The CHR takes action in cases involving serious violations of international human rights contained in international agreements that are binding on the governments concerned and/or in customary international law. Individuals assisted by the CHR include, notably, those who have been arbitrarily detained (sometimes for many years), denied justice through grossly unfair trials, stripped of citizenship without due process, subjected to torture, and made to disappear. The CHR’s focus is on individuals subjected to serious human rights abuses either as a result of their professional activities or for having exercised their right to freedom of expression. The CHR only undertakes cases where, to the best of its knowledge, colleagues have not used or advocated violence.
Each case is carefully investigated, using a variety of independent sources (including respected human rights organizations, scientific academies, and academic networks) before being taken up by the CHR.
The CHR’s human rights advocacy, which is largely non-public, includes:
- Outreach to U.S., foreign, and international officials
- Mobilization of National Academy members through a case alert system
- Use of international and regional human rights complaint mechanisms, with pro bono assistance from law students
- Country visits and publication of our findings (read more about our country visits)
Our work frequently involves close contact with family members and lawyers of colleagues whose rights have been abused.
Since 1976, nearly 1000 of the Committee’s cases have been resolved. Resolved cases are those on which the Committee is no longer working as the result of significant positive developments (e.g. release, acquittal)*. The CHR is also currently working on more than 70 cases. The map below provides a breakdown of current and resolved cases by region and by profession. These figures are updated twice yearly.
*In some cases, resolved cases have been reopened as a result of new human rights abuses. Where this has occurred, the cases involved have been removed from the resolved case list and placed on the current case list.
For information on positive case developments, see below.
Jailed Malaysian Opposition Leader Receives a Royal Pardon
Cuban Biologist Released from Prison on Parole for Medical Reasons
See our archive of positive case developments...
The Committee’s ongoing casework is private, and detailed information about its current cases is only accessible to CHR Correspondents (members of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine who have elected to be kept informed about the Committee’s work and opportunities to participate) via our private website. Members can log in to access our private website, or click on the Member login button on the left hand side of this page.