatives from seven other 
government bodies and four civil society representatives. As of year's 
end, the prime minister had not appointed the civil society 
representatives. Local and international NGOs claimed that the law 
severely restricted the work of independent organizations. During the 
year the Government did not deny any organizations permission to 
register or to receive foreign funding; however, a local NGO reported 
that prolonged bureaucratic procedures to secure government approval of 
foreign funding led to the organization losing the proposed funding.

    c. Freedom of Religion.--For a complete description of religious 
freedom, please see the 2010 International Religious Freedom Report at 

    d. Freedom of Movement, Internally Displaced Persons, Protection of 
Refugees, and Stateless Persons.--The law provides for freedom of 
movement within the country, foreign travel, emigration, and 
repatriation; however, there were some restrictions. The UN reported 
that the Government cooperated with the Office of the UN High 
Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the UN Relief and Works Agency for 
Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), and other humanitarian 
organizations in providing protection and assistance to internally 
displaced persons, refugees, returning refugees, asylum seekers, 
stateless persons, and other persons of concern.
    Some mothers claimed that they were prevented from departing the 
country with their children because authorities enforced requests from 
fathers to prevent their children from leaving. However, authorities 
did not stop fathers from exiting the country with their children when 
the mother objected. There were reports some women were required to 
obtain the permission of either their husband or father in order to 
acquire or renew a passport, despite the 2003 Passport Law, which 
stipulates that women do not need a custodian to renew passports. The 
GID sometimes withheld passports from citizens for alleged security 
reasons. Employers or authorities sometimes held the passports of 
foreign workers.
    Some persons of Palestinian origin living in the country were 
citizens and received passports; however, the Government reported that 
there were approximately 165,000 Palestinian refugees, mostly of Gazan 
origin, who did not qualify for citizenship. Approximately half of 
these persons received two-year travel documents that do not connote 
citizenship and do not contain a national number. West Bank residents 
without other travel documentation were eligible to receive five-year 
travel documents that do not connote citizenship. Local and 
international human rights organizations continued to charge that the 
Government did not consistently apply citizenship laws, especially in 
cases in which passports were taken from citizens of Palestinian origin 
or in which national identification numbers were revoked, thereby 
revoking citizenship.
    A HRW report issued in February claimed that more than 2,700 
Jordanians of Palestinian origin had their citizenship revoked between 
2004 and 2007. The Government maintained this policy was in line with 
its efforts to implement its disengagement from its former claims to 
the West Bank. For example, government officials stated that a national 
number may be revoked if an individual obtains Palestinian travel 
documents, works for any part of the Palestinian Authority, or does not 
renew a family reunification permit. Activists complained that the 
disengagement regulations did not outline such procedures, that the 
process was not transparent, and that the Ministry of Interior's appeal 
process was virtually nonexistent. Claimants reported that appeals were 
not resolved to their satisfaction. Human rights activists also claimed 
the Government refused to renew the passports of former residents of 
Palestinian origin at overseas embassies.
    The law prohibits internal and external forced exile, and the 
Government did not use forced exile in practice.

    Protection of Refugees.--The country is not a party to the 1951 
Convention relating to the Status of Refugees or its 1967 Protocol. Its 
laws do not provide for the granting of asylum or refugee status, and 
the Government has not established a formal system of providing 
protection to refugees and does not have any national legislation 
pertaining to the status and treatment of refugees. The Government 
respected the UNHCR's eligibility determinations regarding asylum 
seekers, including those who entered the country clandestinely. A 1998 
memorandum of understanding between the Government and the UNHCR 
contains the definition of a refugee, confirms the principle of 
nonrefoulement, and allows recognized refugees a maximum stay of six 
months, during which period the UNHCR must find a durable solution. In 
practice the Government provided protection against the expulsion or 
return of refugees to countries where their lives or freedom would be 
threatened on account of their race, religion, nationality, membership 
in a particular social group, or political opinion. However, according 
to observers, the Government did not accept refugees for resettlement 
from third countries or facilitate local integration, particularly of 
refugees in protracted situations.
    The UNRWA and the Government continued to provide services, such as 
health care, education, the right to work, and social services, to 
Palestinian refugees during the year. At year's end, approximately two 
million Palestinian refugees were registered with the UNRWA in the 
    The Government granted nationality to approximately 700,000 persons 
displaced from former territories during the 1967 war with Israel. An 
additional 120,000 persons displaced during the 1967 war held temporary 
residency permits, and an additional 200,000 Palestinian refugees were 
also estimated to be living in the country without any direct 
    The Government generally recognized the UNHCR's requests to grant 
temporary protection for all Iraqi asylum seekers, including new 
arrivals, rejected asylum or resettlement cases, and recognized 
refugees whose cases had been suspended by resettlement countries. The 
Government estimated there were 450,000 to 500,000 Iraqi refugees in 
the country; NGO estimates varied from 100,000 to 200,000. As of years' 
end, a total of 30,800 Iraqi refugees in the country were registered 
with the UNHCR. Most registered refugees received legal and material 
assistance from the UNHCR and other international and nongovernmental 
humanitarian organizations. The Government provided education and 
health care to Iraqis and tolerated the prolonged stay of many Iraqis 
beyond the expiration of the visit permits under which they entered the 
country. During the year the Government waived any overstay fines and 
exit fees for those returning to Iraq. Few Iraqi refugees received work 
permits due to bureaucratic hurdles and significant overstay fines they 
would have to pay when applying for such permits.

Section 3. Respect for Political Rights: The Right of Citizens to 
        Change Their Government
    The law does not provide citizens the right to change their monarch 
or government. The king appoints and dismisses the prime minister, 
cabinet, and the House of Notables, dissolves parliament, and directs 
major public policy initiatives. Citizens may participate in the 
political system through their elected representatives in the Chamber 
of Deputies. The cabinet, based on the prime minister's recommendation, 
appoints the mayors of Amman, Wadi Musa (Petra), and Aqaba, a special 
economic zone. The mayors of the other 93 municipalities are elected.
    The king proposes and dismisses extraordinary sessions of 
parliament and may postpone regular sessions for as long as 60 days. In 
November 2009 the king dissolved parliament and called for 
parliamentary elections in the final quarter of 2010. Although the 
constitution states that elections must be held within four months of 
parliament's dismissal or the previous parliament is reinstated, the 
king exercised his constitutional authority to extend this period. If 
the Government amends or enacts a law when parliament is not in 
session, it must submit the law to parliament for consideration during 
the next session; however, such ``temporary'' laws do not expire. 
Although they are technically subject to action by parliament when it 
returns to session, in practice they typically remain in force in the 
absence of legislative action.

    Elections and Political Participation.--On November 9, the country 
held parliamentary elections, which international observers stated in 
their preliminary reports were ``credible'' and ``a clear improvement 
over the nation's 2007 polls,'' while recommending future reforms such 
as establishing an independent electoral management body, preprinting 
ballots to mitigate concerns over voting procedures for the illiterate, 
strengthening representation for all citizens, and introducing 
regulations to allow for systematic appeals of the election results.
    The country was without an elected parliament for the majority of 
the year, during which time the cabinet issued a number of temporary 
laws. On May 19, the cabinet issued a ``temporary'' elections law that 
increased the women's quota in the parliament to 12, added four 
parliamentary seats to underrepresented urban districts, and divided 
the existing electoral districts into nongeographic subdistricts based 
on the number of seats within each district. The new subdistricting 
system served to change the rules for candidate registration by 
requiring candidates to run for a specific subdistrict, while still 
allowing voters to cast their single ballots for any candidate within 
the electoral district as a whole. Civil society groups and media 
commentators criticized the law for not going far enough in its reforms 
to address concerns about fairness and transparency, especially for 
persons of Palestinian origin. Many analysts commented that government 
did not adequately explain to citizens the new law's system of 
nongeographic subdistricts.
    The Government licensed political parties and other associations 
but prohibited membership in unlicensed political parties. The High 
Court of Justice may dissolve a party if it concludes that the party 
violated the constitution or the law. The law stipulates that a 
political party must have a minimum of 500 founding members from five 
governorates. Opposition parties complained that the law was 
unconstitutional and obstructed political dynamism. Political parties, 
NGOs, and independent candidates found the registration process onerous 
and costly and criticized the GID's annual screening process of 
founding party members. Political parties also complained that the 
mandated public funding of 50,000 dinars ($71,100) was insufficient to 
operate effective campaigns. Political analysts and opposition parties 
called on the Government to take active measures to promote party 
development, including amendments to the electoral system that would 
place greater emphasis on parties.
    Women have the right to vote. On November 9, 13 women were elected 
to parliament, exceeding the quota by one. There was one female 
governor, and three women served in the appointed 30-member cabinet. 
The law provides a 20 percent quota for women in municipal council 
seats and a 10 percent quota for women in the lower house of 
    Citizens of Palestinian origin were underrepresented at all levels 
of government and the military. Many observers believed the electoral 
system was intended to reduce the representation of areas heavily 
populated by citizens of Palestinian origin in favor of tribal 
interests. The law allows voters to choose one candidate in multiple-
seat districts, which in the largely tribal society meant citizens 
tended to cast their vote for members of their own tribe. The law 
reserves nine seats in the lower house of parliament for Christians and 
three seats for the Circassian and Chechen ethnic minorities together, 
constituting an overrepresentation for these minorities. No seats were 
reserved for the relatively small Druze population, but they were 
permitted to hold office under their government classification as 
Muslims. The law also stipulates that Muslims must hold all seats not 
reserved for specified minority religions. Christians served as cabinet 
ministers and ambassadors. The Government traditionally reserves some 
positions in the upper levels of the military for Christians (4 
percent); however, Muslims held all senior command positions.

Section 4. Official Corruption and Government Transparency
    The law provides criminal penalties for official corruption; 
however, it remained a problem. Domestic and international NGOs noted 
the Government did not implement the law effectively and officials 
often engaged in corrupt practices with impunity. During the year the 
Government investigated allegations of corruption; however, there were 
few convictions. Many observers noted that investigations into official 
corruption typically focused on small-scale corruption. The use of 
family, business, and other personal connections to advance personal 
business interests was widespread. There were allegations of lack of 
transparency in government procurement, government appointments, and 
dispute settlement.
    During the year the Anticorruption Commission investigated 890 
cases of corruption. The cases dealt with fraud, misuse of public 
office, forgery, bribery, and embezzlement, as well as cases related to 
food and drug laws. Despite increased investigations, some local 
observers questioned the commission's effectiveness due to the limited 
amount of investigations involving senior officials or large government 
projects despite allegations against them.
    On July 7, the State Security Court sentenced three former 
officials--a former finance minister, a former Jordan Petroleum 
Refinery Company (JPRC) chairperson, and a former economic advisor to 
the prime minister--and a businessman to three years in prison after 
convicting them of bribery in connection with the JPRC expansion 
project. The defendants were acquitted on the charges of abuse of 
public office. The defendants appealed the conviction and were free on 
bail at year's end.
    In a 2009 high-profile case, the Government formed an ad hoc 
committee to investigate the embezzlement of 1.2 million dinars ($1.7 
million) from the Ministry of Agriculture. On August 31, the court 
found two men guilty of embezzlement and sentenced them to 22 years in 
    During the year citizens filed more than 2,776 complaints against 
public agencies with the Governmental Ombudsman Bureau. The bureau 
rejected 1,537 of the complaints because they did not fall under its 
mandate, but it amicably resolved 80 percent of the accepted cases and 
issued recommendations in 19 percent of the accepted cases. The bureau 
is charged with investigating complaints regarding any decision or 
action by public offices or their employees.
    The law requires certain government officials to declare their 
assets privately; in the event of a complaint, the chief justice may 
review the disclosures. Under the law failure to disclose assets could 
result in prison sentences from one week to three years or fines from 
five to 200 dinars ($7 to $280). As of year's end, no officials had 
been punished for failing to submit a disclosure.
    The law provides for public access to government information that 
is a matter of legal record but allows requests to be denied for 
reasons of ``national security, public health, and personal freedoms.'' 
Journalists criticized the law, claiming it permits the Government to 
deny requests without justification. A 2008 study by the Al Urdun Al 
Jadid Research Center showed that 58 percent of journalists were 
unaware of the law and nearly 85 percent did not know they had the 
right to request information. Fifty percent of journalists who had 
attempted to obtain government information characterized the 
Government's response as inadequate, and 13.8 percent said their 
requests triggered verbal abuse. In a 2008 Higher Media Council survey, 
nearly half of the journalists surveyed reported difficulty accessing 
information or said their requests had been denied outright.

Section 5. Governmental Attitude Regarding International and 
        Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations of Human 
    Domestic and international human rights groups operated in the 
country with some restrictions. The law gives the Government the 
ability to control NGOs' internal affairs, including acceptance of 
foreign funding. NGOs were generally able to investigate and report 
publicly on human rights abuses throughout the year, although 
government officials were not always cooperative. Senior government 
officials accused local human rights organizations of having 
``Western'' or foreign agendas and focusing only on the negative 
aspects of an issue. Major local human rights organizations included 
the NCHR and several independent organizations, such as the MIZAN Law 
Group for Human Rights, the Amman Center for Human Rights Studies, the 
AOHR, the CDFJ, and the Adaleh Center for Human Rights Studies. 
Government entities met with members of these organizations and 
participated in many projects the organizations undertook.
    The Government generally cooperated with international NGOs, the 
UN, and other international governmental organizations. On May 14, as 
part of its periodic review process, the UN Committee against Torture 
expressed ``deep concern'' at continuing allegations of torture and 
mistreatment of detainees in the country (see section 1.c.).
    The Government-funded NCHR's reporting was largely regarded as 
objective and critical, although some local human rights groups and 
activists complained that the NCHR did not speak out sufficiently 
during the year on some controversial issues, such as freedom of 
expression, students' rights, citizenship, and religious freedom. The 
prime minister appoints the NCHR board chair and commissioner general. 
In April the NCHR issued its sixth annual report on the state of human 
rights in the country, which highlighted a range of continuing human 
rights problems in 2009, including excessive use of administrative 
detention, new restrictions on the right to establish civil society and 
professional associations, limitations on protests and demonstrations, 
restrictions on the right to access information, and physical attacks 
by students against their professors and vice versa.

Section 6. Discrimination, Societal Abuses, and Trafficking in Persons
    The constitution states that all citizens are equal under the law 
and prohibits discrimination based on race, language, and religion; 
however, discrimination on the basis of gender, disability, and social 
status is not specifically prohibited. The penal code does not address 
discrimination, thereby severely limiting judicial remedies.

    Women.--Violence and abuse against women continued, including 
widespread domestic violence, numerous honor crimes, and spousal rape. 
In rural areas violence against women was reported more frequently than 
in major cities, but women's rights activists speculated that many 
incidents in cities went unreported.
    The law stipulates a sentence of at least 10 years' imprisonment 
with hard labor for rape of a girl or woman age 15 years or older. 
Spousal rape is not illegal. During the year the PSD Family Protection 
Department (FPD) treated and investigated 395 cases of sexual assault, 
131 cases of rape against women, and 223 rape cases against children. 
There was no information available regarding prosecutions or 
convictions for rape during the year.
    In a survey of women in rural southern areas that the Higher 
Population Council and the Ministry of Health released in January 2009, 
30 percent of women 15 to 49 years old reported psychological abuse and 
20 percent reported physical abuse. Spousal abuse is technically 
grounds for divorce, but husbands can claim religious authority to 
strike their wives. A woman may file a complaint against her spouse for 
physical abuse with the FPD, certain NGOs, or directly with judicial 
authorities. During the year the FPD forwarded 2,021 complaints of 
domestic violence for prosecution. Violators of protection orders may 
face as long as six months in prison. Observers noted that judges 
generally supported a woman's claim of domestic abuse in court; 
however, due to societal and familial pressure, few women sought legal 
remedies. A 2007 survey by an international organization showed that 
only 22 percent of domestic violence victims sought any form of 
assistance. In 2008 the Jordan Center for Social Research conducted a 
survey indicating that women often did not admit they were subjected to 
violence and did not seek help because they were afraid of breaking up 
or damaging the reputation of their families. The results also showed 
some degree of acceptance of abuse, particularly among less-educated 
women. Of the respondents who reported a case of violence, 83 percent 
identified their husband, father, or brother as the perpetrator. There 
were few services available to victims of domestic violence, and most 
women were not aware of them.
    The Government-run shelter Dar al-Wafaq assisted approximately 730 
women and 160 children who were victims of domestic violence. It 
provided reconciliation services to victims and their families and 
worked with NGOs to provide services, such as legal and medical 
assistance. However, observers noted a lack of a comprehensive approach 
for victims and the absence of psychosocial counseling. The FPD 
continued to operate a domestic violence hotline during the year and 
received inquiries and complaints via the Internet and e-mail. The 
Jordanian Women's Union, a domestic NGO, maintained a hotline for 
victims of domestic violence and provided shelter to abuse victims. The 
Jordan River Foundation operated a child and family center in East 
Amman that provided shelter and assistance to domestic violence 
victims. During the year the quasi-governmental Jordanian National 
Commission for Women received 583 gender-related complaints ranging 
from domestic violence to discrimination.
    Authorities prosecuted 16 officially reported instances of 
homicides related to ``honor'' crimes that occurred over the past three 
years. Activists reported that many such crimes went unreported. An 
Information and Research Center study released in October 2009 on the 
causes of ``honor'' crimes in the country showed a high correlation 
between poverty and education with ``honor'' crimes. The study found 
that 73 percent of victims since 2000 were classified as poor, a group 
that constituted only 30 percent of the country's population. The 
brother of the victim was the perpetrator in 76 percent of the cases 
and the father in 13 percent.
    In July 2009 the Government established a specialized section 
within the criminal courts to hear all cases of ``honor'' crimes. 
During the year the court sentenced 15 perpetrators to 10 years in 
prison and one perpetrator to five years in prison. In most cases 
during the year, the family dropped the criminal charges, and the court 
issued a sentence of 10 years' imprisonment. Judges have the 
discretionary right, but not an obligation, to reduce sentences by as 
much as half if the victim's family does not press charges, even if the 
perpetrator and victim are from the same family.
    Prior to the creation of the specialized unit within the criminal 
court, some lower courts handed down 15-year sentences for second-
degree murder, but in every case the court immediately cut the sentence 
in half. In previous years the courts usually found perpetrators of 
honor killings guilty of a ``crime of passion,'' which merited a 
maximum sentence of three years. Although defendants were almost always 
found guilty, they often received token sentences of no more than six 
months. The maximum sentence for first-degree murder is death.
    On June 1 in East Amman, a man stabbed his sister 30 times on a 
busy street with the assistance of his 19-year-old cousin. The brother 
suspected that his sister was pregnant. The victim was rushed to the 
hospital where she was declared dead on arrival. The prosecutor general 
charged the brother and cousin with premeditated murder, and at year's 
end the case was pending.
    On July 23 in Deir Alla, a man shot and killed his 16-year-old 
niece with a machine gun at her wedding, confessing he did it to 
``cleanse his family's honor'' over suspicions the girl had lost her 
virginity a month earlier. The father and husband pressed criminal 
charges against the perpetrator; the case was pending at year's end.
    At year's end the March 2009 case of a man in Zarqa who beat to 
death his 19-year-old daughter with the assistance of two of her 
brothers remained pending at the criminal court.
    On April 23, the criminal court convicted and sentenced a man to 15 
years in prison for publicly stabbing his 24-year-old daughter 16 times 
on a main street in October 2009. The court reduced his sentence to 10 
years because the family dropped the charges.
    Through the administrative detention authority granted to governors 
under the Crime Prevention Act, authorities continued to place 
potential victims of honor crimes in involuntary protective custody in 
the Women's Correctional and Rehabilitation Center in Jweideh, a 
detention facility where some women had remained for more than four 
years. A woman detained in protective custody can be released only 
after her family signs a statement guaranteeing her safety and both the 
local governor and the woman agree to the release. During the year the 
Government released a number of women who had been detained for more 
than 10 years. Unlike in previous years, there were no cases of women 
being killed after release from protective custody. A human rights 
organization estimated that approximately 12 women were in protective 
custody. One NGO continued to work for the release of these women 
through mediation with their families. The NGO also provided a 
temporary but unofficial shelter for such women as an alternative to 
protective custody.
    According to the law, sexual harassment in the workplace is 
strictly prohibited. The law does not make a distinction between sexual 
assault and sexual harassment; both carry a minimum prison sentence of 
four years with hard labor. Women's groups stated that harassment was 
common, but many victims were hesitant to file a complaint and rarely 
did so because they often were blamed for inciting it, they feared 
losing their job, or they faced pressure to keep silent.
    Couples have the basic right to decide freely and responsibly the 
number, spacing, and timing of their children. Contraceptives were 
generally accessible to all men and women, both married and single, and 
provided free of charge in public clinics. Almost 99 percent of births 
in the country take place in hospitals with trained professionals. 
Comprehensive essential obstetric, prenatal, and postnatal care is 
provided throughout the country in the public and private sectors. 
According to data compiled by international organizations, in 2008 
there were approximately 59 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births. 
There was no discrimination against women in the diagnosis and 
treatment of HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted infections.
    Women experienced legal discrimination in pension and social 
security benefits, inheritance, divorce, ability to travel, child 
custody, citizenship, and (in certain limited circumstances) the value 
of their Sharia court testimony.
    Under Sharia law as applied in the country, female heirs receive 
half the amount that male heirs receive, and non-Muslim widows of 
Muslim spouses have no inheritance rights; however, a Muslim spouse can 
designate some of his property to his non-Muslim spouse through a will. 
A sole female heir receives half of her parents' estate; the balance 
goes to designated male relatives. A sole male heir inherits both of 
his parents' property. Male Muslim heirs have the duty to provide for 
all family members who need assistance. The existing temporary divorce 
law allows women to seek divorces in return for waiving financial 
rights or alimony. The law allows retention of financial rights under 
specific circumstances, such as spousal abuse. Special courts for each 
denomination adjudicate marriage and divorce for Christians.
    The Government provided men with more generous social security 
benefits than it gave women. The Government continued pension payments 
of deceased male civil servants to their heirs, but it discontinued 
payments to heirs of deceased female civil servants. Laws and 
regulations governing health insurance for civil servants do not permit 
married women to extend their health insurance coverage to dependents 
or spouses. However, divorced and widowed women may extend coverage to 
their children.
    Women's rights activists complained that the law granting women 
equal pay for equal work was not enforced. Many women said traditional 
social pressures discouraged them from pursuing professional careers, 
especially after marriage. The official unemployment rate for women was 
20 percent, compared with 11.9 percent for the country as a whole. A 
Jordanian National Council for Family Affairs study released in April 
2009 found that women were often denied basic labor rights, such as pay 
equality and the working hours and conditions outlined in the labor 
law. The study called for legislative changes and awareness campaigns 
to inform women of their rights.
    The law states that a woman has the right to obtain or renew a 
passport without the written permission of her husband; however, some 
women reported that authorities required a male custodian's permission.
    Married women do not have the legal right to transmit citizenship 
to their children. In practical terms this affects thousands of 
families whose father is of Palestinian origin. Female citizens married 
to noncitizen men may pass citizenship to their children only with the 
permission of the cabinet; however, the cabinet rarely took such 
action, the public was widely unaware of this mechanism, and permission 
was usually not granted in cases in which the father was of Palestinian 
origin. Women may not petition for citizenship for their noncitizen 
husbands, who must apply for citizenship after fulfilling a requirement 
of 15 years' continuous residency. Once a husband has obtained 
citizenship, he may apply to transmit citizenship to his children. 
However, in practice such an application may take years, and the 
Government may deny the application, resulting in the children becoming 
    During the year a female citizen married to a Palestinian man from 
Gaza was not allowed to enroll her son in preschool because her son was 
not considered Jordanian. Furthermore, her husband was unable to work 
legally because the family could not afford to renew his residency 
permit on a yearly basis.
    In 2009 a female citizen whose Egyptian husband died after falling 
at a construction site had to reapply annually for a residency permit 
for her three Egyptian-citizen children to continue to enable them to 
live legally in the country and have access to education and health 
services. The cost of applying for residency every year was a 
significant burden, and the Government's approval was not guaranteed.

    Children.--Citizenship is derived only through the father. Children 
of female citizens and noncitizen husbands receive the nationality of 
the father and lose the right to attend public school or to seek other 
government services if they do not hold legal residency, which must be 
applied for every year and is not guaranteed. The Government did not 
issue birth certificates to all children born inside the country during 
the year. The Government deemed some children--including children of 
unmarried women, certain interfaith marriages, and converts from Islam 
to another religion--illegitimate and denied them proper registration, 
making it difficult or impossible for them to attend school, access 
health services, or receive other documentation. In one such case in 
2009, a single mother had to illegally bury her baby who died during 
childbirth because she was unable to obtain a birth or death 
    Education is compulsory from ages six through 16 years and free 
until age 18. However, no legislation exists to enforce the law or to 
punish guardians for violating it.
    During the year authorities received and investigated 128 
complaints of child abuse and 223 complaints of child rape. A February 
2009 UN Children's Fund report stated that 71 percent of children were 
subjected to verbal abuse and 57 percent had experienced some form of 
physical abuse in school. Statistics on child abuse within households 
were not available. The law specifies punishment for abuses against 
children. For example, conviction for rape of a child younger than 15 
years potentially carries the death penalty. However, local 
organizations working with abused children pointed to gaps in the legal 
system that regularly resulted in lenient sentencing, particularly for 
family members. For example, the penal code gives judges the ability to 
reduce a sentence when the victim's family does not press charges. In 
child abuse cases, judges routinely accorded leniency per the wishes of 
the family. The National Council for Family Affairs and other local 
organizations stated that legislation does not provide children 
sufficient protection from abuse, specifically citing the legal 
authorization for parents to discipline their children using force.
    Some local children's rights activists noted that abuse occurs in 
some government-run juvenile detention centers (see section 1.c.). The 
defendants in a February 2009 shaken baby syndrome case and April 2009 
torture and killing of a five-year-old boy remained in jail at year's 
end, pending the outcome of their court cases.
    The Government continued to fund a child protection center that 
provided temporary shelter and medical care for abused children between 
the ages of six and 12. During the year the shelter housed 158 abused 
children. Observers noted that the shelter lacked qualified staff, 
psychosocial counselors, and a comprehensive approach to deal with 
victims of abuse.
    The minimum age for marriage is 18. With the consent of both a 
judge and a guardian, a child as young as 15, in most cases a girl, may 
be married. Judicial statistics indicated that in 2008-09 judges 
granted consent in 14,000 cases in which at least one person was 
between 15 and 18 years old. According to the May 2010 Jordan 
Population and Family Health Survey conducted in 2009, 6 percent of 
persons between ages 15 and 19 were married, the majority of those 
having been married between the ages of 17 and19. Instances of forced 
marriage as an alternative to a potential honor killing were reported 
in rural areas during the year. Observers note that, if a woman marries 
her rapist, according to customary belief, her family members would not 
need to kill her to ``preserve the family's honor.''
    The country is not a party to the 1980 Hague Convention on the 
Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. For information on 
international parental child abduction, please see the Department of 
State's annual report on compliance at http://travel.state.gov/
abduction/resources/congressreport/congressreport--4308.html, as well 
as country-specific information at http://travel.state.gov/abduction/

    Anti-Semitism.--Anti-Semitism was present in the media, and 
editorial cartoons, articles, and opinion pieces sometimes depicted 
negative images of Jews without government response. Aside from 
expatriates, there was no resident Jewish community in the country.

    Trafficking in Persons.--For information on trafficking in persons, 
please see the Department of State's annual Trafficking in Persons 
Report at www.state.gov/g/tip.

    Persons With Disabilities.--The law provides equal rights to 
persons with disabilities, who numbered around 200,000, according to 
government and NGO estimates. The Higher Council for the Affairs of 
People with Disabilities works with government ministries, the private 
sector, and NGOs to formulate and implement strategies to assist 
persons with disabilities. In July 2009 the council issued national 
accreditation standards for rehabilitation centers for persons with 
disabilities. According to the council there were more than 15,000 
students with disabilities attending 255 specialized centers and 
    Citizens and NGOs universally reported that persons with 
disabilities faced problems accessing education, transportation, and 
other services, particularly in rural areas. The Special Buildings Code 
Department is tasked to enforce accessibility provisions and oversees 
retrofitting of existing buildings to comply with building codes. Many 
private and public office buildings continued to have limited or no 
access for persons with disabilities.
    The law mandates that public and private sector establishments with 
between 25 and 50 workers employ at least one person with disabilities, 
and establishments with more than 50 workers must reserve 2 percent of 
their positions for persons with disabilities. However, these 
requirements were rarely enforced. Local organizations received 
complaints from persons with disabilities regarding employers who 
discriminated against them.
    In 2009 the Government provided monetary assistance to citizens 
with severe mental and multiple physical disabilities whose families 
earned less than 250 dinars ($360) per month, and the higher council 
and local NGOs operated assistance programs. During the year the higher 
council discontinued financial assistance previously provided to cover 
a portion of education, training, or rehabilitation expenses for 
persons with disabilities due to budget cuts.
    In September the Government announced that it would allow persons 
with disabilities to vote with the aid of personal assistants rather 
than verbally, ensuring them greater ballot secrecy and electoral 
access. Takafo, an NGO aiming to increase voter participation for 
persons with disabilities, confirmed that the Government made the 
necessary changes for the November 9 parliamentary elections to allow 
voters with disabilities greater accessibility and greater ballot 

    National/Ethnic/Racial Minorities.--There were three groups of 
Palestinians residing in the country, many of whom faced some 
discrimination. Those who migrated to the country and the Jordan-
controlled West Bank after the 1948 Arab-Israeli war received full 
citizenship, as did those who migrated to the country after the 1967 
war and hold no residency entitlement in the West Bank. Those still 
residing in the West Bank after 1967 were no longer eligible to claim 
full citizenship but were allowed to obtain temporary travel documents 
without national identification numbers, provided they did not also 
carry a Palestinian Authority travel document. These individuals had 
access to some government services but paid noncitizen rates at 
hospitals, educational institutions, and training centers. Refugees who 
fled Gaza after 1967 were not entitled to citizenship and were issued 
temporary travel documents without national numbers. These persons had 
no access to government services and were almost completely dependent 
on UNRWA services.
    Several human rights organizations stated that the Ministry of 
Interior revoked national numbers of many longtime citizens of 
Palestinian origin during the year, despite codified passport issuance 
procedures (see section 2.d.).
    Palestinians were underrepresented in parliament and senior 
positions in the Government and the military, as well as in admission 
to public universities. They had limited access to university 
    During the year there were reports of societal discrimination 
against Iraqis living in the country. Some employers reportedly refused 
to pay or underpaid Iraqis working illegally, and some landlords 
reportedly would not rent or sell to Iraqis.

    Societal Abuses, Discrimination, and Acts of Violence Based on 
Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity.--Homosexuality is not illegal 
in Jordan; however, societal discrimination against LGBT persons 
existed. A number of citizens reported sporadic police mistreatment of 
suspected LGBT persons. There were reports of individuals who left the 
country due to fear their families would punish them for their sexual 
    In March 2009 the municipality of Amman reportedly denied an 
application to establish a gay rights organization.
    In 2008 security forces arrested four gays in a park in West Amman 
for ``lewd acts'' following a targeted operation by the police. The 
individuals were placed in solitary confinement in Jweidah Prison until 
they promised that they would not carry out any such acts in the 

    Other Societal Violence or Discrimination.--HIV/AIDS was a largely 
taboo subject. Lack of public awareness remained a problem; many 
citizens believed the disease exclusively affected foreigners and gays. 
There was a social stigma against HIV-positive individuals in general. 
The Government continued efforts to inform the public about the disease 
and to eliminate negative attitudes against persons with HIV/AIDS, 
including a media strategy launched in September 2009. The Government 
continued to test all foreigners annually for HIV/AIDS, hepatitis B, 
syphilis, malaria, and tuberculosis, and it deported foreigners who 
tested HIV positive.

Section 7. Worker Rights
    a. The Right of Association.--The law provides citizens working in 
the private sector, in some government-owned companies, and in certain 
professions in the public sector the right to form and join unions, but 
in practice this right was restricted. According to official figures, 
more than 10 percent of the workforce was organized into 17 unions 
which fall under a government-subsidized centralized federation, the 
General Federation of Jordanian Trade Unions (GFJTU). On August 15, the 
Ministry of Labor issued a temporary law that allows foreign workers to 
join unions; however, foreign workers are not permitted to create 
unions or hold key positions.
    Government influence in union policies and activities reportedly 
continued. The Government required unions to be members of the GFJTU, 
the sole trade union federation, and new unions must be directly linked 
to 17 professions and sectors in which unions already exist before 
being approved by the Ministry of Labor. The Government subsidized and 
audited the GFJTU's salaries and activities, and it monitored union 
elections. Observers noted that the minister of labor may dissolve 
unions without judicial due process.
    Teachers employed in public schools held several sit-ins during the 
year to demand their own professional association and better work 
conditions. The Government did not agree to establish an association 
but approved the creation of a teachers' union, which would have 
broader legal restrictions and less autonomy than associations. As of 
year's end, the teachers had not agreed to this proposal and were in 
negotiations with the Government. In June the Government forced 
approximately 40 teachers, many of whom were actively calling on the 
Government to create an independent association, into early retirement 
but reinstated them just before school started on September 14.
    On July 15, the Government issued an amendment to the labor law 
allowing companies with more than 25 employees to form workers' 
committees to look into labor conditions. The amendment also allowed up 
to 28 days of sick leave per year and the recalculation of annual leave 
to exclude weekends.
    The law permits workers to strike only under certain conditions, 
including a minimum 14 days' notice to both the employer and the 
Government. Strikes are prohibited if a labor dispute is under 
mediation or arbitration. In practice workers generally went on strike 
without notifying the Government in advance, and the union or workers 
requested penalty waivers for the illegal strike as part of subsequent 
labor negotiations. During the year the gendarmerie broke up one strike 
deemed illegal due to lack of prior notice and briefly detained some 
    As of year's end, a joint PSD-gendarmerie investigation continued 
into the alleged July 2009 case of gendarmerie forces using excessive 
force to break up a sit-in by workers at the general cargo port in 
Aqaba. Workers held the two-day sit-in to protest job losses and a 
housing compensation agreement connected to the sale of the port. The 
Government transferred the strike leader from the port of Aqaba to 
another position in Amman. Labor activists and NGOs noted no 
significant improvements at the Aqaba port; however, the workers 
received some of their demands, such as monetary support of between 
3,000 and 5,000 dinars ($4,200-$7,000) for moving expenses.

    b. The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively.--Unions have the 
right to bargain collectively, and in practice the Government respected 
this right, although observers stated that the legal procedures are 
cumbersome and discourage collective bargaining.
    The constitution prohibits antiunion discrimination, and the 
Ministry of Labor received no complaints of antiunion discrimination 
during the year; however, some nonunionized workers alleged retaliation 
from the Government based on strike activity and attempts to organize. 
This was particularly the case for foreign workers and contracted 
domestic employees, such as day laborers.
    Nearly 76 percent of the workers in the qualified industrial zones 
(QIZs) were noncitizens and for most of the year were not permitted to 
participate in unions or to engage in collective bargaining. As of 
year's end, foreign workers were not permitted to form unions but could 
join existing unions.

    c. Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor.--The constitution 
prohibits forced or compulsory labor, except in a state of emergency 
such as war or natural disaster. However, there were reports of forced 
labor, particularly of domestic workers and garment sector factory 
workers. With the August 2009 passage of new domestic worker 
regulations, labor inspectors have the authority to inspect a labor 
complaint in a private home but only after receiving the employer's 
permission or with a court order. According to local NGOs, as of year's 
end, labor inspectors had not investigated reports of labor abuse in 
private homes. Domestic workers can file in-person complaints with the 
Ministry of Labor's Domestic Workers Directorate or the PSD; however, 
many domestic workers complained that there was no follow up to their 
cases either from the Ministry of Labor or the PSD. Domestic workers 
are covered by the labor laws, although not fully or effectively.
    Women, including some minors with forged documents, from countries 
including Sri Lanka, Indonesia, and the Philippines migrated to work as 
domestic servants, but some were subjected to conditions of forced 
labor, including withholding of passports, restrictions on movement, 
nonpayment of wages, threats, excessively long working hours, and 
physical or sexual abuse. The Philippines, Indonesia, and Sri Lanka 
prohibited the emigration of migrant workers for domestic work because 
of a high rate of employer abuse of domestic workers and administrative 
problems with overstay fines when employers filed to renew the 
employees' work permits. However, the prohibition did not reduce the 
flow of migrant workers.
    During the year an estimated 300 domestic workers from the 
Philippines, 275 Indonesian workers, and 400 Sri Lankan workers were 
sheltered at their respective embassies in Amman. Most had reportedly 
fled some form of forced labor, including unpaid wages and to a lesser 
extent sexual or physical abuse. By law employers are responsible for 
renewing residency permits but often fail to do this for their domestic 
helper employees. As a result most of the embassy-sheltered domestic 
workers were considered illegal residents, and many were stranded in 
the country because they were unable to pay the daily overstay fees of 
1.5 dinars ($3) to depart the country. Due to the large number of 
domestic workers sheltered at their respective embassies, the 
Government created a working group in August to examine the cases 
individually. In some cases this resulted in overstay fines being 
    Chinese, Bangladeshi, Indian, Sri Lankan, and Filipino men and 
women encountered conditions indicative of forced labor in some garment 
sector factories, including unlawful withholding of passports, late or 
nonpayment of wages, and excessive overtime. The Government actively 
inspected factories and investigated allegations of forced labor in 
garment factories, and reports of withholding of passports declined 
during the year. The Ministry of Labor required violators to conform to 
the requirements of the labor law and other governing legislation and 
imposed fines when appropriate. The ministry also publicized the 
outcomes of its findings.
    Also see the Department of State's annual Trafficking in Persons 
Report at www.state.gov/g/tip.

    d. Prohibition of Child Labor and Minimum Age for Employment.--The 
labor law forbids employment for children younger than 16 years of age, 
except as apprentices in nonhazardous positions. The law provides that 
employers who hire a child younger than 16 must pay a fine of as much 
as 500 dinars ($710), which is doubled for repeat offenses. The law 
bans those between the ages of 16 and 18 from working in potentially 
hazardous jobs, limits working hours for such children to six hours per 
day, mandates one-hour breaks for every four consecutive working hours, 
and prohibits these children from working after 8 p.m., on national or 
religious holidays, and on weekends.
    Children worked in mechanical repair, agriculture, fishing, 
construction, and the hotel and restaurant industry, as well as in the 
informal sector as street vendors, carpenters, blacksmiths, domestic 
workers, and painters, and in small family businesses. Child labor was 
reportedly concentrated in larger cities, such as Amman, Zarqa, and 
Irbid. A 2008 Department of Statistics study estimated that more than 
32,000 children between the ages of five and 17 were working in the 
country. Activists estimated the number to be higher, as many 
businesses and families tended to hide the practice.
    During the year the Ministry of Labor conducted 53,825 labor 
inspections including 19,165 child labor visits. In June officials 
inspected 412 institutions, issuing warnings to 75 employers and fining 
another 19 for recruiting children under the age of 16, mostly in 
mechanic shops, bakeries, blacksmith shops, carpentries, restaurants, 
and gas stations.
    On September 20, the Ministry of Labor reported that 32.4 percent 
of working children were in Amman, with the remainder distributed 
across the country, mainly in impoverished areas. Eighty-nine percent 
of the working children were boys employed in the car repair 
(approximately 36 percent), agricultural (27 percent), or hotel and 
restaurant (4 percent) sectors.
    The Government's capacity to implement and enforce child labor laws 
was not sufficient to deter the practice. The Ministry of Labor's Child 
Labor Unit coordinates government action regarding child labor and 
receives, investigates, and addresses child labor complaints. The unit, 
with three employees, coordinated child labor inspections for the 129 
labor inspectors.
    In 2009 the Government reinstated the National Committee to Combat 
Child Labor and initiated development of a new national strategy; 
however, as of year's end, the Government had not implemented the new 
national strategy. During the year international organizations trained 
78 general labor inspectors on techniques of combating child labor. 
Sixty-two inspectors participated in several labor training courses 
during the year.
    Labor inspectors issue fines for child labor violations but 
reportedly attempt alternative approaches first, such as ensuring safe 
work conditions and cooperating with employers to permit working 
children to attend school concurrently.

    e. Acceptable Conditions of Work.--The national minimum wage was 
150 dinars ($213) per month, which did not provide a decent standard of 
living for a worker and family. Ministry of Labor inspectors enforced 
the minimum wage but were unable to ensure full compliance due to 
limited resources.
    The law requires overtime pay for hours worked in excess of the 48-
hour standard workweek. The law prohibits compulsory overtime but 
allows the employer to require the employee to work more than 48 hours 
a week for specific purposes, such as conducting an annual inventory, 
closing accounts, preparing to sell goods at discounted prices, 
avoiding loss to goods that would otherwise be exposed to damage, and 
receiving special deliveries. In such cases actual working hours may 
not exceed 10 hours per day, the employee must be paid overtime, and 
the period may not last more than 30 days. Employees can lodge a 
complaint directly with the Ministry of Labor or through organizations 
such as their union or the NCHR. Employees are entitled to one day off 
per week. Provisions for domestic workers were similar.
    The law specifies a number of health and safety requirements that 
the Ministry of Labor is authorized to enforce; however, workers do not 
have a statutory right to remove themselves from hazardous conditions 
without risking the loss of their jobs and may be fired if they attempt 
to do so. Foreign workers were more susceptible to dangerous or unfair 
    Foreign workers, who make up the vast majority of workers in the 
QIZs and Export Processing Zones, were vulnerable to poor work 
conditions such as mandatory overtime, withholding of passports, and 
unacceptable living conditions in dorms. On August 18, the Phoenix 
Center for Economic and Informatics Studies issued a report claiming 
that approximately 10,000 attendants and cafeteria staff in the health 
support services sector were denied basic rights such as annual leave, 
health and safety conditions, and minimum wage as guaranteed under the 
labor law. The report indicated that a majority of the 23,000 day 
laborers were being denied their rights to job security and safety. 
Throughout the year day laborers held several strikes and sit-ins to 
demand job security, payment of overdue wages, and wage increases.
    On December 1, the Government issued a directive making the 
International Labor Organization project, Better Work Jordan, mandatory 
in all garment factories in the country. The project aimed to improve 
labor standards compliance through monitoring of factories and 
reporting on conditions as well as providing technical assistance.



    Kuwait is a constitutional, hereditary emirate ruled by the Al 
Sabah family. The country has a population of 3.44 million, of whom 1.1 
million are citizens. Local observers and the press considered the May 
16, 2009, parliamentary election generally free and fair. Security 
forces reported to civilian authorities.
    Principal human rights problems included limitations on citizens' 
right to change their government. There were reports of security forces 
abusing prisoners. Authorities limited freedoms of speech, press, 
assembly, association, and religion. The Government limited freedom of 
movement for certain groups, including foreign workers and stateless 
Arab residents (called ``Bidoon''). The status of the Bidoon remained 
unresolved and they faced social and legal discrimination. Trafficking 
in persons remained a problem. Women did not enjoy equal rights. Worker 
rights were limited, and expatriate workers were subject to severe 
limitations of rights and discrimination as well, especially in the 
domestic and unskilled service sectors.

                        RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS

Section 1. Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom 
    a. Arbitrary or Unlawful Deprivation of Life.--There were no 
reports that the Government or its agents committed arbitrary or 
unlawful killings.

    b. Disappearance.--There were no reports of politically motivated 

    c. Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or 
Punishment.--Articles 53, 159, and 184 of the criminal law code 
prohibit torture and other cruel, inhumane, or degrading treatment or 
punishment; however, there were reports that some police and members of 
the security forces abused detainees during the year. Police and 
security forces were more likely to inflict such abuse on noncitizens, 
particularly non-Gulf Arabs and Asians, and there were several reported 
accounts of police abuse of transgender persons. The Government stated 
that it investigated all allegations of abuse and punished some of the 
offenders; however, in most cases the Government did not make public 
either the findings of its investigations or any punishments it imposed 
(see section 6).
    In February the Court of Appeals upheld a two-year prison sentence 
for three police officers accused of torturing a young man in prison in 
    There were no further developments concerning the allegations that 
security officials abused hundreds of Bangladeshi workers in the wake 
of 2008 labor strikes.

    Prison and Detention Center Conditions.--The Ministry of Interior 
permitted independent monitoring of prison conditions by international 
and local human rights groups, the media, and the International 
Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). The ICRC visited all three prisons 
and the detention center and, unlike in 2009, the Government did not 
obstruct representatives of the Kuwait Human Rights Society from 
visiting prisons several prisoners during the year.
    The Central Prison Complex houses the country's only three prisons: 
a low-security men's prison, a high-security men's prison, and a 
women's prison. The prison complex exceeded its 3,200-person capacity; 
there were 201 inmates in the women's prison and 3,978 inmates in the 
men's prisons. Within the prisons, juveniles were detained separately 
from adults. The country also has a 1,000-person capacity deportation 
center in Talha that is not part of the prison complex. Some detention 
facilities lacked adequate sanitation and sufficient medical staff. 
There were reports of security forces abusing prisoners.
    Prisoners had reasonable access to personal visitors and were 
permitted religious observance. Authorities permitted prisoners and 
detainees to submit complaints to judicial authorities without 
censorship and to request investigation of credible allegations of 
inhumane conditions.
    Ombudsmen may not serve on behalf of prisoners.

    d. Arbitrary Arrest or Detention.--The law prohibits arbitrary 
arrest and detention, and the Government observed these prohibitions, 
apart from a few reports that police arbitrarily arrested nonnationals.

    Role of the Police and Security Apparatus.--The police have sole 
responsibility for the enforcement of laws not related to national 
security, and State Security oversees intelligence and national 
security matters; both are under the purview of civilian Interior 
Ministry authorities. The military is responsible for external 
    The police were generally effective in carrying out core 
responsibilities. There were reports that some police stations did not 
take seriously the requests of complainants, especially foreign 
nationals. In cases of alleged police abuse, the district chief 
investigator examines abuse allegations and refers cases to the courts 
for trial; there was no evidence of police impunity.
    Security forces sometimes failed to respond effectively to societal 
violence against family members or domestic workers.

    Arrest Procedures and Treatment While in Detention.--A police 
officer generally must obtain an arrest warrant from a state prosecutor 
or a judge before making an arrest, except in cases of hot pursuit. 
There were few reports of police arresting and detaining foreign 
nationals without a warrant during the year. The courts generally do 
not accept cases without warrants issued prior to arrests. Detainees 
were generally allowed access to their lawyers and family members. 
However, in compliance with the penal code a suspected criminal may be 
held at a police station without charge for as long as four days, 
during which time authorities may prevent lawyers and family members 
from visiting. During this time lawyers are permitted to attend legal 
proceedings but are not allowed to have direct contact with their 
clients. The law provides the detained person the right to a prompt 
judicial determination about the detention's legality; however, this 
right was not always respected. If charges are filed, a prosecutor may 
remand a suspect to detention for an additional 21 days. Detainees were 
informed promptly of the charges against them. Prosecutors also may 
obtain court orders for further detention pending trial. There is a 
functioning bail system for defendants awaiting trial. The bar 
association provides lawyers for indigent defendants; in these cases 
defendants do not have the option of choosing which lawyer will be 
assigned to them.
    Of the 4,179 persons serving sentences or detained pending trial, 
an estimated 150 were held in the ``state security ward'' on security 
grounds, including some held for collaborating with Iraq during the 
1990-91 occupation. On March 23, the Ministry of Interior, in 
cooperation with the Kuwait Red Crescent Society, arranged for six 
Iraqi families to visit their relatives, imprisoned since 1991 for 
collaborating with Iraq during the occupation.
    Arbitrarily lengthy detention before trial was a problem, and 
approximately 10 percent of the prison population consisted of pretrial 
detainees. Pretrial detainees were held separately from convicted 
    During the year foreign nationals at the Talha Deportation Center 
were generally incarcerated between 10 days and two months awaiting 
deportation. Some prisoners were held for longer periods if they lacked 
required travel documents. There were reports of security forces 
abusing prisoners in the deportation center.

    e. Denial of Fair Public Trial.--The law provides for an 
independent judiciary and the right to a fair trial and states that 
``judges shall not be subject to any authority;'' however, the emir 
appoints all judges, and the renewal of judicial appointments is 
subject to government approval. Judges who are citizens have lifetime 
appointments; however, many judges are noncitizens who hold one- to 
three-year renewable contracts. The Ministry of Justice may remove 
judges for cause but rarely does so. Foreign residents involved in 
legal disputes with citizens frequently claimed the courts showed bias 
in favor of citizens.

    Trial Procedures.--By law, criminal trials are public unless a 
court or the Government decides the ``maintenance of public order'' or 
the ``preservation of public morals'' necessitates closed proceedings. 
There is no trial by jury. Defendants enjoy a presumption of innocence 
and have the rights to confront their accusers and to appeal verdicts. 
Defendants in felony cases are required by law to be represented in 
court by legal counsel, which the courts provide in criminal cases. The 
bar association is obligated upon court request to appoint an attorney 
without charge for indigent defendants in civil, commercial, and 
criminal cases, and defendants used these services. Defendants have the 
right to confront witnesses against them and to present their own 
witnesses. Defendants and their attorneys generally have access to 
government-held evidence relevant to their cases and to appeal their 
cases to a higher court. The law affords these protections to all 

    Political Prisoners and Detainees.--There were no reports of 
political prisoners or detainees.

    Civil Judicial Procedures and Remedies.--The law provides for an 
independent and impartial judiciary in civil matters; however, rulings 
occasionally were not enforced. Administrative punishments, such as 
travel bans, are also available in civil matters.

    f. Arbitrary Interference With Privacy, Family, Home, or 
Correspondence.--The law provides for individual privacy and the 
sanctity of the home, and the Government generally respected these 
rights in practice. The law permits security forces to monitor private 
communications with the approval of the attorney general, and this 
monitoring occurred occasionally.
    The law forbids marriage between Muslim women and non-Muslim men 
and requires male citizens serving in the police force or military to 
obtain government approval to marry foreign nationals. In practice the 
Government offered only nonbinding advice in such matters and did not 
prevent any such marriages.
    The Government may deny a citizenship application by a Bidoon 
resident based on security or criminal violations committed by the 
individual's family members.

Section 2. Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:
    a. Freedom of Speech and Press.--The constitution provides for 
freedom of speech and of the press ``in accordance with the conditions 
and in the circumstances defined by law.'' In practice the Government 
sometimes did not respect these rights, and journalists and publishers 
practiced self-censorship. Restrictions on the country's press freedoms 
increased during the year.
    The Government restricted freedoms of the press and of speech, 
particularly in instances related to national security. The law also 
specifically prohibits the publication of material insulting Islam, the 
emir, the constitution, or the neutrality of the courts or public 
prosecutor's office. The law mandates jail terms for anyone who 
``defames religion,'' and any Muslim citizen may file criminal charges 
against an author the citizen believes has defamed Islam, the ruling 
family, or public morals. The number of such cases filed against 
journalists and television stations continued to increase 
significantly; 678 were filed during the year, most of which resulted 
in fines. In comparison, fewer than 200 were filed in 2009.
    Pointed criticism of other ministers and other high-ranking 
government officials continued to be widespread and was permitted. 
During the reporting period, several individuals were charged with 
insulting the ruling family and, under separate legal provisions, 
slandering the prime minister.
    On March 7, parliamentarian Muhammad Hayef was fined 3,000 dinars 
(approximately $10,400) for comments he made in parliament during the 
May 2009 session deemed insulting to the ruling family. The daily 
newspaper Al-Ruia, which published his comments, was fined the same 
    Also on March 7, parliamentarian Marzouk al-Ghanem and the 
newspaper Al-Nahar were each fined 3,000 dinars ($10,400) for an 
article deemed insulting to the ruling family.
    On June 30, National Democratic Alliance head and Member of the 
National Assembly Khaled al-Fadala was sentenced to three months in 
prison and fined 150 dinars (approximately $525) for slandering the 
prime minister. On July 12, an appeals court released al-Fadala after 
reducing his sentence from three months to ten days.
    On December 13 authorities shut the local offices of the Al-Jazeera 
TV network and withdrew its accreditation after it broadcast footage of 
police using force to break up an unauthorized gathering of 
oppositions, and subsequently gave airtime to opposition 
parliamentarians who strongly criticized the Government for the 
police's actions.
    Journalist Muhammad Abdulqader al-Jassem continued facing various 
charges of insulting public officials. A lower court sentenced al-
Jassem on April 1 to six months in jail and fined him 5,000 dinar 
(approximately $17,400) for making slanderous remarks about the prime 
minister in 2009, but an appeals court overturned the conviction on 
July 12. Police rearrested al-Jassem on May 11 on separate charges of 
undermining the emir's status, attacking the regime, and spreading 
false information damaging to the country's national interests. On June 
28, after posting a 2,000-dinar (approximately $7,000) bail, al-Jassem 
was released. The case was pending at year's end.
    On November 22, in a third case of allegedly defaming the prime 
minister in a blog post, which claimed that the premier engaged in 
embezzlement, money laundering, and association with Iranian 
intelligence agents, a court convicted and sentenced al-Jassem to one 
year in prison. On December 15, the sentence was reduced to three 
months following an appeal.
    Throughout the year the Government restricted media freedoms on 
national security grounds. On May 4, citing security concerns, an order 
prohibited the media from publishing any more reports about the alleged 
dismantling of an Iranian spy network.
    On September 20, the Government revoked the citizenship of exiled 
Shia cleric Yasser al-Habib on the grounds that he disparaged the wife 
and companions of the Prophet Muhammad. The Government briefly 
detained, but did not charge, Sunni Islamist Mubarak al-Bathali who, in 
response to al-Habib's statements, advocated violence against the Shia 
community and two Shia parliamentarians.
    On October 13, police arrested the owner of the Scope TV channel, 
Fajr al-Saeed, on charges that her channel's airing of the satirical 
comedy Sawtak Wasal (Your Voice Has Been Heard) fomented insurrection. 
On October 14, Al-Saeed's case was transferred to a criminal court 
where it was pending at year's end.
    On October 17, relatives of Faisal al-Homoud al-Malik al-Sabah, who 
believed he had been slandered by al-Saeed's brother, talk show host 
Muhammad Talal al-Saeed, attacked the Scope TV office.
    On December 12, police arrested Kuwait University law professor 
Obaid al-Wasmi, who had taken part in a December 8 diwaniya, an 
informal weekly social and political gathering that has generally been 
considered a space for free and open discourse on economic, political, 
and social issues, at parliamentarian Jam'an al-Hirbish's home that was 
deemed illegal and subsequently broken up by the police. Al-Wasmi was 
charged with spreading false news abroad, taking part in a public 
gathering with criminal intent, exhorting the security forces not to 
break up the diwaniya (i.e., to disobey a lawful instruction), and 
infringing on the emir's authority. His case was pending at year's end.
    All print media were privately owned, although their independence 
was limited. They exhibited a diversity of opinion, but censored 
themselves to avoid criminal charges or fines, or to keep their 
licenses. All forms of media may be banned by the Ministry of Commerce 
at the request of the Ministry of Information.
    By law newspaper publishers must obtain an operating license from 
the Ministry of Information. Publishers may lose their licenses if 
their publications do not appear for three months in the case of a 
daily newspaper, or six months in the case of a less frequent 
    There were no developments in the case former parliamentary 
candidate Muhammad al-Juwaihel, arrested in 2009 on charges of 
unlicensed broadcasting, making false claims, and compromising national 
security. The Government filed charges for public remarks broadcast by 
al-Juwaihel on his satellite outlet in which he reportedly insulted 
certain parliamentarians and made derogatory comments about Kuwaitis 
with dual citizenship and those of tribal and Bidoon origin. He was 
released on a 5,000-dinar (approximately $17,400) bail in December 
    Fuad al-Hashem of the daily newspaper Al-Watan continued to refuse 
to pay a 2008 fine of 7,190 dinars (approximately $25,000) for 
defamation as a result of convictions in three cases brought to court 
by the Qatari prime minister, who accused al-Hashem of harming his 
reputation in articles dealing with his relations with Israel.
    The Ministry of Information censored all books, commercial films, 
periodicals, videotapes, CDs, DVDs, and other imported material that it 
deemed morally offensive, although satellite dishes were widely 
available and allowed some citizens to receive unfiltered media. 
According to Ministry of Information censorship guidelines, material 
offensive to Islam or other religions, material which insults the emir 
and crown prince, and the display of immoral conduct are prohibited.
    The ministry also controlled the publication and distribution of 
all informational materials. In October, before the annual Kuwait 
international book fair, the ministry added 25 books to the thousands 
of titles already banned for being ``contrary to the fair and state 
policies.'' The newly forbidden titles included Egyptian Alaa al-
Aswani's bestselling novel ``The Yacoubian Building.''

    Internet Freedom.--According to International Telecommunications 
Union statistics for 2009, approximately 39 percent of the country's 
inhabitants used the Internet. The Government monitored Internet 
communications, such as blogs and discussion groups, for defamation and 
security reasons. The Ministry of Communications continued to block Web 
sites considered to ``incite terrorism and instability'' and required 
Internet service providers to block religious and pornographic Web 
sites that ``violate Kuwait's customs and traditions,'' in addition to 
political sites which the Government finds offensive. For example, the 
Web site of UK-based Shia cleric Yasser al-Habib was blocked. There 
were reports that the Government attempted to collect the personally 
identifiable information of a person in connection with that person's 
peaceful expression of political, religious, or ideological opinion or 
beliefs. Internet cafe owners were obligated to obtain the names and 
civil identification numbers of customers and to submit the information 
to the Ministry of Communication upon request.

    Academic Freedom and Cultural Events.--The law provides for freedom 
of opinion and of research; however, academic freedom was limited by 
self-censorship, and the law prohibits academics from criticizing the 
emir or Islam.
    The Ministry of Interior reserved the right to approve or reject 
annual public events and rejected those it considered politically or 
morally inappropriate.
    According to the Middle East Studies Association, on February 11 
the Government revoked an entry visa for Madawi al-Rasheed, a professor 
at King's College London, who was scheduled to give a public lecture in 
the country on ``Suspended Political Reform in the Arab World'' to the 
Institute for Women's Development and Training. Although authorities 
issued a visa on January 26, it was reportedly revoked due to al-
Rasheed's widely published theories that conservative Islam inhibits 
democratization. The Government gave no official reason for denying al-
Rasheed's entry.
    In December 2009 authorities denied entry to Egyptian Qur'anic 
scholar Nasr Hamid Abu Zayd on the grounds that his already approved 
visa was invalid. Abu Zayd was scheduled to give two lectures on 
``Religious Reform in the Constitutional State'' and on ``Women's 
Issues: Between the Qur'an and Accepted Jurisprudential Thought.''
    There were no updates in the Commercial Attorney's Office's 
investigation of a hotel owner and party organizers for sponsoring a 
mixed-gender dance in 2008.

    b. Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association.--Freedom of 
Assembly.--The law provides for freedom of assembly. Organizers of 
public gatherings of more than 20 persons must obtain prior approval 
from the Ministry of Interior.
    Many adult male citizens, including members of the Government and 
of the National Assembly, and increasing numbers of female citizens, 
hosted or attended diwaniyas. A few women held female-only diwaniyas, 
and a small number of diwaniyas were open to both sexes.
    Authorities curbed freedom of assembly in some political or 
security-related cases. On April 10, the Government deported 17 
Egyptian expatriates who participated in a meeting in support of 
Egyptian opposition presidential candidate Muhammad El Baradei on the 
grounds that the assembly was not approved by the Ministry of Interior.
    On September 13, the Government invoked the 1979 Public Gatherings 
Law (which had previously been only sporadically enforced) to ban 
gatherings of more than 20 persons in an effort to head off sectarian 
strife resulting from an exiled Shia cleric's disparaging the Prophet 
Muhammad's wife. On December 8, in accordance with the same law, the 
emir issued a formal decree banning outdoor public gatherings exceeding 
20 persons. Later that day Ministry of Interior forces enforced the 
decree, forcibly shutting down a seminar at Member of Parliament Jam'an 
al-Hirbish's diwaniya, which the Government contended was an illegal 
public gathering. On December 14, the police disbanded another similar 
public gathering without incident.

    Freedom of Association.--The law provides for freedom of 
association; however, the Government restricted this right in practice. 
The law prohibits officially licensed groups from engaging in political 
    The Government uses its power to license associations as a means of 
political control. There were 73 officially licensed nongovernmental 
organizations (NGOs) in the country, including a bar association, 
professional groups, and scientific bodies. The Ministry of Social 
Affairs and Labor (MOSAL) did not license any new NGOs during the year. 
There remained 149 NGOs pending licensing by the MOSAL; many have been 
waiting years for approval.
    The 45 NGOs licensed prior to 2004 continued to receive an annual 
government subsidy of 12,000 dinars (approximately $41,800) for their 
operating expenses, including travel to international conferences. NGOs 
licensed since 2004, when the MOSAL resumed issuing licenses following 
a period of refusing to do so, received no financial assistance. The 
only local independent NGOs dedicated specifically to human rights were 
the Kuwait Human Rights Society and the Kuwaiti Society for Fundamental 
Human Rights. The MOSAL rejected some license requests on the grounds 
that established NGOs already provided services similar to those the 
petitioners proposed. It can also reject an NGO's application if it 
deems that the NGO does not provide a public service. The minister has 
discretion to change a proposed NGO's name prior to licensing and 
sometimes did so on the grounds that the name was too close to that of 
an already existing NGO. Members of licensed NGOs must obtain 
permission from the MOSAL to attend international conferences as 
official representatives of their organization. The degree of 
government supervision and financing called into question the NGOs' 
independence and nongovernmental status.
    There were dozens of unlicensed civic groups, clubs, and unofficial 
NGOs in the country. These unofficial associations did not receive 
government subsidies and had no legal status.

    c. Freedom of Religion.--For a complete description of religious 
freedom, see the 2010 International Religious Freedom Report at 

    d. Freedom of Movement, Internally Displaced Persons, Protection of 
Refugees, and Stateless Persons.--The constitution generally provides 
for freedom of movement within the country; however, numerous laws 
constrain foreign travel, and the Government placed some limits on 
freedom of movement in practice. Although the Government contributed 
288,000 dinars (approximately $1 million) to the Office of the UN High 
Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) during the year, it was uncooperative 
with most UNHCR and other humanitarian organizations' efforts to 
provide implementation of protection and assistance to refugees, 
returning refugees, asylum seekers, stateless persons, and other 
persons of concern.
    Women and Bidoon faced problems with or restrictions on foreign 
travel. In October 2009 the Constitutional Court issued and began 
enforcing a final ruling confirming a woman's right to obtain a 
passport without her husband's approval. However, a husband may still 
request that immigration authorities prevent his wife's departure from 
the country for up to 24 hours, after which a court order may extend 
the travel ban. The Government restricted the ability of the Bidoon 
population to travel abroad. It permitted some Bidoon to travel to 
Saudi Arabia for the annual hajj and continued to issue ``Article 17'' 
passports (temporary travel documents that do not confer nationality) 
for Bidoon.
    The law also permits travel bans on citizens or foreigners accused 
or suspected of violating the law, and it allows other citizens to 
petition authorities to do so. In practice, this resulted in arbitrary 
delays and difficulties for citizens or foreigners in leaving the 
    The law prohibits the deportation or forced exile of citizens, 
although the Government can revoke citizenship of naturalized citizens 
for various causes, including felony conviction, and subsequently 
deport individuals. The Government cannot revoke the citizenship of an 
individual who is born a citizen, unless that individual has obtained a 
second nationality, which is against the country's law.
    During the year several hundred Bidoon emigrated.

    Protection of Refugees.--The country is not a party to the 1951 
Convention relating to the Status of Refugees or the 1967 Protocol 
relating to the Status of Refugees. The laws do not provide for 
granting asylum or refugee status. There is no system for providing 
protection to refugees, and the Government did not grant refugee status 
or asylum during the year. The country's immigration regulations 
prohibit local settlement for asylum seekers. In practice, however, the 
Government provided protection against the expulsion or return of 
refugees to countries where their lives or freedom would be threatened 
on account of their race, religion, nationality, membership in a 
particular social group, or political opinion. The constitution 
prohibits the extradition of political refugees; the Government often 
kept such persons in detention until they agreed to return to their 
home country or made alternative travel arrangements, and it rarely 
granted them permission to live and work in the country.

    Stateless Persons.--According to the law, citizenship is derived 
entirely from the father; children born to citizen mothers and 
nonnational fathers do not inherit citizenship unless the mother is 
divorced or widowed from the nonnational father. The law further fails 
to provide nonnationals, including Bidoon and non-Muslims, a clear or 
defined opportunity to gain nationality. In July, the Ministry of 
Interior issued a regulation that allows female citizens to sponsor 
their nonnational children (regardless of their age) and husbands for 
residency permits.
    Although the exact number of Bidoon residents was unknown, the 
Ministry of Planning estimated there were more than 100,000 Bidoon in 
the country at the end of 2006, the last year the Government collected 
those statistics. The Government continued to discriminate against 
Bidoon in areas such as education, employment, medical care, and 
freedom of movement. Bidoon children may not attend public schools. The 
Government accepted Bidoon in some government positions. Although some 
Bidoon worked in the armed forces or police and there are no legal 
strictures that prevent their service, the Bidoon have effectively been 
barred from enlisting in either force since 1985. Bidoon often faced 
difficulty in qualifying for the subsidized health care that citizens 
received, and the Government also made it difficult for Bidoon to 
obtain official documents necessary for employment or travel, such as 
birth certificates, civil identification cards, driver licenses, and 
marriage certificates.
    On March 19, the National Assembly's Health and Labor Committee 
issued a two-month ultimatum for the Ministry of Health to issue birth 
certificates to Bidoon newborns. On May 18, the Council of Ministers 
passed a resolution to issue birth certificates to all children of 
citizens married to Bidoon women. This resolution was based on 
precedents set in 2009. In March 2009 the Court of First Instance 
issued a marriage certificate to a Bidoon woman married to a citizen. 
In April 2009 and again in May 2009, the same court affirmed a Bidoon 
man's right to receive a marriage certificate and birth certificates 
for his children. Neither the justice nor health ministry complied with 
these 2009 court orders or the resolution of the Council of Ministers 
during the year.
    During the year as in 2009, the Government did not grant 
citizenship to any Bidoon. More than 80,000 Bidoon citizenship requests 
were pending at year's end. Many Bidoon were unable to provide 
documentation proving sufficient ties to the country or to present 
evidence of their original nationality. However, the Government 
maintained that the vast majority of Bidoon were concealing their true 
identities and were not actually stateless.

Section 3. Respect for Political Rights: The Right of Citizens to 
        Change Their Government
    Citizens had only a limited, indirect impact on control of the 
executive branch, as the constitution stipulates that the country is a 
hereditary emirate. The 50 elected National Assembly members (along 
with government-appointed ministers) must by majority vote approve the 
emir's choice of crown prince (the future emir). The crown prince must 
meet three requirements: that he has attained the age of majority, is 
of sound mind, and is a legitimate son of Muslim parents. The National 
Assembly may remove the emir from power with a two-thirds majority vote 
if it finds that any of these three conditions is no longer accurate. 
The law provides citizens with the right to change their 
representatives in the legislative branch of government, and citizens 
exercised this right in practice through elections.

    Elections and Political Participation.--In May 2009, two months 
after the emir dissolved the National Assembly, a parliamentary 
election was held that was generally considered free and fair. It was 
the third election in three years, due to the emir's constitutional 
dissolutions of parliament in May 2006, March 2008, and March 2009.
    The Government did not recognize any political parties or allow 
their formation, although no formal law bans political parties. Several 
tribal affiliations and well-organized unofficial blocs operated as 
political groupings and held illegal primary elections to maximize 
their impact in National Assembly. Tribal leaders excluded women from 
the tribal primaries. Assembly candidates must nominate themselves as 
individuals and may run for election in any of the country's electoral 
districts. Tribes dominated two of the five constituencies and exerted 
influence on the other three.

Section 4. Official Corruption and Government Transparency
    The law mandates criminal penalties for official corruption; 
however, the Government did not implement the law effectively, and on 
occasion officials were believed to have engaged in corrupt practices 
with impunity. The Audit Bureau is the Government agency responsible 
for combating government corruption, and though it and a government-
formed committee reported various allegations of corruption and 
irregularities, there were no public high-profile corruption cases 
before the courts during the year. Parliament also frequently announced 
inquiries into suspected misuses of public funds, but none of these 
resulted in prosecution during the year. The World Bank's Worldwide 
Governance Indicators for 2009 reflected a decline from 2008 in public 
authorities' perceived control of corruption, which remained a problem.
    There were also reports of citizens' complaints about having to pay 
intermediaries to receive routine government services. Additionally, 
there were some reports of police corruption, especially when one party 
to a dispute had a personal relationship with a police official 
involved in a case. In addition, there were widespread reports that 
police showed favoritism towards citizens.
    The Ministry of Interior and the Ministry of Social Affairs and 
Labor revealed dozens of cases during the year of ministry employees 
forging documents to enable the importation of foreign workers. 
Violations were referred to investigative bodies within the ministries 
and then sent to the attorney general's office for action. Courts 
rarely took rigorous action against the violators.
    Public officials were not subject to financial disclosure laws.
    The law provides for public access to unclassified government 
information by citizens and noncitizens alike. The Government enforced 
the law.

Section 5. Governmental Attitude Regarding International and 
        Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations of Human 
    The Government restricted the operations of domestic and 
international human rights groups and limits cooperation with them. The 
law permits the existence of NGOs; however, the Government continued to 
deny licenses to some NGOs. NGOs may not engage in political activity 
and are prohibited from encouraging sectarianism. They must also 
demonstrate that their existence is in the public interest. The only 
local independent NGOs dedicated specifically to human rights were the 
Kuwait Human Rights Society (KHRS) and the Kuwaiti Society for 
Fundamental Human Rights. Local licensed NGOs devoted to specific 
groups, such as women, children, foreign workers, prisoners, and 
persons with disabilities, were permitted to operate without government 
interference. A few dozen local unlicensed human rights groups operated 
without government restriction during the year. The Government and 
various National Assembly committees met regularly with local NGOs, and 
responded to their inquiries.
    The Government permitted international human rights organizations 
to visit the country. In January, Human Rights Watch officials visited 
and conducted interviews, including with government officials, 
principally concerning the protection of foreign domestic workers.
    The Government cooperated with international governmental 
organizations and permitted visits of their representatives. On her 
visit on April 20-21, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay 
emphasized the desirability of eliminating the labor sponsorship system 
requiring migrant works to secure local sponsors.
    The National Assembly's Human Rights Committee, which operates 
independently of the Government, is an advisory body that primarily 
hears individual complaints of human rights abuses. Committee members 
also visited the Central Prison during the year (see section 1.c.). The 
committee had access to adequate resources and was considered 
effective; it did not issue reports.

Section 6. Discrimination, Societal Abuses, and Trafficking in Persons
    The law prohibits discrimination based on race, origin, disability, 
or language; discrimination based on social status is not addressed. In 
practice the Government did not uniformly or consistently enforce laws 
against discrimination, and a number of laws and regulations 
discriminated against women, Bidoon, noncitizens, and domestic and 
expatriate workers.

    Women.--Violence against women continued to be a problem. Rape 
carries a maximum penalty of death, which the country occasionally 
imposed for the crime; however, spousal rape is not a crime. The media 
reported hundreds of rape cases during the year. Many of the victims 
were noncitizen domestic workers. Police occasionally arrested alleged 
rapists, and several were tried and convicted during the year; however, 
laws against rape were not always enforced effectively to protect 
noncitizen women.
    According to foreign diplomatic sources, victims reported that the 
majority of police stations and hospitals handled their cases in a 
professional way.
    The law does not specifically prohibit domestic violence; cases are 
tried instead as assault, and a victim of domestic violence may file a 
complaint with police requesting formal charges be brought against the 
alleged abuser. On March 21, the MOSAL released the results of an 
interministerial study of domestic violence, drawn from a sample of 
1,569 families. The study defined the phenomenon as physical, material, 
psychological, and sexual violence and found the causes to be divorce, 
continued disputes between the couples, deviation, infidelity, and 
psychological problems. One-third of the families reported that they 
had experienced domestic violence; 17 percent of women reported that 
they had experienced it, compared to 42 percent of men.
    Each of the country's 83 police stations reportedly received 
complaints of domestic abuse. However, poor incentive to report abuse 
resulted from the strong social stigma associated with publicly 
acknowledging such problems. Even with documented evidence of the 
abuse--such as eyewitness accounts, hospital reports, and social worker 
testimony--police officials rarely arrested perpetrators of domestic 
violence. Noncitizen women married to citizens reported domestic abuse 
and inaction or discrimination by police during the year. A woman may 
petition for divorce based on injury from abuse, but the law does not 
provide a clear legal standard as to what constitutes injury. In 
addition, a woman must provide at least two male witnesses (or a male 
witness and two female witnesses) to attest to the injury.
    Although courts found husbands guilty of spousal abuse in previous 
years, most domestic abuse cases were not reported, especially outside 
the capital, and individuals reportedly bribed police officials to 
ignore domestic abuse charges. Abusive husbands, if convicted, rarely 
faced severe penalties. There were no shelters or hotlines specifically 
for victims of domestic violence, although a temporary shelter for 
domestic workers housed victims during the year.
    Honor crimes, according to the penal code, are penalized as 
misdemeanors. The law states that a man who sees his wife, daughter, 
mother, or sister in the ``act of adultery'' and immediately kills her 
and/or the man with whom she is committing adultery faces a maximum 
punishment of three years' imprisonment and a 225 dinars (approximately 
$800) fine, slightly less than a month's earnings at the public sector 
minimum wage. There were no reported honor crimes in recent years.
    There is no specific law that addresses sexual harassment; however, 
the law criminalizes ``encroachment on honor,'' which encompasses 
everything from touching a woman against her will to rape, and police 
strictly enforced this law. During the year, the Government deployed 
female police officers specifically to combat sexual harassment in 
shopping malls and other public spaces. Perpetrators face fines and 
jail time. Human rights groups characterized sexual harassment against 
women in the workplace as a pervasive, yet unreported, problem.
    There were no reports of interference in the right to decide freely 
and responsibly the number, spacing, and timing of children, matters 
subject to agreement between husband and wife. Decisions regarding 
access to contraceptives, family size, and procedures involving 
reproductive and fertility treatments required the consent of both 
husband and wife. The information and means to make those decisions, as 
well as skilled attendance during childbirth were freely available. 
There was no formal family planning program; oral contraceptives were 
available over the counter. Women had ready access to essential 
obstetric and postpartum care. According to estimates developed by the 
World Health Organization, the UN Children's Fund, the United Nations 
Population Fund, and the World Bank, there were approximately nine 
maternal deaths per 100,000 live births in the country in 2008. 
Information was not available regarding diagnosis and treatment of 
sexually transmitted infections.
    Women have some political rights; however, they do not enjoy the 
same rights as men under family law, property law, or in the judicial 
system, and they continued to face discrimination in many social and 
legal areas. Nevertheless, some women attained prominent positions in 
government and business. A parliamentary committee for women's and 
family affairs exists, and female parliamentarians made up four of its 
five members.
    Women continued to experience legal, economic, and social 
discrimination. Sharia (Islamic law) discriminates against women in 
judicial proceedings, freedom of movement, and marriage. Inheritance is 
also governed by Sharia, which varies according to the school of 
Islamic jurisprudence that different populations in the country follow. 
In the absence of a direct male heir, a Shia woman may inherit all 
property, while a Sunni woman inherits only a portion, with the balance 
divided among brothers, uncles, and male cousins of the deceased.
    When the children of a divorced woman reach age 18, she loses her 
right to live in housing purchased through the Government loan program, 
regardless of any payments she may have made on the loan, and a female 
citizen married to a noncitizen cannot, by law, qualify for the loan 
program. On July 18, the Ministry of Interior issued a regulation that 
allows female citizens to sponsor their nonnational children 
(regardless of their age) and husbands for residency permits. Female 
citizens married to noncitizens were previously required to pay annual 
residence fees of 217 dinars (approximately $750) for their husbands 
and children and had previously been unable to obtain any residency for 
their husband if he was unemployed. Citizen women cannot pass 
citizenship to their noncitizen husbands or their children. Male 
citizens married to female noncitizens did not face such discrimination 
in law or practice. Sharia courts have jurisdiction over personal 
status and family law cases for Sunni and Shia Muslims. Secular courts 
allow anyone to testify and consider male and female testimony equally; 
however, in the Sharia courts the testimony of a man is equal to that 
of two women.
    The law provides for a woman to receive ``remuneration equal to 
that of a man provided she does the same work''; however, it prohibits 
women from working in ``dangerous industries'' and in trades 
``harmful'' to health. In 2008 the Constitutional Court ruled that a 
housing benefits package which gave single women nothing while 
providing allowances for married men and women and unmarried men was 
unconstitutional. Educated women maintained that the conservative 
nature of society limited career opportunities, although there were 
limited improvements. Women accounted for 53 percent of the 270,000 
citizens working in the public sector, 44 percent of the 60,000 working 
in the private sector, and 72 percent of college graduates.
    The law requires that classes at all universities be segregated by 
gender. Public universities enforced this law more rigorously than 
private universities.
    Family matters are adjudicated in accordance with Sharia. The law 
prohibits marriage between Muslim women and non-Muslim men. A non-
Muslim woman is not required by law to convert to Islam to marry a 
Muslim male; however, in practice many non-Muslim women faced strong 
economic and societal pressure to convert. Failure to convert would 
grant custody of children to the father in the event of a divorce. By 
law, a non-Muslim woman who fails to convert is also ineligible for 
naturalization as a citizen and cannot inherit her husband's property 
without being specified as a beneficiary in his will.
    There were no female judges. On April 14, the Constitutional Court 
rejected a lawsuit by a female lawyer who claimed that her application 
for appointment in the public prosecution was unconstitutionally 
rejected because of her gender.
    In July female police officers began working in public, including 
on patrols at malls and providing airport and VIP security. Female 
police officers, the first of whom graduated from the police academy in 
2009, were previously restricted to deskwork and training new cadets.

    Children.--The Government was generally committed to the rights and 
welfare of citizen children, although noncitizen children received less 
support and attention. The Government automatically granted citizenship 
to orphaned or abandoned infants, including Bidoon infants.
    By law education for citizen children is free through the 
university level and compulsory through the secondary level. Education 
is neither free nor compulsory for Bidoon and expatriate children. Some 
Bidoon children attended private schools, and some did not attend 
school at all. The Government-administered Charity Fund to Educate 
Needy Children paid school fees for all Bidoon children (approximately 
2,000) who applied for assistance during the 2009-2010 school year.
    There was no societal pattern of child abuse.
    The legal marriage age is 17 for men and 15 for women, but younger 
girls continued to marry earlier in some tribal groups. The Ministry of 
Justice estimated that underage marriages constituted 2 to 3 percent of 
total marriages.
    All pornography is ill