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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
Email: chr@nas.edu 

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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CASEWORK

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.

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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 (click here for information about our country visits)

Our work frequently involves close contact with family members and lawyers of colleagues whose rights have been abused.

Since 1976, over 900 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.

2017 Current and Resolved Cases

 *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 recently resolved cases, see below.

Imprisoned Sudanese engineer Dr. Mudawi Ibrahim Adam released following presidential pardon
August 31, 2017

Dr. Mudawi croptDr. Mudawi Ibrahim Adam is an engineer, a prominent human rights advocate, and founder of the Sudan Social Development Organization (SUDO), a nongovernmental organization that promotes human rights and development initiatives relating to water, sanitation, and health in Sudan. He has been recognized internationally for his human rights promotion and humanitarian efforts, but repeatedly jailed for this work in Sudan. After nearly nine months in detention on spurious national security-related charges, he was among several prisoners granted a pardon by Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir on August 29, 2017.

The Sudanese National Intelligence and Security Services took Dr. Mudawi into custody on December 7, 2016, at the University of Khartoum, where he works as a professor of engineering. His arrest, along with that of dozens of opposition figures and activists, followed calls by opposition groups for a general strike in response to rising costs of living and government spending cuts. Dr. Mudawi was held incommunicado for over a month before he was allowed to meet with members of his family. In protest against his prolonged detention, Dr. Mudawi underwent two hunger strikes. Reportedly, his hands and feet were shackled, and he was placed in a “punishment cell” with poor ventilation and very hot temperatures, which exacerbated his existing health issues, in an attempt to force him to end his hunger strike. Dr. Mudawi was detained for over five months before multiple national security-related charges were brought against him, some of which could have resulted in the death penalty. No credible evidence was presented to support the charges.

The CHR and the International Human Rights Network of Academies and Scholarly Societies have actively worked on Dr. Mudawi’s case since shortly after his detention and advocated for his release with high-level Sudanese officials, international bodies, and other government actors. We are pleased that he has been released and reunited with his family.

Graduate student in engineering granted presidential pardon in Sudan
June 7, 2017

SudanOn May 11, 2017, Sudanese engineering graduate student Abdulmonem Abdumawla was granted a pardon by Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir and released after more than 500 days in prison.

Mr. Abdumawla is a human rights defender, who has publicly criticized rights violations in his country, including abuses involving Sudan’s minority Christian community.  He was arrested in December 2015 by Sudanese authorities and detained incommunicado and without charge prior to his transfer to Al Huda Prison in Omdurman in August 2016.  He was later charged with various national security-related offenses, for which no evidence was presented.  After a trial marred by procedural irregularities, Mr. Abdumawla was convicted and sentenced in January 2017 to 12 years in prison.  

To see an archive of our resolved cases, click here.

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 here to access our private website, or click on the Member login button on the left hand side of this page.