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Biden\’s Summit for Democracy and Human Rights around the World

Prachi Mishra / New Delhi

The United States of America under the leadership of President Biden launched the first Summit for Democracy, held virtually on 9th and 10th of December 2021. This Summit lays the foundation for deliberation and discussion on the preservation of democracy and human rights in the coming decade.

Source – REUTERS/Leah Millis

A week before the Summit, the Communist Party of China (CPC) and the People’s Republic of China (PRC) released a paper on total democracy under one party rule as a strong assertion to the Summit. In a white paper released by the CPC, titled, “China: Democracy That Works”, China stated that it is the ‘largest democracy’ in the world. This is the first time that both the PRC and the CPC have claimed that China’s governance structures and policies run on democratic principles.

U.S. President Joe Biden’s Summit and CPC’s white paper provide a fitting context to this analysis on human rights in various forms of governance systems around the world.  

In the last few years, there have been unprecedented challenges that have plagued most democracies. Be it the widening digital divide or the issue of gender-based crime, the nature of socio-economic challenges seemed to have weakened the democratic systems around the world. Similarly, over the course of the last decade, human rights violations around the world have also increased manifold. Non-democratic regimes, like China and Qatar, witness growing number of such cases but owing to their system of governance and media reportage, human rights violations in these countries are underreported or not reported at all. In this context, there is a pressing need to strengthen democratic systems and ensure that violation of people’s basic rights is addressed. In this brief, we draw a comparative analysis of human rights violations in different forms of governance systems. We present –

  • Communist regimes, with a focus on China
  • Theocratic regimes, with a focus on Pakistan
  • Absolute monarchies, with a focus on Qatar
  • Democracies, with a focus on India; and
  • Totalitarian regimes, with a focus on North Korea

The analysis is based on several indicators, viz., the nature of rights that are most often violated in a regime. These include women’s rights, rights to freedom of religion, children’s rights, freedom of expression and privacy, minority rights inter alia. Be it the suppression of Uyghur Muslims in China or the unlawful persecution of religious minorities in Pakistan’s Gilgit-Baltistan or the inequality faced by women in Qatar, human rights are violated in each of these regimes but are sparsely covered in the media. In totalitarian regimes, like North Korea, violations are seldom reported, and data is unavailable for most of these indicators. In a functioning democracy, reasonably India, where the four pillars of democracy work independent of each other, human rights violations are duly reported, and the judiciary has been playing a crucial role in providing justice to the aggrieved. The independence of media has led to greater reportage of violations which is often misconceived as failure of democratic systems. This calls for a balanced view of all governance systems and how reporting of violations are suppressed in many of them.

Based on the interventions provided during the Summit, this brief lays down a few recommendations on upholding the human rights in democratic systems.

Violations based on the nature of governance system


Qatar\’s political system is a de facto absolute monarchy, with the Emir of Qatar serving as the country\’s head of state and administration. Qatari legislation is primarily based on Sharia law. According to the 2003 Qatari constitutional referendum, it was decided that the state of Qatar will be a constitutional monarchy with an elected legislature, yet elections were repeatedly postponed since 2013. Finally, in November 2020, Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani announced that the elections will take place in October 2021. Following an announcement by the Emir of Qatar on August 22, 2021, general elections were held for the first time on October 2, 2021. Men and women over the age of 18 years were eligible to vote for thirty (30) of the fourty-five (45) seats in the Consultative Assembly, with the remaining fifteen (15) selected by the Emir. The thirty 30 seats were contested by two hundred eighty-four (284) individuals, including 29 women aspiring leaders. All candidates ran as independents as political parties are prohibited by constitution. No female candidates were elected and according to various non-governmental organisations, thousands of Qataris were denied the right to vote. Thereby, casting shadows on the Qatari constitutional monarchy claims.

Freedom of Expression

Qatar\’s hereditary emir is in charge of all executive and legislative powers, as well as the judiciary. There are no political parties allowed, and while Qatari citizens are among the world\’s wealthiest, the vast bulk of the population is made up of non-citizens who lack political rights, civil liberties, curtailed freedom of expression, freedom of religion and economic opportunities. In Qatar both print and broadcast media are influenced by powerful families and censored by the government.

The international television network Al-Jazeera is showcased and branded to be exhibited as privately owned, however, the government is said to have compensated for its operating costs since 1996. In Qatar, all journalists practice some form of self-censorship and may risk jail time for defamation and other press violations. Access to the independent English-language website Doha News was restored in May 2020, after it had been prohibited in late 2016 due to a lack of an operating authorization. In 2017, and 2020, the outlet once more changed hands before resuming full operations. A change to the penal code in January 2020 makes spreading or publishing \”fake news\” punishable by up to five years in prison or a fine of 100,000 riyals ($27,500). The new ambiguously written rule that criminalises a wide variety of speech and publication activities threatens to severely curtail Qatar\’s freedom of expression in Qatar.

Religious Freedom

Islam is the official religion in the State of Qatar. There is no constitutional protection for freedom of religion. However, the constitution specifically allows for freedom of worship. The Ministry of Islamic Affairs is in charge of overseeing mosque building, imam recruitments, and sermon advice. It is forbidden for non-Muslims to proselytise or worship in public. The Official State religion follows the conservative Wahhabi tradition of the Hanbali school of Islam. The Government officially prohibits public worship by non-Muslims; however, it tolerates private worship. People of various religious views have typically cordial relationship. However, the erection of religious places for non-Muslims is opposed by a large number of the Islamic community. Discrimination does exist in some locations, and sometimes based on religious beliefs. In general, Muslims hold all levels of government authority, with citizens holding higher positions and foreign Muslims holding lesser positions. In sensitive locations, Shi\’a Muslims face prejudice in the workplace. Non-Muslims are not allowed to proselytise, and the government has made it illegal to publish, import, or distribute non-Islamic religious publications. Individuals are not, however, normally prohibited from importing religious materials for personal use. It is potentially illegal to convert from Islam warranting an execution.

Women’s Rights

Qatari women enjoy some political rights, though they have little opportunity to organize independently and advocate for their interests. While the constitution prohibits discrimination based on gender, women are not treated equally under a number of laws, and their testimony in some sorts of cases is worthless than those of men.  There are several legal restrictions on marriage, and women are often at a disadvantage to men when it comes to personal status regulations. Marriage contracts require the consent of the woman\’s male guardian, and citizens marrying foreigners must acquire government permission.

Women in Qatar must have the approval of a male guardian to marry, regardless of their age or previous marital status. If she does not ask her husband\’s consent before working, travelling, or leaving her home or refusing to have sex with him without a \”valid\” reason, she can be considered \”disobedient.\”

Men can marry up to four women at the same time without the approval of a guardian or even their present wife or wives. At no point in time can a woman be the primary caregiver for her own children. Even if they are divorced and a court has ordered that their children reside with them (\”custody\”), or if the children\’s father has died, they lack the right to make autonomous decisions about their children\’s documentation, finances, travel, and, in some cases, schooling and medical treatment. If there are no male relatives who can act as guardians for the child, the government steps in.

Foreign spouses of Qatari men are eligible for citizenship, but foreign husbands of Qatari women are only eligible for residency. Rape is a crime under the law; however, spousal rape is not against the law. Extramarital sex is prohibited, however, due to social stigma, sexual assault and other gender-based crimes are rarely <a href=\”http://\’‘We’Re Treated As Children,’ Qatari Women Tell Rights Group\’ (the Guardian, 2021) <\” data-type=\”URL\” data-id=\”\’‘We’Re Treated As Children,’ Qatari Women Tell Rights Group\’ (the Guardian, 2021) reported.

LGBTQ+ Rights

LGBTQ+ individuals face legal and societal prejudice; the penal code\’s ambiguous phrasing is interpreted to penalise same-sex sexual behaviour, and Sharia prohibits any sexual actions outside of heterosexual marriage. Homosexuality is illegal in Qatar under Act 11 of 2004 as per the Qatari Penal Code. Articles 281 and 284 of the Qatari penal code prohibit both female and male same-sex relationships. Engaging in same-sex sexual intercourse with consenting adults above the age of 16 is punishable by seven years in prison.

Extramarital sexual connections between married people (whether homosexual or heterosexual) can result in execution, and sexual acts between unmarried people can result in whipping.  According to the US State Department, the lack of an open LGBTQ+ community is due to deeply rooted cultural hatred toward homosexuality. Many LGBTQ+ persons are forced to hide their sexuality, and community, NGO advocacy, and support groups are nonexistent. So far, no concrete government attempts to address potential prejudice\” and \”no anti-discrimination laws\” are in place.

Migrant Workers

The sponsorship or Kafala system, which is codified in Law No.4 of 2009 (the Sponsorship Law), has been used by Qatari companies to exert control over their foreign workers. The arrangement eventually increases migrant workers\’ reliance on sponsors, who are frequently their employers under the law. Migrant worker\’s rights are essentially restricted by the law, as they are unable to change employment without the approval of their employers or return to their home nations freely. This is at the heart of the mistreatment that workers in Qatar are subjected to, especially the illiterate or semi-literate workers. By permitting unjust conditions to grow, Qatar\’s Kafala (Sponsorship) system has permitted human rights violations of migrant workers. Workers in Qatar frequently feel stuck, as their salaries are kept to prevent them from returning home. Migrant workers are frequently subjected to inadequate housing and risky working conditions. Employers, on the other hand, seize passports and refuse to furnish ID cards, essentially restricting freedom of movement. The debt repayment demands imposed on migrant workers, combined with Qatar\’s efforts to keep them from leaving, amounts to forced labour and human trafficking.

According to a report published by the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), 1,200 workers had died as a result of their working circumstances since 2010 in Qatar. The ITUC estimates that another 7,000 workers will die before the 2022 FIFA World Cup tournament is revealed, based on new data obtained by Qatari government figures. In comparison, 60 people died in Russia\’s Sochi Winter Olympics in 2014, and 40 people died in Greece\’s 2004 Athens Olympics. Qatar, on the other hand, refuses to reveal the precise causes of death or the total number of people who have died. According to the ITUC, the previous estimates are grossly understated.


At first look, the small but prosperous state of Qatar appears to be an exception in the Persian Gulf region, where official human rights records are woefully poor. Qatari citizens — 225,000 out of 1.7 million – appear to be mostly satisfied with the de facto social system, which provides ample material benefits, while political criticisms appear to be minor. Qatar, on the other hand, has an authoritarian personality, as seen by the numerous red lines that potential critics face and the punitive responses to the very small public opposition that has happened. It restricts freedom of expression, religion, women\’s and children\’s rights, and has one of the worst records in the world in terms of migrant labour rights. As a consequence, qualifies as a recurrent and severe human rights violator in several categories.

North Korea

Democratic People’s Republic of North Korea is a totalitarian, authoritarian state lead by Kim Jong Un. He is the country’s marshal and supreme commander of the korean people’s army. North Korea remains as one of the most repressive countries in the world. Kim’s Korea continues to sharply curtail all basic liberties, including freedom of expression, religion and conscience, assembly and association, political opposition, independent media, civil society and trade unions.

Women’s Rights

As per Article 77 of the Constitution of Democratic People’s Republic of Korea- Women are accorded equal social status and rights with men.

Women in North Korea suffer from sexual abuse, gender based abuse including punishment for offences committed by their partners and other relatives, torture, rape, coerced abortion, forced sterilization, sexual exploitation and forced marriage by the state authorities. Gender based discrimination starts from schools itself where boys are preferred for leadership roles and girls are socialized to stereotyped gender.

Numerous accounts or NGO reports the method of torture includes severe beatings, electric shock, humiliation like public nakedness, forced to kneel or sit immobilized for long hours, hunt by the wrists. Defectors claimed that people there died by torture, starvation, and exposure to deadly elements.

Freedom of Expression

As per Article 67 of the Constitution of Democratic People’s Republic of Korea  – Citizens are guaranteed freedom of speech, the press, assembly, demonstration, and association.

DPR Korea keeps a strict watch on internet, print media, broadcast media and books publishing by the Department of Propaganda and Agitation. The North Korean computer centre serves as a gatekeeper to the internet only senior officials and political elite are allowed to access internet or watch foreign media broadcasts. The State uses an all-encompassing indoctrination machine that begins in childhood in order to propagate an official personality cult and manufacture absolute obedience to the Supreme Leader, effectively to the exclusion of any thought that is not influenced by official ideology and State propaganda[16].

Source of Other Indicators like Freedom of Religion, Free moment, Right to Food& Life is not available on Open Platform though those are not included into the report.


The status of women in North Korea is not fully understood outside the country, due to the political isolation. The social status and roles of women were radically changed after North Korean revolution (1945). All social activities of the citizens are controlled by the Korean People’s Party. Citizens are denied access to any Information from outside world.  


Pakistan is the world\’s only country founded in the name of Islam. Pakistan is governed by a federal government established by the Pakistani Constitution as the governing authority of four provinces, two autonomous territories, and one federal territory of a parliamentary democratic republic known as the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. Pakistan\’s state religion is Islam, and the country\’s Muslim population is estimated to be between 95 and 98 percent. The Constitution of 1973 explicitly specifies Pakistan to be an Islamic republic. In addition, the 1991 enforcement of Shariat Act declared Sharia the supreme law of Pakistan. Shariat Act\’s Section 4 mandates that courts choose an interpretation of the law that is consistent with Islamic principles and jurisprudence.

Freedom of Expression

Article 19 of the 1973 Constitution guarantees freedom of speech to all Pakistanis, with exceptions such as the \”glory of Islam,\” \”law and order,\” and \”national security.\” In Pakistan, blasphemy against the Islamic religion is punishable by death. In practise, local and national politicians with political authority or mandate freely use authorities, monopoly, terror, and violence to censor any criticism from the opposition or the general public.

In Pakistan, the military establishment is significantly more powerful when it comes to censorship because it controls the whole government apparatus. Human rights organisations claim that blasphemy laws in Pakistan have been used not only to persecute minorities, but also to settle personal feuds, often with other Muslims. Despite the fact that no judicial executions have been carried out under these laws, many of people have been charged for speaking out against blasphemy laws and proceedings in Pakistan have faced lynchings or vigilantism. Between 1987 and 2017, more than 75 people were killed for blasphemy by mob lynchings or street vigilantism.

From January to December 2020, at least 10 Pakistani journalists were killed the line of duty. Since 1992, 62 Journalists have been killed in attacks. The Pakistan Media Development Authority (PMDA) appears to be on initiative to consolidate media regulatory agencies. This will further shrink press freedom in the country. Journalists and media houses have decried the law as \”draconian\” and unconstitutional.

Minority Rights

Repression of ethnic minorities\’ rights, social, educational, and institutional discrimination, Islamic extremism and sectarianism, abductions and forced conversions, blasphemy laws, discriminatory legal provisions, religious freedom, temples/religious places, etc.

In November 2019, a special Federal Parliamentary Committee was established to look at the issue of forced conversions and forced marriages. It went to Sindh in October 2020 to gather information on the ground but failed to recognise and concluded that forced conversions are a serious problem for minority communities, or to accept the claim that forced conversions occur on a regular basis in Sindh.

There were 25 incidences of persecution against minority Christian population between January 1 and March 31, 2021. These include false blasphemy accusations, abductions, forced conversions, forced marriages, physical violence, religiously motivated murders, and instances of intimidation.

The issue of abductions forced conversions and forced marriages of religious minority in Pakistan is rampant and rights of minorities are regularly compromised by the majority community.

Women, Girls and Child

The women in Pakistan experience a high degree of gender-based discrimination and violence. The literacy rate among girls and women is 22 percent lower than men as of 2018-19. Women are 49 percent of Pakistanis yet form only about 22 percent of the country’s labour force and receive only 18 percent of its labour income. Minority women and girls are doubly vulnerable to persecution. This is due to both their religious identity and their gender.

Aurat Azadi March was started in 2018 by the members of soicialist-feminist organization (Women Democratic Front) is a prime example to reflect the persecution and discrimination of women. The March was held in different cities of Pakistan to fight against oppressive forms of social, economic, and political structures (imperialism, patriarchy, capitalism, and colonialism) against women whereas Aurat March is held with a purpose to fight the harassment and violence, minority rights and for economic, environmental, and reproductive justice.

As a result of the strong patriarchal structure in the society, more than 800 \”honour\” killings occur each year. Religious minorities\’ women are vulnerable to abuse.

Pakistan\’s Movement for Solidarity and Peace stated that at least 1,000 Christian and Hindu girls are forced to marry Muslim men every year.

According to Sindhi American Human Rights, \”Persecution of religious minorities continues to be a prominent aspect of Pakistan. Religious radicals that operate with government impunity continue to persecute Hindus, Christians, Ahmadis, Shias, and Balochs. Pakistan is the only state in the world that has legislated against its own citizens.\” As per Sustainable Social Development Organisation (SSDO), a non-governmental organisation headquartered in Islamabad, Pakistan, during the first six months of 2021, 6,754 women were kidnapped, 1,890 were raped, and 3,721 acts of violence against women were reported in Punjab.


Pakistan is a highly dysfunctional state with an ever-increasing \”atmosphere of fear\” over the daily lives of minorities. The root cause of most abuses in the country is the military and the political/social elite. The constitution gives freedom of religion and belief, but due to continuous attacks, minorities cannot exercise it. Constitutionally there is freedom of expression but threats of violence, or unjustified arrests or prosecutions against journalists, use of criminal libel laws to prosecute social media speech and censorship, and site blocking. Pakistani women face psychological pressures, forced marriages, sexual harassment, and domestic violence. Freedom of woman is freedom of society from violent male-dominated society of Pakistan by removing oppression and the category of oppressor.


The Constitution of the country starts with WE, THE PEOPLE OF INDIA, having solemnly resolved to constitute India into a 1 [SOVEREIGN SOCIALIST SECULAR DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC] and to secure to all its citizens. Providing rights to every individual. Article 12-35 of the constitution deals with Fundamental Rights. Fundamental Rights are the basic human rights which include Right to Equality, Right to Freedom, Right against Exploitation, Right to freedom of Religion, Cultural and Educational Rights, Right to Constitutional Remedies. In India Judiciary is free from legislature, Executive and Media. These 4 pillars keeps everything in balance.

Women’s Rights

The constitution of India gives equal rights to Women’s. There are many cases where the rights get violated and women’s suffered from sexual violence, rape, molestation, discrimination & dowry death. Like in Nirbhaya Case- A girl got gangraped in the bus and later died but as the judiciary is fair Judgement was to hang the criminals to death. In some areas women’s still gets exploited and discriminated in the society. Girl child is exposed to gender differences since birth. Girls are considered subordinate to boys They didn’t get equal opportunities in education & employment. women’s from backward classes face persistent discrimination. In rural areas purdah system is still on hype women’s are required to cover their heads and face violating their right to interact freely. They are deprived of Education and forced to believe they are suited to some professions only like household work, cooking on being Ideal Wife or Mother. Literacy Gap is too higher between the genders that girls are not aware of their basic human rights are cannot practice them. The political status of women’s is also unsatisfactory their presence is mainly in higher profiles like parliament and provisional legislation. They face Eve-teasing which makes them feel inferior, week and Afraid to make a position in the society.

In some families girls are considered as a burden to the family though they even got married before legal age of marriage and forcibly indulged into household chores basically this phenomenon is linked with poverty, Illiteracy, dowry and social evils. In some families girls got assaulted after marriage for dowry and killed by boy family for not bringing enough dowry in marriage.

Domestic violence is the lease counted issue in Indian society. Wives get brutally beaten by In laws and her partner because of many reasons and girls don’t come out and raise voice on this because of Shame. And they are expected to accept this for a smooth married life.

Religious Minorities and their rights

Article 29 & 30 of the constitution gives cultural and Educational Rights to the religious minorities of India. However these laws gets violated in some cases like Mohd Ahmed Khan Shah Banu Begum \”>Case 1985. Where a Women got divorced by her husband and left alone with 5 children. Although the Apex court judgement was passed on her favour and even Indian Legislature passed Bill for Ban on triple talak. In India some vulnerable section of the society were exposed to discrimination which includes Dalits, Adivasis and other religious and gender minorities. The violation Is basically practised by followers of one religious group towards followers of the other religious group. Religious violence mainly involves Hindus and Muslims. There are many cases of religious minority violence like Exodus of Kashmiri Hindus from Kashmir Valley, Communal rights between Hindus and Muslims in Gujarat in 1969, Anti Sikh Riots in Punjab in 1984. India is a country with diverse culture, community and religious practitioners though people with different religions came into oppose of each other in many a cases but for this too there is Right to Petition for all the citizens they can file case against the violence and get fair court trail to address the issue.


Human Rights do get violated in India but owing to the nature of India’s governance system, those violations also got addressed by the Judiciary of the country. 


Communist State in China has a long history of human rights violation. In the past one year there have been a number of coercive and exploitative violations of human rights that raise a serious question on the ‘Socialism with Chinese characteristic’.


 Xinjiang has emerged as a major flashpoint of human rights abuse in China. Ethnic Uighur Muslim minority in China has been a focal point of ‘forced assimilation’ through state policies and programmes. One such programme is ‘Operation Strike Hard’(Submission to the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief, 2020) whereby over 260 massive detention structures have been created in China since 2017, to detain ethnic Uighurs in order  to reform them. CNN investigative report examining satellite imagery has shown that over 100 traditional Uighur cemeteries have been destroyed in Xinjiang(More than 100 Uyghur graveyards demolished by Chinese authorities, satellite images show – CNN, 2021).

In the name of ‘Poverty Alleviation Programme’ Uighurs are forced to work in production units of major brands. According to one investigation by an Australia based human rights group there have been 82 global brands who have sourced their materials from those factories in Xinjiang where Uighurs are used as ‘forced labour’(Australian Strategic Policy Institute, 2020).


Tibet has a history of extremely restricted religious rights, freedom of expression and movement and other civil liberties. There have been a number of human rights violations in Tibet, ranging from illegal land grabbing and mining, displacement of native Tibetan villagers from their homes in the name of ‘rural transformation’, migration of Han Chinese in throes under the ‘Nationality Unity Model’ regulations as a coercive tool to forcefully assimilate people from Tibet into China (Fischer, 2010). In fact, at  Forum on Tibet work in August 2020, President Xi called for greater political education in schools to ensure loyalty of next generation Tibetans towards the Chinese State(China’s Xi urges people in Tibet to ‘follow the party’ in rare visit | Reuters, 2021). Till 2021, 157 Tibetans have immolated themselves in protest against China since 2009(Self-immolations – International Campaign for Tibet, 2021). International Court of Justice’s strictures have had no impact on Chinese Government that continues to stonewall state’s suppression.

Hong Kong

In the past one year, Hong Kong has emerged as a focus for human rights and civil rights violations in the China. There has been a systemic encroachment of legislative council of Hong Kong (the main legislative body) by forced majority of pro-Beijing legislators under the leadership of Starry Lee (China Pressures Hong Kong to Support Security Law – The New York Times, 2021). In July, China had brought out the National Security Law which creates specialized security agency, abatement of justice by arbitrary arrest and denial of free trial and legal aid, additional powers to the police, new curbs on citizenry and media, weakening of judicial powers of courts(Hong Kong security law: What is it and is it worrying? – BBC News, 2021). There is information block out in place in Hong Kong, where the books and works of pro-democracy leaders have been pulled out of the libraries(Hong Kong Says Public Libraries Must Comply With Security Law – Bloomberg, 2021). Police has invoked National Security Law on the organizers, leaders and participants of protests in Hong Kong, for having held placards with slogans(Hong Kong’s ‘Captain America’ protester jailed under national security law – BBC News, 2021). Hong Kong Police has also arrested functionaries and owners of a popular newspaper Apple Daily , including Jimmy Lai on the allegations of ‘Collusion with Foreign Forces’(A timeline of the impact of the national security law on Hong Kong – The Economic Times, 2021).


Novel Corona virus has emerged from Wuhan in China. Local officials had initially tried to withhold the information of an outbreak by either suppressing or under reporting the severity of the Wuhan virus. People were detained in the name of ‘rumor-mongering’, online discussions on the virus were censored and curbs were placed on media (Coronavirus disinformation creates challenges for China’s government – CNN, 2020). Authorities arrested and harassed a number of individuals for reporting on Novel Corona virus including Chen Qiushi (Chen Qiushi: Chinese journalist missing since February ‘under state supervision’ – BBC News, 2020), Zhang Zhan (UN urges China to free seriously ill journalist jailed over Wuhan Covid reporting | China | The Guardian, 2021), Chen Mei and Cai Wei (Two Chinese activists sentenced to 15 months’ jail for archiving censored internet material | South China Morning Post, 2021). The harassment of Dr. Li Wenliang by local officials for first reporting the outbreak of corona virus and his subsequent death due to it, is a prime example of harassment of whistleblowers and information suppression in China (Li Wenliang, Chinese doctor who tried to raise alarm on coronavirus, dies from disease – The Washington Post, 2020).

Women’s Rights

There is a deadly concoction of power and sexual exploitation of women that exists in China. There have been a number of high-profile cases of sexual exploitation of women, reported in China where the perpetrators have been let off easily including Bao Yuming a former top executive at ZTE, who was charged with child rape by his adopted daughter (Anger Erupts in China After Teen Says Guardian Repeatedly Raped Her – The New York Times, 2020). Peng Shuai, top Chinese female tennis player has recently reported sexual harassment and rape by former Chinese Vice President Zhang Gaoli. Since her accusations she has been missing (Furor Over Peng Shuai’s #Metoo Accusation Challenges China – The New York Times, 2021).In December 2021 WTF suspended, all events in China over the disappearance of Peng (Steve Simon announces WTA’s decision to suspend tournaments in China, 2021).

Reportage of human rights violations by the media across the world

Do global media have freedom to cover Human Rights concerns impartially? Human rights coverage in the news is important for education, rights protection, and policy formulation. The link between media and human rights necessitates an understanding of how media reports on human rights.

Most of the media outlets give their perspective on human rights, with concentration on civil and political rights. Economic, social, and cultural rights receive very little attention in various parts of the world.

Media is the ultimate tool to enlighten the readers about their rights and construct their slanting towards different human rights violations.

In communist state like peoples Republic of China, there is limited or no freedom to report such cases or news.

Human Rights for all but China not only undermine the human rights, but aggressively denies international monitoring agencies plea to intervene in human rights violations in Xinjiang, Tibet and Hong Kong, though relatively very few took concrete action.

United States Congress has passed several new laws addressing a variety of human rights concerns. At the Human Rights Council (HRC47), the United Kingdom led a joint declaration on China\’s human rights violations. In response to the National Security Law, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States promptly suspended extradition treaties with Hong Kong and eased entry for Hong Kong residents to those countries.

China Global Television Network (CGTN) is an international English-language cable TV news service based in Beijing, China. It is one of six channels provided by China Global Television Network, owned by the Chinese state media, China Central Television, under the control of the Publicity Department of the Chinese Communist Party.

Figure 1. Source CGTNFigure 2. Source: CGTN

So, 2020 marked rapid escalations in the Chinese government’s mistreatment of foreign journalists, human rights defenders, activists, and the restriction on the sources of information like mainstream media and social media. The state funded media houses trying to propagate that all is well.

In a theocracy like Islamic Republic of Pakistan, media and journalists are not safe. People\’ rights are judged on religious considerations. A climate of fear continues to impede media coverage of abuses by both government/security forces and terrorist groups.


On September 9, Absar Alam, a senior journalist in Jhelum, Punjab province, was charged with sedition and “high treason” for purportedly using “derogatory language” about the government on .\”>social media. There are many threats to a free press, such as legal threats, government threats, harassment and physical violence. Violence against women and girls—including rape, murder, acid attacks, domestic violence, and forced marriage—remains a serious problem throughout Pakistan.

In early September 2020, a woman was gang-raped on the Lahore-Sialkot motorway in front of her children while she was waiting for help after calling the motorway police\’s helpline 130 after her car developed a fault.


After the Lahore Police Chief made a public stated that a woman who was gang-raped on a highway in Punjab was at fault because she should not have been going \”without her husband\’s consent\” on a motorway late at night, nationwide rallies were held to demand police reform.

In absolute monarchy like State of Qatar, women continue to face discrimination in law and practice, freedom of expression is still under tight restrictions, exploitation and abuse of human rights are still at its peak. The full executive power is with Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani. In state of Qatar, Self-censorship remained the primary obstacle to free speech and press. In public forums, citizens did not often discuss sensitive political and religious issues.

About 95 percent of Qatar\’s total labour force, i.e., more than two million people are migrant worker. About one million workers are employed in construction while another 100,000 are domestic workers.


Qatari authorities took an important step towards protecting migrant workers this year by passing two laws, but full implementation is crucial. Under the Kafala system, employers have extreme control and workers cannot change jobs, face abusive working conditions and some workers have power to leave the country.

In totalitarian state like Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, the nature is oppressive and denying in context of human rights. Afghanistan is facing a similar situation that it experienced in the 1990s. The Taliban then implemented Sharia law that included public executions, as well as stone-pelting of .\”>women accused of adultery.  Under Taliban regime, women don\’t have “right to education, dress diktat, no room for work and sports for women.” Women can\’t leave home alone, no women in TV dramas, blocking female aid workers etc. is a reality.

The situation for journalists is getting worse by the day. On September 7, two journalists from the Kabul-based media organisation Etilaat-e-Roz, Taqi Daryabi and Nemat Naqdi, were attacked after reporting a women\’s rights protest in Kabul. Photos of their badly damaged backs went viral on social media, serving as a horrifying visual reminder of the Taliban\’s genuine stance towards independent journalism.

Journalists are threatened, assaulted, and killed by Taliban to stop them from reporting job.


In democracy like India, media plays the role of the watchdog and gatekeeper. In the world\’s largest democracy, as much importance is given to the judiciary, executive and legislature, the same importance is given to journalism, so press in India is seen as the fourth pillar.

In June 2020, the government announced a new media policy in Jammu and Kashmir to pinpoint \”fake news, plagiarism and immoral or anti-national activities\”. Under this, those who do so will be punished. Freedom of expression is being mocked through \”Media Policy 2020\”. J&K is an international terrorism affected state where internet is switched off anytime. The “new media policy” is a further affront, intended to keep control of the narrative of J&K.

After the elections in West Bengal, immediately after trends suggested mandate in favor of the Trinamool Congress party, attacks on innocent people started. For several days, booth level workers of opposition were assaulted, their houses burnt, relatives were killed, and women were raped in about 148 constituencies of the State and their remote areas.


Around 1000 out of 3000 cases identified by National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) committee whom the members met over a period of weeks by traveling across the length and breadth of the state as a part of teams consisting of individual members.

From 2016 to the end of 2020, 400 journalists were killed for their work or while on the job. To stifle independent media, repressive governments use sophisticated digital censorship and surveillance, as well as more traditional techniques. Without media and information literacy and internet transparency, humanity may be diverted away from addressing the real problems of sustainable development and securing human rights more broadly.


  • Ensure compliance of above-mentioned countries with ratified International treaties and conventions.
  • Ensure domestic laws of above-mentioned countries are in alignment with International law and monitor enforcement of such laws under International human rights framework.
  • Ensure that relevant organisations regularly interact with the above-mentioned countries to ensure that human rights are protected and upheld.
  • Ensure the independence of media in the countries with authoritative governments.
  • Adopt, best practices and guidelines to ensure the protection and preservation of the most vulnerable communities within the society; for example women and children.
  • Adopt, best practices and guidelines to ensure that minority rights are upheld within a human rights framework.
  • Relevant Governments are expected to strengthen or develop a robust framework for Human rights protection and strive to ensure rule of law, human rights, minority rights, freedom of expression, press freedom and rights of women and children.
  • Ensure that the the above-mentioned challenges figure as priorities for United Nations and other relevant governmental and intergovernmental organisations within the universal human rights framework.

(Prachi is a research consultant at Centre for Integrated and Holistic Studies.)


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