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Committee on Human Rights
The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine
500 Fifth Street, NW
Washington, DC 20001
Phone: (202) 334-3043
Fax: (202) 334-2225

The Committee on Human Rights serves as the Secretariat for the International Human Rights Network of Academies and Scholarly Societies (H.R. Network).

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Timeline of the Committee on Human Rights

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In the spotlight   

June 20, 2017

Today we mark World Refugee Day, and the figures are staggering. The number of forcibly displaced persons now exceeds 65 million, including 22.5 million refugees. June 20th is a day to reflect on the loss experienced by these individuals, but also an opportunity to honor their resilience and strength. Many are innovators, actively addressing the challenges that they and others encounter on a daily basis. Refugees are creating sustainable energy sources in camps, developing communications systems, using 3D printers to create prosthetics, and—in many other ways—working to improve the lives of people who have been uprooted from their homes and communities.

On December 7-8, 2017, the Committee on Human Rights (CHR) of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine will convene a symposium on the role that scientists, engineers, and health professionals can play in supporting these and other efforts to respond to displacement-related challenges and protect the rights of forcibly displaced persons worldwide.

World Refugee Day  


The International H.R. Network holds its twelfth biennial meeting in Panama City, Panama

H.R. Network Panama Participants
Participants of the 2016 H.R. Network meeting in Panama City, Panama. 

The twelfth biennial meeting of the International Human Rights Network of Academies and Scholarly Societies (H.R. Network), for which CHR serves as Secretariat, was held under the auspices of the National Secretariat for Science, Technology and Innovation of Panama (SENACYT) and the Panamanian Association for the Advancement of Science (APANAC) from October 5-8, 2016 in Panama City, Panama.  The H.R. Network, created in 1993, works to address global concerns related to science and human rights and to promote the free exchange of ideas and opinions among scientists and scholars in all countries.

Representatives of 25 national scientific academies and scholarly societies from around the world were in attendance. The meeting included a one day symposium, Science and Human Rights: Navigating the Currents, with speakers from several Network member academies and academic institutions in Latin America and the Middle East. During the meeting, higher education students in science, engineering, health, law, journalism and other fields engaged with speakers at a special student session on the intersection between science and human rights.

To view the programs for the symposium and student session, as well as photos of meeting participants, please click here.  

Turkish Surgeon Mehmet Haberal Elected President of the Transplantation Society

Haberal for web
Mehmet Haberal (right) with his academic colleague Kemal Guruz (left) and former NAS President Bruce Alberts (center)

The CHR is delighted to learn that Turkish transplantation surgeon Mehmet Haberal has been elected head of the international Transplantation Society. He will serve as president-elect from 2016 to 2018 and will be president of the Society from 2018 to 2020. Dr. Haberal, whose case was undertaken by the CHR following his unjust arrest in 2009, is an internationally respected transplantation surgeon. He was the first person in the world to perform both an adult segmental liver transplantation and a living kidney/liver transplantation from a living-related donor. Dr. Haberal also played an instrumental role in the establishment of a number of important medical institutions in Turkey, including the Turkish Organ Transplantation and Burn Foundation, which facilitated organ-sharing and procurement throughout the Middle East, a network of 14 hemodialysis centers throughout Turkey, and a hospital for the care of burns and transplantation. Subsequently, he oversaw the construction of six full-service hospitals throughout Turkey. In addition to his medical work, Dr. Haberal founded Ba┼čkent University near Ankara in 1993, the first private university to teach the health sciences in Turkey, and is the university’s rector.

A member of the National Academy of Medicine brought Dr. Haberal’s case to the attention of the CHR following his arrest in April 2009. He was one of 275 defendants brought to trial in mass proceedings that lasted four years, in what became known as the “Ergenekon Case.” Prosecutors alleged that the defendants had been involved in attempting to provoke the overthrow of the Turkish government by military coup. In February 2013, the CHR and the Human Rights Committee of the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina undertook a fact-finding mission to Turkey on behalf of eight scientific colleagues facing serious charges as part of four mass trials. During the mission, the delegates visited Dr. Haberal in Silivri high security prison to express their support for him and to learn more about his case. Following the mission, the delegates published a report in which they called for Dr. Haberal’s immediate and unconditional release from prison on the grounds that no convincing evidence was presented to support the charges brought against him. The CHR, its Correspondents, and members of participating academies in the International Human Rights Network of Academies and Scholarly Societies sent many letters to Turkish authorities appealing for Dr. Haberal’s release. (In August 2013, following his conviction, Dr. Haberal was released pending appeal. In early 2016 the convictions in the Ergenekon coup plot were overturned by Turkey’s highest appeals court.) 

Executive Committee of H.R. Network Issues Statement in Support of Turkish Academics
September 9, 2016

On Sept 1st, the Turkish government issued a decree dismissing more than 2,000 academic personnel from their positions and permanently banning them from public service, together with over 40,000 public service employees. More than 40 of the academics have been subjected to harassment since January, when they signed a public petition expressing concerns about the humanitarian crisis in southeastern Turkey.

The Executive Committee of the International Human Rights Network of Academies and Scholarly Societies (H.R. Network) has been closely following events in Turkey and is deeply concerned about the continued repressive measures against academics (the Committee on Human Rights serves as Secretariat for the H.R. Network). On September 9, the Executive Committee issued a public statement calling for the government of Turkey to ensure that all scholars who have been removed from their positions solely as a result of having peacefully exercised internationally protected rights are reinstated without delay and that no punitive measures are taken without procedural protections for the individuals concerned. See full statement here.

Exploring the Tensions Between National Security and Academic Freedom

During the 153rd annual meeting of the National Academy of Sciences, Lisa Anderson, political scientist and former president of the American University in Cairo, spoke at a session convened by the Committee on Human Rights on academic freedom, human rights, and national security. Dr. Anderson's talk, published in Science Diplomacy, addressed global challenges to academic freedom and offered ways in which scientists can respond to such challenges. To see the full version of the article, click here.

Global Scientific Community Expresses Alarm Concerning Repressive Measures Taken Against Turkish Academics

The global scientific community has expressed concern over the repressive measures being taken against Turkish academics following the attempted military coup on July 15. Martin Chalfie, Chair of the Committee on Human Rights of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine commented on the situation, noting that “(p)rotecting national security should not be incompatible with safeguarding fundamental rule of law and human rights principles.” Read more


Executive Committee of the International Human Rights Network of Academies and Scholarly Societies (H.R. Network) Issues Statement Concerning Repressive Measures against Turkish Academics
July 25, 2016

Members of the H.R. Network’s Executive Committee have closely followed events in Turkey following the attempted military coup on July 15 and are deeply concerned about the increasingly repressive measures being taken against Turkish academics. In the days since the attempted coup, the travel of academics has been restricted, Turkish academics abroad have been instructed to return to Turkey, more than 1,500 deans at universities throughout the country have been asked to tender their resignations, and hundreds of academics have been suspended from their posts.

Members of the Network’s Executive Committee have called for the government of Turkey to ensure that all measures taken in the interest of security are consistent with Turkey’s obligations under international human rights law. See full statement.


CHR at a Glance

The Committee on Human Rights (CHR) has produced a new infographic that provides a snapshot of our current and resolved cases concerning scientists, health professionals, and engineers around the world subjected to severe human rights abuses - whether as a result of their professional work or for having peacefully exercised their right to freedom of expression. The infographic also demonstrates the active support we enjoy from members of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine and highlights our engagement with UNESCO's human rights complaint body. 

* Data is taken from July 2016           

CHR Infographic side 1 CHR Infographic side 2 
You must scroll through the infographic to see both. 



  Resolved Cases See all...  
 SudanGraduate student in engineering granted presidential pardon in Sudan
 Ali al-EkriBahraini Pediatrician Ali Esa Mansoor Al-‘Ekri Released from Prison
 al-SamahijiBahraini Ophthalmologist Released after Serving One-Year Sentence
 Homa HoodfarIranian-Canadian Anthropologist Released from Prison
 Kokabee SmallIranian Physicist Omid Kokabee Granted Parole

 Kamran Mortezaie 2

Bahá'í Electrical Engineer Released from Prison in Iran
 Faran 3Baha’i Psychologist Released after Serving Four-Year Sentence
 Khaing Tiny Medical Doctor Released from Prison in Myanmar
 Tunisia 2Appeals Court Dismisses Tunisian Mathematician’s Case and Orders His Release
 vitishko small imageRussian Geologist Yevgeny Vitishko Conditionally Released from Prison
 Kamran Rahimian Iranian Baha’i Psychologist Released from Prison

 Mahmoud Badavam

Two Iranian Baha’i Colleagues Released from Prison

No Photo Available

Bahraini Health Professional Released after Serving Three-Year Sentence 

Xue FengChinese-Born U.S. Geologist Xue Feng Released 10 Months Early

Tun Aung photo: Radio Free Asia

Myanmarese Medical Doctor Tun Aung Conditionally Released
Matooq 2Bahraini Nurse Released from Prison
Tarek LoubaniCanadian Professors Cleared of Any Wrongdoing after 50 Days in Egyptian Prison
 Faruk YarmanTurkish Engineer Faruk Yarman Acquitted on Appeal and Released from Prison
 Cyril Karabus
 Bahrain Salmaniya Hospital
 Valentin DanilovRussian Physicist Valentin Danilov Released on Parole
 Bahraini Medics CroppedSentences of Nine Health Professionas Overturned in Bahrain
 Mansogo Alo2
©2010 EG Justice
Equatorial Guinean Medical Doctor Wenceslao Mansogo Alo Granted Presidential Pardon