The Middle East and North Africa region is large and diverse, and it is difficult to make regional generalisations about the impact of the Arab Spring on human rights. Long-standing authoritarian rulers have been overthrown in Tunisia and Egypt, and in Libya, a new interim government controls much of the country. In other countries, changes have been less radical but authorities in most cases have announced some degree of political reform in response to demonstrators’ demands. However, it is too early to tell whether reforms will have any tangible impact in practice.
This report looks at the human rights situation in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region on a country-by country basis. The following conclusions can be drawn from the country case studies:
- Authorities have responded to pro-democracy demands, and reforms with a human rights element have been announced in the majority of cases.
- Demonstrations were almost without exception met by excessive force from security forces resulting in deaths and injuries.
- Some practices that run contrary to internationally accepted human rights norms continue.
- Security forces notorious for committing human rights abuses under former regimes in Egypt and Tunisia have been disbanded. However, remaining security forces across the region continue to use heavy-handed tactics against protestors.
- In many cases, security forces have not yet been held to account for human rights abuses committed in response to protests.
- A state of emergency was announced in a number of countries during the early part of 2011, including in Algeria, Syria and Bahrain. Some of the practices conducted during this period by authorities and security forces were contrary to internationally accepted human rights norms.
- On the whole, freedom of speech and freedom of association are still restricted across the region.
Efforts have been made to identify groups that are particularly vulnerable to human rights abuses for each country covered but the situation for these groups, such as women, migrant workers and refugees, remains highly problematic.</>