Greece

Executive Summary

Greece is a constitutional republic and multiparty parliamentary democracy. Legislative authority is vested in the unicameral parliament. In 2015 the country held parliamentary elections that observers considered free and fair. A coalition government formed by the SYRIZA and ANEL parties and headed by Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras leads the country.

Civilian authorities maintained effective control over the security forces.

The most significant human rights issues included allegations of torture; criminalization of libel and violent attacks on journalists; allegations of refoulement of asylum seekers; official corruption; and instances of violence based on ethic, anti-foreigner and LGBTI animus.

The government took steps to investigate, prosecute, and punish officials who committed human rights abuses, whether in the security services or elsewhere in the government.

Section 6. Discrimination, Societal Abuses, and Trafficking in Persons

Women

Rape and Domestic Violence: Rape, including spousal rape, is a crime punishable by penalties ranging from five to 20 years’ imprisonment. The law applies equally to all survivors, regardless of their sex. Domestic violence is a crime with penalties from two to 10 years’ imprisonment. Authorities generally enforced the law effectively. Police recorded 68 rapes and 29 attempted rapes from January to June, a decrease compared with the same period in 2016. Police claimed to have identified the perpetrators in 82 percent of these cases.

According to the secretary general for gender equality and NGOs, domestic violence–including spousal abuse–continued to be a problem. The government and NGOs made medical, psychological, social, and legal support available to rape survivors.

Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C): On April 23, media reported an NGO employee’s allegation that in Athens there were Muslim girls forced by their families and communities to be subjected to female genital mutilation. The NGO employee said that such practices took place in apartments in central Athens and that there were major health risks. On May 3, the head of the Supreme Court ordered the Athens first instance court prosecutor to initiate a preliminary judicial investigation of the matter. The results of this investigation were not available as of late November.

Sexual Harassment: The law prohibits sexual harassment and provides penalties ranging from two months to five years in prison. In its 2016 report on gender and equality, the ombudsman reiterated previous findings about the difficulty in substantiating sexual harassment claims due to lack of evidence, victims’ fear of repercussions of reporting cases, and the reluctance of witnesses to take sides. In his reports from previous years, the ombudsman had also noted the absence of a policy against sexual harassment in most private and public workplaces, emphasizing that employers were often ignorant of their legal obligations when employees filed sexual harassment complaints.

Coercion in Population Control: There were no reports of coerced abortion, involuntary sterilization, or other coercive population control methods. Estimates on maternal mortality and contraceptive prevalence are available at: www.who.int/reproductivehealth/publications/monitoring/maternal-mortality-2015/en/ .

Discrimination: The constitution provides for equality between women and men. The government effectively enforced laws promoting gender equality, which provided for women to enjoy the same legal status and rights as men, with exceptions related to the practice of sharia law by the Muslim minority of Thrace.

According to the Secretariat for Gender and Equality, women held approximately 9 percent of positions in the managing boards of publicly listed companies.

On February 21, the national employment agency announced that more than 60 percent of registered unemployed persons were women.

The government recognizes sharia applied by muftis as the law regulating family and civic matters for the Muslim minority of Thrace, with local courts routinely ratifying the muftis’ decisions. Muslims married by a government-appointed mufti were subject to sharia family law. Members of the Muslim minority also had the right to a civil marriage and the right to take their cases to civil court. Muslim women in Thrace could choose to be subject to sharia as interpreted by official muftis. The NCHR advised the government to limit the powers of muftis to religious duties because they might otherwise restrict the civil rights of citizens. Legislation provides that the courts shall not enforce any decisions by the muftis that contravene the constitution or international human rights treaties.

Children

Birth Registration: Citizenship is derived from one’s parents at birth; a single parent may confer citizenship on a child. Parents are obliged to register their children within 10 days of birth. The law allows belated birth registration but imposes a fine.

Child Abuse: Violence against children, particularly migrant, refugee, street, and Romani children, remained a problem. The law prohibits corporal punishment and mistreatment of children, but government enforcement was generally ineffective. Welfare laws provide for treatment and prevention programs for abused and neglected children as well as for alternative family care or institutionalization. Government-run institutions were understaffed, however, and NGOs complained of insufficient places for all children who required alternate placement, including for unaccompanied minors who by law are entitled to special protection and should be housed in special shelters (see also section 2.d.).

On August 2, Human Rights Watch (HRW) addressed a letter to the minister for migration policy reiterating findings from previous reports that unaccompanied children were often held for long periods in small, overcrowded, and unsanitary police station cells, at times with unrelated adults, thus increasing their risk of abuse and sexual violence.

Early and Forced Marriage: The legal age for marriage is 18. While official statistics were unavailable, NGOs reported that child marriage was common in the small Romani community, with Romani girls often marrying between the ages of 15 and 17 (some as young as 13) and Romani boys marrying between the ages of 15 and 20. State-appointed muftis in Thrace noted that the marriage of children under the age of 15 was not allowed and that marriages involving minors between the ages of 16 and 18 required a prosecutor’s decision. A limited, yet unknown, number of marriages of children under 18 occurred in Athens and among the Muslim minority, with the permission of a prosecutor.

Sexual Exploitation of Children: The legal age of consent is 15. The law criminalizes sex with children under the age of 15. The law prohibits the commercial sexual exploitation of children and child pornography and imposes penalties if the crime was committed using technology in the country. Authorities generally enforced the law. Throughout calendar year 2016, police arrested 28 individuals for being implicated in online child pornography.

Displaced Children: According to EKKA data, as of June 30, there were 18,500 refugee and migrant children residing in the country. Local and international NGOs attested that unaccompanied minors were not always properly registered, at times lacked safe accommodations or legal guardians, and were vulnerable to homelessness, labor, and sexual exploitation, including survival sex. According to EKKA data, as of November 15, all 1,151 shelter spaces designated for minors were filled. EKKA reported that an estimated 3,250 unaccompanied minors were residing in the country.

Institutionalized Children: Some media and NGO reports alleged police abuse of unaccompanied minors in migrant registration and detention centers (see section 2.d.). Local and international organizations, including the ombudsman, condemned the use of protective custody for unaccompanied minors for prolonged periods, often in unsanitary, overcrowded conditions, resulting from a lack of available spaces in specialized shelters.

International Child Abductions: The country is a party to the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. See the Department of State’s Annual Report on International Parental Abduction at travel.state.gov/content/childabduction/en/legal/compliance.html.

Anti-Semitism

Local Jewish leaders estimated the Jewish community had approximately 5,000 individuals. Anti-Semitic rhetoric remained a problem, particularly in the extremist press, social networking sites, and certain blogs. The Central Board of Jewish Communities (KIS) continued to express concern about anti-Semitic comments by some journalists in mainstream media and by some Greek Orthodox Church leaders. KIS also reiterated concern about political cartoons and images in mainstream media mocking political controversies through the use of Jewish sacred symbols and comparisons to the Holocaust or through equating “Jews” and “Nazis.”

On January 12, Alpha TV morning television show host Dimos Verykios stated “the global banking system is controlled by two main groups… the Jewish lobby… or masons.”

On April 28, Metropolitan of Piraeus Seraphim issued a statement about a Holy Synod decision not to appoint him, as initially planned, as the Greek Orthodox Church’s representative to a ceremony in Jerusalem for lighting the Holy Light of Easter. In his statement Seraphim claimed that he was replaced by another Metropolitan because Israel declared him “persona non grata.” He accused Israel of interfering with the Church’s issues. He specified that his views were not anti-Semitic but anti-Zionist and that Orthodox Christians stand against Zionism and especially against the wing of Zionism that he believes seeks world domination. Seraphim accused all the other Christian doctrines of favoring the Jews and quoted the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, referring to freemasonry and other international entities as the arms used by Zionism to infiltrate and manipulate the government.

On July 7, human rights activists reported on social media that unknown perpetrators had vandalized the Athens Holocaust monument by writing with a marker, “Hi, my name is death!” Separately, on July 11, police reported the arrest of four male individuals for shattering the marble facade on the Holocaust monument in Kavala, in northern Greece. The attack was condemned by the city, government officials, including the national Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and various political parties.

On July 17, “Father Kleomenis,” an excommunicated Old Calendarist monk, posted a video on social media showing him in front of the Greek Jewish Martyrs Holocaust Monument in Larisa, cursing the Jews, denying the Holocaust, spitting, kicking, and throwing eggs at the monument and calling for its destruction. On the same day, anti-Semitic leaflets were distributed around the area. The Holy Synod of the Greek Orthodox Church and the local Metropolitans of Larisa and Tyrnavos issued statements disassociating themselves from Kleomenis and condemning his actions. The municipality of Larissa also issued a statement denouncing the attack. The secretary general for human rights and the secretary general for religious affairs each independently referred the case to the public prosecutor, the racist crimes department of the police, and the cybercrime police department, with relevant evidence, for investigation. According to KIS, the president of the Jewish community of Larissa and the NGO Greek Helsinki Monitor separately filed complaints against the perpetrators. On July 19, the prosecutor in Larissa filed a lawsuit against Kleomenis and three others for vandalizing the Holocaust Memorial and violating the law against racism.

On March 21, KIS welcomed parliament’s adoption of an amendment allowing the descendants of Greek Jewish citizens to obtain Greek citizenship if they wished. The amendment addressed a legal gap in a relevant 2011 law, which granted this citizenship right only to living Greek Jews who had been forced to leave the country.

Trafficking in Persons

See the Department of State’s Trafficking in Persons Report at www.state.gov/j/tip/rls/tiprpt/.

Persons with Disabilities

The law prohibits discrimination against persons with physical, sensory, intellectual, and mental disabilities in employment, education, access to health care, and the judicial system. It provides for other government services, such as transportation and special education. NGOs and organizations for disability rights reported that government enforcement of these provisions was inconsistent.

Persons with disabilities, including children, continued to have poor access to buildings, transportation, and public areas, which the law mandates they should have, particularly to buildings, ramps for sidewalks, and public transportation vehicles. While the law allows service animals to accompany blind individuals in all mass transit and eating establishments, blind activists maintained that they occasionally faced difficulties when attempting to travel by airplane or bus with service animals or were charged additional fees for transporting them.

In his 2016 antidiscrimination report, the ombudsman reported handling 73 complaints related to persons with disabilities.

There were complaints by parents who wanted to register their children in mainstream schools despite having an official recommendation for enrollment in a special school. The Ministry of Education and the ombudsman reiterated that parents had the right to choose the environment in which their children would be educated, regardless of the child’s diagnosis.

On September 13 parliament passed legislation requiring the public administration to communicate with handicapped citizens in a way that is accessible to them, including Greek sign language and Greek Braille. The same law provides for additional leave for parents raising children with autism, Down syndrome, or serious mental disability.

National/Racial/Ethnic Minorities

While the constitution and law prohibit discrimination against members of minorities, Roma and members of other minority groups continued to face discrimination.

Although the government recognized an individual’s right to self-identification, many individuals who defined themselves as members of a minority group found it difficult to express their identity freely and to maintain their culture. A number of citizens identified themselves as Turks, Pomaks, Vlachs, Roma, Arvanites, or Macedonians. Some members of these groups unsuccessfully sought official government identification as ethnic or linguistic minorities. Courts routinely rejected registration claims filed by associations in Thrace with titles including the terms Tourkos and Tourkikos (Turk and Turkish) when based on ethnicity grounds, although individuals may legally call themselves Tourkos, and associations using those terms were not prohibited from operating. Government officials and courts denied requests by Slavic groups to use the term Macedonian in identifying themselves, stating that more than two million ethnically (and linguistically) Greek citizens also used the term Macedonian in their self-identification.

The government officially recognized a Muslim minority, as defined by the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne, consisting of approximately 100,000-120,000 persons descended from those Muslims residing in Thrace at the time of the treaty’s signature and including ethnic Turkish, Pomak, and Romani communities. Some Pomaks and Roma claimed that members of the Turkish-speaking community pressured them to deny the existence of a Pomak or Romani identity separate from a Turkish one and alleged that some Turkish-speaking community members provided monetary incentives to members of the Pomak and Romani community to self-identify as Turkish. In its fifth report on the country in 2015, the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance noted that only two schools in the Thrace region provided secondary bilingual education for minority children in Greek and Turkish.

Roma continued to face widespread governmental and societal discrimination, social exclusion, and harassment, including ethnic profiling by police and alleged abuse while in police custody, discrimination in employment, limited access to education, and segregated schooling. Police conducted large operations in Menidi, in northwest Athens, following the accidental killing of a pupil by a stray bullet during an open-air school event. Non-Roma residents protested against the presence of Roma in Menidi, and unknown perpetrators allegedly linked to the neo-Nazi groups Combat 18 and Unaligned Meander Nationalists set fire to two Romani houses.

Poor school attendance, illiteracy, and high dropout rates among Romani children remained problems. Authorities did not enforce the mandatory education law for Romani children, and local officials often excluded Romani pupils from schools or sent them to Roma-only segregated schools. The government reported that, in addition to special educational programs, low-income families, including Romani families, could obtain an annual allowance for every child enrolled in public school upon submission of a certificate of regular school attendance during the year. The granting of this allowance stopped in September.

In a report issued in April, the Racist Violence Recording Network (RVRN) documented 31 incidents involving racially motivated verbal and physical violence against refugees and migrants in 2016. Eleven of these incidents were reported to police.

Local media and NGOs reported race- and hate-motivated attacks on migrants by far-right groups, including alleged supporters of Golden Dawn (GD), whose members of parliament publicly expressed anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim, anti-Semitic, and homophobic views. During the year the trial continued of 69 GD members, including 18 current and former members of parliament. They were charged with weapons crimes and operating a criminal enterprise.

Courts issued prison sentences in cases relating to attacks on foreigners. On April 24, two alleged GD members, accused of launching an attack against migrants at the Souda camp in Chios, were given 18-month and seven-month suspended prison sentences by a local court. The defendant with the longer sentence was also fined 10,000 euros ($12,000).

Acts of Violence, Discrimination, and Other Abuses Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity

Antidiscrimination laws specify sexual orientation or gender identity. The law includes sexual orientation and gender identity as aggravating circumstances in hate crimes, and crimes targeting sexual orientation or gender identity are included in the official mandate of offices combating racist and hate violence. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) activists alleged that authorities were not always motivated to investigate incidents of violence against LGBTI individuals and that victims were hesitant to report such incidents to the authorities due to lack of trust. Violence against LGBTI individuals remained a problem, and societal discrimination and harassment were widespread despite advancements in the legal framework protecting such individuals.

In its 2016 report, the RVRN documented fewer instances of violence against LGBTI individuals compared with 2015, noting however that the number remained high. In 2016 RVRN recorded 46 incidents of attacks based on sexual orientation and another 10 based on gender identity. Seven of these incidents resulted in injuries. The complaints mostly referred to discrimination in the field of education and vocational training and discrimination relating to access to services and goods.

On June 6, the prime minister gave an interview to an LGBTI magazine in support of LGBTI rights, human rights, and individual freedoms. This was the first time the country’s prime minister had given an interview to the LGBTI press.

On October 13, parliament passed a bill on gender identity recognition. The bill allowed, for the first time, unmarried transgender individuals over the age of 15 to change their gender on identity documents without undergoing gender reassignment surgery. The law requires a judge to validate the change based on the individual’s external appearance.

The 13th Athens Pride Parade took place in June. Government officials, including the minister of finance, the secretary general for transparency and human rights at the Ministry of Justice, Transparency, and Human Rights, three deputy mayors of Athens, and a deputy representing the parliament speaker, attended and addressed participants. For the sixth time, a gay pride parade under the auspices of the local mayor also took place in Thessaloniki in June.

The Ministry of Education, Research, and Religious Affairs decision to include a “thematic week” in the year’s middle school program, partly dedicated to gender identity issues, triggered negative reactions from some societal leaders.

HIV and AIDS Social Stigma

While the law prohibits discrimination with respect to employment of HIV-positive individuals, societal discrimination against persons with HIV/AIDS remained a problem. Persons with HIV/AIDS were exempt from serving in the armed forces on medical grounds. A presidential decree provides the ability of professional military staff members to leave for medical reasons, including if a member diagnosed with AIDS does not respond to treatment, but there were no reports of military staff dismissals under this provision. There were also no reports of employment discrimination in the private or civil service sector on the grounds of HIV/AIDS during the year.

Grenada

Executive Summary

Grenada is a parliamentary democracy with a bicameral legislature. Observers considered the 2013 elections to be generally free and fair. The New National Party won all 15 seats in the House of Representatives and selected Keith Mitchell as prime minister.

Civilian authorities maintained effective control over the security forces.

There were no reports of egregious human rights abuses by the government. Although the law criminalized same-sex sexual activity, it was not enforced during the year.

The government investigated and prosecuted officials who committed violations.

Section 6. Discrimination, Societal Abuses, and Trafficking in Persons

Women

Rape and Domestic Violence: The law criminalizes rape of men or women, including spousal rape, and stipulates a sentence of flogging or up to 30 years’ imprisonment for a conviction of any nonconsensual form of sex. Authorities referred charges involving rape or related crimes for prosecution.

The law prohibits domestic violence and provides for penalties at the discretion of the presiding judge based on the severity of the offense. The law allows for a maximum penalty of 30 years’ imprisonment. The central statistical office reported cases of domestic violence against both women and men. Police and judicial authorities usually acted promptly in cases of domestic violence.

According to women’s rights monitors, violence against women nevertheless remained a serious and pervasive problem.

Sexual Harassment: The law prohibits sexual harassment, but there were no criminal penalties for it, and the government noted it was a persistent problem.

Coercion in Population Control: There were no reports of coerced abortion, involuntary sterilization, or other coercive population control methods. Estimates on maternal mortality and contraceptive prevalence are available at: www.who.int/reproductivehealth/publications/monitoring/maternal-mortality-2015/en/ .

Discrimination: Women generally enjoyed the same legal status and rights as men, and there was no evidence of formal discrimination in education. The law mandates equal pay for equal work.

Children

Birth Registration: Citizenship is derived from birth in the country or, if abroad, by birth to a Grenadian parent upon petition. There is universal birth registration.

Child Abuse: Government social service agencies reported cases of child abuse, including physical abuse and sexual abuse. Authorities placed abused children in either a government-run home or private foster homes. The law stipulates penalties ranging from five to 15 years’ imprisonment for those convicted of child abuse and disallows the victim’s alleged “consent” as a defense in cases of incest.

Early and Forced Marriage: The legal minimum age for marriage is 21, although persons as young as 18 may be married with parental consent in writing.

Sexual Exploitation of Children: A statutory rape law applies when the victim is 16 years or under. Penalties are 30 years’ imprisonment if the victim is less than 14 and 15 years’ imprisonment if the victim is 14 to 16 years of age. The law prohibits the posting and circulation of child pornography. The law also prohibits the importation, sale, and public display of pornography. The law prohibits sale and trafficking of children for prostitution, for the production of pornography, or for pornographic performances.

International Child Abductions: The country is not a party to the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. See the Department of State’s Annual Report on International Parental Child Abduction at travel.state.gov/content/childabduction/en/legal/compliance.html.

Anti-Semitism

There is a small Jewish community. There were no reports of anti-Semitic acts.

Trafficking in Persons

There were no confirmed reports during the year that Grenada was a source, destination, or transit country for victims of human trafficking.

Persons with Disabilities

Discrimination against persons with disabilities is generally prohibited. Although the law does not mandate access to public transportation, services or buildings, building owners increasingly incorporated accessibility features into new construction and premises renovation. The government provided for special education throughout the school system; however, most parents chose to send children with disabilities to three special education schools operating in the country.

Acts of Violence, Discrimination, and Other Abuses Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity

The law criminalizes consensual same-sex sexual activities between men and provides penalties of up to 10 years’ imprisonment. The law makes no provision for same-sex sexual activities between women. No laws prohibit discrimination against a person based on sexual orientation or gender identity in employment, housing, education, or health care.

Society generally was intolerant of same-sex sexual conduct, and many churches condemned it. Most LGBTI persons were not open about their sexual orientation or gender identity.

HIV and AIDS Social Stigma

It was not uncommon for persons to be shunned by family members or face discrimination in housing and employment when their HIV-positive status became known. The government encouraged citizens to be tested and seek treatment.

Guatemala

Executive Summary

Guatemala is a multiparty constitutional republic. In January 2016 Jimmy Morales of the National Convergence Front party was sworn into office for a four-year term as president. International observers considered the presidential election held in 2015 as generally free and fair.

Civilian authorities at times did not maintain effective control over the security forces.

The most significant human rights issues included: harsh and life-threatening prison conditions; arbitrary arrest and detention; corruption and intimidation of judges; threats against journalists, including by criminal organizations and corrupt public officials, resulting in significant self-censorship; widespread government corruption; violence against persons with disabilities in public care; cases of killing of women because of their gender, which authorities were prosecuting; police violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex individuals; trafficking in persons; children engaged in the worst forms of child labor; and violence and threats against trade unionists and labor activists.

Corruption and inadequate investigation made prosecution difficult, and impunity continued to be widespread. Parts of the government collaborated with the UN-backed International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG) to strengthen the rule of law and prosecute officials who committed abuses. On August 27, however, President Jimmy Morales declared CICIG commissioner Ivan Velasquez persona non grata, negatively affecting domestic and international confidence in the administration’s commitment to anti-impunity and anticorruption efforts. The Constitutional Court blocked the expulsion order, and Commissioner Velasquez remained in his position.

Section 6. Discrimination, Societal Abuses, and Trafficking in Persons

Women

Rape and Domestic Violence: The law criminalizes rape of men or women, including spousal rape, and sets penalties between five and 50 years in prison. Police had minimal training or capacity to investigate sexual crimes or assist survivors of such crimes, and the government did not enforce the law effectively.

Rape and other sexual offenses remained serious problems. The government took steps to combat femicide and violence against women. The judiciary maintained a 24-hour court in Guatemala City to offer services related to violence directed toward women, including sexual assault, exploitation, and trafficking of women and children. The judiciary also operated specialized courts for violence against women throughout the country, but not in every department. On November 22, the Public Ministry established a special prosecutor for femicide.

The law establishes penalties for femicide of 25 to 50 years in prison without the possibility of reducing the sentence; however, femicide remained a significant problem.

Violence against women, including sexual and domestic violence, remained serious problems. The law establishes penalties of five to eight years for physical, economic, and psychological violence committed against women because of their gender. The PNC often failed to respond to requests for assistance related to domestic violence.

Sexual Harassment: No single law, including laws against sexual violence, deals directly with sexual harassment, although several laws refer to it. Human rights organizations reported sexual harassment was widespread.

Coercion in Population Control: There were no reports of coerced abortion, involuntary sterilization, or other coercive population control methods. Estimates on maternal mortality and contraceptive prevalence are available at: www.who.int/reproductivehealth/publications/monitoring/maternal-mortality-2015/en/ .

Discrimination: Although the law establishes the principle of gender equality and criminalizes discrimination, women faced discrimination and were less likely to hold management positions.

Children

Birth Registration: Children derive citizenship by birth within the country’s territory or from their parents. UNICEF described low birth registration as a “serious problem,” and UNHCR reported problems in registering births were especially acute in indigenous communities due to inadequate government registration and documentation systems. Lack of registration restricted children’s access to some public services and created conditions that could lead to statelessness.

Education: While primary education is compulsory through age 14, access was limited in many rural areas; education through the secondary level is not obligatory.

Child Abuse: Child abuse remained a serious problem. A unit under the Special Prosecutor for Crimes against Children and Adolescents handled child abuse cases. The Public Ministry reported 2,571 reports of minor abuse of all types and 16 convictions from January through August.

As of September, 520 children and adolescents lived in shelters run by the Secretariat for Social Welfare (SBS). Overcrowding was common in shelters.

On several occasions in 2016, groups of adolescent girls escaped from Hogar Seguro shelter, alleging abuse and mistreatment. On March 7, approximately 60 adolescent girls escaped and, according to media reports, some were apprehended and returned to Hogar Seguro. They were locked in a room and guarded by police. On March 8, one of the girls started a fire inside the room in protest, resulting in the deaths of 41 girls and severe burns to 14 others.

At year’s end seven persons had been charged in relation to the deaths of the 41 girls, including former SBS secretary Carlos Rodas, former deputy secretary for protection and shelter Anahi Keller, and former shelter director Santos Torres. On April 7, they were charged with murder, abuse of authority, breach of duty, abuse against minors, and serious injury. On April 28, the SBS announced the closure of the shelter and plans to renovate it into a facility to house juvenile offenders.

For additional information, see Appendix C.

Early and Forced Marriage: The legal age for marriage is 18. There were reports of early and forced marriages in some rural indigenous communities. UNICEF reported 30 percent of women ages 20 to 24 years were first married or in union by age 18 (7 percent of them by age 15) between 2008 and 2014.

Sexual Exploitation of Children: The law provides sentences ranging from 13 to 24 years in prison, depending on the victim’s age, for engaging in sex with a minor. The minimum age of consensual sex is 18.

The law prohibits child pornography and establishes penalties of six to 10 years in prison for producing, promoting, and selling child pornography and two to four years’ imprisonment for possessing it. The Public Ministry and PNC conducted several raids against alleged online child pornography networks. The commercial sexual exploitation of children, including child sex tourism, remained a problem.

Displaced Children: Criminals and gangs often recruited street children, many of them victims of domestic abuse, for purposes of stealing, transporting contraband, prostitution, and conducting illegal drug activities. The NGO Mutual Support Group reported 683 minors suffered violent deaths nationwide from January through August. NGOs dealing with gangs and other youth reported youth detained by police were subject to abusive treatment, including physical assaults.

The SBS, responsible for the care of both returned migrant children and unaccompanied foreign migrant children, reported seven cases of sexual abuse of children under its care during the year.

International Child Abductions: The country is a party to the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. See the Department of State’s Annual Report on International Parental Child Abduction at travel.state.gov/content/childabduction/en/legal/compliance.html.

Anti-Semitism

The Jewish population numbered approximately 1,500 persons. There were no reports of anti-Semitic acts.

In April a court found the former mayor of San Juan La Laguna, Antonio Adolfo Perez y Perez, guilty of forcing out a community of ultraorthodox Jews in 2014 and sentenced him to one year in prison.

Trafficking in Persons

See the Department of State’s Trafficking in Persons Report at www.state.gov/j/tip/rls/tiprpt/.

Persons with Disabilities

The constitution contains no specific prohibitions against discrimination based on physical, sensory, intellectual, and mental disabilities. The law, however, mandates equal access to public facilities and provides some other legal protections. In many cases, however, the law was not enforced. The law does not mandate that persons with disabilities have access to information or communications.

The National Council for Persons with Disabilities reported few persons with disabilities attended educational institutions or held jobs. The council, composed of representatives of relevant government ministries and agencies, is the principal government entity responsible for protecting the rights of persons with disabilities. Most schools and universities did not have facilities accessible to persons with disabilities.

The Federico Mora National Hospital for Mental Health, the only public health-care provider for persons with mental illness, lacked basic supplies, equipment, hygienic living conditions, and adequate professional staff. Media reported mistreatment of residents, including physical, psychological, and sexual violence by other residents, guards, and hospital staff, especially with respect to women and children with disabilities. Multiple legal actions were pending against the hospital.

Indigenous People

The government’s National Institute of Statistics estimated indigenous persons from 22 ethnic groups comprised 44 percent of the population. The law provides for equal rights for indigenous persons and obliges the government to recognize, respect, and promote the lifestyles, customs, traditions, social organizations, and manner of dress of indigenous persons. The government does not recognize particular indigenous groups as having a special legal status provided by national law.

Indigenous representatives claimed actors in a number of regional development projects failed to consult meaningfully with local communities. In some cases indigenous communities were not regularly or adequately consulted or able to participate in decisions affecting the exploitation of resources in their communities, including energy, minerals, timber, rivers, or other natural resources. They also lacked effective mechanisms for dialogue with the state to resolve conflicts. During the year courts suspended the operating licenses of several hydroelectric and mining projects for not complying with requirements for consultations with indigenous communities prior to project implementation as required by International Labor Organization (ILO) Convention 169, recognizing the convention’s requirement that the government must play a role in the process. Previously, businesses carried out consultations independently without government oversight.

Indigenous communities were underrepresented in national politics and remained largely outside the political, economic, social, and cultural mainstream. This was mainly due to limited educational opportunities (contrary to law), limited communication regarding their rights, and pervasive discrimination. These factors contributed to disproportionate poverty among most indigenous populations.

Indigenous lands lacked effective demarcation, making the legal recognition of titles to the land problematic. Indigenous rights advocates asserted that pervasive ignorance by security authorities of indigenous norms and practices engendered misunderstandings. PNC and indigenous leaders in the village of Salacuim, Alta Verapaz, worked together to establish a model police precinct to better serve the 100 percent indigenous community, prevent and reduce violence, and establish rule of law.

Acts of Violence, Discrimination, and Other Abuses Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity

The country’s antidiscrimination laws do not apply to LGBTI individuals. LGBTI rights groups stated that police officers regularly engaged in extortion and harassed male and transgender individuals they believed to be sex workers. There was general societal discrimination against LGBTI persons in access to education, health care, employment, and housing. The government undertook minimal efforts to address this discrimination. Sandra Moran, the first openly lesbian member of Congress, was harassed and intimidated based on her sexual orientation. Online campaigns calling for her removal from congress based solely on her orientation were constant and increased in September after her vote to remove immunity from President Morales.

According to LGBTI rights groups, gay and transgender individuals often experienced police abuse.

LGBTI groups claimed women experienced specific forms of discrimination such as forced marriages and forced pregnancies through “corrective rape,” although these incidents were rarely, if ever, reported to authorities. In addition transgender individuals faced severe discrimination.

HIV and AIDS Social Stigma

The law does not expressly include HIV/AIDS status among the categories prohibited from discrimination. There was societal discrimination against persons with HIV/AIDS. Forms of discrimination included being required by government authorities to reveal HIV/AIDS test results to receive certain public benefits or from employers in order to be hired. In addition HIV/AIDS patients experienced discrimination from medical personnel when receiving treatment in public hospitals and had their right to confidentiality violated by disclosure of their status. Discrimination against LGBTI persons with HIV/AIDS was common and affected their access to HIV-prevention programs.

Other Societal Violence or Discrimination

Several times vigilante mobs attacked and killed those suspected of crimes such as rape, kidnapping, theft, or extortion. The NGO Mutual Support Group reported nine persons were killed in public lynchings and 38 were injured through May.

Guinea

Executive Summary

Guinea is a constitutional democratic republic in the early stages of a transition from decades of authoritarian rule. In 2015 the country held its second democratic presidential election, and incumbent President Alpha Conde won with 58 percent of the vote. The political campaign was more peaceful than the 2010 presidential and 2013 legislative elections, but a few deaths occurred during skirmishes between demonstrators and security forces.

Despite tighter rules of engagement and a prohibition on the use of lethal force during street protests, elements of the security forces on occasion acted independently of civilian control.

The most significant human rights issues included security force killings and use of excessive force against civilians, including torture to extract confessions; arbitrary arrest; indefinite detention without trial, including of political prisoners; arbitrary interference with family and home; restrictions on freedoms of press and assembly; corruption at all levels of government; violence against women and girls; forced and early marriage; female genital mutilation; criminalization of same-sex sexual conduct; violence against persons with albinism; and human trafficking.

Impunity by government authorities remained a problem. The government took minimal steps to prosecute or punish officials who committed abuses during the year or in years past.

Section 6. Discrimination, Societal Abuses, and Trafficking in Persons

Women

Rape and Domestic Violence: The law criminalizes rape and domestic violence, but both occurred frequently, and authorities rarely prosecuted perpetrators. The law does not address spousal rape. Rape is punishable by five to 20 years in prison. Victims reported less than 1 percent of these crimes to police due to custom, fear of stigmatization and reprisal, and lack of cooperation from investigating police or gendarmes. Studies indicated citizens also were reluctant to report crimes because they feared police would ask the victim to pay for the investigation.

The law does not directly address domestic violence, although authorities may file charges under general assault, which carries sentences of two to five years in prison and fines of 50,000 to 300,000 GNF ($5.50 to $33). Violence against a woman that causes an injury is punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine of up to 30,000 Guinean francs (GNF) ($3.30). If the injury causes mutilation, amputation, or other loss of body parts, it is punishable by 20 years’ imprisonment; if the victim dies, the crime is punishable by life imprisonment. Assault constitutes grounds for divorce under civil law, but police rarely intervened in domestic disputes, and courts rarely punished perpetrators.

Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C): Although the law prohibits FGM/C, the country had an extremely high prevalence rate. UNICEF reported 96 percent of women and girls ages 15 to 49 in the country had undergone the procedure, which was practiced throughout the country and among all religious and ethnic groups. The law provides for a penalty of up to life in prison or death if the victim dies within 40 days of the procedure. The child code provides for minimum imprisonment of three months to two years and fines from 300,000 to one million GNF ($33 to $110) for perpetrators who do not inflict severe injury or death. If the victim is severely injured or dies, the child code specifies imprisonment of five to 20 years and a fine of up to three million GNF ($330).

The government also cooperated with NGOs in their efforts to eradicate FGM/C and educate health workers, state employees, and citizens on the dangers of the practice. More than 60 health facilities had integrated FGM/C prevention into prenatal, neonatal, and immunization services. A trend for medically trained staff to perform FGM/C under conditions that were more hygienic continued. While the “medicalization” of the practice may have decreased some of the negative health consequences of the procedure, it did not eliminate all health risks; it also delayed the development of effective and long-term solutions for the abandonment of the practice.

For more information, see:

https://data.unicef.org/resources/female-genital-mutilation-cutting-country-profiles/ 

Sexual Harassment: The 2014 labor code prohibits all forms of workplace harassment, including sexual harassment; the constitution prohibits harassment based on sex, race, ethnicity, political opinions, or other grounds. As of September the Ministry of Labor had not documented any case of sexual harassment, despite its frequency. The 2016 criminal code penalizes sexual harassment.

Coercion in Population Control: There were no reports of coerced abortion, involuntary sterilization, or other coercive population control methods. Estimates on maternal mortality and contraceptive prevalence are available at: www.who.int/reproductivehealth/publications/monitoring/maternal-mortality-2015/en/ .

Discrimination: The law does not provide for the same legal status and rights for women as for men, including in inheritance, property, employment, credit, and divorce. The labor code prohibits gender discrimination in hiring. Traditional law discriminates against women and sometimes took precedence over formal law, particularly in rural areas.

Government officials acknowledged that polygyny was common. Divorce laws generally favor men in awarding custody and dividing communal assets. Legal testimony given by women carries less weight than testimony by men, in accordance with Islamic precepts and customary law.

Children

Birth Registration: Children derive citizenship by birth within the country, marriage, naturalization, or parental heritage. Authorities did not permit children without birth certificates to attend school or access health care. For additional information, see Appendix C.

Education: Government policy provides for tuition-free, compulsory primary education for all children up to 16 years of age. While girls and boys had equal access to all levels of primary and secondary education, approximately 56 percent of girls attended primary school, compared with 66 percent of boys. Government figures indicated 11 percent of girls obtained a secondary education, compared with 21 percent of boys.

Child Abuse: Child abuse was a problem, and law enforcement and NGOs continued to document cases. Child abuse occurred openly on the street, though families ignored most cases or addressed them at the community level.

Early and Forced Marriage: The legal age for marriage is 21 for men and 17 for girls, but tradition permits marriage at age 14. Early marriage was a problem. There were no reported prosecutions related to child marriage during the year. For additional information, see Appendix C.

Sexual Exploitation of Children: The law prescribes penalties of five to 10 years’ imprisonment for all forms of child trafficking, including the commercial sexual exploitation of children, but it was a problem. The minimum age of consensual sex is 15. Punishment if convicted of sex with a child under age 15 is three to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to two million GNF ($220). The law also prohibits child pornography. These laws were not regularly enforced, and sexual assault of children, including rape, was a serious problem. Girls between ages 11 and 15 were most vulnerable and represented more than half of all rape victims.

Displaced Children: Although official statistics were unavailable, there was a large population of children living on the streets, particularly in urban areas. Children frequently begged in mosques, on the street, and in markets.

Institutionalized Children: The country had numerous registered and unregistered orphanages. According to the Ministry of Social Action and the Promotion of Women and Children, 49 registered orphanages cared for 4,822 children. While reports of abuse at orphanages sometimes appeared in the press, reliable statistics were not available. Authorities institutionalized some children after family members died from the Ebola virus.

International Child Abductions: The country is not a party to the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. See the Department of State’s Annual Report on International Parental Child Abduction at travel.state.gov/content/childabduction/en/legal/compliance.html.

Anti-Semitism

The Jewish community was very small, and there were no reports of anti-Semitic acts.

Trafficking in Persons

See the Department of State’s Trafficking in Persons Report at www.state.gov/j/tip/rls/tiprpt/.

Persons with Disabilities

The law does not prohibit discrimination against persons with disabilities in education, air travel and other transportation, access to health care, or the provision of other state services. In 2015, however, the country adopted a new labor code that prohibits discrimination in employment against persons with disabilities. The law does not mandate accessibility for persons with disabilities, and buildings and vehicles remained inaccessible. The Ministry of Social Action and the Promotion of Women and Children is responsible for protecting the rights of persons with disabilities, but it was ineffective. The government provided no support to mainstream children with disabilities in regular schools.

National/Racial/Ethnic Minorities

The population was diverse, with three main linguistic groups and several smaller ones identifying with specific regions. While the law prohibits racial or ethnic discrimination, discrimination by members of all major ethnic groups occurred in private-sector hiring patterns, ethnic segregation of urban neighborhoods, and ethnically divisive rhetoric during political campaigns. Ethnically targeted violence occurred during the year.

Acts of Violence, Discrimination, and Other Abuses Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity

The law criminalizes consensual same-sex sexual activity, which is punishable by three years in prison; however, there were no known prosecutions. In 2012 the government restructured the Office for the Protection of Women, Children, and Morals ( OPROGEM) to include a unit for investigating morals violations, including same-sex sexual conduct. Antidiscrimination laws do not apply to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) individuals.

Deep religious and cultural taboos against consensual same-sex sexual conduct existed. There were no official or NGO reports of discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity, although societal stigma likely prevented victims from reporting abuse or harassment. There were no active LGBTI organizations.

HIV and AIDS Social Stigma

Laws to protect HIV-infected persons from stigmatization exist, but the government relied on donor efforts to combat discrimination against persons with HIV/AIDS. Government efforts were limited to paying salaries for health-service providers. Most victims of stigmatization were women whose families abandoned them after their husbands died of AIDS.

Other Societal Violence or Discrimination

Discrimination against persons with albinism occurred, particularly in the Forest Region. Speculation continued about their sacrifice. Albino rights NGOs continued to raise awareness of discrimination and violence against persons with albinism.

During the year mob violence happened nationwide. For example, in January in the Forest Region, a mob beat to death two men suspected of abducting children. Authorities arrested more than 30 suspects, and as of September they were awaiting trial.

Guinea-Bissau

Executive Summary

Guinea-Bissau is a multiparty republic. It was ruled by the democratically elected President Jose Mario Vaz of the African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cabo Verde (PAIGC) and his appointed prime minister, Umaro Sissoco Embalo. Vaz took office in 2014 after a general election that included all 102 seats in the National Assembly. International observers considered the elections free and fair. The country has endured prolonged political gridlock punctuated by periods of turmoil since President Vaz dismissed former prime minister Domingos Simoes Pereira in 2015.

Civilian authorities maintained control over the security forces.

The most significant human rights issues included lack of judicial independence and due process; interference with privacy; official corruption exacerbated by government officials’ impunity and suspected involvement in drug trafficking; lack of investigation and accountability in cases of violence and discrimination against women and children; female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C); and trafficking in persons.

While the government took steps to investigate and punish officials who committed abuses, impunity in general remained a serious problem.

Section 6. Discrimination, Societal Abuses, and Trafficking in Persons

Women

Rape and Domestic Violence: The law prohibits rape, including spousal rape, and provides penalties for conviction of two to 12 years in prison; however, the government did not effectively enforce the law. The law permits prosecution of rape only when reported by the victim, which observers noted was rare due to victims’ fear of social stigma and retribution.

No law prohibits domestic violence, but it, including wife beating, was widespread. The government did not undertake specific measures to counter social pressure against reporting domestic violence, rape, incest, and other mistreatment of women.

Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C): The law prohibits FGM/C. Conviction for its practice is punishable by a fine of up to five million CFA francs ($9,190) and five years in prison. Muslim preachers and scholars called for the eradication of FGM/C. The Joint Program on FGM/C of the UN Population Fund and UNICEF worked with the Ministry of Justice to strengthen the dissemination and application of the law by building the capacities of officials responsible for program implementation.

The April 2017 UN Integrated Peacebuilding Office in Guinea-Bissau’s Report on the Right of Health in Guinea-Bissau estimated that 45 percent of the female population had undergone the FGM/C procedure.

For more information, see:

https://data.unicef.org/resources/female-genital-mutilation-cutting-country-profiles/ 

Sexual Harassment: There is no law prohibiting sexual harassment, and it was widespread. The government undertook no initiatives to combat the problem.

Coercion in Population Control: There were no reports of coerced abortion, involuntary sterilization, or other coercive population control methods. Estimates on maternal mortality and contraceptive prevalence are available at: www.who.int/reproductivehealth/publications/monitoring/maternal-mortality-2015/en/ .

Discrimination: By law women have the same legal status and rights as men, but discrimination against women was a problem, particularly in rural areas where traditional and Islamic laws dominated.

Children

Birth Registration: Citizenship is derived by birth within the country or from citizen parents. Birth registration does not occur automatically at hospitals; parents must register births with a notary. Lack of registration resulted in denial of public services, including education. For additional information, see Appendix C.

Education: Most children remained at home frequently because schools were only open intermittently due to strikes by teachers. The Ministry of Public Education began a national campaign to raise awareness to enroll and keep children from the age of six in school.

Child Abuse: Violence against children was widespread but seldom reported to authorities.

Early and Forced Marriage: The legal minimum age of marriage is 16 for both genders. Early and forced marriage occurred among all ethnic groups. Girls who fled arranged marriages often were trafficked into commercial sex. The buying and selling of child brides also occurred. There were no government efforts to mitigate the problem. For additional information, see Appendix C.

Sexual Exploitation of Children: There is a statutory rape law prohibiting sex with a person under age 16. The rape law carries a penalty for conviction of two to 12 years in prison, and the law prohibits child pornography. When pedophilia and sexual harassment were reported, police at times blamed victims.

There were reports of child sex tourism occurring in the isolated Bijagos Islands.

Displaced Children: The national nongovernmental organization (NGO) Association of the Friends of Children estimated that up to 500 children, mostly from neighboring Guinea, lived on the streets of urban centers including Bissau, Bafata, and Gabu. The government provided no services to street children.

International Child Abductions: The country is not a party to the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. See the Department of State’s Annual Report on International Parental Child Abduction at travel.state.gov/content/childabduction/en/legal/compliance.html.

Anti-Semitism

There were small communities of Jews, Hindus, and Buddhists in the country and no reports of anti-Semitic acts.

Trafficking in Persons

See the Department of State’s Trafficking in Persons Report at www.state.gov/j/tip/rls/tiprpt/.

Persons with Disabilities

The law does not specifically prohibit discrimination against persons with physical, sensory, intellectual, and mental disabilities. The government did not counter discrimination against persons with disabilities or provide access to buildings, information, and communications. The government made some efforts to assist military veterans with disabilities through pension programs, but these programs did not adequately address health care, housing, or food needs. Provisions existed to allow blind and illiterate voters to participate in the electoral process, but voters with intellectual disabilities could be restricted from voting.

Acts of Violence, Discrimination, and Other Abuses Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity

There are no laws that criminalize sexual orientation. Antidiscrimination laws do not apply to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or intersex individuals. There were no reported violent incidents or other human rights abuses targeting individuals based on their sexual orientation or identity. There was no official discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity in employment or access to education and health care.

Guyana

Executive Summary

The Cooperative Republic of Guyana is a multiparty democracy. National and regional elections were held in 2015, and a coalition of parties named APNU+AFC won. The largest components of that coalition were the Alliance for Change (AFC) and the People’s National Congress/Reform, which constituted most of the coalition A Partnership for National Unity (APNU). Former leader of the opposition David Granger led the election coalition parties APNU+AFC and became president. International and local observers considered the elections free, fair, and credible.

Civilian authorities maintained effective control over the security forces.

The most significant human rights issues included harsh and potentially life-threatening prison conditions and laws that criminalize same-sex sexual activity, although they were not enforced during the year.

Government officials did not enjoy impunity for human rights abuses. There were independent and transparent procedures for handling allegations of abuses by security forces.

Section 6. Discrimination, Societal Abuses, and Trafficking in Persons

Women

Rape and Domestic Violence: The law criminalizes rape of men or women, including spousal rape and domestic violence. The law provides stringent penalties for rape, with life imprisonment as the maximum penalty. Successful prosecution of cases of rape and domestic violence was infrequent.

Domestic violence and violence against women, including spousal abuse, was widespread. The law prohibits domestic violence and allows victims to seek prompt protection, occupation, or tenancy orders from a magistrate. Penalties for violation of protection orders include fines up to 10,000 Guyanese dollars (GYD) ($45) and 12 months’ imprisonment. There were reports of police accepting bribes from perpetrators and of magistrates applying inadequate sentences after conviction.

Sexual Harassment: The law prohibits sexual harassment in the workplace and provides for monetary penalties and award of damages to victims. The law does not cover harassment in schools. Acts of sexual harassment involving physical assault are prosecuted under relevant criminal statutes. While reports of sexual harassment were common, no cases were filed.

Coercion in Population Control: There were no reports of coerced abortion, involuntary sterilization, or other coercive population control methods. Estimates on maternal mortality and contraceptive prevalence are available at: www.who.int/reproductivehealth/publications/monitoring/maternal-mortality-2015/en/ .

Discrimination: Although women enjoy the same legal status and rights as men, gender-related discrimination was widespread and deeply ingrained. The law prohibits discrimination based on gender, but there was no meaningful enforcement against such discrimination in the workplace. Job vacancy notices routinely specified that the employer sought only male or only female applicants, and women earned approximately 61 percent less than men for equal work.

Children

Birth Registration: Citizenship is derived by birth within the country’s territory or by birth to a Guyanese citizen abroad. The law requires that births be registered within 14 days but also provides for registration of births after the 14-day period. Births at hospitals and health facilities were registered within a day of delivery.

Child Abuse: There were frequent reports of physical and sexual abuse of children, which was a widespread and serious problem. As with cases of domestic abuse, NGOs alleged that some police officers and magistrates could be bribed to make cases of child abuse “go away.”

Early and Forced Marriage: The legal age for marriage is 18 years, but boys and girls may marry at age 16 with parental consent or judicial authority. UNICEF reported that 23 percent of women were married before the age of 18, and 6 percent of girls were married before age 15.

Sexual Exploitation of Children: The age of sexual consent is 16 years. By law anyone who has sexual relations with a child under 16 may be found guilty of a felony and imprisoned for life. There were continued reports of children being exploited in prostitution. The law prohibits the commercial sexual exploitation of children 18 and younger. Laws related to pornography and pornographic performances do not prohibit the use, procuring, and offering of a child for each of these purposes. The law also regulates selling, publishing, or exhibiting obscene material, defined as anything that could deprave or corrupt those open to immoral influences.

International Child Abductions: The country is not a party to the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. See the Department of State’s Annual Report on International Parental Child Abduction at travel.state.gov/content/childabduction/en/legal/compliance.html.

Anti-Semitism

The Jewish community is very small, perhaps fewer than 20 members. There were no reports of anti-Semitic acts.

Trafficking in Persons

See the Department of State’s Trafficking in Persons Report at www.state.gov/j/tip/rls/tiprpt/.

Persons with Disabilities

The constitution mandates that the state “take legislative and other measures” to protect disadvantaged persons and persons with disabilities. The constitution and law prohibit discrimination against persons with physical, sensory, intellectual, and mental disabilities, but civil society groups stated the law was not regularly enforced. The law provides for a National Commission on Disabilities (NCD) to advise the government, coordinate actions on problems affecting persons with disabilities, and implement and monitor the law. The NCD focused its attention on sensitizing the public about the law and on compliance, as well as performing sensitization workshops with the Ministries of Social Protection, Education, and Health.

There were segregated schools for the blind and for persons with other disabilities in the most populous regions of the country. Children with disabilities rarely attended mainstream schools, since these lacked the curriculum and infrastructure necessary to accommodate children with disabilities. Lack of appropriate transportation and infrastructure to provide access to both public and private facilities made it difficult for persons with disabilities to be employed outside their homes.

Indigenous People

Various laws protect the rights of the indigenous community, and members have some ability to participate in decisions affecting them, their land, and resources. Rules enacted by village councils require approval from the minister of indigenous peoples’ affairs before entering into force. Indigenous lands were not effectively demarcated.

According to the most recent available data, the indigenous population constituted 10.5 percent of the total population. There were nine recognized tribal groups. Ninety percent of indigenous communities were in the remote interior. The standard of living in indigenous communities was lower than that of most citizens, and they had limited access to education and health care. A UN study found that pregnant women in indigenous communities were not receiving mandatory HIV tests.

Acts of Violence, Discrimination, and Other Abuses Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity

Consensual same-sex activity between adult men is illegal under the law and is punishable by up to two years in prison. Anal intercourse is punishable with a maximum sentence of life in prison, regardless of whether the intercourse is between persons of the same sex. Activists reported it was more common for police to use the law to intimidate men who were gay or perceived to be gay than to make arrests. The law also criminalizes cross-dressing.

No antidiscrimination legislation exists to protect persons from discrimination based on real or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity, and NGOs reported widespread discrimination of persons in this regard. Reports noted discrimination in employment, access to education and medical care, and in public space.

HIV and AIDS Social Stigma

In the most recent demographic and health survey (2009), 45 percent of women and 38 percent of men reported discriminatory attitudes towards those with HIV. The government reported that stigma and discrimination towards persons with HIV/AIDS were prevalent in the workplace and health care facilities.

Haiti

Executive Summary

Haiti is a constitutional republic with a multiparty political system. Voters elected Jovenel Moise as president for a five-year term in national elections held in November 2016. The most recent national legislative elections were on January 29. International election observers considered the elections free and fair.

Civilian authorities maintained effective control over the security forces.

The most significant human rights issues included isolated allegations of arbitrary and unlawful killings by government officials; allegations of beatings of detainees; harsh and life-threatening prison conditions; a judiciary subject to corruption and outside influence; physical attacks on journalists; widespread corruption; and trafficking in persons.

Although the government took steps to prosecute or punish government and law enforcement officials accused of committing abuses, credible reports persisted of officials engaging in corrupt practices, and civil society groups alleged there was widespread impunity.

Section 6. Discrimination, Societal Abuses, and Trafficking in Persons

Women

Rape and Domestic Violence: While the law prohibits rape of men or women, it does not recognize spousal rape as a crime. The penalty for rape is a minimum of 10 years of forced labor. In the case of gang rape, the maximum penalty is lifelong forced labor. Actual sentences were often less rigorous. The criminal code excuses a husband who kills his wife or her partner found engaging in an act of adultery in his home, but a wife who kills her husband under similar circumstances is subject to prosecution.

The law does not classify domestic violence against adults as a distinct crime. Women’s rights groups and human rights organizations reported domestic violence against women remained commonplace. Judges often released suspects arrested for domestic violence and rape.

Victims of rape and other forms of sexual violence faced major obstacles in seeking legal justice, as well as access to protective services, such as women’s shelters.

Attorneys who represented rape survivors said that authorities were reasonably responsive to cases involving the rape of minors, as the law is clear and judicial measures exist to deal with such cases. Due to the lack of clear legal or administrative structures to deal with such cases, however, authorities frequently dropped or did not pursue cases when the offender was also a minor or the survivor was an adult.

Sexual Harassment: The law does not specifically prohibit sexual harassment, although the labor code states that men and women have the same rights and obligations. Observers indicated that sexual harassment occurred frequently.

Coercion in Population Control: There were no reports of coerced abortion, involuntary sterilization, or other coercive population control methods. Estimates on maternal mortality and contraceptive prevalence are available at: www.who.int/reproductivehealth/publications/monitoring/maternal-mortality-2015/en/ .

Discrimination: The law does not provide for the same legal status and rights for women as for men. Women did not enjoy the same social and economic status as men, despite the constitutional amendments recognizing the principle of “at least 30 percent women’s participation in national life and notably in public service.”

By law men and women have equal protections for economic participation. In practice, however, women faced barriers to accessing economic inputs and securing collateral for credit, information on lending programs and resources.

Children

Birth Registration: Citizenship is derived through an individual’s parents; only one parent of either sex is necessary to transmit citizenship. Citizenship can also be acquired through a formal request to the Ministry of the Interior. The government did not register all births immediately. Birth registry is free until the age of two years.

Education: Constitutional provisions require the government to provide free and compulsory education for all children up to age 15; however, the government did not effectively enforce these provisions.

Child Abuse: The law prohibits domestic violence against minors. The government continued to lack sufficient resources and an adequate legal framework to support or enforce existing mechanisms to promote children’s rights and welfare fully, but it made some progress in institutionalizing protections for children.

A study launched by the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor, published in 2015 in collaboration with national and international organizations, estimated there were 286,000 children working in indentured domestic servitude (referred to as “restaveks”). Host families often abused restaveks and subjected them to domestic servitude, a form of trafficking in persons.

For more information see the Department of State’s Trafficking in Persons Report at www.state.gov/j/tip/rls/tiprpt/ and the Department of Labor’s Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor at www.dol.gov/ilab/reports/child-labor/findings/ .

Early and Forced Marriage: The legal age of marriage is 18 years. No data was available regarding early and forced marriage, but childhood and forced marriage was not a widespread custom.

Sexual Exploitation of Children: The minimum age for consensual sex is 18 years. The law prohibits the corruption of youth under 21, including prostitution, with penalties ranging from six months to three years of imprisonment for offenders. The law prescribes prison sentences of seven to 15 years of imprisonment and a fine ranging from 200,000 HTG (Haitian Gourdes) to 1.5 million HTG ($3,750 to $28,140). The penalty for human trafficking with aggravating circumstances, which includes cases involving the exploitation of children, is up to life imprisonment.

Recruitment of children for sexual exploitation and pornography is illegal, but the United Nations reported that criminal gangs recruited children as young as 10 years of age.

Institutionalized Children: The IBESR has official responsibility for monitoring and accrediting the country’s orphanages and residential care centers. IBESR reported that children in orphanages were frequently victims of sexual or physical abuse, were malnourished, did not receive an education, and were often trafficked to work as domestic labor, sex workers, or farm workers. IBESR has tried to close the worst of these orphanages, but can only do so as quickly as they can find other placement for the children in the abusive orphanages. The government has not apportioned appropriate resources to develop transitional centers or other temporary housing and care facilities that would allow the rapid pace of deinstitutionalization needed.

International Child Abductions: The country is not a party to the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of Child Abduction. See the Department of State’s Annual Report on International Parental Child Abduction at travel.state.gov/content/childabduction/en/legal/compliance.html.

Anti-Semitism

The Jewish community numbered fewer than 100 persons, and there were no reports of anti-Semitic acts.

Trafficking in Persons

See the Department of State’s Trafficking in Persons Report at www.state.gov/j/tip/rls/tiprpt/.

Persons with Disabilities

The constitution stipulates that persons with disabilities should have the means to provide for their autonomy, education, and independence. The law prohibits discrimination in employment practices against persons with disabilities, requires the government to integrate such persons into the state’s public services, and imposes a 2 percent quota for persons with disabilities in the workforces of private-sector companies. The government did not enforce these legal protection mechanisms. Government officials took steps to include protections for persons with disabilities to vote.

Individuals with disabilities faced significant social stigma because of their disability. Persons with mental or developmental disabilities were marginalized, neglected, and abused in society. The Office of the Secretary of State for the Integration of Handicapped Persons (BSEIPH), which falls under the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor, is the lead government agency responsible for providing assistance to persons with disabilities and ensuring their civil, political, and social inclusion. Access to quality medical care posed a significant challenge for persons with disabilities. Hospitals and clinics in Port-au-Prince did not have sufficient space, human resources, or public funds to treat such individuals.

The BSEIPH had several departmental offices outside the capital and continued to refine a strategic development plan to guide the institution’s efforts. It provided persons with disabilities with legal advice and job counseling services. The BSEIPH regularly convened meetings with disabilities rights groups in all of its regional offices.

Acts of Violence, Discrimination, and Other Abuses Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity

No laws criminalize sexual orientation or consensual same-sex conduct between adults, nor were there any reports of police officers actively perpetrating or condoning violence against members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) community.

While no laws criminalize the changing of one’s gender or sex, local attitudes remained hostile to outward LGBTI identification and expression, particularly in Port-au-Prince. Some societal leaders and organizations actively opposed the social integration of LGBTI persons and discussion of their rights.

No antidiscrimination laws protect LGBTI persons and minority groups. Some civil society advocates claimed that in the greater Port-au-Prince area, HNP authorities were inconsistent in their willingness to document or investigate LGBTI persons’ claims of abuse.

LGBTI advocacy groups in the capital reported a greater sense of insecurity and less trust of government authorities than did groups in rural areas.

HNP academy instructors teach police officers to respect the rights of all civilians without exception. The curriculum specifically trained new officers on crimes commonly committed against the LGBTI community.

HIV and AIDS Social Stigma

In the country’s most recent demographic and health survey (2012), 61 percent of women and 55 percent of men reported discriminatory attitudes towards those with HIV.

Other Societal Violence or Discrimination

According to MINUSTAH reports, vigilante reprisals, including by lynching or burning persons alive, remained a problem, especially in rural areas outside the capital. Limited or nonexistent presence of law enforcement and judicial authorities meant that, in practice, such reprisals had few or no legal repercussions.

Honduras

Executive Summary

Honduras is a constitutional, multiparty republic. The country held national and local elections in November. Voters elected Juan Orlando Hernandez of the National Party as president for a four-year term to begin in January 2018. International observers generally recognized the elections to be free, but disputed the fairness and transparency of the results.

Civilian authorities at times did not maintain effective control over the security forces.

The most significant human rights issues included alleged arbitrary and unlawful killings; a complaint of torture; harsh and life-threatening prison conditions; arbitrary arrest or detention; unlawful interference with privacy; killings of and threats to media members by criminal elements and criminalization of libel; widespread government corruption, including in the judiciary; threats and violence against indigenous and Afro-descendent communities; and societal violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) persons..

The government took steps to prosecute and punish officials who committed abuses. Impunity existed in many cases, however, as evidenced by lengthy judicial processes, few convictions of perpetrators, and failures to prosecute intellectual authors of crimes. Perpetrators in emblematic cases dating back many years, such as the 2009 killing of the antidrug czar Julian Aristides Gonzalez, continued to enjoy impunity.

Organized criminal elements, including local and transnational gangs and narcotics traffickers, were significant perpetrators of violent crimes and committed acts of murder, extortion, kidnapping, torture, human trafficking, intimidation, and other threats and violence directed against human rights defenders, judicial authorities, lawyers, the business community, journalists, bloggers, and women and other members of vulnerable populations.

Section 6. Discrimination, Societal Abuses, and Trafficking in Persons

Women

Rape and Domestic Violence: The law criminalizes all forms of rape of men or women, including spousal rape. The government considers rape a crime of public concern, and the state prosecutes rapists even if victims do not press charges. The penalties for rape range from three to nine years’ imprisonment, and the courts enforced these penalties.

The law provides penalties of up to four years in prison for domestic violence; however, if a victim’s physical injuries do not reach the severity required to categorize the violence as a criminal act, the only legal penalty for a first offense is a sentence of one to three months of community service. Female victims of domestic violence are entitled to certain protective measures. Abusers caught in the act may be detained for up to 24 hours as a preventive measure. The law provides a maximum sentence of three years in prison for disobeying a restraining order connected with the crime of intrafamilial violence.

In cooperation with the UN Development Program, the government operated consolidated reporting centers in Tegucigalpa and San Pedro Sula where women could report crimes, seek medical and psychological attention, and receive other services. These reporting centers were in addition to the 298 government-operated women’s offices–one in each municipality–that provided a wide array of services to women, focusing on education, personal finance, health, social and political participation, environmental stewardship, and prevention of gender-based violence.

Sexual Harassment: Both the penal and labor codes criminalize various forms of sexual harassment. Violators face penalties of one to three years in prison and possible suspension of their professional licenses, but the government did not effectively enforce the law.

Coercion in Population Control: There were no reports of coerced abortion, involuntary sterilization, or other coercive population control methods. Estimates on maternal mortality and contraceptive prevalence are available at: www.who.int/reproductivehealth/publications/monitoring/maternal-mortality-2015/en/ .

Discrimination: Although the law accords women and men the same legal rights and status, including property rights in divorce cases, many women did not fully enjoy such rights. Most women in the workforce engaged in lower-status and lower-paying informal occupations, such as domestic service, without the benefit of legal protections. By law women have equal access to educational opportunities.

Children

Birth Registration: Children derive citizenship by birth in the country, from the citizenship of their parents, or by naturalization. Although birth registration was widely available in 2015, UNICEF reported that, according to the National Population and Housing Census of 2013, an estimated 65,000 children did not have birth registration documents. The largest numbers of unregistered children were in indigenous and Afro-Honduran communities.

Education: Education is tuition-free, compulsory, and universal through the 12th grade, although high school students had to pay fees.

Child Abuse: Child abuse remained a serious problem. The law establishes prison sentences of up to three years for child abuse.

The Violence Observatory reported the homicides of 326 children as of August. As of July Casa Alianza reported there were no arrests in 80 percent of homicide cases of individuals age 23 and under. While there were some improvements in the overall security situation, there were reports that police committed acts of violence against poor youths.

For additional information, see Appendix C.

Early and Forced Marriage: On July 12, the congress amended the law to raise the minimum legal age of marriage for both boys and girls to 18 with parental consent. It was previously 16 for girls with parental consent. According to government statistics, 10 percent of women married before age 15 and 37 percent before age 18.

Sexual Exploitation of Children: The commercial sexual exploitation of children, especially in sex trafficking, continued to be a problem. The country was a destination for child sex tourism. The legal age of consent is 18. There is no statutory rape law, but the penalty for rape of a minor under age 12 is 15 to 20 years in prison, or nine to 13 years in prison if the victim is age 13 or older. Penalties for facilitating child sex trafficking are 10 to 15 years in prison, with fines ranging from one million to 2.5 million lempiras ($42,400 to $106,000). The law prohibits the use of children under 18 for exhibitions or performances of a sexual nature or in the production of pornography.

Displaced Children: Many children lived on the streets. Casa Alianza estimated 15,000 children were homeless and living on the streets, primarily in major cities. Casa Alianza assisted 596 street children as of August.

One civil society organization reported that common causes of forced displacement for youth included death threats for failure to pay extortion, attempted recruitment by gangs, witnessing criminal activity by gangs or organized crime, domestic violence, attempted kidnappings, family members’ involvement in drug dealing, victimization by traffickers, discrimination based on sexual orientation, sexual harassment, and discrimination for having a chronic illness.

Institutionalized Children: Between January 2015 and September 2016, at least 10 juveniles were killed while in detention in government facilities, nine of them in the Renaciendo juvenile detention center. CONAPREV reported four incidents at Renaciendo as of August, including violence between members of the 18th Street gang and another gang, Los Chirizos, resulting in the deaths of two minors affiliated with Los Chirizos and injuries to 11 other detainees.

International Child Abductions: The country is a party to the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. See the Department of State’s Annual Report on International Parental Child Abduction at travel.state.gov/content/childabduction/en/legal/compliance.html.

Anti-Semitism

The Jewish community, located primarily in San Pedro Sula, numbered several hundred. Leaders of the Jewish community reported frequent expressions of anti-Semitism in political discourse and events, ranging from swastikas spray painted on public buildings to hate speech in political speeches and on social media.

Trafficking in Persons

See the Department of State’s Trafficking in Persons Report at www.state.gov/j/tip/rls/tiprpt/.

Persons with Disabilities

The law prohibits discrimination against persons with physical, sensory, intellectual, and mental disabilities. The Public Ministry is responsible for prosecuting violations. The law requires that persons with disabilities have access to buildings, but few buildings were accessible, and the national government did not effectively implement laws or programs to provide such access.

The government had a disabilities unit in the Ministry of Development and Social Inclusion.

Indigenous People

In the 2013 census, approximately 8.5 percent of the population identified themselves as members of indigenous communities, but other estimates were higher. Indigenous groups included the Miskito, Tawahkas, Pech, Tolupans, Lencas, Maya-Chortis, Nahual, Bay Islanders, and Garifunas. They had limited representation in the national government and consequently little direct input into decisions affecting their lands, cultures, traditions, and the allocation of natural resources.

Indigenous communities continued to report threats and acts of violence against them and against community and environmental activists. Violence was often rooted in a broader context of conflict over land and natural resources, extensive corruption, lack of transparency and community consultation, other criminal activity, and limited state ability to protect the rights of vulnerable communities.

Communal ownership was the norm for most indigenous land, providing land-use rights for individual members of the community. Documents dating to the mid-19th century defined indigenous land titles poorly. Communities complained of lost, stolen, illegally sold, and otherwise contested historical titles. The government continued its efforts to recognize indigenous titles. Lack of clear land titles provoked land use conflicts with nonindigenous agricultural laborers, businesses, and government entities interested in developing lands that indigenous and other ethnic minority communities traditionally occupied or used.

Persons from indigenous and Afro-descendent communities continued to experience discrimination in employment, education, housing, and health services.

Acts of Violence, Discrimination, and Other Abuses Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity

The law states that sexual orientation and gender identity characteristics merit special protection from discrimination and includes these characteristics in a hate crimes amendment to the penal code. Nevertheless, social discrimination against LGBTI persons was widespread. As of October the special prosecutor for human rights was investigating nine formal complaints of discrimination by LGBTI individuals in previous years. Representatives of NGOs that focused on the right to sexual diversity alleged that the PMOP and other elements of the security forces harassed and abused LGBTI persons. As of August APUVIMEH, an NGO that works with LGBTI persons, reported eight violent deaths of LGBTI persons in the central areas of the country. The UNAH Violence Observatory reported five homicides as of August. NGOs also documented multiple instances of assaults and discrimination against LGBTI persons, leading to forced displacement of some individuals.

LGBTI rights groups asserted that government agencies and private employers engaged in discriminatory hiring practices. LGBTI groups continued working with the VCTF, Ministry of Security, and Office of the Special Prosecutor for Human Rights to address concerns about intimidation, fear of reprisals, and police corruption. From September 2016 through July 2017, the VCTF made arrests in four cases.

Transgender women were particularly vulnerable to employment and education discrimination; many could find employment only as sex workers, substantially increasing their risk of violence. Transgender individuals noted their inability to get identity documents with their chosen gender.

HIV and AIDS Social Stigma

Access to employment, educational opportunities, and health services continued to be major challenges for persons with HIV/AIDS. The law provides persons with HIV the right to have access to, and remain in, employment and the education system. The law also defines administrative, civil, and criminal liability and penalties for any violation of the law, which includes denial or delay in care for persons with HIV.

Hungary

Executive Summary

Hungary is a multiparty parliamentary democracy. The unicameral National Assembly (parliament) exercises legislative authority. It elects the president (the head of state) every five years. The president appoints a prime minister from the majority party or coalition in parliament following national elections every four years. In the 2014 parliamentary elections, the Fidesz-KDNP (Christian Democratic People’s Party) alliance retained a majority in parliament. The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) election observation mission’s report concluded the elections were efficiently administered and offered voters a diverse choice following an inclusive candidate registration process. The OSCE also noted the main governing party enjoyed an undue advantage because of restrictive campaign regulations, biased media coverage, and campaign activities that blurred the separation between political party and the state. Viktor Orban, the Fidesz party leader, has been prime minister since 2010.

Civilian authorities maintained effective control over security forces.

The most serious human rights issues included allegations that government action helped consolidate media outlets in the hands of progovernment owners , criminal penalties for libel (though court decisions limited their impact), restrictions on funding for nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) ,allegations of corrupt use of state power to grant privileges to certain economic actors, evidence of growing anti-Semitism, allegations of mistreatment of migrants, and a law requiring NGOs receiving foreign funding to brand themselves as such.

The government took steps to prosecute and punish security forces and other officials who committed abuses. Impunity for human rights abuses was not widespread.

Section 6. Discrimination, Societal Abuses, and Trafficking in Persons

Women

Rape and Domestic Violence: Rape of men or women, including spousal rape, is illegal. Although there is no crime defined as rape, the equivalent crimes are sexual coercion and sexual violence. These crimes include the exploitation of a person who is unable to express his/her will. Penalties for sexual coercion and sexual violence range from one year in prison to 15 years in aggravated cases.

The criminal code includes “violence within partnership” (domestic violence) as a separate category of offense. Regulations extend prison sentences for assault (light bodily harm) to three years, while grievous bodily harm, violation of personal freedom, or coercion may be punishable by one to five years in prison, if committed against domestic persons.

By law police called to a scene of domestic violence may issue an emergency restraining order valid for three days in lieu of immediately filing charges, while courts may issue up to 60-day “preventive restraining orders” in civil cases, without the option to extend. Women’s rights NGOs continued to criticize the law for not placing sufficient emphasis on the accountability of perpetrators.

The Ministry of Human Capacities continued to operate a 24-hour toll-free hotline for victims of domestic violence and trafficking in persons to provide information and if necessary to coordinate the immediate placement of victims in shelters.

The ministry operated shelters for survivors of domestic violence. The government also sponsored a secret shelter house for severely abused women whose lives were in danger.

NGOs criticized the limited availability of proper victim support services.

Sexual Harassment: According to the law, harassment of a sexual nature constitutes a violation of the equal treatment principle, but is not a crime. According to the EU Fundamental Rights Agency, 42 percent of women interviewed experienced some form of sexual harassment after the age of 15.

Coercion in Population Control: There were no reports of coerced abortion, involuntary sterilization, or other coercive population control methods. Estimates on maternal mortality and contraceptive prevalence are available at: www.who.int/reproductivehealth/publications/monitoring/maternal-mortality-2015/en/ .

Discrimination: The law provides for the same legal status and rights for women as for men. A Eurostat study from March (based on data from 2014) showed that male executives earned 33.7 percent more than female executives in the same level of job. Women held 41 percent of senior executive positions. In higher education the ratio of women among students was 6.3 percent higher than that of men. According to The Economist, the percentage of women on boards of directors was 11 percent.

The Hungarian Women Lobby, the NANE Women’s Rights Association, and the Patent Association asserted that Romani women could suffer multiple forms of discrimination on the basis of their gender, ethnicity, and class, experiencing barriers to equal access in education, health care, housing, employment, and justice.

In December 2016 a Romani woman harassed by staff while giving birth at a public hospital in the northeastern city of Miskolc won a case at the Equal Treatment Authority. In February 2016 hospital staff subjected her to verbal harassment and racial slurs. During labor the midwife yelled at her “if you shout once more, I will push the pillow into your face.” When the woman apologized, the doctor said to her “if you had shouted once more I would have called the psychiatrist to take the child away and then you wouldn’t receive child benefit, because anyway, you gypsies give birth only for the money.” The Equal Treatment Authority decided that the hospital violated the woman’s dignity and right to equal treatment based on her ethnicity. This was the first case before the authority involving harassment based on ethnicity in the area of health care. The hospital was required to publicize the decision and pay a fine.

Children

Birth Registration: An individual acquires citizenship from a parent who is a citizen. Births were registered immediately. NGOs argued that the law provides only partial safeguards against statelessness at birth because all children of foreign parents born in the country are registered on birth certificates as of unknown nationality. In addition, they argued that children born to stateless parents or to noncitizen parents who cannot pass on their nationality to their children were in some cases born and remained stateless.

Education: Although the law provides for free and compulsory education between the ages of three and 16 and prohibits school segregation, NGOs reported the segregation of Romani children in schools and frequent misdiagnosis of Romani children as mentally disabled.

In November 2016 the Appeals Court of Pecs adopted a decision ordering the desegregation of a Roma-only school in Kaposvar. Despite the judgment, the municipality of Kaposvar, in cooperation with the local school authority and the county government, attempted to restore segregation by allowing and supporting a private foundation to establish a new school in the same building in which the segregated school was operating. The municipality proposed to offer education in a private school for the Romani children residing in the close vicinity of the building and thus avoid their integration into mainstream schools. The Ministry of Human Capacities intervened to prevent the private school from opening. On October 4, the Supreme Court affirmed the lower court ruling that segregation is illegal and ordered the desegregation of the school.

In 2015 a lawsuit was filed on behalf of 62 children against the municipality of Gyongyospata and the Klebelsberg School Maintenance Center for their segregation in the primary school in Gyongyospata, for damages stemming from the low quality of their education, and for nonpecuniary damages related to their segregation. The lawsuit was pending at year’s end.

According to the Roma Education Fund, 20 percent of Romani children attained a secondary school diploma (compared with 80 percent of non-Romani children) and only 2 percent obtained university diplomas in 2015. According to the EC’s Roma integration indicators scoreboard (2011-16), the percentage of Romani students ending education and training early decreased from 78 to 68 percent.

Child Abuse: According to experts, approximately 10 percent of children under the age of 18 were beaten or assaulted. Experts generally noted significant regional disparities, with higher rates of child abuse occurring in eastern and northern sections of the country.

Efforts to combat child abuse included a “child protection signaling system” to detect and prevent the endangerment of children, law enforcement and judicial measures, restraining orders, shelters for mothers and their children, and removal of children from homes deemed unsafe. In the example involving the death of an 18-month-old girl in Gyongyos, in September 2016 the ombudsman released a report that established serious and repeated omissions by the pediatrician, the child welfare center, and the guardianship authority in the case, leading to a failure to prevent her death from starvation.

In 2016 parliament amended the law with a provision stating that, if a parent does not “cooperate” with the doctors, district nurses, teachers, or family supporters in the signaling system, it automatically constitutes gross endangerment, even without any other signs of negligence or endangerment.

Early and Forced Marriage: The legal minimum age of marriage is 18. The Social and Guardianship Office may authorize marriages of persons between the ages of 16 and 18.

Sexual Exploitation of Children: Buying sexual services from a child younger than 18 is a crime punishable by up to three years in prison. Forcing a child into prostitution is a crime punishable by up to three years in prison. The law prohibits child pornography. The statute of limitations does not apply to sexual crimes against children. The government generally enforced the law.

The minimum age for consensual sex is 12, provided the older partner is 18 or younger. Persons older than 18 who engage in sexual relations with a minor between the ages of 12 and 14 may be punished by one to five years’ imprisonment. By law statutory rape is a felony punishable five to 10 years’ imprisonment if the victim is under the age of 12.

Law enforcement authorities arrested and prosecuted children exploited in sex trafficking as misdemeanor offenders. NGOs strongly criticized this practice, which blames the children for “prostituting themselves.”

Institutionalized Children: A study in Nograd county commissioned by the European Roma Rights Center published in February 2016 showed that 80 percent of the children in state care in the county were of Romani origin.

The ombudsman expressed concerns that relevant professional experience was not required for persons working in child-care institutions.

NGOs also criticized the lack of special assistance for child victims of human trafficking.

International Child Abductions: The country is a party to the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. See the Department of State’s Annual Report on International Parental Child Abduction at travel.state.gov/content/childabduction/en/legal/compliance.html.

Anti-Semitism

According to the 2011 census, 10,965 persons identified their religion as Judaism. According to estimates from the World Jewish Congress, the Jewish population numbered between 35,000 and 120,000 persons. The overwhelming majority of Jews lived in Budapest.

The Brussels Institute, founded by TEV, registered 10 cases of vandalism, one threat, and 37 incidents of hate speech during 2016.

During the year TEV published its 2016 annual report which concluded that approximately one-third of the population held anti-Semitic views.

Numerous extreme websites continued to publish anti-Semitic articles.

As part of the ongoing campaign to portray George Soros as being behind mass migration, in June a government-sponsored billboard campaign featured an enormous picture of Soros. Billboards were defaced with the graffiti “stinking Jew” written on Soros’s face. Jewish groups expressed fear that public discourse targeted against a certain group in the society, like against migrants and Islam, could spread to include other minorities or religious groups.

At the European Parliament in May, Prime Minister Orban described George Soros, as a “financial speculator attacking Hungary” who has “destroyed the lives of millions of Europeans.” Frans Timmermans, vice president of the EC, stated that he found Orban’s language anti-Semitic. Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto publicly asserted that the government’s disputes with George Soros have “absolutely nothing to do” with his Jewish origins.

Jewish groups expressed concerns about Prime Minister Orban’s praise for World War II-era anti-Semites and Hitler allies and about public messaging that could incite anti-Semitism.

On June 17, a bust in tribute to Regent Miklos Horthy was unveiled in the courtyard of Attila Hotel and Restaurant in Budapest’s Third District. Horthy’s bust was also unveiled in the park of the private Zichy-Szechenyi castle in Kaloz, Fejer county, on May 20. In October a bust of Horthy-era politician Gyorgy Donath was erected in the courtyard where he was executed in 1947.

On June 21, Prime Minister Orban asserted that it was due to “exceptional statesmen,” including Regent Horthy and Minister Kuno von Klebelsberg (a former minister of interior and minister of culture during the interwar period who made statements blaming Hungarian Jews for the country’s political instability), that “history did not bury Hungary.” Andras Heisler, president of the Federation of Jewish Communities of Hungary, responded that Horthy could not be called an “exceptional statesman” due to the era of anti-Semitism associated with his name and his responsibility for the deaths of 600,000 Jews and tens of thousands of soldiers.

The government’s effort to establish a new Holocaust museum and education center focusing on child victims, the House of Fates, remained pending for a third year. Some Jewish groups and historians criticized the museum as an attempt to obscure the involvement of Hungary and Horthy in the Holocaust and stressing instead the role of Hungarian rescuers. Senior government officials repeatedly issued assurances that the museum would be opened only if Jewish community representatives reached a consensus agreement on the content of museum exhibits.

On July 18, during the visit of Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, Prime Minister Orban declared that Hungary’s failure to protect its Jewish citizens during World War II was a crime.

Trafficking in Persons

See the Department of State’s Trafficking in Persons Report at www.state.gov/j/tip/rls/tiprpt.

Persons with Disabilities

The constitution and the law prohibit discrimination against persons with physical, sensory, or intellectual disabilities in employment, education, air travel and other transportation, access to health care, or the provision of other state services.

In harmony with the law, both the central government and municipalities continued to renovate public buildings to make them accessible to persons with disabilities. There were no data available on the percentage of government buildings that complied with the law, but NGOs asserted that many public buildings remained inaccessible. NGOs also noted that public transportation had limited accessibility. NGOs claimed public elementary schools are not obligated to enroll children with disabilities. The National Federation of Disabled Persons’ Associations criticized the lack of accessible dormitory space for persons with disabilities at higher educational institutions.

The government continued to implement its 30-year (2011-41) strategy to reduce the number of persons with disabilities living in institutions with capacities greater than 50 persons. Between 2007 and 2013, approximately 600 of 23,000 such persons moved to group homes or smaller institutions with up to 30 beds. NGOs claimed, however, that the strategy covered only 10,000 of the 23,000 persons with disabilities living at large institutions and criticized the sustainability of newly created supported living facilities and the lack of transparency in monitoring processes and the risk of new group homes functioning as large institutions.

The constitution provides that a court may deprive persons with disabilities who are under guardianship of the right to vote due to limited mental capacity. This was criticized by the international NGO Mental Disability Advocacy Center as an “unsophisticated disguise for disability-based discrimination.”

NGOs noted that polling places were generally not accessible to persons with disabilities. The law also provides persons with physical disabilities the option of requesting a mobile ballot box.

The lead agency for protecting the rights of persons with disabilities is the Ministry of Human Capacities. On May 4, it announced that a special inquiry at the Tophaz home for the mentally and physically disabled in God, north of Budapest, found residents were malnourished; many were kept in chains; and others had open, untreated wounds, while some of the home’s 220 children were tied to their beds or made to wear straitjackets. The ministry suspended the director of the home and stated it had plans to close the facility.

In July the ombudsman announced finding that the state was failing in its duty to provide suitable and accessible education for students with disabilities in violation of international agreements. The ombudsman found that, as the state had no data on the exact number of students with disabilities, it failed to establish institutions to serve them, and that there was a lack of properly trained teachers.

National/Racial/Ethnic Minorities

Roma were the largest ethnic minority. According to the 2011 census, approximately 315,000 persons (3 percent of the population) identified themselves as Roma. Unofficial estimates suggested the actual figure was between 500,000 and 800,000 persons. Human rights NGOs continued to report that Roma suffered social and economic exclusion and discrimination in almost all fields of life.

According to the EC’s Roma integration indicators scoreboard (2011-16), one-third of Roma lived in households with no toilet, shower, or bathroom. Media reported that the municipal council in Kisvarda offered a nonrefundable grant of 1.5 million forints ($5,400) to tenants of government-provided housing–mainly underprivileged Romani families–if they terminated their lease contracts by mutual consent and did not apply for social housing or rent any other property in the town for 15 years.

In January the ECHR ruled that police failed to provide adequate protection to two Romani individuals who were attacked with stones and bottles during a demonstration by Jobbik and paramilitary groups in Devecser in 2012 or to conduct a proper investigation of the incident.

In February the Supreme Court ruled that local police in Gyongyospata had discriminated against the local Romani community in 2011 by failing to protect them against harassment by extremist groups.

The public education system continued to provide inadequate instruction for members of minorities in their own languages as required by law, and Romani-language schoolbooks and qualified teachers were in short supply.

According to the Ministry of Human Capacities, in 2016 some 280,000 Roma lived in approximately 1,384 settlements where at least half the population were Roma. In 2016 the government continued a 45-billion-forints ($162 million) settlement rehabilitation program to improve the living conditions of residents of segregated settlements.

The law establishes cultural autonomy for nationalities (replacing the term “minorities”) and recognizes the right to foster and enrich historic traditions, language, culture, and educational rights as well as to establish and operate institutions and maintain international contacts.

Acts of Violence, Discrimination, and Other Abuses Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity

The law explicitly prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation. In addition, the law prohibits certain forms of hate speech and prescribes increased punishment for violence against members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex community.

On July 8, the Budapest Gay Pride Parade was permitted to proceed along open streets, rather than a route sealed by fences, for the first time in 10 years. Attendance was officially estimated at more than 10,000. Several counterdemonstrations occurred.

In July the Budapest-Capital Regional Court convicted five men of intimidation for assaulting three men who took part in the Budapest pride parade in 2013.

In April the Constitutional Court ruled that the town of Asotthalom’s 2016 ban on activity promoting same-sex marriage was unconstitutional. The court stated local authorities may not pass regulations affecting a basic right directly or restricting it.

A January report by the ombudsman for fundamental rights noted that registered same-sex partners were entitled to the same tax benefits as married couples.

Iceland

Executive Summary

Iceland is a constitutional parliamentary republic. The president is the head of state, and a prime minister, usually the leader of the largest party, is head of government. There is a unicameral parliament (Althingi). In 2016 voters elected Gudni Thorlacius Johannesson president in a free and fair election. On September 15, the governing coalition collapsed, leading to new parliamentary elections on October 28 that were also considered free and fair.

Civilian authorities maintained effective control over the security forces.

There were no reports of egregious human rights abuses.

There were no reports of officials committing human right abuses in the security forces or elsewhere in the government.

Section 6. Discrimination, Societal Abuses, and Trafficking in Persons

Women

Rape and Domestic Violence: Rape carries a maximum penalty of 16 years in prison. Judges typically imposed sentences of two to three years. The law does not explicitly address spousal rape. Activists continued to complain that the burden of proof in rape cases was too heavy and discouraged victims from reporting acts of rape and authorities from prosecuting them. The government did not respond formally to these concerns.

The law criminalizes domestic violence specifically with a maximum penalty of 16 years in prison. Victims of domestic violence can request police to remove perpetrators physically from the home for up to four weeks at a time. Police can also impose a 72-hour restraining order to prevent abusers from coming into proximity with the victim, and courts can extend this restraining order for up to a year. The law entitles victims of sex crimes to a lawyer to advise them of their rights and to help them pursue charges against the alleged assailants. In 2016 a total of 116 women and 79 children sought temporary lodging at the country’s shelter for women, mainly because of domestic violence. The shelter also offered counseling.

The government helped finance the Women’s Shelter, the Counseling and Information Center for Survivors of Sexual Violence, the rape crisis center of the national hospital, and other organizations that assisted victims of domestic or gender-based violence. In addition the government assisted immigrant women in abusive relationships, offering emergency accommodation, counseling, and information on legal rights.

Sexual Harassment: Two laws prohibit sexual harassment. The general penal code makes sexual harassment punishable by imprisonment for up to two years. The law on equal status defines sexual harassment more broadly as any type of unfair or offensive physical, verbal, or symbolic sexual behavior that is unwanted, affects the self-respect of the victim, and is continued despite a clear indication that the behavior is undesired. The law requires employers and organization supervisors to make specific arrangements to prevent employees, students, and clients from becoming victims of gender-based or sexual harassment. The law establishes fines for violations, but more severe penalties could be applicable under other laws. According to the latest available information from the State Prosecutor’s Office, in 2016 prosecutors brought five cases to trial at the district court level and obtained convictions in two, with one case still awaiting trial.

Coercion in Population Control: There were no reports of coerced abortion, involuntary sterilization, or other coercive population control methods. Estimates on maternal mortality and contraceptive prevalence are available at: www.who.int/reproductivehealth/publications/monitoring/maternal-mortality-2015/en/ .

Discrimination: Women have the same legal status and rights as men according to the constitution and the law. The law states that employers and unions should work towards gender equality in the labor market, especially in managerial positions, and that employers should work towards declassifying jobs as primarily female- or male-oriented. Employment discrimination occurred.

In May the Gender Equality Complaints Committee ruled that the Ministry of Finance violated the law on equal status when it hired a male employee over a female applicant of equal qualifications for the position of director of public finance in June 2016.

Children

Birth Registration: A child acquires the country’s citizenship at birth if both parents are citizens, if the mother is a citizen, or if the father is a citizen and is married to the child’s foreign mother. If a mixed-nationality couple had obtained a judicial separation at the time when the child was conceived, however, the child acquires the mother’s citizenship. A stateless child can become a citizen at the age of three. In all cases a child’s access to social services depends on whether he or she has a residence permit in the country. Registration of birth was prompt.

Child Abuse: Child abuse, including sexual abuse, remained a problem. The Government Agency for Child Protection operated a diagnostic and short-term treatment center for abused and troubled minors, and was responsible for three long-term treatment facilities. It also coordinated the work of 27 committees throughout the country that were responsible for local management of child-protection cases.

The government maintained a children’s assessment center to accelerate prosecution of child sexual abuse cases and lessen the trauma experienced by the child.

The prime minister appoints the children’s ombudsman, who acts independently of the government. While the ombudsman’s recommendations are not binding on authorities, generally the government adopted them.

Early and Forced Marriage: The country’s minimum age for marriage is 18 for both sexes.

Sexual Exploitation of Children: The law prohibits, with fines or imprisonment for up to two years, the payment, or promise to pay or render consideration of another type, for prostitution involving a child under the age of 18. The law prohibits child pornography, which is punishable by up to two years in prison. The law criminalizes statutory rape with incarceration for one to 16 years. The government effectively enforced these laws. The minimum age for consensual sex is 15.

International Child Abductions: The country is a party to the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. See the Department of State’s Annual Report on International Parental Child Abduction at travel.state.gov/content/childabduction/en/legal/compliance.html.

Anti-Semitism

Officials estimated the Jewish community to be fewer than 100 individuals, and there is no synagogue or Jewish cultural center in the country. There were no reports of anti-Semitic acts.

Trafficking in Persons

See the Department of State’s Trafficking in Persons Report at www.state.gov/j/tip/rls/tiprpt/.

Persons with Disabilities

The constitution prohibits discrimination against persons with physical, sensory, intellectual, and mental disabilities.

The law provides that persons with disabilities have access to buildings, information, and communications. Disability rights advocates complained that authorities did not fully implement the law and regulations. While violations of these regulations are punishable by a fine or a jail sentence of up to two years, one of the main associations for persons with disabilities contended that authorities rarely, if ever, assessed penalties for noncompliance.

National/Racial/Ethnic Minorities

Immigrants, mainly of non-Western origin or from Eastern Europe and the Baltic countries, and asylum seekers suffered occasional incidents of social harassment based on their ethnicity.

Acts of Violence, Discrimination, and Other Abuses Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity

While the constitution does not specifically prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity, it does so implicitly. The law prohibits anyone from denying a person goods or services on an equal footing with others on grounds of that person’s sexual orientation or gender identity. It also prohibits denying a person access to a public meeting place or other places open to the public on the same footing with others on grounds of that person’s sexual orientation or gender identity. The law further prohibits incitement to hatred against persons on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity and the dissemination of hateful material.

Other Societal Violence or Discrimination

Immigrants and asylum seekers, mainly of non-Western origin, suffered occasional incidents of harassment based on their religious beliefs. The ECRI report noted “the growing incidence of anti-Muslim sentiment” in the country, including on social media.

India

Executive Summary

India is a multiparty, federal, parliamentary democracy with a bicameral legislature. The president, elected by an electoral college composed of the state assemblies and parliament, is the head of state, and the prime minister is the head of the government. Under the constitution the 29 states and seven union territories have a high degree of autonomy and have primary responsibility for law and order. Voters elected President Ram Nath Kovind in July to a five-year term, and Narendra Modi became prime minister following the victory of the National Democratic Alliance coalition led by the Bharatiya Janata Party in the 2014 general elections. Observers considered these elections, which included more than 551 million participants, free and fair despite isolated instances of violence.

Civilian authorities maintained effective control over the security forces.

The most significant human rights issues included police and security force abuses, such as extrajudicial killings, disappearances, torture, arbitrary arrest and detention, rape, harsh and life-threatening prison conditions, and lengthy pretrial detention. Widespread corruption; reports of political prisoners in certain states; and instances of censorship and harassment of media outlets, including some critical of the government continued. There were government restrictions on foreign funding of some nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), including on those with views the government stated were not in the “national interest,” thereby curtailing the work of these NGOs. Legal restrictions on religious conversion in eight states; lack of criminal investigations or accountability for cases related to rape, domestic violence, dowry-related deaths, honor killings, sexual harassment; and discrimination against women and girls remained serious problems. Violence and discrimination based on religious affiliation, sexual orientation, and caste or tribe, including indigenous persons, also persisted due to a lack of accountability.

A lack of accountability for misconduct at all levels of government persisted, contributing to widespread impunity. Investigations and prosecutions of individual cases took place, but lax enforcement, a shortage of trained police officers, and an overburdened and underresourced court system contributed to a small number of convictions.

Separatist insurgents and terrorists in the state of Jammu and Kashmir, the northeast, and the Maoist-affected areas committed serious abuses, including killings and torture of armed forces personnel, police, government officials, and of civilians, and recruitment and use of child soldiers.

Section 6. Discrimination, Societal Abuses, and Trafficking in Persons

Women

Rape and Domestic Violence: The law criminalizes rape in most cases, although marital rape is not illegal when the woman is over the age of 15. Official statistics pointed to rape as the country’s fastest growing crime, prompted at least in part by the increasing willingness of victims to report rapes, although observers believed the number of rapes still remained vastly underreported.

Law enforcement and legal recourse for rape victims were inadequate, overtaxed, and unable to address the problem effectively. Police officers sometimes worked to reconcile rape victims and their attackers, in some cases encouraging female rape victims to marry their attackers. NGO Lawyers Collective noted the length of trials, lack of victim support, and inadequate protection of witnesses and victims remained major concerns. Doctors continued to carry out the invasive “two-finger test” to speculate on sexual history, despite the Supreme Court’s holding that the test violated a victim’s right to privacy. In 2015 the government introduced new guidelines for health professionals for medical examinations of victims of sexual violence. It included provisions regarding consent of the victim during various stages of examination, which some NGOs claimed was an improvement to recording incidents.

Women in conflict areas, such as in the state of Jammu and Kashmir, the northeast, Jharkhand, and Chhattisgarh, as well as vulnerable Dalit or tribal women, were often victims of rape or threats of rape. National crime statistics indicated Dalit women were disproportionately victimized compared with other caste affiliations.

Domestic violence continued to be a problem. Acid attacks against women caused death and permanent disfigurement. During the year Chhattisgarh became the first state to establish one-stop crisis centers for women in distress, called “Sakhi centers,” in all its 27 districts, supported with federal funds from the Ministry of Women and Child Development. These centers provide medical, legal, counseling, and shelter services for women facing various types of violence, but primarily domestic violence related to dowry disputes and sexual violence.

The NCRB estimated the conviction rate for crimes against women to be 18.9 percent.

In 2015 the Supreme Court directed all private hospitals to provide medical assistance to victims of acid attacks. Implementation of the policy began in Chennai in 2016. In April the government announced that acid attack victims were to be included in the provisions of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act 2016.

In July 2016 the central government launched a revised Central Victim Compensation Fund scheme to reduce disparities in compensation for victims of crime including rape, acid attacks, crime against children, and human trafficking.

Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C): No national law addresses the practice of FGM/C. According to human rights groups and media reports, between 70 and 90 percent of Dawoodi Bohras, a population of approximately one million concentrated in Maharashtra, Gujarat, Rajasthan, and Delhi, practiced FGM/C.

On June 26, the Supreme Court sought responses from the national government and the states of Gujarat, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, and Delhi following a public interest litigation (PIL) petition seeking a ban on FGM/C. In May national Minister for Women and Child Development Maneka Gandhi said FGM/C should be a criminal offense.

Other Harmful Traditional Practices: The law forbids the provision or acceptance of a dowry, but families continued to offer and accept dowries, and dowry disputes remained a serious problem. NCRB data showed authorities arrested 19,973 persons for dowry deaths in 2015.

“Sumangali schemes” affected an estimated 120,000 young women. These plans, named after the Tamil word for “happily married woman,” are a form of bonded labor in which young women or girls work to earn money for a dowry to be able to marry. The promised lump-sum compensation ranged from 80,000 to 100,000 rupees ($1,300 to $1,600), which is normally withheld until the end of three to five years of employment. Compensation, however, sometimes went partially or entirely unpaid. While in bonded labor, employers reportedly subjected women to serious workplace abuses, severe restrictions on freedom of movement and communication, sexual abuse, sexual exploitation, sex trafficking, and being killed. The majority of sumangali-bonded laborers came from the Scheduled Castes (SC) and, of those, employers subjected Dalits, the lowest-ranking Arunthathiyars, and migrants from the northern part of the country, to particular abuse. Authorities did not allow trade unions in sumangali factories, and some sumangali workers reportedly did not report abuses due to fear of retribution. A 2014 case study by NGO Vaan Muhil described health problems among workers and working conditions reportedly involving physical and sexual exploitation. In 2016 the Madras High Court ordered the Tamil Nadu government to evaluate the legality of sumangali schemes. It is unclear whether the state has complied with the court order.

Most states employed dowry prohibition officers. A 2010 Supreme Court ruling makes it mandatory for all trial courts to charge defendants in dowry-death cases with murder.

So-called honor killings remained a problem, especially in Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, and Haryana. These states also had low female birth ratios due to gender-selective abortions. On August 21, the Supreme Court sought suggestions from NGO Shakti Vahini and khap panchayats on ways to prevent harassment and killings of young couples in the name of family honor. The most common justification for the killings cited by the accused or by their relatives was that the victim married against her family’s wishes.

In a case of suspected honor killing in Telangana, police found a lower-caste Dalit man M. Madhukar dead from injuries on March 13. Dalit rights organizations rejected the police contention that it was a case of suicide and asserted the family members of an upper-caste girl were involved in his death. On April 6, the Hyderabad High Court ordered another autopsy on the body following protests and allegations that a local member of parliament was involved in a cover-up operation. There were no updates to the case at year’s end.

There were reports women and girls in the “devadasi” system of symbolic marriages to Hindu deities were victims of rape or sexual abuse at the hands of priests and temple patrons, a form of sex trafficking. NGOs suggested families forced some SC girls into prostitution in temples to mitigate household financial burdens and the prospect of marriage dowries. Some states have laws to curb prostitution or sexual abuse of women and girls in temple service. Enforcement of these laws remained lax, and the problem was widespread. Some observers estimated more than 450,000 women and girls engaged in temple-related prostitution.

There was no federal law addressing accusations of witchcraft; however, authorities may use other legal provisions as an alternative for a victim accused of witchcraft. Bihar, Odisha, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, Assam, and Jharkhand have laws criminalizing those who accuse others of witchcraft. Most reports stated villagers and local councils usually banned those accused of witchcraft from the village.

Sexual Harassment: Sexual harassment remains a serious problem. Authorities required all state departments and institutions with more than 50 employees to operate committees to prevent and address sexual harassment, often referred to as “eve teasing.”

Coercion in Population Control: There were reports of coerced and involuntary sterilization.

Some women reportedly were pressured to have tubal ligations, hysterectomies, or other forms of sterilization because of the payment structures for health workers and insurance payments for private facilities. This pressure appeared to affect disproportionately poor and lower-caste women. In September 2016 the Supreme Court ordered the closure of all sterilization camps within three years.

The country continued to have deaths related to unsafe abortion, maternal mortality, and coercive family planning practices, including coerced or unethical sterilization and policies restricting access to entitlements for women with more than two children. Policies and guideline initiatives penalizing families with more than two children remained in place in seven states, but some authorities did not enforce them. Certain states maintained government reservations for government jobs and subsidies for adults with no more than two children and reduced subsidies and access to health care for those who have more than two.

Rajasthan, one of 11 states to adopt a two-child limit for elected officials at the local level, was the first to adopt the law in 1992. Despite efforts at the state level to reverse or amend the law, it remained unchanged during the year. According to NGO Lawyers Collective, such policies often induced families to carry out sex-selection for the second birth to assure they have at least one son, without sacrificing future eligibility for political office.

Although national health officials noted the central government did not have the authority to regulate state decisions on population issues, the central government creates guidelines and funds state level reproductive health programs. A Supreme Court decision deemed the national government responsible for providing quality care for sterilization services at the state level. Almost all states also introduced “girl child promotion” schemes, intended to counter sex selection, some of which required a certificate of sterilization for the parents to collect benefits.

The government has promoted female sterilization as a form of family planning for decades and, as a result, female sterilization made up 86 percent of all contraceptive use in the country. Despite recent efforts to expand the range of contraceptive choices, the government sometimes promoted permanent female sterilization to the exclusion of alternate forms of contraception.

Estimates on maternal mortality and contraceptive prevalence are available at: www.who.int/reproductivehealth/publications/monitoring/maternal-mortality-2015/en/ .

Discrimination: The law prohibits discrimination in the workplace and requires equal pay for equal work, but employers often paid women less than men for the same job, discriminated against women in employment and credit applications, and promoted women less frequently than men.

Many tribal land systems, including in Bihar, deny tribal women the right to own land.

In January 2016 the Bihar government approved a 35-percent quota for women in state government jobs at all levels.

Gender-biased Sex Selection: According to the latest census (2011), the national average male-female sex ratio at birth was 1,000 to 943. The law prohibits prenatal sex selection, but authorities rarely enforced it.

Children

Birth Registration: The law establishes state government procedures for birth registration. UNICEF estimated authorities registered 58 percent of national births each year. Children lacking citizenship or registration may not be able to access public services, enroll in school, or obtain identification documents later in life.

Education: The constitution provides for free education for all children from ages six to 14, but the government did not always comply with this requirement. The NGO Pratham’s 2016 Annual Survey of Education noted that in the states of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Manipur, West Bengal, and Madhya Pradesh, female student attendance rates ranged between 50 to 60 percent.

According to the National Survey of Out of School Children 2014 report, 28 percent of children with disabilities ages six to 13 did not attend school.

Child Abuse: The law prohibits child abuse, but it does not recognize physical abuse by caregivers, neglect, or psychological abuse as punishable offenses. Although banned, teachers often used corporal punishment. The government often failed to educate the public adequately against child abuse or to enforce the law.

In May humanitarian aid organization World Vision India conducted a survey of 45,844 children between the ages of 12 and 18 across 26 states and found that one in every two children was a victim of sexual abuse. The Counsel to Secure Justice reported nearly 30 percent of child sexual abuse cases involved incest and 99 percent of overall child sexual abuse cases were not reported.

The government sponsored a toll-free 24-hour helpline for children in distress working with 640 partners in 402 locations.

Early and Forced Marriage: The law sets the legal age of marriage for women at 18 and men at 21, and it empowers courts to annul child marriages. It also sets penalties for persons who perform, arrange, or participate in such marriages. Authorities did not consistently enforce the law nor address rape of girls forced into marriage. The law does not characterize a marriage between a girl below age 18 and a boy below age 21 as “illegal,” but it recognizes such unions as voidable. According to international and local NGOs, procedural limitations effectively left married minors with no legal remedy in most situations.

The law establishes a full-time child-marriage prohibition officer in every state to prevent and police child marriage. These individuals have the power to intervene when a child marriage is taking place, document violations of the law, file charges against parents, remove children from dangerous situations, and deliver them to local child-protection authorities.

In May Karnataka amended existing legislation to declare every child marriage illegal and empowered police to take specific action.

On July 20, Minister of State for Women and Child Development Krishna Raj informed the upper house of parliament that 2015-16 data from NFHS-4 revealed a decline in the percentage of women between ages 20 and 24 married before age 18.

Sexual Exploitation of Children: The law prohibits child pornography and sets the legal age of consent at 18. It is illegal to pay for sex with a minor, to induce a minor into prostitution or any form of “illicit sexual intercourse,” or to sell or buy a minor for the purposes of prostitution. Violators are subjected to 10 years’ imprisonment and a fine.

Special Courts to try child sexual abuse cases existed in all six Delhi courts. Civil society groups observed, however, that large caseloads severely limited judges’ abilities to take on cases in a timely manner.

Child Soldiers: No information was available on how many persons under age 18 were serving in the armed forces. NGOs estimated there were at least 2,500 children associated with insurgent armed groups in Maoist-affected areas as well as child soldiers in insurgent groups in the state of Jammu and Kashmir. There were allegations government-supported, anti-Maoist village defense forces recruited children (see section 1.g., Child Soldiers).

Displaced Children: Displaced children, including refugees, IDPs, and street children, faced restrictions on access to government services (see also section 2.d.).

Institutionalized Children: Lax law enforcement and a lack of safeguards encouraged an atmosphere of impunity in a number of group homes and orphanages.

The Calcutta Research Group reported police sometimes separated families detained at the India-Bangladesh border in the state of West Bengal by institutionalizing children in Juvenile Justice Homes with limited and restricted access to their families.

International Child Abductions: The country is not a party to the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. See the Department of State’s Annual Report on International Parental Child Abduction at travel.state.gov/content/childabduction/en/legal/compliance.html.

Anti-Semitism

Jewish groups from the 4,650-member Jewish community cited no reports of anti-Semitic acts during the year.

Trafficking in Persons

See the Department of State’s Trafficking in Persons Report at www.state.gov/j/tip/rls/tiprpt/.

Persons with Disabilities

The constitution does not explicitly mention disability. The law provides equal rights for persons with a variety of disabilities, and the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act 2016 increased the number of recognized disabilities, including Parkinson’s disease and acid attacks. The law set a two-year deadline for the government to provide persons with disabilities with unrestricted free access to physical infrastructure and public transportation systems.

The law also reserves 3 percent of all educational places for persons with disabilities, and 4 percent of government jobs. In June 2016 the Supreme Court directed the government to extend the 4-percent reservation to all government posts. In June a government panel decided that private news networks must accompany public broadcasts with sign language interpretations and closed captions to accommodate persons with disabilities better. The government allocated funds to programs and NGO partners to increase the number of jobs filled.

Despite these efforts, problems remained. Private-sector employment of persons with disabilities remained low, despite governmental incentives.

Discrimination against persons with disabilities in employment, education, and access to health care was more pervasive in rural areas, and 45 percent of the country’s population of persons with disabilities was illiterate. There was limited accessibility to public buildings. A PIL file was pending in the Supreme Court on accessibility to buildings and roads.

A Department of School Education and Literacy program provided special educators and resource centers for students with disabilities. Mainstream schools remained inadequately equipped with teachers trained in inclusive education, resource material, and appropriate curricula.

The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare estimated of the individuals with mental disabilities, 25 percent were homeless.

Patients in some mental-health institutions faced food shortages, inadequate sanitary conditions, and lack of adequate medical care. HRW reported women and girls with disabilities occasionally were forced into mental hospitals against their will.

In June 2016 the Supreme Court directed the government to extend the 4-percent reservation to all government posts.

National/Racial/Ethnic Minorities

The constitution prohibits caste discrimination. The registration of castes and tribes continued for the purpose of affirmative action programs, as the government implemented programs to empower members of the low castes. Discrimination based on caste remained prevalent particularly in rural areas.

The term “Dalit,” derived from the Sanskrit for “oppressed” or “crushed,” refers to members of what society regarded as the lowest Hindu castes, the Scheduled Castes (SC). Many SC members continued to face impediments to social advancement, including education, jobs, access to justice, freedom of movement, and access to institutions and services. According to the 2011 census, SC members constituted 17 percent (approximately 200 million persons) of the population.

Although the law protects Dalits, there were numerous reports of violence and significant discrimination in access to services, such as health care, education, temple attendance, and marriage. Many Dalits were malnourished. Most bonded laborers were Dalits. Dalits who asserted their rights were often victims of attacks, especially in rural areas. As agricultural laborers for higher-caste landowners, Dalits reportedly often worked without monetary remuneration. Reports from the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination described systematic abuse of Dalits, including extrajudicial killings and sexual violence against Dalit women. Crimes committed against Dalits reportedly often went unpunished, either because authorities failed to prosecute perpetrators or because victims did not report crimes due to fear of retaliation.

NGOs reported widespread discrimination, including prohibiting Dalits from walking on public pathways, wearing footwear, accessing water from public taps in upper-caste neighborhoods, participating in some temple festivals, bathing in public pools, or using certain cremation grounds. In Gujarat, for example, Dalits were reportedly denied entry to temples and denied educational and employment opportunities.

NGOs reported that Dalit students were sometimes denied admission to certain schools because of their caste or were required to present caste certification prior to admission. There were reports that school officials barred Dalit children from morning prayers, asked Dalit children to sit in the back of the class, or forced them to clean school toilets while denying them access to the same facilities. There were also reports that teachers refused to correct the homework of Dalit children, refused to provide midday meals to Dalit children, and asked Dalit children to sit separately from children of upper-caste families.

In April the supporters of Bhim Army, a lower-caste Dalit advocacy group in Uttar Pradesh, reportedly faced violence at the hands of organized upper-caste Thakur landlords in Uttar Pradesh. More than 50 Dalit houses were reportedly burned and many individuals injured in the violence. In May thousands of Dalits, led by the Bhim Army, staged a demonstration against the violence. As confrontations between the communities escalated, police arrested several Bhim Army activists, including leader Chandrshekhar Azad. State police reportedly did not detain upper-caste participants.

The federal and state governments continued to implement programs for members of lower caste groups to provide better-quality housing, quotas in schools, government jobs, and access to subsidized foods. Critics claimed many of these programs suffered from poor implementation and/or corruption.

Manual scavenging–the removal of animal or human waste by Dalits–continued in spite of its legal prohibition. NGO activists claimed elected village councils employed a majority of manual scavengers that belonged to Other Backward Classes and Dalit populations. Media regularly published articles and pictures of persons cleaning manholes and sewers without protective gear. On March 16, the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment stated that there were 12,737 manual scavengers in 13 states and union territories. NGOs maintained the actual numbers were higher.

HRW reported that children of manual scavengers faced discrimination, humiliation, and segregation at village schools. Their occupation often exposed manual scavengers to infections that affected their skin, eyes, respiratory, and gastrointestinal systems. Health practitioners suggested children exposed to such bacteria were often unable to maintain a healthy body weight and suffered from stunted growth.

The law prohibits the employment of scavengers or the construction of dry (nonflush) latrines, and penalties range from imprisonment for up to one year, a fine of 2,000 rupees ($32), or both.

Indigenous People

The constitution provides for the social, economic, and political rights of disadvantaged groups of indigenous persons. The law provides special status for indigenous individuals, but authorities often denied them their rights.

In most of the northeastern states, where indigenous groups constituted the majority of the states’ populations, the law provides for tribal rights, although some local authorities disregarded these provisions. The law prohibits any nontribal person, including citizens from other states, from crossing a government-established inner boundary without a valid permit. No one may remove rubber, wax, ivory, or other forest products from protected areas without authorization. Tribal authorities must approve the sale of land to nontribal persons.

Acts of Violence, Discrimination, and Other Abuses Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity

The law criminalizes homosexual sex. The country recognizes Hijras (male-to-female transgender persons) as a third gender, separate from men or women. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) persons faced physical attacks, rape, and blackmail. Some police committed crimes against LGBTI persons and used the threat of arrest to coerce victims not to report the incidents. With the aid of NGOs, several states offered education and sensitivity training to police.

LGBTI groups reported they faced widespread societal discrimination and violence, particularly in rural areas. Activists reported that transgender persons, who were HIV positive, continued to face difficulty obtaining medical treatment.

In January 2015 a high court dismissed petitions challenging the 2013 Supreme Court judgment reinstating a colonial-era legal provision criminalizing homosexual sex. It has since agreed to review that ruling. Additionally, in an August ruling that the country’s citizens have a constitutional right to privacy, the Supreme Court termed sexual orientation “an essential attribute of privacy.”

In February the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare unveiled the 2017 Saathiya Education Plan, resource material related to sex education, which recognized that persons can feel attraction for any individual of the same or opposite sex.

In April K. Prithika Yashini became India’s first transgender individual to join a state police force in Dharmapuri, Tamil Nadu. She was initially denied police service employment until the Madras High Court intervened and ruled in her favor.

In May the Kerala government hired 21 transgender citizens in Kochi, but several weeks later many of the transgender workers quit their jobs, reportedly because of difficulty finding rental accommodation in Kochi due to their gender identities.

HIV and AIDS Social Stigma

The number of new HIV cases decreased by 57 percent over the past decade. The epidemic persisted among the most vulnerable populations: high-risk groups, which include female sex workers; men who have sex with men; transgender persons; and persons who inject drugs.

Additionally, antiretroviral drug stock outages in a few states led to treatment interruption. On April 11, the government passed the HIV and AIDS (Prevention and Control) Bill. The bill is designed to prevent discrimination in regards to health care, employment, education, housing, economic participation, or political representation.

The National AIDS Control Program prioritized HIV prevention, care, and treatment interventions for high-risk groups and rights of persons living with HIV.

The National AIDS Control Organization worked actively with NGOs to train women’s HIV/AIDS self-help groups.

Police engaged in programs to strengthen their role in protecting communities vulnerable to human rights violations and HIV.

Other Societal Violence or Discrimination

Societal violence based on religion and caste and by religiously associated groups continued to be a serious concern. Ministry of Home Affairs 2016-17 data showed 703 incidents of communal (religious) violence took place, which killed 86 persons and injured 2,321.

On July 26, the upper house of parliament issued a statement in response to hate crimes, expressing the need for the Union and the Ministry of Home Affairs to take proactive measures in order to create a heightened sense of security and inclusion for citizens from the northeastern region. In response to a recommendation of the Supreme Court, a committee was established to address such concerns.

The year saw an increase in cow vigilante attacks, typically associated with Hindu extremists. Since 2010 61 of the 63 reported attacks targeted Muslims, and 24 out of 28 of those killed in the attacks were Muslim. According to HRW cow vigilante violence has resulted in the death of at least 10 Muslims since 2015, including a 12-year-old boy. In several instances police filed charges against the assault victims under existing laws prohibiting cow slaughter. According to a report by IndiaSpend, an independent journalism outlet, mob lynchings of minorities took place in Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Uttar Pradesh. In the first six months of the year, 20 cow-related vigilante attacks were reported, a more than 75-percent increase over 2016.

According to media reports, on June 22, 16-year-old Junaid Khan was stabbed to death on a train in Haryana by a mob who accused him and his three companions of transporting beef. The Haryana police arrested six accused individuals in connection with the case. On July 9, Maharashtra police arrested Naresh Kumar, the prime suspect in the case, and as of August, four of the six accused had been granted bail.

On September 11, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein told the 36th opening session of the Human Rights Council he was dismayed by a broader rise of intolerance towards religious and other minorities in the country. He stated, “The current wave of violent, and often lethal, mob attacks against persons under the pretext of protecting the lives of cows is alarming.”

Indonesia

Executive Summary

Indonesia is a multiparty democracy. In 2014 voters elected Joko Widodo (commonly known as Jokowi) as president. Domestic and international observers judged the 2014 legislative and presidential elections free and fair. Domestic and international observers judged local elections during 2017 for regional executives to be free and fair.

Civilian authorities generally maintained control over security forces.

The most significant human rights issues included: claims of arbitrary or unlawful killings by government security forces; torture and other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment by police; harsh and life threatening conditions in prisons and detention centers; arbitrary detention by the government; detention of political prisoners; limits on the freedom of expression due to laws addressing treason, blasphemy, defamation, and decency; limits on freedom of association; official corruption and attempts by government elements to undermine efforts to prosecute corrupt officials; criminalization of same-sex sexual activities at the local level and violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) persons; and forced or compulsory labor.

Impunity for serious human rights violations remained a concern. In certain cases, the courts meted out disparate and more severe punishment against civilians than government officials found guilty of the same crimes.

Section 6. Discrimination, Societal Abuses, and Trafficking in Persons

Women

Rape and Domestic Violence: The law prohibits rape, domestic abuse, and other forms of violence against women. A 2016 government survey found that one-third of women between the ages of 15 and 64 had experienced violence. Violence against women previously had been poorly documented and significantly underreported by the government. Domestic violence was the most common form of violence against women.

The legal definition of rape covers only forced penetration of sexual organs, and filing a case requires corroboration and a witness. Rape is punishable by four to 14 years in prison. While the government imprisoned perpetrators of rape and attempted rape, sentences were often light, and many convicted rapists received the minimum sentence. Marital rape is not a specific criminal offense under the penal code, but it is covered under “forced sexual intercourse” in national legislation on domestic violence, and it can be punished with criminal penalties. Reliable nationwide statistics on the incidence of rape continued to be unavailable, although in June 2016, the Ministry of Women’s Empowerment announced the creation of a nationwide data center to monitor cases of sexual violence.

The government ran integrated service centers for women and children (P2TPA) in all 34 provinces and approximately 242 districts, which provided counseling and support services to victims of violence. The larger provincial service centers provided more comprehensive psychosocial services, while the quality of support at the district-level centers varied. Women living in rural areas or districts where no such center was established had difficulty receiving support services and some centers were only open for six hours a day and not the required 24 hours. Nationwide, police operated “special crisis rooms” or “women’s desks” where female officers received reports from female and child victims of sexual assault and trafficking and where victims found temporary shelter.

In addition to the provincial-level task forces, the number of task forces at the local (district or city level) rose from 191 in 2015 to 196 of 497 districts/towns in 2016.

Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C): FGM/C reportedly occurred regularly, and no laws prohibit the practice. A February 6 UNICEF report, which reflected 2013 government data, estimated that 49 percent of girls age 11 and younger, or an estimated 60 million women and girls, have undergone some form of FGM/C, despite laws prohibiting medical professionals from administering it. The Ministry of Women’s Empowerment has been vocal about its opposition to FGM/C but has run up against conservative groups, including the Indonesian Ulema Council, who claimed a religious foundation for the practice. For more information, see data.unicef.org/resources/female-genital-mutilation-cutting-country-profiles/ .

Sexual Harassment: Article 281 of the criminal code, which prohibits indecent public acts, serves as the basis for criminal complaints stemming from sexual harassment. Violations of this article are punishable by imprisonment of up to two years and eight months and a small fine. Civil society and NGOs reported sexual harassment was a problem countrywide, but government institutions actively worked to counter it.

Coercion in Population Control: There were no reports of coerced abortion, involuntary sterilization, or other coercive population control methods. Estimates on maternal mortality and contraceptive prevalence are available at: www.who.int/reproductivehealth/publications/monitoring/maternal-mortality-2015/en/ .

Discrimination: The law provides for the same legal status and rights for women as for men under family, labor, property, and nationality laws, but does not grant widows equal inheritance rights. The law states that women’s participation in the development process must not conflict with their role in improving family welfare and educating the younger generation. The 1974 Marriage Law establishes the legal age of marriage as 16 for women and 19 for men. The same law also designates the man as the head of the household. As such, married women who work outside the home are taxed at a higher rate than working husbands.

Divorce is available to both men and women. Many divorcees received no alimony, since there was no system to enforce such payments. The law requires a divorced woman to wait 40 days before remarrying; a man may remarry immediately.

The National Commission on Violence against Women reported 421 policies that discriminate against women were issued by provincial, district and municipal administrations between 2009 and 2014. These include “morality laws” and antiprostitution regulations, such as those in Bantul and Tanggerang, that have been used to detain women walking alone at night. More than 70 local regulations require women to dress conservatively or wear a headscarf. The Ministry of Home Affairs is responsible for “harmonizing” local regulations that are not in line with national legislation, but as of August the ministry had not invoked this authority to overturn any gender discriminatory local regulations.

Women faced discrimination in the workplace, both in hiring and in gaining fair compensation.

Children

Birth Registration: Citizenship is primarily acquired through one’s parents or through birth in national territory. Without birth registration, families may face difficulties in accessing government-sponsored insurance benefits and enrolling children in schools.

The law prohibits fees for legal identity documents issued by the civil registry. Nevertheless, NGOs reported that in some districts local authorities did not provide free birth certificates.

Education: Although the constitution guarantees free education, most schools were not free, and poverty puts education out of reach for many children. In 2015 the government introduced a nationwide compulsory 12-year school program, but the implementation was inconsistent. The Ministry of Education, representing public and private schools, and the Ministry of Religion for Islamic schools and madrasahs, introduced a new system giving students from low-income families a certain amount of money for their educational needs.

According to the National Statistics Agency, in 2016 approximately one million children between ages seven and 15 did not attend primary or secondary school. An estimated 3.6 million children between ages 16 and 18 did not attend school.

Child Abuse: There continued to be reports of child labor and sexual abuse. The law prohibits child abuse, but NGOs criticized the slow police response in responding to such allegations. The Child Protection Act addresses economic and sexual exploitation of children, as well as adoption, guardianship, and other issues. Some provincial governments did not enforce these provisions.

Early and Forced Marriage: The legal distinction between a woman and a girl was not clear. The marriage law sets the minimum marriageable age at 16 for women (19 for men), but the child protection law states that persons under age 18 are not adults. A girl who marries has adult legal status. Girls frequently married before reaching the age of 16, particularly in rural and impoverished areas. See also the Department of State’s Trafficking in Persons Report at www.state.gov/j/tip/rls/tiprpt/.

Sexual Exploitation of Children: The penal code forbids consensual sex outside of marriage with girls under the age of 15. The law does not address heterosexual acts between women and boys, but it prohibits same-sex acts between adults and minors. On March 14, Jakarta police disrupted a major Facebook group used for sharing child pornography.

The Pornography Law prohibits child pornography and prescribes a maximum sentence of 12 years and fine of IDR six billion ($447,000) for producing or trading in child pornography.

According to 2016 data from the Ministry of Social Affairs, there were 56,000 underage sex workers in the country; UNICEF estimated that nationwide 40,000 to 70,000 children were victims of sexual exploitation and that 30 percent of all females in prostitution were children.

Displaced Children: According to a Ministry of Social Affairs’ March 2017 report, there were approximately four million neglected children nationwide, including an estimated 16,000 street children. The government continued to fund shelters administered by local NGOs and paid for the education of some street children.

International Child Abductions: The country is not a party to the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. For more information, see the Department of State’s Annual Report on International Parental Child Abduction at travel.state.gov/content/childabduction/en/legal/compliance.html.

Anti-Semitism

The country’s Jewish population was extremely small. Some fringe media outlets published anti-Semitic conspiracy theories.

Trafficking in Persons

See the Department of State’s Trafficking in Persons Report at www.state.gov/j/tip/rls/tiprpt/.

Persons with Disabilities

The law prohibits discrimination against persons with physical and mental disabilities, and mandates accessibility to public facilities for persons with disabilities. The government, however, did not always enforce this provision. Persons with disabilities are legally classified into three categories: physically disabled, intellectually disabled, and physically and intellectually disabled. These categories are further divided for schooling.

In 2013 the General Elections Commission signed a memorandum of agreement with several NGOs to increase the participation of persons with disabilities in the national elections. As a result 3.6 million voters with disabilities were eligible to vote in the 2014 elections. Regional elections in 2015 and 2017 saw increased accessibility nationwide for voters with disabilities. Improvements were not uniform around the country, however.

Persons with disabilities also faced lingering social and cultural stigmas that depressed accurate counting of persons with disabilities, in turn resulting in resource underallocation. Due to social stigmas that view persons with disabilities as “spiritually deficient,” persons with disabilities commonly failed to pursue the accommodations to which they are entitled.

The law provides children with disabilities the right to an education and rehabilitative treatment. According to NGO data, there were 1.4 million children with disabilities in the country, and fewer than 4 percent had access to education. Children with disabilities were reportedly seven times less likely to attend school than other school-age children. More than 90 percent of blind children were reported to be illiterate.

In 2016, the DPR passed a comprehensive disability rights law that requires improved access and accommodations for persons with disabilities, including provisions for reasonable accommodation at work, and establishing new employment quotas, concessions, and prohibitions. It also imposes criminal sanctions for violators of the rights of persons with disabilities.

National/Racial/Ethnic Minorities

The government officially promotes racial and ethnic tolerance, but in practice in some areas, religious majorities took discriminatory action against religious minorities, and local authorities made no effective response.

On February 11, an estimated 200,000 people attended a “mass prayer” at Jakarta’s national mosque that was organized by members of the FPI and other groups that urged Muslims to vote for a Muslim candidate in the February 14 Jakarta gubernatorial election. The event implicitly opposed the leadership of Jakarta governor Ahok, an ethnic Chinese Christian, who was running for election after having risen administratively from vice governor to governor when the governor’s position became vacant. The FPI and other groups made Ahok’s ethnicity and religion an issue throughout the campaign season. The groups claimed that Governor Ahok committed blasphemy during a September 2016 speech in which he cited a verse of the Quran to defend pluralism, angering some conservative clerics and Muslim leaders who alleged the remarks were blasphemous. In November 2016 an estimated 60,000-100,000 persons participated in a Jakarta protest intended to prompt Ahok’s arrest for blasphemy. Another protest calling for Ahok’s arrest was held in December 2016, with an estimated 500,000 participants.

Indigenous People

The government views all citizens as “indigenous”; however, it recognizes the existence of several “isolated communities” and their right to participate fully in political and social life. The Indigenous Peoples’ Alliance of the Archipelago estimated there are between 50 and 70 million indigenous people in the country. These communities include the myriad Dayak tribes of Kalimantan, families living as sea nomads, and the 312 officially recognized indigenous groups in Papua. Indigenous persons, most notably in Papua and West Papua, were subject to discrimination, and there was little improvement in respecting their traditional land rights. Mining and logging activities, many of them illegal, posed significant social, economic, logistical, and legal problems to indigenous communities. The government failed to prevent companies, often in collusion with the local military and police, from encroaching on indigenous peoples’ land. Melanesians in Papua, who were mostly Christians, cited endemic racism and discrimination as drivers of violence and economic inequality in the region.

In December 2016 President Jokowi announced the government granted 53,000 acres of forest concessions to nine local indigenous groups to support local community livelihoods. These “customary forest” or hutan adat land grants are a new land classification specifically designed for use by indigenous groups. Nevertheless, access to ancestral lands continued to be a major source of conflict throughout the country and large corporations and government regulations continued to displace persons from their ancestral lands. Central and local government officials reportedly extracted kickbacks from mining and palm oil companies in exchange for land access at the expense of the local populace.

The government program of transferring migrants from overcrowded islands, such as Java and Madura, diminished greatly in recent years. Communal conflicts often occurred along ethnic lines in areas with sizeable transmigrant populations (see Other Societal Violence and Discrimination below).

Acts of Violence, Discrimination, and Other Abuses Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity

The antidiscrimination law does not apply to LGBTI individuals, and discrimination against LGBTI persons continued. Families often put LGBTI minors into therapy, confined them to their homes, or pressured them to marry.

The pornography law criminalizes the production of media depicting consensual same-sex sexual activity and classifies such activity as deviant. Fines range from IDR 250 million to seven billion ($18,600 to $522,000) and sentences from six months to 15 years, with increased penalties of one-third for crimes involving minors.

In addition, local regulations across the country criminalize same-sex sexual activity. For example, the province of South Sumatra and the municipality of Palembang have local ordinances criminalizing same-sex sexual activity and prostitution. Under a local ordinance in Jakarta, security officers consider any transgender person in the streets at night to be a sex worker.

According to media and NGO reports, local authorities sometimes abused transgender individuals and forced them to pay bribes following detention. In some cases the government failed to protect LGBTI individuals from societal abuse. Police corruption, bias, and violence caused LGBTI individuals to avoid interaction with police. Officials often ignored formal complaints by victims and affected persons. In criminal cases with LGBTI victims, police investigated the cases reasonably well, as long as the suspect was not affiliated with police.

Article 63 of Aceh’s sharia criminal code bans homosexual activities and makes them punishable by up to 100 lashes, a fine of approximately IDR 551 million ($41,000), or an eight-year prison term (100 months). According to Aceh’s Sharia Agency chief, at least four witnesses must observe individuals engaging in homosexual activities for them to be charged. On May 10, two gay men in Aceh who reportedly identify as Muslims were charged with violating Article 63 of Aceh’s criminal code after neighbors observed them for months, broke into their home, and then used mobile phones to film them. On May 23, the two men were each publicly caned 83 times before a crowd of onlookers. The men were not allowed to speak with lawyers after being detained by Sharia Police, according to human rights organizations. This was the first instance in which individuals have been charged and punished for homosexuality, which is not illegal under national law (see section 1.d. for more information on sharia law in Aceh).

Transgender individuals faced discrimination in employment and in obtaining public services and health care. NGOs documented instances of government officials not issuing identity cards to transgender individuals. The Civil Administration Law only allows transgender individuals officially to change their gender after the completion of sexual reassignment surgery. Some observers claimed the process was cumbersome and degrading because it requires a court order declaring that the surgery is complete and is permitted only under certain undefined special circumstances.

HIV and AIDS Social Stigma

Stigmatization and discrimination against persons with HIV/AIDS were pervasive. The government, however, encouraged tolerance, took steps to prevent new infections, and provided free antiretroviral drugs, although with numerous administrative barriers. The government’s position of tolerance was adhered to inconsistently at all levels of society. For example, prevention efforts were often muted for fear of antagonizing religious conservatives. Diagnostic, medical, or other fees and expenses that put the cost of free antiretroviral drugs beyond the reach of many compounded barriers to accessing these drugs. In previous years there were reports of persons being fired with impunity for being HIV positive and persons with HIV/AIDS reportedly continued to face employment discrimination.

Fourteen men in police custody were tested for HIV after they were arrested on April 30 in a police raid on a “gay party” at a Surabaya hotel. The men’s identities and HIV status were subsequently leaked to media.

Other Societal Violence or Discrimination

Minority religious groups were victims of societal discrimination that occasionally included violence. Affected groups were Ahmadis, Shias, and other non-Sunni Muslims. In areas where they constituted a minority, Sunni Muslims and Christians were also victims of societal discrimination.

Ethnic and religious tensions sometimes contributed to localized violence, and tensions between local residents and migrant workers occasionally led to violence.

Tensions between ethnic Papuans and migrants from other parts of the country who have moved to Papua continued. The death of a migrant woman from Maluku in May near Papua’s provincial capital of Jayapura prompted retaliatory violence against Papuans by a group of migrants from Maluku. The group, which erroneously believed an ethnic Papuan was responsible for the woman’s death, killed a Papuan passerby. Human rights observers criticized the slow police response for sparking communal violence in the case.

Iran

Executive Summary

The Islamic Republic of Iran is a theocratic republic with a Shia Islamic political system based on “velayat-e faqih” (“guardianship of the jurist” or “rule by the jurisprudent”). Shia clergy, most notably the “Rahbar” (“supreme jurisprudent” or “supreme leader”), and political leaders vetted by the clergy dominate key power structures.

The supreme leader is the head of state. The members of the Assembly of Experts are directly elected in popular elections, and the assembly selects and may dismiss the supreme leader. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has held the position since 1989. He has direct or indirect control over the legislative and executive branches of government through unelected councils under his authority. The supreme leader holds constitutional authority over the judiciary, government-run media, and armed forces, and indirectly controls internal security forces and other key institutions. While mechanisms for popular election exist for the president, who is head of government, and for the Islamic Consultative Assembly (parliament or “Majles”), the unelected Guardian Council vets candidates and controls the election process. Half of the 12-member Guardian Council is appointed by the supreme leader, while the other half is appointed by the head of the judiciary. In May voters re-elected Hassan Rouhani as president. Despite high voter turnout, candidate vetting allowed six presidential candidates to run out of 1,636 individuals who registered for the race. Restrictions on media, including censoring campaign materials and preventing prominent opposition figures from speaking publicly, limited the freedom and fairness of the elections.

Civilian authorities maintained effective control over the security forces.

The most significant human rights issues included a high number of executions for crimes not meeting the international legal standard of “most serious crimes” and without fair trials of individuals, including juvenile offenders; disappearances by government agents; torture; harsh and life-threatening prison conditions; arbitrary detention and imprisonment; hundreds of political prisoners; unlawful interference with privacy; severe restrictions on freedom of expression, including criminalization of libel and suppression of virtually all expression deemed critical of the regime or its officials; severe restrictions on the press, including imprisonment of reporters, and of the internet which the government disrupted and censored, as well as on academic and cultural freedom; severe restrictions on the rights of assembly and association to block any activity it deemed “anti-regime”, including repression of nationwide protests that began on December 28; egregious restrictions on religious freedom; refoulement of refugees; elections where the regime pre-selected the candidates and that otherwise did not meet international standards and severely limited political participation; pervasive government corruption in all branches and at all levels of government; trafficking in persons; and governmental restrictions on the rights of women and minorities. LGBTI status and/or conduct remained criminalized and subject to the death penalty and LGBTI persons faced arrest, official harassment, and intimidation, as well as cruel and degrading treatment by security officials. There were severe restrictions on independent trade unions.

The government took few steps to investigate, prosecute, punish, or otherwise hold accountable officials who committed these abuses, many of which were perpetrated as a matter of government policy. Impunity remained pervasive throughout all levels of the government and security forces.

The country materially contributed to human rights abuses in Syria, through its military support for Syrian president Bashar al-Assad and for Hizballah forces there, as well as in Iraq, through its aid to certain Iraqi Shia militia groups.

Section 6. Discrimination, Societal Abuses, and Trafficking in Persons

Women

Rape and Domestic Violence: Rape is illegal and subject to strict penalties, including death, but it remained a problem. The law considers sex within marriage consensual by definition and, therefore, does not address spousal rape, including in cases of forced marriage.

Most rape victims likely did not report the crime because they feared retaliation or punishment for having been raped, including charges of indecency, immoral behavior, or adultery, the last of which carries the death penalty. Rape victims also feared societal reprisal or ostracism.

For a conviction of rape, the law requires four Muslim men or a combination of three men and two women or two men and four women, to have witnessed a rape. A woman or man found making a false accusation of rape is subject to 80 lashes.

The law does not prohibit domestic violence. Authorities considered abuse in the family a private matter and seldom discussed it publicly.

An August report by the CHRI referenced a study presented at the nongovernmental Imam Ali Foundation’s May conference in Tehran on violence against women in the country, according to which 32 percent of women in urban areas and 63 percent in rural areas had been victims of domestic violence. In March a government official was quoted saying that 11,000 cases of domestic abuse had been registered by the National Welfare Organization.

Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C): The law criminalizes FGM/C and states, “the cutting or removing of the two sides of female genitalia leads to ‘diyeh’ (financial penalty or blood money) equal to half the full amount of ‘diyeh’ for the woman’s life.”

FGM was reportedly most common in Hormozgan Province and also practiced in Kurdistan, Kermanshah, and West Azerbaijan provinces. According to a Radio Farda report in February, 46 percent of women in Kermanshah Province and 31 percent in West Azerbaijan Province had undergone FGM. Traditional midwives were said to perform approximately 98 percent of the mutilations.

Other Harmful Traditional Practices: There were no official reports of killings motivated by “honor” or other harmful traditional practices during the year, although human rights activists reported that such killings continued to occur, particularly among rural and tribal populations.

The law reduces punitive measures for fathers and other family members who are convicted of murder or physically harming children in domestic violence or “honor killings.” If a man is found guilty of murdering his daughter, the punishment is between three and 10 years in prison rather than the normal death sentence or payment of “diyeh” for homicide cases.

Sexual Harassment: The law addresses sexual harassment in the context of physical contact between men and women and prohibits physical contact between unrelated men and women. There was no reliable data on the extent of sexual harassment, but women and human rights observers reported that sexual harassment was the norm in many workplaces. There were no known government efforts to address this problem.

Coercion in Population Control: There were no reports of coerced abortion, involuntary sterilization, or other coercive population control methods. Estimates on maternal mortality and contraceptive prevalence are available at: www.who.int/reproductivehealth/publications/monitoring/maternal-mortality-2015/en/ .

Discrimination: The constitution provides for equal protection for women under the law in conformity with its interpretation of Islam. The government did not enforce the law, and provisions in the law, particularly sections dealing with family and property law, discriminate against women.

Women may not transmit citizenship to their children or to a noncitizen spouse. The government does not recognize marriages between Muslim women and non-Muslim men, irrespective of their citizenship. The law states that a virgin woman or girl wishing to wed needs the consent of her father or grandfather or the court’s permission.

The law permits a man to have as many as four wives and an unlimited number of “sigheh” (temporary wives), based on a Shia custom under which couples may enter into a limited-time civil and religious contract, which outlines the union’s conditions.

A woman has the right to divorce if her husband signs a contract granting that right; cannot provide for his family; has violated the terms of their marriage contract; or is a drug addict, insane, or impotent. A husband is not required to cite a reason for divorcing his wife. The law recognizes a divorced woman’s right to part of shared property and to alimony. These laws were not always enforced.

The law provides divorced women preference in custody for children up to age seven, but fathers maintain legal guardianship rights over the child and must agree on many legal aspects of the child’s life (such as issuing travel documents, enrolling in school, or filing a police report). After the child reaches the age of seven, the father is granted custody unless he is proven unfit to care for the child.

Women sometimes received disproportionate punishment for crimes such as adultery, including death sentences. Islamic law retains provisions that equate a woman’s testimony in a court of law to half that of a man’s and value a woman’s life as half that of a man’s. According to the law, the “diyeh” (blood money) paid in the death of a woman is half the amount paid in the death of a man, with the exception of car accident insurance payments.

Women have access to primary and advanced education. According to media reports during the year, women gaining admission to universities nationwide outnumbered men by 13 percent. Quotas and other restrictions nonetheless limited women’s admissions to certain fields and degree programs.

As UNSR Jahangir reported during the year, women’s participation in the job market remained as low as 16 percent. Women were said to earn 41 percent less than men for the same work. Unemployment among women in the country was twice as high as it was among men.

Women continued to face discrimination in home and property ownership, as well as access to financing. In cases of inheritance, male heirs receive twice the inheritance of their female counterparts. The government enforced gender segregation in many public spaces. Women must ride in a reserved section on public buses and enter some public buildings, universities, and airports through separate entrances.

The law provides that a woman who appears in public without appropriate attire, such as a cloth scarf veil (“hijab”) over the head and a long jacket (“manteau”), or a large full-length cloth covering (“chador”), may be sentenced to flogging and fined. Absent a clear legal definition of “appropriate attire” or of the related punishment, women were subjected to the opinions of various disciplinary and security force members, police, and judges.

February media reports stated that morality police beat and detained a 14-year-old girl for wearing ripped jeans. Authorities released the girl and her friends only after they signed pledges promising to dress modestly.

In September, according to media and reporting from human rights groups, women were barred from attending a World Cup qualifying match in Tehran between Iran and Syria. Female Syrian fans were present, and a protest outside Azadi stadium ensued.

As noted by the UNSR and other organizations, several Iranian female athletes were also barred from participating in international tournaments, either by the country’s sport agencies or by their husbands.

The ability of civil society organizations to fight for and protect women’s rights was significantly challenged by judicial harassment, intimidation, detention, and smear campaigns.

Children

The country established the National Body on the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 2012 to promote the Convention on the Rights of the Child, to which it is a signatory. The body, which reviews draft regulations and legislation relating to children’s rights, is overseen by the Ministry of Justice.

The country last underwent a periodic panel review by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child in January 2016. The review noted many concerns, including discrimination against girls; children with disabilities; unregistered, refugee, and migrant children; and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) minors.

There is a separate juvenile court system. Male juvenile detainees were held in separate Rehabilitation Centers in most urban areas, but female juvenile detainees and male juvenile detainees in rural areas were held alongside adults in detention facilities, according to NGO reports presented to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child.

Birth Registration: Only a child’s father conveys citizenship, regardless of the child’s country of birth or mother’s citizenship. Birth within the country’s borders does not confer citizenship, except when a child is born to unknown parents. The law requires that all births be registered within 15 days.

Education: Although primary schooling until age 11 is free and compulsory for all, media and other sources reported lower enrollment in rural areas, especially for girls.

In December 2016 Deputy Labor Minister Ahmad Meydari was quoted saying that 130,000 children had been left out of the country’s education system that year. A CHRI report in July noted that it was unclear whether the number cited by Meydari included children without Iranian citizenship. Children without state-issued identification cards are denied the right to education.

Child Abuse: There was little information available on how the government dealt with child abuse. The law states, “Any form of abuse of children and juveniles that causes physical, psychological, or moral harm and threatens their physical or mental health is prohibited,” and such crimes carry a maximum sentence of three months in confinement or 10 million rials ($275). The law does not directly address sexual molestation nor provide punishment for it. In March a government official stated that 12,000 cases of child abuse had been registered by the National Welfare Organization, but the time frame for the cases was not clear.

Early and Forced Marriage: The legal minimum age of marriage for girls is 13, but girls as young as nine years old may be married with permission from the court and their fathers. In 2016 UNICEF reported that 17 percent of girls in the country were married before reaching age 18. NGOs reported that many families did not register underage marriages, indicating the number may be higher.

In her March 17 report, UNSR Jahangir cited statistics from the Tehran-based Association to Protect the Rights of Children, according to which 17 percent of all marriages in the country involved girls married to “old men.”

Sexual Exploitation of Children: The legal age requirements for consensual sex are the same as those for marriage, as sex outside of marriage is illegal. There are no specific laws regarding child sexual exploitation, with such crimes either falling under the category of child abuse or sexual crimes of adultery.

According to the CHRI, the legal ambiguity between child abuse and sexual molestation could lead to child sexual molestation cases being prosecuted under adultery law. While no separate provision exists for the rape of a child, the crime of rape, regardless of the victim’s age, is potentially punishable by death.

Displaced Children: There are thousands of Afghan refugee children in the country, many of whom were born in Iran but could not obtain identity documents. These children were often unable to attend schools or access basic government services and were vulnerable to labor exploitation and trafficking.

In its January 2016 report, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child noted continued “allegations of abuse and ill treatment of refugee and asylum-seeking children by police and security forces.” UNHCR stated that school enrollment among refugees was generally higher outside camps and settlements, where greater resources were available.

International Child Abductions: The country is not a party to the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. See the Department of State’s Annual Report on International Parental Child Abduction at travel.state.gov/content/childabduction/en/legal/compliance.html.

Anti-Semitism

The law recognizes Jews as a religious minority and provides for their representation in parliament. According to the 2011 census, the Jewish community numbered approximately 8,700. Siamak Moreh Sedgh is the Jewish member of parliament. Officials continued to question the history of the Holocaust, and anti-Semitism remained a pervasive problem.

According to human rights organizations, unidentified assailants vandalized two synagogues in the city of Shiraz on December 24-25 (see the Department of State’s International Religious Freedom Report at www.state.gov/religiousfreedomreport/).

Trafficking in Persons

See the Department of State’s Trafficking in Persons Report at www.state.gov/j/tip/rls/tiprpt/.

Persons with Disabilities

The law generally prohibits discrimination by government actors against persons with disabilities but does not apply to private actors. No information was available regarding authorities’ effectiveness in enforcing the law. The law prohibits those with visual, hearing, or speech disabilities from running for seats in parliament. While the law provides for government-funded vocational education for persons with disabilities, according to domestic news reports vocational centers were only located in urban areas and unable to meet the needs of the entire population.

The law provides for public accessibility to government-funded buildings, and new structures appeared to comply with these standards. There were efforts to increase the access of persons with disabilities to historical sites. Government buildings that predated existing accessibility standards remained largely inaccessible, and general building accessibility for persons with disabilities remained a problem. Persons with disabilities had limited access to informational, educational, and community activities.

ainstream children with disabilities into public schools.

Many persons with disabilities faced challenges in voting due to voting centers that lacked accessible features.

National/Racial/Ethnic Minorities

The constitution grants equal rights to all ethnic minorities, allowing minority languages to be used in the media. Article 101 of the Charter on Citizens’ Rights grants the right of citizens to learn, use, and teach their own languages and dialects. In practice, minorities did not enjoy equal rights, and the government consistently barred use of their languages in school as the language of instruction.

The government disproportionately targeted minority groups, including Kurds, Ahvazis, Azeris, and Baluchis, for arbitrary arrest, prolonged detention, and physical abuse. In its January 2016 panel review on the country, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child reported “widespread discrimination against children of ethnic minorities,” as well as “reported targeted arrests, detentions, imprisonments, killings, torture, and executions against such groups by the law enforcement and judicial authorities.”

These ethnic minority groups reported political and socioeconomic discrimination, particularly in their access to economic aid, business licenses, university admissions, job opportunities, permission to publish books, and housing and land rights.

The law, which requires religious screening and allegiance to the concept of “velayat-e faqih,” not found in Sunni Islam, impaired the ability of Sunni (many of whom are also Baluch, Ahvazi, or Kurdish) to integrate into civic life and to work in certain fields.

Human rights organizations observed that the government’s application of the death penalty disproportionately affected ethnic minorities. In pretrial detention authorities reportedly repeatedly subjected members of minority ethnicities and religious groups to more severe physical punishment, including torture, than other prisoners, regardless of the type of crime for which authorities accused them.

Amnesty International reported on the forced disappearances of five Kurdish men on June 23-24. According to the report, Ramin Panahi, a member of the Komala armed opposition group, was arrested after taking part in an armed clash with the IRGC in Sanandaj, Kurdistan Province. IRGC guards then arrested Panahi’s brother and three other relatives, none of whom were reported to be involved with the armed clashes.

The estimated eight million ethnic Kurds in the country frequently campaigned for greater regional autonomy. The government continued to use the law to arrest and prosecute Kurds for exercising their rights to freedom of expression and association. The government reportedly banned Kurdish-language newspapers, journals, and books and punished publishers, journalists, and writers for opposing and criticizing government policies.

Authorities suppressed legitimate activities of Kurdish NGOs by denying them registration permits or bringing security charges against persons working with such organizations. Authorities did not prohibit the use of the Kurdish language in general.

Amnesty International reported that on May 12, authorities released Mohammad Sediq Kaboudvand from Evin Prison. The government originally arrested Kaboudvand in 2007 and sentenced him to 10 years in prison for “acting against national security” and “propaganda against the state.” According to the CHRI, authorities continually denied medical treatment or furlough to Kurdish women’s activist Zeinab Jalalian, despite her need for surgery. Jalalian was serving a life sentence for “enmity against God.”

International human rights observers, including the IHRDC, stated that the country’s estimated two million Ahvazi Arabs, representing 110 tribes, faced continued oppression and discrimination. Ahvazi rights activists reported the government continued to confiscate Ahvazi property to use for government development projects, refusing to recognize the paper deeds of the local population from the prerevolutionary era.

In June, 13 activists were reportedly arrested in Ahvaz as they gathered to celebrate Eid al-Fitr on the day before an annual protest for Arab ethnic rights. The activists had planned to walk to the homes of political prisoners and the families of those who have been unjustly executed. Officials also prevented the demonstrations planned for the next day, which had been held since 2005.

Ethnic Azeris, who numbered approximately 13 million, or 16 percent of the population, were more integrated into government and society than other ethnic minority groups and included the supreme leader. Azeris reported that the government discriminated against them by harassing Azeri activists or organizers, and changing Azeri geographic names.

According to a CHRI report in February, authorities arrested four Azeris and charged them with “forming an illegal group” and “assembly and collusion against national security” for peaceful activism on International Mother Language Day. Alireza Farshi was sentenced to 15 years in prison and two years in exile, while Akbar Azad, Behnam Sheikhi, and Hamid Manafi were sentenced to 10 years in prison and two years in exile. The activists were reportedly opposing a government ban on the teaching of Turkish alongside Persian in schools.

Local and international human rights groups alleged discrimination during the year against the Baluchi ethnic minority, estimated at between 1.5 and two million persons. Areas with large Baluchi populations were severely underdeveloped and had limited access to education, employment, health care, and housing, and Baluchi activists reported that more than 70 percent of the population lived below the poverty line.

According to activist reports, the law limited Sunni Baluchis’ employment opportunities and political participation. Activists reported that throughout the year, the government sent hundreds of Shia missionaries to areas with large Sunni Baluch populations to try to convert the local population. According to Baluchi rights activists, Baluchi journalists and human rights activists faced arbitrary arrest, physical abuse, and unfair trials.

Acts of Violence, Discrimination, and Other Abuses Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity

The law criminalizes consensual same-sex sexual activity, which is punishable by death, flogging, or a lesser punishment. The law does not distinguish between consensual and nonconsensual same sex intercourse, and NGOs reported this lack of clarity led to both the victim and the perpetrator being held criminally liable under the law in cases of assault. The law does not prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

Security forces harassed, arrested, and detained individuals they suspected of being gay or transgender. In some cases security forces raided houses and monitored internet sites for information on LGBTI persons. Those accused of “sodomy” often faced summary trials, and evidentiary standards were not always met. Punishment for same-sex sexual activity between men was more severe than between women.

According to international and local media reports, on April 13 at least 30 men suspected of homosexual conduct were arrested by IRGC agents at a private party in Isfahan Province. The agents reportedly fired weapons and used electric Tasers during the raid. According to the Canadian-based nonprofit organization Iranian Railroad for Queer Refugees, those arrested were taken to Dastgerd Prison in Isfahan, where they were led to the prison yard and told they would be executed. The Iranian LGBTI activist group 6Rang noted that, following similar raids, those arrested and similarly charged were subjected to forced “anal” or “sodomy” tests and other degrading treatment and sexual insults.

The government censored all materials related to LGBTI issues. Authorities particularly blocked websites or content within sites that discussed LGBTI issues, including the censorship of Wikipedia pages defining LGBTI and other related topics. There were active, unregistered LGBTI NGOs in the country. Hate crime laws or other criminal justice mechanisms did not exist to aid in the prosecution of bias-motivated crimes.

The law requires all male citizens over age 18 to serve in the military but exempts gay and transgender women, who are classified as having mental disorders. New military identity cards listed the subsection of the law dictating the exemption. According to 6Rang this practice identified the men as gay or transgender and put them at risk of physical abuse and discrimination.

The government provided transgender persons financial assistance in the form of grants of up to 45 million rials$1,240 and loans up to 55 million rials $1,500 to undergo gender reassignment surgery. Additionally, the Ministry of Cooperatives, Labor, and Social Welfare required health insurers to cover the cost of such surgery. Individuals who undergo gender reassignment surgery may petition a court for new identity documents with corrected gender data, which the government reportedly provided efficiently and transparently. NGOs reported that authorities pressured LGBTI persons to undergo gender reassignment surgery.

HIV and AIDS Social Stigma

Despite government programs to treat and provide financial and other assistance to persons with HIV/AIDS, international news sources and organizations reported that individuals known to be infected with HIV/AIDS faced widespread societal discrimination. Individuals with HIV/AIDS, for example, continued to be denied employment as teachers.

Iraq

Executive Summary

Iraq is a constitutional parliamentary republic. The outcome of the 2014 parliamentary elections generally met international standards of free and fair elections and led to the peaceful transition of power from former prime minister Nuri al-Maliki to Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi.

Civilian authorities were not always able to exercise control of all security forces, particularly certain units of the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) that were aligned with Iran.

Violence continued throughout the year, largely fueled by the actions of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). Government forces successfully fought to liberate territory taken earlier by ISIS, including Mosul, while ISIS sought to demonstrate its viability through targeted attacks. Armed clashes between ISIS and government forces caused civilian deaths and hardship. By year’s end Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) had liberated all territory from ISIS, drastically reducing ISIS’s ability to commit abuses and atrocities.

The most significant human rights issues included allegations of unlawful killings by some members of the ISF, particularly some elements of the PMF; disappearance and extortion by PMF elements; torture; harsh and life-threatening conditions in detention and prison facilities; arbitrary arrest and detention; arbitrary interference with privacy; criminalization of libel and other limits on freedom of expression, including press freedoms; violence against journalists; widespread official corruption; greatly reduced penalties for so-called “honor killings”; coerced or forced abortions imposed by ISIS on its victims; legal restrictions on freedom of movement of women; and trafficking in persons. Militant groups killed LGBTI persons. There were also limitations on worker rights, including restrictions on formation of independent unions.

The government, including by the Office of the Prime Minister, investigated allegations of abuses and atrocities perpetrated by the ISF; by year’s end the results of some of these investigations were made public. The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) High Committee to Evaluate and Respond to International Reports reviewed charges of Peshmerga abuse, largely against IDPs, and exculpated them in public reports and commentaries. Impunity effectively existed for government officials and security force personnel, including the Peshmerga and PMF.

ISIS committed the majority of serious abuses and atrocities. ISIS members committed acts of violence on a mass scale, including killings through suicide bombings and improvised explosive devices (IEDs); executions including shootings and public beheadings; use of civilians as human shields; as well as use of chemical weapons. They also engaged in kidnapping, rape, enslavement, forced marriage, and sexual violence, committing such acts against civilians from a wide variety of religious and ethnic backgrounds, including Shia, Sunnis, Kurds, Christians, Yezidis, and members of other religious and ethnic groups. Reports of ISIS perpetrating gender-based violence, recruiting child soldiers, trafficking in persons, and destroying civilian infrastructure and cultural heritage sites were credible and common. On August 15, Secretary Tillerson stated that, “ISIS is clearly responsible for genocide against Yezidis, Christians, and Shia Muslims in areas it controls or has controlled. ISIS is also responsible for crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing directed at these same groups, and in some cases against Sunni Muslims, Kurds, and other minorities.”

The government investigated allegations of ISIS abuses and atrocities, and in some instances, publicly noted the conviction of suspected ISIS members under the 2005 counterterrorism law.

The government’s reassertion of federal authority in disputed areas bordering the Iraqi Kurdistan Region (IKR), after the Kurdistan Region’s September 25 independence referendum, resulted in reports of abuses and atrocities by the security forces, including those affiliated with the PMF.

Section 6. Discrimination, Societal Abuses, and Trafficking in Persons

Women

Rape and Domestic Violence: The law criminalizes rape (but not spousal rape) and permits a maximum sentence of life imprisonment if the victim dies. The law allows authorities to drop a rape case if the perpetrator marries the victim. There were no reliable estimates of the incidence of rape or information on the effectiveness of government enforcement of the law.

Humanitarian protection experts assessed that conditions in IDP camps were highly conducive to sexual exploitation and abuse.

Domestic violence remained a pervasive problem, and there was no law prohibiting it. Harassment of legal personnel who sought to pursue domestic violence cases under laws criminalizing assault, as well as a lack of trained police and judicial personnel, further hampered efforts to prosecute perpetrators.

The government signed a joint agreement with UNAMI on the Prevention and Response to Conflict-related Sexual Violence in 2016. The government committed to working with the Office of the Special Representative and the UN system to develop and implement an action plan to prevent and respond to conflict-related sexual violence. On August 22, however, UNAMI reported that while the government and KRG had taken some positive steps to further women’s rights, including working to address the needs of ISIS victims, the criminal justice system was often unable to provide adequate protection for women.

The government and KRG also struggled to address the physical and mental trauma endured by women who lived under ISIS rule. Additionally, the government and KRG worked to reconcile the legal status of children born to women living in ISIS-held territory, as the children lacked government-issued birth certificates and other legal documentation.

Due to continuing ISIS-perpetrated violence, women’s status suffered severe setbacks (see also section 1.g.). During the year ISIS kidnapped women and girls to sell, rent, or gift them as forced “brides” (a euphemism for forced marriage or sexual slavery) to ISIS fighters and commanders, and exploited the promise of sexual access in propaganda materials as part of its recruitment strategy.

While the government does not have a law that explicitly prohibits NGO-run shelters for victims of gender based crimes, the law allows the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs to determine if a shelter may remain open. NGOs reported that communities often viewed the shelters as brothels and asked the government to close them. In order to appease community concerns, the ministry regularly closed shelters, only to allow them to reopen in another location later.

The Ministry of Interior maintained 16 family protection units around the country, designed to resolve domestic disputes and establish safe refuges for victims of sexual or gender-based violence. These units tended to prioritize family reconciliation over victim protection and lacked the capacity to support victims. Hotline calls typically went to the male commanders of the units who did not follow a regular referral system to provide victims with services, such as legal aid or safe shelter. Victims of domestic violence in Basrah told UNAMI they feared approaching the family protection units, because they suspected that police would immediately inform their families of their testimony. The family protection units in most locations did not operate shelters. Safe houses, which the government and NGOs operated, were often targets for violence.

NGOs reported that the government made minimal progress in implementing UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on women, peace, and security despite an implementation plan launched in 2016.

KRG law criminalizes domestic violence, including physical and psychological abuse, threats of violence, and spousal rape. The government implemented the provisions of the law, creating a special police force to investigate cases of gender-based violence and establish a family reconciliation committee within the judicial system, but local NGOs reported that these programs were not effective at combating gender-based violence.

In the IKR one privately operated shelter and four KRG Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs-operated shelters provided some protection and assistance for female victims of gender-based violence and human trafficking. Space was limited, and service delivery was poor. NGOs played a key role in providing services, including legal aid, to victims of domestic violence, who often received no assistance from the government. Instead of using legal remedies, authorities frequently mediated between women and their families so that the women could return to their homes. Other than marrying or returning to their families, which often resulted in further victimization by the family or community, there were few options for women accommodated at shelters.

Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C): The IKR’s Family Violence Law bans FGM/C, but NGOs reported the practice persisted, particularly in rural areas.

Other Harmful Traditional Practices: The law permitted honor as a lawful defense in violence against women, and honor killings remained a serious problem throughout the country. Some families arranged honor killings to appear as suicides. A provision of the law limits a sentence for conviction of murder to a maximum of three years in prison if a man is on trial for killing his wife or a female dependent due to suspicion that the victim was committing adultery. UNAMI reported that several hundred women died each year from honor killings. Asuda for Combatting Violence against Women in Iraqi Kurdistan reported that, according to official government data, 24 cases of honor killings occurred in the IKR during the year.

Several women reportedly refused to leave Basrah prisons after their sentences had concluded due to fear their families would harm them, or confine them to life-long home detention, because their actions had “dishonored” the family.

Women and girls were at times sexually exploited through so-called temporary marriages, under which a man gives the family of the girl or woman dowry money in exchange for permission to “marry” her for a specified period. Government officials and international and local NGOs also reported that the traditional practice of “fasliya”–whereby family members, including women and children, are traded to settle tribal disputes–remained a problem, particularly in southern governorates.

Sexual Harassment: The law prohibits sexual relations outside marriage, including sexual harassment that is considered sexual solicitation. Penalties if convicted include fines and imprisonment. The law provides relief from penalties if unmarried participants marry. No information was available regarding the effectiveness of government enforcement. The law prohibits sexual harassment in the workplace. In most areas there were few or no publicly provided women’s shelters, information, support hotlines, and little or no sensitivity training for police.

In the absence of shelters, authorities often detained or imprisoned sexual harassment victims for their own protection. Some women, without alternatives, became homeless.

Coercion in Population Control: There were reports that ISIS forced Yezidi women whom they had impregnated to have abortions. There were no reports of involuntary sterilization. Estimates on maternal mortality and contraceptive prevalence are available at: www.who.int/reproductivehealth/publications/monitoring/maternal-mortality-2015/en/ .

Discrimination: Although the constitution forbids discrimination based on gender, conservative societal standards impeded women’s ability to enjoy the same legal status and rights as men in all aspects of the judicial system. ISIS imposed severe restrictions on women’s movement and dress in areas it controlled.

In 2016 UNAMI reported that women constituted 51 percent of the country’s IDPs. The UN representative for women’s affairs in Iraq said the abolition of the Ministry for Women’s Affairs posed an additional challenge in addressing issues of conflict and displacement, especially since the majority of those displaced were women.

Law and custom generally do not respect freedom of movement for women. For example, the law prevents a woman from applying for a passport without the consent of her male guardian or a legal representative. Women could not obtain the Civil Status Identification Document–required for access to public services, food assistance, health care, employment, education, and housing–without the consent of a male relative. This restriction affected women in conflict, according to local NGOs. In ISIS-controlled areas, ISIS forces reportedly forbade women from leaving their homes unless male relatives escorted them. ISIS also prevented professional women from returning to work, with the exception of medical workers and teachers. The Council of Ministers’ Iraqi Women Empowerment Directorate is the lead government body on women’s issues.

Children

Birth Registration: The constitution states that anyone born to at least one citizen parent is a citizen. Failure to register births resulted in the denial of public services such as education, food, and health care. Single women and widows often had problems registering their children. Although in most cases authorities provided birth certificates after registration of the birth through the Ministries of Health and Interior, this was reportedly a lengthy and at times complicated process. The government was generally committed to children’s rights and welfare, although it denied benefits to noncitizen children. Humanitarian agencies reported a widespread problem of children born in ISIS-held territory failing to receive a government-issued birth certificate.

Education: Primary education is compulsory for citizen children for the first six years of schooling and until age 15 in the IKR; it is provided without cost to citizens. Equal access to education for girls remained a challenge, particularly in rural and unsecure areas.

In August, according to UNICEF reporting, children comprised almost one-half of the three million Iraqis displaced by the conflict, severely limiting their access to education; at least 70 percent of displaced children missed a year of school.

Child Abuse: Violence against children remained a significant problem. According to a UN-supported study in 2011 (the last year for which reliable statistics were reported), 46 percent of girls between ages 10 and 14 were exposed to family violence. The law provides protections for children who were victims of domestic violence or were in shelters, state houses, and orphanages.

The KRG’s Ministries of Labor and Social Affairs, Education, and Culture and Youth operated a toll-free hotline to report violations against, or seek advice regarding, children’s rights.

Early and Forced Marriage: The legal minimum age of marriage is 15 with parental permission and 18 without. The government reportedly made few efforts to enforce the law. Traditional forced marriages of girls occurred throughout the country. According to UNICEF in 2016, approximately 975,000 women and girls had been married before age 15, twice as many as in 1990. Early and forced marriages, as well as abusive temporary marriages, occurred in rural and urban areas.

According to the KRG High Council of Women’s Affairs, refugees and IDPs in the IKR contributed to increased child marriages and polygamy.

Local and international NGOs reported that the practice of husbands or their families threatening to divorce wives they married when the girls were very young (ages 12 to 16) to pressure the girl’s family to provide additional money to the girl’s husband and his family also occurred, particularly in the south. Victims of these forced divorces were compelled to leave their husbands and their husbands’ families, and social customs regarding family honor often prevented victims from returning to their own families, leaving some adolescent girls abandoned.

Sexual Exploitation of Children: The law prohibits the commercial exploitation of children, and pornography of any kind, including child pornography. During the year ISIS members forced girls into marriage with ISIS fighters (see section 1.g.). Child prostitution was a problem. Because the age of legal criminal responsibility is nine in the central region and 11 in the IKR, authorities often treated sexually exploited children as criminals instead of victims. Penalties for conviction of commercial exploitation of children range from fines and imprisonment to the death penalty. No information was available regarding the effectiveness of government enforcement.

ISIS’s sexual exploitation of Yezidi children was widespread throughout the year in areas under the group’s control; this abuse included rape and sexual slavery.

Displaced Children: Insecurity and active conflict between government forces and ISIS caused the displacement of large numbers of children. Due to the conflict in Syria, numerous children and single mothers from Syria took refuge in the IKR (see section 2.d.).

International Child Abductions: The country is not a party to the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. See the Department of State’s Annual Report on International Parental Child Abduction at travel.state.gov/content/childabduction/en/legal/compliance.html.

Anti-Semitism

A very small number of Jewish citizens lived in Baghdad. According to unofficial statistics from the KRG Ministry of Endowments and Religious Affairs, there were approximately 430 Jewish families in the IKR. There were no reports of anti-Semitic acts in the country during the year.

Trafficking in Persons

See the Department of State’s Trafficking in Persons Report at www.state.gov/j/tip/rls/tiprpt/.

Persons with Disabilities

Although the constitution states the government, through law and regulations, should care for and rehabilitate persons with disabilities in order to integrate them into society, no laws prohibit discrimination against persons with physical, sensory, intellectual, or mental disabilities. There were reports that persons with disabilities experienced discrimination due to social stigma. Although the Council of Ministers issued a 2016 decree ordering access for persons with disabilities to buildings and to educational and work settings, incomplete implementation limited access. Local NGOs reported many children with disabilities dropped out of public school due to insufficient physical access to school buildings, a lack of appropriate learning materials in schools, and a shortage of teachers qualified to work with children with developmental or intellectual disabilities.

The minister of labor and social affairs leads the Independent Commission for the Care of People with Disabilities that became operational in late 2016. Any Iraqi citizen applying to receive disability-related government services must first receive a commission evaluation. The KRG deputy minister of labor and social affairs leads a similar commission, administered by a special director within the ministry.

There is a 5 percent public-sector employment quota for persons with disabilities, but employment discrimination persisted, and observers projected that the quota was not likely met at year’s end (see also section 7.d.). Mental health support for prisoners with mental disabilities did not exist.

The Ministry of Health provided medical care, benefits, and rehabilitation, when available, for persons with disabilities, who could also receive benefits from other agencies, including the Prime Minister’s Office. The Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs operated several institutions for children and young adults with disabilities. The ministry maintained loans programs for persons with disabilities for vocational training.

National/Racial/Ethnic Minorities

The country’s population included Arabs, Kurds, Turkmen, and Shabaks, as well as ethnic and religious minorities, including Chaldeans, Assyrians, Armenian Orthodox, Yezidis, Sabean-Mandean, Bahai, Kaka’i, and a very small number of Jews. The country also had a small Romani community, as well as an estimated 500 thousand citizens of African descent, who reside primarily in Basrah and adjoining governorates.

The National Identity Card Law automatically registers minor children as Muslims if they are born to at least one Muslim parent or if either parent converts from another religion to Islam. The law did not permit some religious groups, including Bahai, to register their religions on national identifications card. The law also disallowed Muslims who converted to other religions to reflect these conversions on their identity cards.

In areas under its control, ISIS committed numerous serious abuses against Yezidis, Shabaks, Christians, and other minorities. Other illegal armed groups also targeted ethnic and religious minorities (see section 1.g.).

Many of the estimated 500,000 persons of African descent lived in extreme poverty with high rates of illiteracy and unemployment. They were not represented in politics, nor did they hold any high-level government positions. Furthermore, they stated that discrimination kept them from obtaining government employment. Members of the community also struggled to obtain restitution for lands seized from them during the Iran-Iraq war. Although they have won several court cases, they have yet to receive compensation.

There were reports of KRG authorities discriminating against minorities, including Turkmen, Arabs, Yezidis, Shabaks, and Christians, in the disputed territories. For example, courts rarely upheld Christians’ legal complaints against Kurds regarding land and property disputes.

Although Arabs are the majority in most of the country, they are a minority in Kirkuk, and Arab residents of the city often charged that KRG security forces targeted Arabs with intimidation, attacks, and kidnapping.

Kirkuk citizens, particularly Sunni Arabs, faced pressure to leave Kirkuk, particularly in the months leading up to the September 25 Kurdish independence referendum. For example, in September there were reports that Kurdish authorities in Kirkuk confiscated non-Kurdish residents’ identity documents, in an effort to displace them.

Acts of Violence, Discrimination, and Other Abuses Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity

Despite repeated threats and violence targeting LGBTI individuals, the government failed to identify, arrest, or prosecute attackers or to protect targeted individuals.

Authorities relied on public indecency or prostitution charges to prosecute same-sex sexual activity. Authorities used the same charges to arrest heterosexual persons involved in sexual relations with anyone other than their spouse.

Societal discrimination in employment, occupation, and housing based on sexual orientation, gender identity, and unconventional appearance was common.

LGBTI persons often faced abuse and violence from family and nongovernmental actors. In addition to targeted violence, LGBTI persons remained at risk for honor crimes. For example, on March 1, a close family member killed a man purported to be one of two men shown in a gay-sex video circulated online.

Local contacts reported that militia groups drafted LGBTI “kill lists” and executed men perceived as gay, bisexual, or transgender. On July 4, media reported that Karar Nushi, an actor, model, and student, was stabbed to death in Baghdad because of his perceived sexuality.

ISIS continued to publish videos depicting executions of persons accused of homosexual activity that included stoning and being thrown from buildings. Some armed groups also started a campaign against homosexual persons in Baghdad.

Other Societal Violence or Discrimination

Media reported criminal networks and some militia groups seized Christian properties in Baghdad–as well as areas of Anbar, Babil, Basrah, Diyala, and Wasit–with relative impunity, despite pledges by the Prime Minister’s Office to open investigations into the seizures.

Ireland

Executive Summary

Ireland is a multiparty parliamentary democracy with an executive branch headed by a prime minister, a bicameral parliament, and a directly elected president. The country held free and fair parliamentary elections in 2016 and presidential elections in 2011.

Civilian authorities maintained effective control over the security forces.

There were no reports of egregious human rights abuses.

The government took steps to prosecute officials who committed human rights abuses, including in the security services and elsewhere in the government.

Section 6. Discrimination, Societal Abuses, and Trafficking in Persons

Women

Rape and Domestic Violence: The law criminalizes rape, including spousal rape, and the government enforced the law. Most persons convicted received prison sentences of five to 12 years. The law criminalizes domestic violence. It authorizes prosecution of a violent family member and provides victims with “safety orders,” which prohibit a person from engaging in violent actions or threats, and “barring orders” (restraining orders), which prohibit an offender from entering the family home for up to three years. Anyone found guilty of violating a barring or an interim protection order may receive a fine of up to 4,000 euros ($4,800), a prison sentence of 12 months, or both. A 2014 Garda Inspectorate review found that police did not always correctly record domestic violence cases.

Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C): The law prohibits FGM/C for women and girls. The maximum penalty for performing FGM/C in the country or taking a girl to another country to undergo the procedure is a fine of up to 10,000 euros ($12,000), imprisonment for up to 14 years, or both.

Sexual Harassment: The law obliges employers to prevent sexual harassment and prohibits employers from dismissing an employee for making a complaint of sexual harassment. Authorities effectively enforced the law when sexual harassment was reported. The penalties can include an order requiring equal treatment in the future, as well as compensation for the victim up to a maximum of two years’ pay or 40,000 euros ($48,000), whichever is greater. The law prohibits sexual harassment not only in employment but also in the supply of, and access to, goods and services.

Coercion in Population Control: There were no reports of coerced abortion, involuntary sterilization, or other coercive population control methods. Estimates on maternal mortality and contraceptive prevalence are available at: www.who.int/reproductivehealth/publications/monitoring/maternal-mortality-2015/en/ .

Discrimination: The law provides women the same legal status and rights as men. Inequalities in pay and promotions persisted in both the public and private sectors.

Children

Birth Registration: A person born after 2004 on the island of Ireland (including Northern Ireland) is automatically a citizen if at least one parent was an Irish citizen, a British citizen, a resident of either Ireland or Northern Ireland entitled to reside in either without time limit, or a legal resident of Ireland or Northern Ireland for three of the four years preceding the child’s birth (excluding time spent as a student or an asylum seeker). Authorities register births immediately.

Child Abuse: The law criminalizes engaging in, or attempting to engage in, a sexual act with a child younger than 17. The maximum sentence in such cases is five years in prison, which can increase to 10 years if the accused is a person in authority, such as a parent or teacher. The law additionally prohibits any person from engaging in, or attempting to engage in, a sexual act with a juvenile younger than 15; the maximum sentence is life imprisonment. Tusla, the government’s Child and Family Agency, provided child protection, early intervention, and family support services. The government also provided funding to NGOs that carried out information campaigns against child abuse as well as those who provided support services to victims.

Early and Forced Marriage: The legal minimum age for marriage is 18 years, including for citizens who marry abroad. Persons under 18 must obtain a court exemption order.

Sexual Exploitation of Children: The law prohibits the commercial sexual exploitation of children and child pornography, and authorities enforced the law. Conviction of trafficking of children and taking a child from home for sexual exploitation carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment. A person convicted of meeting a child for the purpose of sexual exploitation faces a maximum penalty of 14 years’ imprisonment. The Criminal Law (Sexual Offenses) Act enacted in February set a maximum fine of 5,000 euros ($6,000). The minimum age of consensual sex is 17.

The law provides for a fine of up to 31,000 euros ($37,200), a prison sentence of up to 14 years, or both for a person convicted of allowing a child to be used for pornography. For producing, distributing, printing, or publishing child pornography, the maximum penalty is 5,000 euros ($6,000), 12 months’ imprisonment, or both.

International Child Abductions: The country is a party to the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. See the Department of State’s Annual Report on International Parental Child Abduction at travel.state.gov/content/childabduction/en/legal/compliance.html.

Anti-Semitism

According to the 2016 census, the Jewish community numbered 2,557 persons.

On January 29, the Holocaust Education Trust Ireland in association with the Department of Justice and Equality, the Office for the Promotion of Migrant Integration, and Dublin City Council organized a national Holocaust Day Memorial commemoration in which senior government ministers and other public figures participated.

According to the newspaper Irish Independent, Shmael Heirouche, a Dutch citizen living in the country, was sentenced on May 31 in Cork Circuit Criminal Court to five years’ imprisonment after pleading guilty to the charge of threatening to kill or cause serious harm. He had threatened his two French housemates, praised the Islamic State, and said he would behead Jews.

Trafficking in Persons

See the Department of State’s Trafficking in Persons Report at www.state.gov/j/tip/rls/tiprpt/.

Persons with Disabilities

The law prohibits discrimination against persons with physical, sensory, intellectual, and mental disabilities. The government effectively enforced these provisions and implemented laws and programs to give persons with disabilities access to buildings, information, and communications.

Children with disabilities generally had full access to educational options at all levels. In a practice condemned by children’s rights and mental health groups, authorities continued to admit minors to adult psychiatric units, with 68 reported admissions of children to adult units, according to the 2016 annual report of the Mental Health Commission.

National/Racial/Ethnic Minorities

The law prohibits discrimination based on race, which includes color, nationality, ethnicity, and national origins, and the government enforced the law. Societal discrimination and violence against immigrants and racial and ethnic minorities remained a problem. The country’s African population and Muslim community in particular experienced racially motivated physical violence, intimidation, graffiti, and verbal slurs. According to the European Network Against Racism, the number of reported racist incidents rose by 39 percent in 2016 to 435.

Advocacy groups criticized reductions in the accommodation budget for Travellers, an ethnic group with a distinct history and culture, which was cut by 90 percent between 2008 and 2017. The law obliges local officials to develop suitable accommodation sites for Travellers and to solicit Traveller input. Traveller NGOs asserted that many communities provided Travellers with housing that was unsuitable for their nomadic lifestyle or provided transient caravan camping sites that were unsafe and lacking basic services such as sanitary facilities, electricity, and water. Pavee Point criticized the absence of an agency to address the urgent need for improvements in housing and the implementation of existing policies in health, education, and employment.

In 2016 the Council of Europe’s Committee of Social Rights determined that the country’s law and practice violated the human rights of Travellers on the following grounds: inadequate conditions at many Traveller sites, insufficient provision of accommodation for Travellers, inadequate legal safeguards for Travellers threatened with eviction, and evictions carried out without necessary safeguards.

Acts of Violence, Discrimination, and Other Abuses Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity

The law prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation with respect to employment, goods, services, and education. The law does not include gender identity as an explicit category, but the courts interpreted it as prohibiting discrimination against transgender persons.

Civil liberties and civil society organizations alleged that no specific legislation existed to deal with other forms of hate crimes or to ensure that prejudice was taken into account as an aggravating factor when sentencing criminals.

Israel, Golan Heights, West Bank, and Gaza

Executive Summary

READ A SECTION: ISRAEL AND THE GOLAN HEIGHTS (BELOW) | WEST BANK AND GAZA


Israel is a multiparty parliamentary democracy. Although it has no constitution, the parliament, the unicameral 120-member Knesset, has enacted a series of “Basic Laws” that enumerate fundamental rights. Certain fundamental laws, orders, and regulations legally depend on the existence of a “state of emergency,” which has been in effect since 1948. Under the Basic Laws, the Knesset has the power to dissolve the government and mandate elections. The nationwide Knesset elections in 2015, which were considered free and fair, resulted in a coalition government led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Civilian authorities maintained effective control over the security services.

The most significant human rights issues included terrorist attacks targeting civilians and politically and religiously motivated killings by nonstate groups and individuals; administrative detention of Palestinians, often extraterritorially in Israel; and legal requirements and official rhetoric that adversely affected the operating environment for human rights nongovernmental organizations (NGOs).

The government took steps to prosecute and punish officials who committed abuses within Israel regardless of rank or seniority.

This section includes Israel, the Golan Heights, and problems primarily related to Israeli residents of Jerusalem. Problems primarily related to Palestinian residents of Jerusalem are covered in the “West Bank and Gaza” section. On December 6, 2017, the United States recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. It is the position of the United States that the specific boundaries of Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem are subject to final status negotiations between the parties.

As stated in Appendix A, this report contains data drawn from foreign government officials; victims of alleged human rights violations and abuses; academic and congressional studies; and reports from the press, international organizations, and NGOs concerned with human rights. In the context of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, some of those sources have been accused of harboring political motivations. The Department of State assesses external reporting carefully but does not conduct independent investigations in all cases.

We have sought and received input from the government of Israel with regard to allegations of human rights abuses, and we have noted any responses where applicable. Because of timing constraints, the Israeli government was not able to provide a detailed response to every alleged incident, but it did maintain generally that all incidents were thoroughly investigated and parties held accountable, as appropriate, according to due process of law.

Section 6. Discrimination, Societal Abuses, and Trafficking in Persons

Women

Rape and Domestic Violence: Rape, including spousal rape, is a felony punishable by 16 years in prison, or up to 20 years’ imprisonment for rape under aggravated circumstances or if the perpetrator rapes or commits a sexual offense against a relative. The government effectively enforced rape laws.

Arab and Jewish women’s rights groups protested against perceived police inaction and societal indifference to or support for actions to combat domestic violence. The government stated police had developed procedures and trained special investigators to deal with domestic violence, sex offenses, and the violation of protective orders in diverse communities, including the Arab community.

Women from certain Orthodox Jewish, Muslim, Bedouin, and Druze communities faced significant social pressure not to report rape or domestic abuse. The government stated that awareness and the perceived legitimacy of reporting and investigating rape and domestic violence were especially difficult in these communities.

The Ministry of Labor, Social Affairs, and Social Services operated 14 shelters for survivors of domestic abuse, including two for the Arab community, two mixed Jewish-Arab shelters, two for the ultra-Orthodox community, and eight for non-ultra-Orthodox Jewish communities. The labor ministry also operated a hotline for reporting abuse. The labor ministry assisted women involved in prostitution, including providing emergency shelters, daytime centers, and therapeutic hostels.

Sexual Harassment: Sexual harassment is illegal but remained widespread. Penalties for sexual harassment depend on the severity of the act and whether the harassment involved blackmail. Police notified all known victims of their right to receive assistance from the Association of Rape Crisis Centers in Israel. The law provides that victims may follow the progress on their cases through a computerized system and information call center.

In some ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods, private organizations posted “modesty signs” demanding women obscure themselves from public view to avoid distracting devout men. The local municipality of Beit Shemesh failed to comply with court orders from 2015 and January 2016 to remove the signs, leading the Jerusalem District Court to rule on June 7 that the municipality would face a fine of 10,000 shekels ($2,800) per day if the signs remained posted after July 6. The municipality appealed the decision to the Supreme Court, which upheld the contempt of court finding. At least two “modesty signs” remained up as of October 19, and the next hearing was scheduled for March 2018.

On September 3, media reported that Major General Roni Rittman, head of police anticorruption unit Lahav 433 that is investigating Prime Minister Netanyahu for corruption (see section 4), will resign at the end of the year due to accusations of sexual harassment of a subordinate in 2010. Then attorney general Yehuda Weinstein closed the investigation against Rittman in 2015, but in August the Supreme Court ordered Police Commissioner Roni Alsheich to explain why he allowed Rittman to continue working despite the sexual harassment complaint.

Coercion in Population Control: There were no reports of coerced abortion, involuntary sterilization, or other coercive population control methods. Estimates on maternal mortality and contraceptive prevalence are available at: www.who.int/reproductivehealth/publications/monitoring/maternal-mortality-2015/en/ .

Discrimination: The law provides for the same legal status and rights for women as for men. In the criminal and civil courts, women and men enjoyed the same rights, but in some matters religious courts–responsible for adjudication of family law, including divorce–limited the rights of Jewish, Christian, Muslim, and Druze women.

On August 15, following three years of hearings on a petition by women’s rights organizations to appoint a female director general to the rabbinical courts, the Supreme Court ruled that since the position is inherently administrative, not religious, it must be open to anyone licensed as a rabbinic pleader, including women. In June the Rabbinical Courts Administration named a female deputy director general for the first time. Although women currently serve as judges in nonreligious courts, they remain barred from serving as judges in rabbinical courts.

On April 25, the government appointed Hana Khatib as the first female judge in the sharia (Islamic) courts in Israel.

The law allows a Jewish woman or man to initiate divorce proceedings, and both the husband and wife must give consent to make the divorce final. Sometimes a husband makes divorce contingent on his wife conceding to demands, such as those relating to property ownership or child custody. As a result, according to the Rackman Center for the Advancement of the Status of Women at Bar Ilan University, thousands of Jewish women could not remarry or give birth to legitimate children. In rare cases Jewish women refused to grant men divorces, but this has lesser effect on a husband under Jewish law. Rabbinical courts sometimes sanctioned a husband who refused to give his wife a divorce, while also declining to grant the divorce without his consent.

A Muslim woman may petition for and receive a divorce through the sharia courts without her husband’s consent under certain conditions. A marriage contract may provide for other circumstances in which she may obtain a divorce without his consent. A Muslim man may divorce his wife without her consent and without petitioning the court. Through ecclesiastical courts, Christians may seek official separations or divorces, depending on their denomination. Druze divorces are performed by an oral declaration of the husband alone and then registered through the Druze religious courts, placing a disproportionate burden on the woman to leave the home with her children immediately. A civil family court or a religious court settles child custody, alimony, and property matters after the divorce, which gives preference to the father unless it can be demonstrated that a child especially “needs” the mother.

Although the law prohibits discrimination based on gender in employment and wages and provides for class action antidiscrimination suits, a wage gap between men and women persisted. The government subsidizes daycare and after-school programs to encourage labor participation by mothers and offers professional training to single parents.

The Authority for the Advancement of the Status of Women in the Prime Minister’s Office works to mainstream women’s participation in the government and private sector and to combat sexual harassment and domestic violence. The authority requires every city, local council, and government ministry to have an advisor working to advance women’s rights.

Children

Birth Registration: Children derive citizenship at birth within or outside of the country if at least one parent is a citizen. Births are supposed to be registered within 10 days of the delivery. According to the law, births are registered in the country only if the parents are citizens or permanent residents. Any child born in an Israeli hospital receives an official document from the hospital that affirms the birth.

A child’s status derives from a parent’s status; if one of the parents is an Israeli citizen and the other is not, the child may be registered as Israeli as long as he or she lives with the parent who is an Israeli citizen or permanent resident.

According to UNHCR, the Ministry of the Interior issues a confirmation of birth document, which is not a birth certificate, for children without legal residency status in the country.

Education: Primary and secondary education is free and universal through age 17 and compulsory through grade 12.

The government did not enforce compulsory education in unrecognized Bedouin villages in the Negev. Bedouin children, particularly girls, continued to have the highest illiteracy rate in the country. The government did not grant construction permits in unrecognized villages, including for schools. In April the Ministry of Education of Education began providing transportation to preschool for 21 Bedouin children. NGOs stated that bussing for preschoolers in unrecognized villages, rather than building schools near their villages, was discriminatory. In response to a petition on this topic, on October 15, the Be’er Sheva District Court instructed the government to submit a detailed plan for expedited construction of safe bus stops.

The government operated separate public schools for Jewish children, in which classes were conducted in Hebrew, and for Arab children, with classes conducted in Arabic. For Jewish children separate public schools were available for religious and secular families. Individual families could choose a public school system for their children to attend regardless of ethnicity or religious observance.

The government offered to fund fully Christian schools if they become part of the public (state) school system, but the churches rejected this option. The government pledged to transfer an additional 50 million shekels ($14 million). Church leaders noted this transfer did not resolve their annual deficits nor did it close the financial disparity with two politically affiliated ultra-Orthodox Jewish school systems.

The Tel Aviv municipality opened 46 new preschools and kindergartens and 10 first grade classes in 2016, primarily for the children of migrant workers and refugees, raising concerns of segregation. Segregation by place of origin is illegal.

In recent years an influx of Arab residents to the primarily Jewish town of Nazareth Illit led to a population of some 2,600 Arab students with no option for education in Arabic. As a result most such students attended schools in Arab-majority Nazareth and nearby villages. In June 2016 ACRI submitted a petition demanding establishment of a school for Arabic-speaking students, and the case continued at year’s end.

Medical Care: The government provides preventive health services to minors younger than age six without legal status. For noncitizens under age 18, it also provides services similar to those provided for citizens, regardless of their legal status in country. This arrangement does not include minors whose guardian is a resident of the Palestinian Authority.

Child Abuse: The law requires mandatory reporting of any suspicion of child abuse. It also requires social service employees, medical and education professionals, and other officials to report indications that minors were victims of, engaged in, or coerced into prostitution, sexual offenses, abandonment, neglect, assault, abuse, or human trafficking. The Ministry of Education operated a special unit for sexuality and for prevention of abuse of children and youth that assisted the education system in prevention and appropriate intervention in cases of suspected abuse of minors.

The National Council for the Child received a number of complaints during the year of abuses related to physical and sexual abuse, child pornography, and poor educational environments. NGOs expressed concern regarding police negligence in child abuse and domestic violence cases reported in minority communities.

Early and Forced Marriage: The law sets the minimum age of marriage at 18 years, with some exceptions for younger children due to pregnancy and for couples older than 16 years old if the court permitted it due to unique circumstances. The government stated that no marriages of children under 15 were registered with the Population Registry in 2016, but there may have been some such marriages that were not registered. For additional information, see Appendix C.

Sexual Exploitation of Children: The law prohibits sexual exploitation of a minor and sets a penalty of seven to 20 years in prison for violators, depending on the circumstances. The law prohibits the possession of child pornography (by downloading) and accessing such material (by streaming). Authorities enforced the law.

The minimum age for consensual sex is 16 years old. Consensual sexual relations with a minor between the ages of 14 and 16 constitute statutory rape punishable by five years’ imprisonment.

International Child Abductions: The country is a party to the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. See the Department of State’s report Annual Report on International Parental Child Abduction at travel.state.gov/content/childabduction/en/legal/compliance.html.

Anti-Semitism

Jews constituted approximately 80 percent of the population. The government often defined crimes targeting Jews as nationalistic crimes relating to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict rather than as resulting from anti-Semitism.

On August 31, Sephardi Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem Shlomo Amar described non-Orthodox Jews as “accursed evil people,” according to press reports. Prime Minister Netanyahu condemned Amar’s remarks. In September media reported that opposition MK Haneen Zoabi stated that Israel’s “fascist laws” make it “suitable to compare, logical to compare, Israel… with Germany in the [19]30s.”

Regarding claims for the return of, or restitution for, Holocaust-era assets, the government has laws and mechanisms in place, and the government made some progress on resolution of such claims. Relevant Israeli laws refer to assets imported during World War II whose owners did not survive the war. Unclaimed assets were held in trust and not transferred to legal inheritors, who in most cases were not aware that their late relatives had property in Israel. The government stated that in recent years it initiated a program to contact potential claimants.

Trafficking in Persons

See the Department of State’s Trafficking in Persons Report at www.state.gov/j/tip/rls/tiprpt/.

Persons with Disabilities

The Basic Laws provide a legal framework for prohibiting discrimination against persons with disabilities in the provision of government services. Legislation mandates access to buildings, information, communication, transportation, and physical accommodations and services in the workplace, as well as access to mental health services as part of government-subsidized health insurance, and the government generally enforced these laws.

The 2005 Equal Rights for Persons with Disabilities Law mandates that local governments implement all necessary changes to public buildings and locations to make them accessible. The deadline for implementation in nongovernmental buildings was November 1; in government-owned buildings it is November 1, 2018, but the Ministry of Justice extended the deadline to November 1, 2021, for buildings and places owned by local authorities.

Societal discrimination and lack of accessibility persisted in employment, housing, and education.

Shortages of funding for Arab municipalities adversely affected Arabs with disabilities.

Access to community-based independent living facilities for persons with disabilities remained limited.

The law prioritizes access by persons with disabilities to public services, such as eliminating waiting in line.

National/Racial/Ethnic Minorities

Arab citizens, many of whom self-identify as Palestinian, faced institutional and societal discrimination. There were multiple instances of security services’ or other citizens’ racially profiling Arab citizens. A May report from the state comptroller criticized the Ministry of Justice for failing to collect systematically complaints regarding discrimination and inequality.

There were “price tag” attacks, which refer to violence by Jewish individuals and groups against non-Jewish individuals and property with the stated purpose of exacting a “price” for actions taken by the government against the attackers’ interests. The government classifies price tag attacks as terrorism. The most common offenses, according to police, were attacks on vehicles, defacement of real estate, harm to Muslim and Christian holy sites, assault, and damage to agricultural lands.

In 2015 arsonists burned a large section of the Church of the Multiplication in Tabgha and scrawled on the building’s stone walls sections of the Jewish prayer book that, in this context, denigrated Christians. In July a court convicted one person of charges including arson and defacing real estate with a hostile motive and acquitted a second suspect. In January the government paid 1.5 million shekels ($420,000) for the restoration of the church. On February 12, President Rivlin attended an interfaith ceremony to mark the completion of the restoration.

In September vandals desecrated a church at the Beit Jamal Monastery, smashing a statue, shattering stained glass windows, and damaging furniture. This was the third time this church was attacked in recent years. According to the Custody of the Holy Land, a priory of the Franciscan order, no arrests were made after any of the attacks as of the end of the year.

In 2015, following negotiations with the Arab community, the cabinet approved a five-year plan for development of the Arab sector in the fields of education, transportation, commerce and trade, employment, and policing. On October 26, the government reported it transferred approximately three billion shekels ($840 million) under this resolution in 2016 and projected transfers of more than two billion shekels ($560 million) during the year. But Mossawa reported in October that most of the budgetary allocations, which must be approved retroactively and individually by the Knesset Finance Committee, had not yet been approved.

The government employed affirmative action policies for non-Jewish minorities in the civil service. In August the Ministry of Labor, Social Affairs, and Social Services announced an investment of 15 million shekels ($4.2 million) over the next five years to integrate Arab employees into the high-tech sector.

Separate school systems within the public and semipublic domains produced a large variance in education quality. Arab, Druze, and ultra-Orthodox students passed the matriculation exam at lower rates than their non-ultra-Orthodox Jewish counterparts. The government continued operating educational and scholarship programs to benefit Arab students. In 2015 the Council for Higher Education invited proposals for the establishment and operation of a state-funded college in an Arab locality in northern Israel, but there was no tangible progress towards opening this institution as of October.

In November 2016 the Ministry of Transport, National Infrastructure, and Road Safety removed automated audio announcements in Arabic from urban buses in Be’er Sheva after receiving complaints from the mayor and residents. Buses continued to display electronic announcements in Arabic and Hebrew. In response to a lawsuit by Arab residents, the ministry reinstated the Arabic announcements by June 7.

Approximately 93 percent of land in Israel is in the public domain. This includes approximately 12.5 percent owned by the JNF, whose statutes prohibit sale or lease of land to non-Jews. Human rights organizations withdrew a 2004 petition in January 2016 after the Israel Lands Administration (ILA) and JNF made an arrangement in which Arab citizens will be allowed to participate in all bids for JNF land, but the ILA will grant the JNF another parcel of land whenever an Arab citizen of Israel wins a bid. In August 2016 human rights organizations petitioned the Supreme Court against the requirement that six of 14 members of the Israel Land Authority Council be JNF representatives, claiming the JNF’s mission to benefit only Jewish citizens may make the council discriminatory against non-Jews. The case continued as of the end of the year. On March 28, the Knesset passed an amendment to the 1960 Israel Land Authority Law requiring representation of an Arab, Druze, or Circassian member in the ILA Executive Council.

New construction remained illegal in towns that did not have an authorized outline plan for development, which is the legal responsibility of local authorities. The government stated that as of 2015, 131 of 133 Arab localities had approved outline plans for development, 84 of which the National Planning Administration furthered. NGOs serving the Arab population, however, alleged discrimination in planning and zoning rights, noting regional planning and zoning approval committees did not have Arab representation. NGOs stated planning for Arab areas was much slower than for Jewish municipalities, leading frustrated Arab citizens to build or expand their homes without legal authorization, risking a government-issued demolition order. A plan for the Bedouin village of al-Fura’a was not yet completed as of October, despite government recognition of the village in 2006. As a result, the village lacked basic electricity and water infrastructure, and NGOs reported house demolitions occurred regularly.

According to a 2015 report from the Knesset Research and Information Center, 338 out of 350 administrative demolition orders from 2012-14 were against structures in Arab communities. In April the Knesset passed an amendment to the 1965 Planning and Building Law, which increased the government’s power to demolish unpermitted structures. Arab MKs and human rights organizations condemned the law for increasing enforcement and demolitions without addressing the systemic housing shortages in Arab communities that led to unpermitted construction. According to Mossawa, approximately 50,000 Arab families live in unpermitted houses.

A May report from the state comptroller criticized the segregation of Jewish and Arab women in hospital maternity wards. The report noted that separation of patients for nonmedical reasons was incompatible with the principle of equality, even if such separation was requested by the patient or for “cultural considerations.”

Arab communities in the country generally faced economic difficulties, including discrepancies in access to healthcare.

The Bedouin segment of the Arab population continued to be the most disadvantaged. More than one-half of the estimated 230,000 Bedouin population lived in seven government-planned communities. Approximately 70,000 Bedouins lived in 35 unrecognized tent or shack villages that did not have water and electricity or educational, health, and welfare services. A three-billion-shekel ($840 million) multi-year plan the government approved in February to promote economic and social development in Bedouin communities excluded the unrecognized villages.

In nine of 11 recognized villages, all residences remained unconnected to the electricity grid or to the water infrastructure system, and only seven had high schools, according to the Negev Coexistence Forum for Civil Equality.

(See section 1.e. for issues of demolition and restitution for Bedouin property.)

The law bars family reunification when a citizen’s spouse is a non-Jewish citizen of Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, or Syria. Citizens may apply for temporary visit permits for Palestinian male spouses age 35 or older or Palestinian female spouses age 25 or older, but they may not receive residency based on their marriage and have no path to citizenship.

The government generally prohibited Druze citizens and residents from visiting Syria. Prior to 2013 the government allowed Druze residents of the Golan Heights to attend university studies and religious meetings in Syria. This ended after insurgent groups seized control of the Syrian side of the border crossing. Subsequently, the government facilitated the return of resident Druze students from Syria. The government has prevented family visitations to Syria for noncitizen Druze since 1982. Since 2013 the government facilitated the entry of several thousand Syrian nationals, including Druze, to Israel to receive medical treatment.

An estimated population of 144,100 Ethiopian Jews faced persistent societal discrimination, although officials and citizens quickly and publicly criticized discriminatory acts against them. In July 2016 Prime Minister Netanyahu publicly received the recommendations of an interministerial team established to address racism against Israelis of Ethiopian origin. There was one Ethiopian-Israeli member of the Knesset. The government maintained several programs to address social, educational, and economic disparities between Ethiopian-Israelis and the general population.

Acts of Violence, Discrimination, and Other Abuses Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity

The law prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation, and the government generally enforced these laws, although discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity persisted in some parts of society.

Despite a 2014 directive from the Ministry of Health that government-subsidized health services include sex-reassignment surgery, patients received conflicting information from health-care providers.

There were reports of discrimination in the workplace against LGBTI persons, despite laws prohibiting such discrimination.

HIV and AIDS Social Stigma

Although discrimination against persons living with HIV is illegal, the Israel AIDS Task Force reported instances of HIV-related stigma and discrimination, including cases related to employment, military service, burial services, and prisons.

Other Societal Violence or Discrimination

Individuals and militant or terrorist groups attacked civilians, including 10 stabbing, shooting, Molotov cocktail, or ramming attacks characterized by authorities as terror attacks (see section 1.a.). (For issues relating to violence or discrimination against asylum seekers, see section 2.d.)

Human rights NGOs criticized the government for failing to invest sufficient resources to combat organized crime and gang violence, and to seize illegal weapons in Arab communities. Mossawa reported that more than 1,200 Arab citizens of Israel died as a result of organized crime and gang violence since 2000.

Promotion of Acts of Discrimination

On August 29, following a Supreme Court ruling restricting the government’s options on irregular migrants, Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked stated, “Zionism should not continue…to bow its head to a system of individual rights that is interpreted in a universalist fashion….” In response, according to media reports, opposition MK Tzipi Livni stated maintaining human rights “is a part of Israel’s values as a Jewish and democratic state.”

Israel, Golan Heights, West Bank, and Gaza – West Bank and Gaza

Executive Summary

READ A SECTION: ISRAEL AND THE GOLAN HEIGHTS | WEST BANK AND GAZA (BELOW)


The Palestinian Authority (PA), according to PA basic law, has an elected president and legislative council. The PA exercised varying degrees of authority in the West Bank and no authority over Jerusalem. The PA maintains civil and security control in Area A of the West Bank. In Area B, it has civil control and joint security control with Israel. The PA has no authority over either Israeli or Palestinian residents in Area C of the West Bank (in which Israel retains both security and civil control).

Although PA laws apply in the Gaza Strip, the PA did not have authority there. While the PA deployed personnel at Gaza’s border crossings in November, Hamas continued to exercise de facto control of security and other matters.

The PA head of government is Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah. President Mahmoud Abbas, in office since he was elected to a four-year term in 2005, is also chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and general commander of Fatah. The Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) has not functioned since 2007. In 2007 Hamas staged a violent takeover of PA government installations in the Gaza Strip and has since maintained a de facto government in the territory.

Both PA and Israeli civilian authorities maintained effective control over their security forces. Hamas maintained control of security forces in Gaza.

The most significant human rights issues included Palestinian terror attacks against Israeli civilians and security forces in the West Bank and Jerusalem, which killed 13 Israelis. Israeli forces killed 68 Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza, four of whom nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and media reported did not pose a lethal threat to Israeli Security Forces (ISF) or civilians at the time they were killed. Other significant human rights issues included allegations that interrogation techniques used by Israeli security forces constituted torture; allegations that security detention procedures constituted arbitrary arrest; demolition and confiscation of Palestinian property; limitations on freedom of expression, assembly, and association; severe restrictions on Palestinians’ internal and external freedom of movement pursuant to military law; and concerns that Palestinian children were vulnerable to Israeli violations of the law regarding arrest, physical restraint, night interrogations, treatment during interrogations, and holding conditions. The government of Israel asserted these events took place in a context of Palestinian incitement to violence against Israel.

The most significant human rights issues in the parts of the West Bank under PA control included allegations of torture; political prisoners; increased restrictions on freedom of speech and press, including detention of journalists and blocking access to critical websites; and limitations on freedom of association, including government preapproval of NGO programs and limits on independent labor unions. The Palestinian Authority has not held national elections since 2006, significantly limiting political participation. The government did not effectively prosecute allegations of rape and domestic violence; same-sex sexual activity was criminalized, although the law was not enforced; there were reports of forced labor and child labor.

Terrorist organizations and militant factions in Gaza launched rocket and mortar attacks against civilian targets in Israel, and they did so at or near civilian locations in Gaza. The most significant human rights abuses under Hamas de facto rule included unlawful and arbitrary killings, disappearances, torture, arbitrary arrest and detention; political prisoners; severe infringements on privacy rights; severe restrictions on freedoms of speech and press, including violence against journalists; interference with academic freedom and cultural events; violent interference in the freedom of assembly; severe restrictions on freedom of association, including arbitrary interference with NGO operations and opposition political parties; negation of the right to participate in the political process; widespread and arbitrary enforcement of “morality codes” against women by authorities; official harassment and arbitrary detention of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) persons; restrictions on independent labor unions, and reports of forced labor and child labor.

The PA and Israeli authorities took steps to address impunity or reduce abuses, but there were criticisms both did not adequately pursue investigations and disciplinary actions related to violations. Impunity was a major problem under Hamas.

This section includes areas subject to the jurisdiction of the Palestinian Authority and issues primarily related to Palestinian residents of Jerusalem. Issues primarily related to Israeli residents of Jerusalem are covered in the “Israel and the Golan Heights” section. On December 6, 2017, the United States recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. It is the position of the United States that the specific boundaries of Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem are subject to final status negotiations between the parties.

As stated in Appendix A, this report contains data drawn from foreign government officials; victims of alleged human rights violations and abuses; academic and congressional studies; and reports from the press, international organizations, and NGOs concerned with human rights. In the context of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, some of those sources have been accused of harboring political motivations. The Department of State assesses external reporting carefully but does not conduct independent investigations in all cases.

We have sought and received input from the government of Israel (and, where relevant, the Palestinian Authority) with regard to allegations of human rights abuses, and we have noted any responses where applicable. Because of timing constraints, the Israeli government was not able to provide a detailed response to every alleged incident, but it did maintain generally that all incidents were thoroughly investigated and parties held accountable, as appropriate, according to due process of law.

Section 6. Discrimination, Societal Abuses, and Trafficking in Persons

Women

Rape and Domestic Violence: Rape is illegal under PA law, but the legal definition does not address spousal rape. Punishment for rape is five to 15 years in prison. PA law (which applies both in the West Bank and in Gaza) relieves rapists who marry their victim of criminal responsibility. PA and de facto Hamas authorities generally did not enforce laws pertaining to rape effectively in the West Bank or Gaza. In previous years there were reports police treated rape as a social and not a criminal matter, and that authorities released some accused rapists after they apologized to their victims.

PA law does not explicitly prohibit domestic violence, but assault and battery are crimes. PA and de facto Hamas authorities did not enforce the law effectively in domestic violence cases in the West Bank and Gaza. NGOs reported Palestinian women were frequently unwilling to report cases of violence or abuse to PA or Hamas de facto authorities due to fear of retribution. HRW in previous years reported that PA authorities prosecuted few domestic violence cases successfully. According to the PA’s Central Bureau of Statistics, domestic violence, especially psychological violence, was common in the West Bank and Gaza.

The mandate of the PA Ministry of Women’s Affairs is to promote women’s rights. The ministry worked in the West Bank to highlight the challenges Palestinian women faced in coordination with public institutions, NGOs, and the private sector, as well as international and regional organizations.

Other Harmful Traditional Practices: The law precludes “family honor” as protection for perpetrators in “honor killing” crimes, although some NGOs argued the law was not sufficiently enforced. NGOs reported 28 documented reports of honor killings in 2015 in the West Bank and Gaza but expressed concern about underreporting, based on how PA police documented allegations in the West Bank, and due to lack of information on the situation in Gaza.

Sexual Harassment: No PA law specifically relates to sexual harassment, which was a significant and widespread problem in the West Bank and Gaza. Some women claimed that when they reported harassment, authorities held them responsible for provoking men’s harassing behavior. Authorities in Gaza harassed women for “un-Islamic” behavior, including being in public after dark and walking with an unrelated man.

Coercion in Population Control: There were no reports of coerced abortion, involuntary sterilization, or other coercive population control methods. Estimates on maternal mortality and contraceptive prevalence are available at: www.who.int/reproductivehealth/publications/monitoring/maternal-mortality-2015/en/ .

Discrimination: While PA law provides for equality of the sexes, it discriminates against women. Women can inherit, but not as much as men. Men may marry more than one wife. Women may add conditions to marriage contracts to protect their interests in the event of divorce and child custody disputes, but rarely did so. Local officials sometimes advised such women to leave their communities to avoid harassment.

Hamas enforced a conservative interpretation of Islam in Gaza that discriminated against women. Authorities generally prohibited public mixing of the sexes. Plainclothes officers routinely stopped, separated, and questioned couples to determine if they were married. In Gaza premarital sex was considered a crime punishable by imprisonment. Hamas’s “morality police” punished women for behavior they deemed inappropriate such as riding motorcycles, smoking cigarettes or water pipes, leaving their hair uncovered, and dressing “inappropriately” in Western-style or close-fitting clothing such as jeans or T-shirts. Women in refugee camps in Gaza stated they felt unsafe using public bathing and latrine facilities.

PA labor law states that work is the right of every capable citizen; however, it regulates the work of women, preventing them from employment in dangerous occupations.

According to press and NGO reports, in some instances teachers in Hamas-run schools in Gaza sent girls home for not wearing conservative attire, although enforcement was not systematic.

Children

Birth Registration: The PA registers Palestinians born in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, and Israel requires the PA to transmit this information to the ICA. The PA cannot determine citizenship. Children of Palestinian parents can receive a Palestinian identity card issued by the ICA, if they are born in the West Bank or Gaza to a parent who holds a Palestinian identity card. The PA Ministry of Interior and the ICA both play a role in determining a person’s eligibility for that card.

Israel registers the births of Palestinians born in Jerusalem, although Palestinian residents of Jerusalem sometimes reported years-long delays in that process.

Education: Education in PA-controlled areas of the West Bank is compulsory from age six through the ninth grade (approximately 16 years old). Education is available to all West Bank Palestinians without cost through high school.

In Gaza primary education is not universal. UNRWA, de facto Hamas authorities, religious institutions, and private foundations all provided instruction. In addition to the PA curriculum, UNRWA provided specialized classes on human rights, conflict resolution, and tolerance. There were reports Hamas offered courses on military training in its schools during youth summer camps, to which school-age children could apply for admission.

Some Jerusalem school administrators said ISF activities on campuses adversely affected students and faculty. On October 23, the Parents’ Committee of schools in the East Jerusalem Palestinian neighborhood of Issawiyeh suspended school attendance in response to the presence of Israeli Border Police adjacent to school grounds. In the West Bank, Palestinian government officials and Palestinian university officials accused the ISF of disrupting university campuses, especially in areas close to Israeli settlements. Officials from the al-Quds University’s Abu Dis campus in the West Bank continued to accuse Israeli soldiers of harassing Palestinian university students on campus and attempting to provoke students. There were occasional low-level skirmishes near the entrance to al-Quds University between the IDF and youths unaffiliated with the university.

Israeli restrictions on construction in Area C of the West Bank affected Palestinian students’ access to education. In August and September, three primary schools or kindergartens were demolished or had their equipment confiscated, affecting 132 Palestinian children, according to UN reports. At least 56 Palestinian schools in Area C of the West Bank were subject to pending demolition or stop-work orders.

The Israeli High Court ordered the Jerusalem Municipality in 2011 to correct the deficit of school classrooms in Palestinian-majority neighborhoods of Jerusalem by the 2016-17 school year. According to the Norwegian Refugee Council, the Palestinian classroom deficit in Jerusalem has grown since 2011: The annual construction rate in schools serving Jerusalem’s Palestinian children was 37 classrooms per year, while the growth rate of the Palestinian student population required an additional 70 classrooms per year. The Jerusalem Municipality announced a plan for the 2017-18 school year that included an increase of 105 first grade classrooms within five years and 20 classrooms per year in secondary schools.

Child Abuse: Child abuse was reportedly widespread. PA law prohibits violence against children; however, PA authorities and de facto authorities in Gaza rarely punished perpetrators of family violence.

Israeli security forces reportedly committed violence against Palestinian children in military custody and during arrest (see section 1.c.) in the West Bank and near the Gaza Strip buffer zone, according to MCW, Hamoked, and UN reports.

Doctors Without Borders reported the number of Palestinian children with posttraumatic stress disorder and other anxiety disorders, including depression, increased in recent years. The organization attributed a majority of the cases to trauma experienced during Israeli military incursions or to settler violence.

Early and Forced Marriage: PA law defines the minimum age for marriage as 18; however, Islamic law allows persons as young as 15 years old to marry. Child marriage did not appear to be widespread in the West Bank and Gaza, according to NGOs including the Women’s Center for Legal Aid and Counseling. For additional information, see Appendix C.

Sexual Exploitation of Children: The PA considers statutory rape a felony, based on the Jordanian penal code. Punishment for rape of a victim less than age 15 includes a minimum sentence of seven years. In Gaza, under the rule of de facto Hamas authorities, suspects convicted of rape of a victim less than age 14 are eligible for the death penalty. There were reports that societal norms led to underreporting to the de facto authorities in Gaza of sexual exploitation of children.

Child Soldiers: There were reports Hamas trained children as combatants.

Displaced Children: Conflict and demolition orders (see section 2.d.) displaced Palestinian children in the West Bank, Gaza, and Jerusalem.

Anti-Semitism

Israeli settlements in the West Bank had approximately 400,000 Jewish residents. The Jewish population in Gaza, aside from foreign nationals, was nonexistent. Israeli settlements in East Jerusalem had an estimated 207,000 Jewish residents.

Some Palestinians and Muslim religious leaders used anti-Semitic rhetoric and engaged in Holocaust denial. Anti-Israel sentiment was widespread in public discourse and sometimes crossed the line into anti-Semitism, including expressions of longing for a world without Israel and glorification of terror attacks on Israelis. During times of heightened tensions between Israeli authorities and Palestinians, Palestinian press and social media sometimes circulated cartoons encouraging such attacks.

At times the PA failed to condemn incidents of anti-Semitic expression in official PA media outlets.

In Gaza and the West Bank, there were instances in which media outlets, particularly outlets controlled by Hamas, published and broadcast material that included anti-Semitic content, sometimes amounting to incitement to violence.

Trafficking in Persons

No PA law specifically prohibits trafficking in persons, and small numbers of Palestinian children and adults reportedly experienced forced labor in both the West Bank and Gaza, as well as in Jerusalem, where Israeli law applies.

Persons with Disabilities

The law prohibits discrimination due to a permanent or partial disability in physical, psychological, or mental capabilities. It does not mandate access to buildings, information, or communications. The ICHR reported a lack of accessible transportation in Palestinian areas across the West Bank. UNRWA’s policy is to provide accessibility in all new structures in refugee camps. The disability rights NGO Bizchut reported a lack of accessible transportation services in Palestinian-majority neighborhoods of East Jerusalem.

Palestinians with disabilities continued to receive inconsistent and poor-quality services and care. The PA in the West Bank and de facto Hamas authorities in Gaza partially depended on UN agencies and NGOs to care for persons with physical disabilities, and both offered substandard care for persons with mental disabilities. Palestinians in Gaza reported little to no infrastructure accommodations for persons with mobility disabilities, as well as difficulty in importing wheelchairs and other mobility aids due to Israeli authorities’ control of goods transiting border crossings into Gaza.

There were reports that Palestinian detainees deemed mentally disabled or a threat to themselves or others were placed in isolation without a full medical evaluation by Israeli authorities. According to Physicians for Human Rights-Israel, Israeli isolation of Palestinian prisoners with mental disabilities was common.

National/Racial/Ethnic Minorities

According to UNOCHA, an estimated 27,500 Palestinian Bedouin lived in Area C of the West Bank. Many were UNRWA-registered refugees. Bedouins were often resident in areas designated by Israel as closed military zones or planned for settlement expansion. Demolition and forced displacement by the Israeli government of Bedouin and herding communities continued in Area C. Many of these communities lacked access to water, health care, education, and other basic services.

Acts of Violence, Discrimination, and Other Abuses Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity

PA law, based on the 1960 Jordanian penal code, prohibits consensual same-sex sexual activity. The PA did not prosecute individuals suspected of such activity. Societal discrimination based on cultural and religious traditions was commonplace, making the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem challenging environments for Palestinian lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) persons. In February the Palestinian attorney general confiscated a book that allegedly contained references of a homosexual nature. Some Palestinians claimed PA security officers and neighbors harassed, abused, and sometimes arrested LGBTI individuals because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. NGOs reported Hamas also harassed and detained persons due to their sexual orientation or gender identity.

HIV and AIDS Social Stigma

While the PA Ministry of Health provided treatment and privacy protections for patients with HIV/AIDS, societal discrimination against affected individuals in the West Bank was common. Anecdotal evidence suggested societal discrimination against HIV/AIDS patients was also very common in Gaza.

Other Societal Violence or Discrimination

UNOCHA, Yesh Din, and other NGOs reported numerous attacks by Israeli settlers on Palestinians and their property in the West Bank, undermining the livelihoods and physical security of Palestinians. The attacks included Israeli settler violence against Palestinian residents and NGO workers. Some Israeli settlers reportedly used violence against Palestinians to keep them away from land settlers sought to acquire. The number of settler attacks perpetrated against Palestinians increased for the first time in three years, according to UNOCHA. As of August, UNOCHA identified 89 incidents of settler violence since January that resulted in Palestinian fatalities, injuries, or property damage, representing an 88-percent increase in the monthly average compared with 2016.

Various human rights groups, including Yesh Din, Rabbis for Human Rights, and B’Tselem, continued to claim Israeli authorities insufficiently investigated and rarely prosecuted settler violence. Some groups attributed this circumstance in part to the ICA’s neglect of Palestinian complaints. Palestinian residents were reportedly reluctant to report incidents due to fears of settler retaliation and were discouraged by a lack of accountability in most cases. Yesh Din stated that of 1,200 investigations into settler violence since 2005, only 3 percent resulted in convictions.

According to Israeli media reports, Israeli middle school students hiking near the West Bank Area C Palestinian village of Qusra on November 30 were approached by a group of Palestinians who harassed the child hikers and their adult chaperones, threw rocks at them, and assaulted them. The timing and route of the hike had been previously cleared with the IDF. The adults split up, one going for help and the other guiding the children to a cave for protection. According to multiple media reports, one Israeli chaperone fired a weapon in self-defense, killing a Palestinian resident of Qusra who was farming his land nearby, 48-year-old Mahmoud Za’al Odeh. The IDF arrived and escorted the children and chaperones to safety.

Palestinian residents of the West Bank claimed settlers perpetrated hit-and-run attacks against Palestinian pedestrians, although in most cases the circumstances were unclear. On August 26, an Israeli settler vehicle struck and killed an eight-year-old Palestinian girl. PA medical sources said the vehicle struck the girl near the Furush Beit Dajan village in Nablus, but Israeli police contended the vehicle hit her on Route 90 in the Jordan Valley. On April 20, an Israeli settler vehicle injured a Palestinian teenager on a road in Teqoua east of Bethlehem and then fled; the teenager suffered moderate injuries.

Many incidents involved Israeli settlers trespassing onto Palestinian-owned land and damaging land and crops. In January, six settler youths from the Geulat Tzion outpost near Shilo entered Palestinian-owned olive groves in Turmus Ayya, threw stones at the farmers who were plowing their fields, and sprayed graffiti with the word “revenge.” Israeli settler attacks on olive trees, on which many rural Palestinians rely for their livelihoods, remained common. During the annual olive harvest in the West Bank in October-November, NGO Rabbis for Human Rights documented 19 cases of settler intimidation and violence or damage to harvests. On October 22, settlers from Adei Ad stole olives from 200 trees of the grove of Jamil Nassan in the Palestinian village of al-Mughayyer, northeast of Ramallah. His harvest has been stolen annually for several years.

“Price tag” attacks (property crimes and violent acts by extremist Jewish individuals and groups against Palestinians) continued.

In May the Israeli Central District Attorney’s Office indicted three Israeli suspects for vandalizing several Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem and cars in the Arab village of Naura, located near the Israeli city of Nazareth. The trial continued throughout the year without reaching a verdict.

Harassment and attacks against Palestinians in Jerusalem by extremist Jewish groups reportedly increased. The Jewish organization Lehava continued to protest social relationships between Jews and Palestinians, made anti-Christian and anti-Muslim statements, and reportedly assaulted Palestinians in West Jerusalem. On October 22, authorities remanded Lehava leader Bentzi Gopstein to house arrest following allegations he made threats against Arabs romantically involved with Jewish women. The Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court sentenced Gopstein to five days’ house arrest. Media reported that of the 14 other members of the antiassimilation group arrested at the same time, two had their remand extended by two days, and authorities allowed the others to return home.

Access to social and commercial services in Israeli settlements in the West Bank, including housing, education, and health care, was available only to Israelis. Israeli officials discriminated against Palestinians in the West Bank and Jerusalem regarding access to employment and legal housing by denying Palestinians access to registration paperwork. In both the West Bank and Jerusalem, Israeli authorities often placed insurmountable obstacles against Palestinian applicants for construction permits, including the requirement that they document land ownership despite the absence of a uniform post-1967 land registration process, the imposition of high application fees, and requirements that new housing be connected to often-unavailable municipal works.

According to B’Tselem, in 2000 Israel began curtailing the Palestinian population registry by denying paperwork to Palestinians and effectively declaring some Palestinians illegal residents. Some Palestinians defined as illegal residents faced harassment, arrest, or deportation to Gaza.

The World Bank reported that Palestinians in the West Bank suffered water shortages and purchased approximately one-half of their domestic water supply from Israel. Oslo-era agreements limited the amount of water Palestinians can draw from West Bank aquifers. According to AI, Palestinians received an average of eight gallons less than the World Health Organization’s prescribed minimum daily water supply to maintain basic hygiene standards and food security. Political and fiscal constraints limited the PA’s ability to improve water network management and efficiency, including the requirement for Israeli approval to implement water-related projects and the PA’s lack of authority to prevent theft from the network in Area C, as well as the PA’s own management problems.

The Israeli military continued to destroy Palestinian water cisterns, some of which donor countries had funded for humanitarian purposes. The Israeli military also destroyed unlicensed Palestinian agricultural wells, particularly in the Jordan Valley area of the West Bank, claiming they depleted aquifer resources.

Palestinians living within the boundaries of the Jerusalem Municipality, but cut off from the rest of the city by the security barrier, reported that the municipality failed to provide basic services, including water, policing, and infrastructure.

Organizations such as UNOCHA, Bimkom, and Ir Amim alleged that Jerusalem municipal and Israeli national policies aimed at decreasing the number of Palestinian residents of Jerusalem. Israeli government-sponsored construction of new housing units in East Jerusalem’s Israeli settlements continued, while building permits were difficult to obtain for Palestinian residents of Jerusalem. Authorities demolished homes built by Palestinian residents without the legal permits they were unable to obtain, or for which they did not apply due to the high costs, extensive wait period, and minimal chance of obtaining the permit in the end. The Israeli NGOs Bimkom and Ir Amim stated that Palestinians in East Jerusalem continued to face barriers to purchasing property or obtaining building permits. Israeli authorities generally zoned land owned or populated by Palestinians for low residential growth. Authorities designated approximately 30 percent of East Jerusalem for Israeli settlements. Palestinians were able in some cases to rent Israeli-owned property, but they were generally unable to purchase property in an Israeli neighborhood. Israeli NGOs stated that after accounting for Israeli settlements, Israeli government property and declared national parks, only 13 percent of all land in East Jerusalem was available for Palestinian construction.

The Israeli government and Jewish organizations in Jerusalem made efforts to increase Israeli property ownership or emphasize Jewish history in predominantly Palestinian neighborhoods of Jerusalem. Jewish landowners and their descendants, or land trusts representing the families, were entitled to reclaim property they had abandoned in East Jerusalem during fighting prior to 1949, but Palestinians who abandoned property in West Jerusalem during fighting in the same period had no reciprocal right to stake their legal claim to the property. Private Jewish organizations in Jerusalem acquired legal ownership of reclaimed Jewish property in East Jerusalem, including in the Old City, and sought to evict Palestinian families living there through protracted judicial action. According to UNOCHA, as of August, at least 260 Palestinians living in 24 residential buildings in East Jerusalem were under threat of eviction.

Although Israeli law entitles Palestinian residents of Jerusalem to full and equal services provided by the municipality and other Israeli authorities, the Jerusalem Municipality failed to provide sufficient social services, education, infrastructure, and emergency planning for Palestinian-majority neighborhoods in Jerusalem. According to ACRI, 76 percent of East Jerusalem’s Palestinian residents and 83 percent of Palestinian children in East Jerusalem lived in poverty–an increase from 2016. There was a chronic shortage of classrooms in the official school system serving Palestinian children, despite commitments made by Israeli authorities and a high court ruling that the Jerusalem municipality must close the gap of missing classrooms for Palestinian students by year’s end. Authorities largely segregated bus services in Jerusalem between Israelis and Palestinians. Light-rail service completed in 2010 served both Palestinian and Israeli populations, and of the 24 stops on the light rail, five were in or near Palestinian neighborhoods. The Jerusalem municipality continued not to operate the light-rail stop in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Shu’fat. Palestinian youth periodically threw rocks at trains in Shu’fat and caused minor damage.

Italy

Executive Summary

The Italian Republic is a multiparty parliamentary democracy with a bicameral parliament consisting of the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate. The constitution vests executive authority in the Council of Ministers, headed by a prime minister whose official title is president of the Council of Ministers. The president of the Republic, who is the head of state, nominates the prime minister after consulting with political party leaders in parliament. International observers considered the national parliamentary elections in 2013 to be free and fair.

Civilian authorities maintained effective control over the security forces.

The most significant human rights issues included criminalization of libel; and instances of violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) persons authorities generally investigated, and where appropriate prosecuted, such cases.

The government investigated, prosecuted, and punished officials who committed abuses including officials in the security forces or elsewhere in the government.

Section 6. Discrimination, Societal Abuses, and Trafficking in Persons

Women

Rape and Domestic Violence: The prescribed penalty for rape, including spousal rape, is five to 12 years in prison. The law criminalizes the physical abuse of women (including by family members), provides for the prosecution of perpetrators of violence against women, and helps shield abused women from publicity. Judicial protective measures for violence occurring within a family allow for an ex parte application to a civil court judge in urgent cases. Police officers and judicial authorities prosecuted perpetrators of violence against women, but survivors frequently declined to press charges due to fear, shame, or ignorance of the law. A specific law on stalking includes mandatory detention for acts of sexual violence, including by partners.

Between January and July, police received 2,333 reports of cases of sexual violence and arrested 2,438 alleged perpetrators. According to a 2016 study by the national statistical agency, ISTAT, 31.5 percent of women between the ages of 16 and 70 were victims of physical or sexual violence. Between January and July, 50 women were killed by their partners.

The Department of Equal Opportunity operated a hotline for victims of violence seeking immediate assistance and temporary shelter. The department also operated a hotline for victims of stalking. From January to November 31, the hotline received 29,939 calls.

Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C): FGM/C was a problem in some immigrant communities. It is a crime punishable by up to 12 years’ imprisonment. Most of the mutilations were performed outside the country. The Department for Equal Opportunities operated a hotline for victims and other affected parties who requested the support of authorities and NGOs.

Sexual Harassment: Minor cases of verbal sexual harassment in public are punishable by up to six months’ incarceration and a fine of up to 516 euros ($619). The government effectively enforced the law. By government decree emotional abuse based on gender discrimination is a crime. Police investigated reports of harassment that were submitted to authorities.

Coercion in Population Control: There were no reports of coerced abortion, involuntary sterilization, or other coercive population control methods. Estimates on maternal mortality and contraceptive prevalence are available at: www.who.int/reproductivehealth/publications/monitoring/maternal-mortality-2015/en/ .

Discrimination: Women have the same legal status and rights as men. The government enforced laws prohibiting every form of discrimination in all sectors.

Children

Birth Registration: A child acquires citizenship automatically when the parents are citizens, when the parents of children born in the country’s territory are unknown or stateless, or when the parents are foreigners whose countries of origin do not recognize the citizenship of their children born abroad. Citizenship is also granted if a child is abandoned in the country and in cases of adoption. Local authorities required immediate birth registration. Unaccompanied minors entering the country automatically receive a residence permit.

Child Abuse: In 2016 Telefono Azzurro, an NGO that advocates for children’s rights, received approximately 4,000 reports of child abuse.

Early and Forced Marriage: The minimum age for marriage is 18, but juvenile courts may authorize marriages for individuals as young as 16. According to NGOs, hundreds of women were victims of forced marriages. On April 8, local media reported a case in which family members, all of Moroccan origin, allegedly forced their minor daughter to marry an older man. Authorities intervened and brought the alleged victim to a protected community.

Sexual Exploitation of Children: Authorities enforced the laws prohibiting sexual exploitation, the sale of children, offering or procuring a child for prostitution, and practices related to child pornography. Independent observers and the government estimated at least 3,500 foreign minors were victims of sexual exploitation. According to the Ministry of Justice, through September 15, authorities arrested 174 persons (159 citizens and 15 foreigners) for exploiting minors for prostitution.

In 2016 the National Center for the Fight against Child Pornography, a special unit within the postal and communications division of the National Police, monitored more than 410,000 websites and reported 449 persons to prosecutors. Authorities arrested 51 persons for crimes involving online child pornography.

The minimum age for consensual sex varies from 13 to 16, based on the relationship between partners.

Displaced Children: The Ministry of Interior reported that, between January and December 1, approximately 15,540 unaccompanied minors arrived in the country. As of August 31, approximately 8,900 children were hosted in protected communities.

International Child Abductions: The country is a party to the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. See the Department of State’s Annual Report on International Parental Child Abduction at travel.state.gov/content/childabduction/en/legal/compliance.html.

Anti-Semitism

There were approximately 30,000 Jews in the country. Anti-Semitic societal prejudices persisted. Some extremist fringe groups were responsible for anti-Semitic remarks and actions, including vandalism and publication of anti-Semitic material on the internet.

On June 14, the Observatory on Anti-Semitism of the Foundation Jewish Contemporary Documentation Center reported that there were 130 anti-Semitic incidents in 2016 but no violent assaults. The center reported a growing number of insults on the internet. Most episodes occurred during Jewish holidays or celebrations.

On April 12, in Bologna, when police confronted a man shouting curses in Arabic, he took out a knife and threatened, “You are Jews. I will kill you all.” He injured two police officers while being arrested.

On February 7, a Rome court acquitted two football fans who supported the S.S. Lazio team and were filmed in 2013 chanting anti-Semitic slurs “yellow-red Jew” and “Jewish Roma supporter” in Rome. The court examined the case and determined that the chants did not rise to the level of a crime as they were made “in the context of a sports rivalry.” Jewish community leader Ruth Dureghello, in a letter protesting the dismissal, stated that it was a “dangerous precedent for justice” since it “lends legitimacy to using the word ‘Jew’ in its most negative form” for racist mockery in sports events.

On October 22, fans of the Lazio soccer team left in a section of the Olympic Stadium of Rome stickers depicting Anne Frank wearing the jersey of the rival AS Roma team and anti-Semitic slogans such as “Roma fans are Jews.” The government and soccer authorities unanimously condemned the act. President Sergio Mattarella characterized the episode as “inhuman and alarming for our country” while Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni stated that the stickers were “unbelievable, unacceptable and not to be minimized.” The president of the Lazio team, Claudio Lotito, visited the main synagogue in Rome to place a wreath and to affirm the team’s desire to tackle the problem of anti-Semitism among its fans. He announced that the team would bring groups of young fans to visit concentration camps every year in order to ensure that they understand the history of the Holocaust. On October 24, police announced that some 20 fans responsible for the incident had been identified, including two minors. The Italian soccer federation began all games that week with a reading of a passage from The Diary of Anne Frank, and players gave to the children who accompanied the teams onto the field copies of both the diary and Primo Levi’s Survival at Auschwitz.

Anti-Semitic slogans and graffiti appeared in some cities, including Rome and Viareggio. On September 3, authorities discovered a swastika and graffiti reading “no to Jews” at a bus stop near a Jewish school and shops owned by Jews in Milan. Other examples of vandalism included damage to a flagstone commemorating victims of the Holocaust in Milan on January 27.

Internet hate speech and bullying were the most common forms of anti-Semitic attacks, according to the Foundation Jewish Contemporary Documentation Center.

In September the lower house of parliament criminalized fascist fanaticism. The measure provides for imprisonment for the public display of the stiff-armed Roman salute commonly used by fascists and Nazis. Those who display or sell fascist or Nazi memorabilia could also face prison terms of six months to two years, which would increase by eight months if those goods are sold online.

In January the archbishop of Palermo, Corrado Lorefice, transferred to the Jewish community a church-owned facility built atop the ruins of the Great Synagogue of Palermo.

Trafficking in Persons

See the Department of State’s Trafficking in Persons Report at www.state.gov/j/tip/rls/tiprpt/.

Persons with Disabilities

The law prohibits discrimination against persons with physical, sensory, intellectual, and mental disabilities. The government enforced these provisions, but there were incidents of societal and employment discrimination. Although the law mandates access to government buildings and public transportation for persons with disabilities, physical barriers continued to pose challenges.

National/Racial/Ethnic Minorities

Societal violence and discrimination against Roma, Sinti, Caminanti, and other ethnic minorities remained a problem. There were reports of discrimination in occupation and employment based on race or ethnicity.

The press and NGOs reported cases of incitement to hatred, violent attacks, forced evictions from unauthorized camps, and mistreatment by municipal authorities. According to the NGO Associazione 21 Luglio, housing remained a serious concern for 29,000 Roma, most of whom were foreigners. A total of 19,000 persons lived in authorized camps, and another 10,000 lived in informal encampments in Rome and elsewhere, where authorities conducted more than 100 evictions between January and August. Local authorities did not always provide adequate alternative housing. On August 27, unknown arsonists set fire to a Romani camp in Naples, destroying shacks and trailers where several families lived.

Acts of Violence, Discrimination, and Other Abuses Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity

Under the law there is no provision for a victims sexual orientation or gender identity to be considered an aggravating circumstance in hate crime cases. Instances of violence, discrimination, and hate speech were reported during the year by credible NGOs.

The press reported isolated cases of violence against gay and lesbian couples during the year. The Gay Help Line, an NGO that operated a hotline providing support to LGBTI persons, received on average 20,000 calls per year. Approximately 70 percent of callers reported cases of discrimination and homophobia, 13 percent blackmail and threats, and 11 percent violence and physical abuses. Some 300 persons between the ages of 12 and 25 reported episodes of violence at home.

Jamaica

Executive Summary

Jamaica is a constitutional parliamentary democracy. In national elections in February 2016, the Jamaica Labor Party (JLP) led by Prime Minister Andrew Michael Holness won a majority 32 of the 63 seats in the House of Representatives. International and local election observers deemed the elections transparent, free, and fair but noted isolated incidents of violence prior to, and on, election day. By-elections for three seats in the House of Representatives on October 30, resulted in the JLP’s increasing its majority to 33 seats. Local election observers deemed the by-elections transparent, free, fair, and peaceful.

Civilian authorities maintained effective control over the security forces.

The most significant human rights issues included numerous reports of arbitrary and other unlawful killings by government security forces; entrenched government corruption within some government agencies; violence against women; sexual assault and incest committed against young girls by gang members; criminalization of same-sex sexual activity, although these laws were not enforced during the year; and societal violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) persons.

The government took some steps to investigate, prosecute, and punish officials who committed human rights abuses, although a general sense of impunity remained with respect to alleged unlawful killings by agents of state.

Section 6. Discrimination, Societal Abuses, and Trafficking in Persons

Women

Rape and Domestic Violence: The rape of women is illegal and carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment. The law criminalizes spousal rape only when spouses have separated or begun proceedings to dissolve the marriage; when the husband is under a court order not to molest or cohabit with his wife; or when the husband knows he suffers from a sexually transmitted infection.

The law prohibits domestic violence and provides remedies, including restraining orders and other noncustodial sentencing, but violence against women continued to be a severe problem. Breaching a restraining order is punishable by a fine of up to 10,000 JMD ($78) and six months’ imprisonment.

Sexual Harassment: No legislation addresses sexual harassment, and no legal remedy exists for victims of sexual harassment.

Coercion in Population Control: There were no reports of coerced abortion, involuntary sterilization, or other coercive population control methods. Estimates on maternal mortality and contraceptive prevalence are available at: www.who.int/reproductivehealth/publications/monitoring/maternal-mortality-2015/en/ .

Discrimination: Although the law provides for the same legal status and rights for women as for men, including equal pay for equal work, women suffered from discrimination in the workplace and often earned less than men. Domestic workers were particularly vulnerable to workplace discrimination and sexual harassment.

Children

Birth Registration: Every person born in the country after independence in 1962 is entitled to citizenship. Persons outside the country born to or adopted by one or more Jamaican parents, as well as those married to Jamaican spouses are entitled to citizenship.

Child Abuse: The law criminalizes sexual relations by an adult with a child–male or female–under the age of 16 and provides for penalties ranging from 15 years’ to life imprisonment. Enforcement of the law, however, was sporadic, especially in rural areas, with child abuse and incest often suspected but not reported to authorities. The law requires anyone who knows of or suspects child abuse to make a report to the registry office, with a penalty of up to 500,000 JMD ($3,900) and six months’ imprisonment, or both, for failure to do so.

Child abuse, including sexual abuse, was substantial and widespread. NGOs reported that gang leaders, sometimes including fathers, initiated sex with young girls as a “right,” and missing children often were fleeing violent situations and sexual abuse.

For additional information, see Appendix C.

Early and Forced Marriage: The legal minimum age for marriage is 18, but children may marry at 16 with parental consent.

Sexual Exploitation of Children: The law prohibits sexual intercourse with a person less than 16 years old, the minimum age for consensual sex. Sexual relations by an adult with a child under 16 is punishable by up to life imprisonment. The law provides for a Sex Offenders Registry, which the Department of Corrections administers and police enforce.

The law criminalizes the commercial sexual exploitation of children and applies to the protection, possession, importation, exportation, and distribution of child pornography. It carries a maximum penalty of 20 years’ imprisonment and a fine of 500,000 JMD ($3,900). There were reports of the commercial sexual exploitation of children.

International Child Abductions: As of May the country was a party to the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. See the Department of State’s Annual Report on International Parental Child Abduction at travel.state.gov/content/childabduction/en/legal/compliance.html.

Anti-Semitism

Approximately 500 persons in the country practiced Judaism. There were no reports of anti-Semitic acts.

Trafficking in Persons

See the Department of State’s Trafficking in Persons Report at www.state.gov/j/tip/rls/tiprpt/.

Persons with Disabilities

Although the law prohibits discrimination against persons with disabilities, it does not mandate accessibility standards. Persons with disabilities continued to encounter discrimination in employment and access to schools, usually due to the state of the infrastructure, which limited access to buildings and provided few accessible facilities.

There were limitations in access to education at the primary school level, due to insufficient facilities for persons with disabilities. There was also a lack of suitably trained faculty to care for and instruct students with disabilities, although the constitution guarantees all children the right to primary education. Health care reportedly was universally available but at times difficult to access, especially for deaf and intellectually disabled persons.

The Ministry of Labor and Social Security has responsibility for the Jamaica Council for Persons with Disabilities. The council distributes economic empowerment grants of up to 150,000 JMD ($1,170) to persons with disabilities to help them develop small businesses and 250,000 JMD ($1,950) per person for the purchase of assistive aids.

Acts of Violence, Discrimination, and Other Abuses Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity

The law prohibits “acts of gross indecency” (generally interpreted as any kind of physical intimacy) between persons of the same sex, in public or in private, and provides for a penalty of two years in prison for the offense. There is also an “antibuggery” section in the law that criminalizes consensual and nonconsensual anal intercourse, punishable by up to 10 years in prison. During the year the law was enforced only in cases of sexual assault and child molestation and was not used to prosecute consensual same-sex sexual conduct between men. Homophobia was widespread in the country.

The NGO Jamaica Forum for Lesbians, All-Sexuals, and Gays reported that through September it received 23 reports of human rights violations against LGBTI individuals according to its criteria, including 19 incidents of physical assault, five mob attacks, one case of employment discrimination, and six cases in which police failed to respond adequately to reports.

HIV and AIDS Social Stigma

The country’s National HIV/AIDS Workplace Policy prohibits HIV-related discrimination in the workplace and the Public Health (Notifiable Diseases) Act 2003 provides some legal recourse to persons with HIV/AIDS who experienced discrimination. The overall prevalence of HIV reached 2.8 percent among sex workers and 32.8 percent among men who have sex with men, according to UNAIDS data for 2016. Members of these groups were highly stigmatized and had difficulties accessing HIV testing and treatment services.

Japan

Executive Summary

Japan has a parliamentary government with a constitutional monarchy. Shinzo Abe, leader of the Liberal Democratic Party, became prime minister in 2012. Lower House elections in October, which returned Prime Minister Abe to office with a large majority, were considered free and fair.

Civilian authorities maintained effective control over the security forces.

There were no reports of egregious human rights abuses.

The government enforced laws prohibiting human rights abuses and prosecuted officials who committed them.

Section 6. Discrimination, Societal Abuses, and Trafficking in Persons

Women

Rape and Domestic Violence: The law criminalizes all forms of rape involving force against women. The law does not deny spousal rape, but no court has ever ruled on such a case, except in situations of marital breakdown (i.e., formal or informal separation, etc.). In June the Diet passed legislation that expanded the definition of rape to include forced anal and oral sex with victims regardless of gender and eliminated a clause that required a victim to file a complaint to indict an offender, although the age of consent remains 13 years of age. The law mandates a minimum sentence of five years in prison. In the past, courts interpreted the law to mean that physical resistance by the victim is necessary to find that a sexual encounter was rape. Observers pointed out a lack of training for judges, prosecutors, and lawyers about sexual crimes and victims.

A 2015 Cabinet Office survey (the most recent data) showed that only 4.3 percent of women who suffered forcible sexual intercourse reported the crime to police. Observers attributed women’s reluctance to report rape to a variety of factors, including a lack of victim support, potential secondary victimization through the police response, and court proceedings that lacked understanding for rape victims.

Although prohibited by law, domestic violence against women remained a serious problem, according to multiple sources. Victims of abuse by domestic partners, spouses, and former spouses could receive protection at shelters and seek restraining orders from court.

The government implemented the 2015 agreement with the Republic of Korea on World War II “comfort women” (women trafficked for sexual purposes). The agreement remained controversial with some civil society and survivor groups outside the country. In 2016 the government provided the agreed one-billion-yen ($8.92 million) contribution to a foundation established by the Republic of Korea to provide support for the former “comfort women.”

Sexual Harassment: The law does not criminalize sexual harassment but includes measures to identify companies that fail to prevent it, and prefectural labor offices and the Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare provided these companies with advice, guidance, and recommendations. Companies that fail to comply with government guidance may be publicly identified, and although this is extremely rare, it has begun to happen. Sexual harassment in the workplace remained widespread (see section 7.d.).

Coercion in Population Control: There were no reports of coerced abortion, involuntary sterilization, or other coercive population control methods. Estimates on maternal mortality and contraceptive prevalence are available at: www.who.int/reproductivehealth/publications/monitoring/maternal-mortality-2015/en/ .

Discrimination: The law prohibits gender discrimination and generally provides women the same rights as men. The Gender Equality Bureau in the Cabinet Office continued to examine policies and monitor developments.

Despite these policies, NGOs continued to allege that implementation of antidiscrimination measures was insufficient, pointing to discriminatory provisions in the law, unequal treatment of women in the labor market (see section 7.d.), and low representation of women in high-level elected bodies. NGOs continued to urge the government to eliminate different age minimums for marriage depending on sex, and allow married couples a choice of surnames.

Children

Birth Registration: The law grants citizenship at birth to: a child of a Japanese father who either is married to the child’s mother or recognizes his paternity; a child of a Japanese mother; or, a child born in the country to parents who are both unknown or are stateless. The law requires registration within 14 days after in-country birth or within three months after birth abroad, and these deadlines were generally met. Individuals are allowed to register births after the deadline but are required to pay a fine.

The law requires birth entries in the family registry to specify whether a child was born in or out of wedlock, but the law no longer denies full inheritance rights to children born out of wedlock. The law presumes that a child born within 300 days of a divorce is the divorced man’s child, resulting in the nonregistration of an unknown number of children.

Child Abuse: Reports of child abuse increased due to increased public awareness, according to the Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare. Sexual abuse of children by teachers was reported.

The government revised the law in May 2016 to simplify the process of inspecting homes where child abuse is suspected; require child welfare offices to have legal, psychological, and medical experts; allow more municipalities to have child welfare offices; and raise the age of eligibility for staying at public homes.

Early and Forced Marriage: The law stipulates that to marry, the male partner must be age 18 or older and the female partner, 16 or older. A person under 20 may not marry without at least one parent’s approval.

Sexual Exploitation of Children: Child prostitution is illegal, with penalties including prison sentences or fines. The continued practice of enjo kosai (compensated dating) and the existence of websites for online dating, social networking, and “delivery health” (a euphemism for call-girl or escort services) facilitated the sex trafficking of children and other commercial sex industries. The government made efforts to crack down on a trend known as “JK business,” which included cafes that featured underage female servers and massage parlors staffed by high school-age girls. NGOs helping girls in “JK business” reported a link between these activities and the exploitation of children in prostitution.

Statutory rape laws criminalize sexual intercourse with a girl younger than 13, notwithstanding her consent. The penalty for statutory rape is not less than three years’ imprisonment with mandatory labor, and the law was enforced. Additionally, national law and local ordinances comprehensively address sexual abuse of minors.

The country was a site for the production of child pornography and the exploitation of children by traffickers. The possession of child pornography is a crime. The commercialization of child pornography is illegal; the penalty is imprisonment with labor for not more than three years or a fine not exceeding three million yen ($26,800), and police continued to crack down on this crime.

NGOs reported a number of cases in which companies deceived women and in some cases men–some of whom were children–with “modeling” contracts that required performance in pornographic videos. The government in March presented measures to counter the issues of coerced appearance in pornographic videos and sexual exploitation of schoolchildren. In October a court sentenced a Japanese man to a three-year prison term with a five-year suspension and a fine for recruiting young women, including girls under 18, and compelling them to sign written consent forms to perform in pornographic videos.

No law addresses the unfettered availability of sexually explicit cartoons, comics, and video games, some of which depicted scenes of violent sexual abuse and the rape of children.

See the Department of State’s Trafficking in Persons Report at www.state.gov/j/tip/rls/tiprpt/.

International Child Abductions: The country is a party to the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. See the Department of State’s Annual Report on International Parental Child Abduction at travel.state.gov/content/childabduction/en/legal/compliance.html.

Anti-Semitism

The Jewish population was approximately 2,000. There were no reports of anti-Semitic acts.

Trafficking in Persons

See the Department of State’s Trafficking in Persons Report at www.state.gov/j/tip/rls/tiprpt/.

Persons with Disabilities

The Basic Act for Persons with Disabilities prohibits discrimination against persons with physical, intellectual, mental, and other disabilities affecting body and mind and bars infringement of their rights and interests on the grounds of disability in public and private sector. The Act on the Elimination of Discrimination against Persons with Disabilities, effective in April 2016, requires the public sector to provide reasonable accommodations and the private sector to make best efforts in employment, education, access to health care, or the provision of other services. Nonetheless, persons with disabilities faced limited access to some public sector services. The laws do not stipulate remedies for persons with disabilities who suffer discriminatory acts or penalties for noncompliance.

The law mandates that the government and private companies hire minimum proportions (2 percent) of persons with disabilities (including mental disabilities) or be fined. Disability rights advocates claimed that some companies preferred to pay the fine rather than hire persons with disabilities (see section 7.d.).

Accessibility laws mandate that new construction projects for public use must include provisions for persons with disabilities. The government may grant low interest loans and tax benefits to operators of hospitals, theaters, hotels, and other public facilities if they upgrade or install features to accommodate persons with disabilities.

While some schools provided inclusive education, children with disabilities generally attended specialized schools.

Mental health professionals criticized as insufficient the government’s efforts to reduce the stigma of mental illness and inform the public that depression and other mental illnesses are treatable and biologically based. Abuse of persons with disabilities was a serious concern. Persons with disabilities around the country suffered abuse by family members, care facility employees, or employers. Private surveys indicated discrimination against, and sexual abuse of, women with disabilities.

National/Racial/Ethnic Minorities

Minorities experienced varying degrees of societal discrimination.

The Act on the Elimination of Discrimination against Buraku (the descendants of feudal-era outcasts), effective as of December 2016, is the first law solely addressing discrimination against Buraku. According to the act, national and local governments will study discrimination against Buraku, implement awareness education, and enhance the counseling system. Buraku advocacy groups continued to report that, despite socioeconomic improvements achieved by many Buraku, widespread discrimination persisted in employment, marriage, housing, and property assessment. While the Buraku label was no longer officially used to identify individuals, the family registry system could be used to identify them and facilitate discriminatory practices. Buraku advocates expressed concern that employers who required family registry information from job applicants for background checks, including many government agencies, might use this information to identify and discriminate against Buraku applicants.

Despite legal safeguards against discrimination, foreign permanent residents in the country, including many who were born, raised, and educated in the country, were subjected to various forms of entrenched societal discrimination, including restricted access to housing, education, health care, and employment opportunities. Foreign nationals as well as “foreign looking” citizens reported they were prohibited entry, sometimes by signs reading “Japanese Only,” to privately owned facilities serving the public, including hotels and restaurants. Although such discrimination was usually open and direct, NGOs complained of government failure to enforce laws prohibiting such restrictions.

Societal acceptance of ethnic Koreans who were permanent residents or citizens generally continued to improve. Although authorities approved most naturalization applications, advocacy groups continued to complain about excessive bureaucratic hurdles that complicated the naturalization process and a lack of transparent criteria for approval. Ethnic Koreans who chose not to naturalize faced difficulties in terms of civil and political rights and regularly encountered discrimination in access to housing, education, and other benefits.

Senior government officials publicly repudiated the harassment of ethnic groups as inciting discrimination and reaffirmed the protection of individual rights for everyone in the country.

Indigenous People

Although the Ainu enjoy the same rights as all other citizens, Ainu persons reported cases of discrimination in the workplace, schools, and public services, according to a Hokkaido Ainu Association survey of Ainu persons. The law emphasizes preservation of Ainu culture but lacks some provisions that Ainu groups have demanded, including national-level social welfare policies and educational grants, special representation in local and national governments, and a formal government apology for historical injustices. The government recognized the Ainu as an indigenous ethnic group in a unanimous Diet resolution, but the recognition has no legal ramifications.

Although the government does not recognize the Ryukyu (a term that includes residents of Okinawa and portions of Kagoshima Prefecture) as indigenous people, it officially acknowledged their unique culture and history and made efforts to preserve and show respect for those traditions.

Acts of Violence, Discrimination, and Other Abuses Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity

No law prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. There are no existing penalties associated with such discrimination, and no related statistics were available. The law tends to lead to lower penalties for perpetrators of male rape and greater legal ambiguity surrounding same-sex prostitution.

NGOs that advocate on behalf of LGBTI persons reported no impediments to organization but some instances of bullying, harassment, and violence. Stigma surrounding LGBTI persons remained an impediment to self-reporting of discrimination or abuse, and studies on bullying and violence in schools generally did not take into account the sexual orientation or gender identity of the persons involved. The law allows transgender individuals to change their legal gender, but only after receiving a diagnosis of sexual identity disorder.

HIV and AIDS Social Stigma

No law prohibits discrimination against persons with HIV/AIDS, although nonbinding Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare guidelines state that firms should not terminate or fail to hire individuals based on their HIV status. Courts have awarded damages to individuals fired from positions due to that status.

Concern about discrimination against individuals with HIV/AIDS and the stigma associated with the disease, and fear of dismissal, prevented many persons from disclosing their HIV/AIDS status.

Jordan

Executive Summary

The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan is a constitutional monarchy ruled by King Abdullah II bin Hussein. The constitution concentrates executive and legislative authority in the king. The multiparty parliament consists of the 65-member House of Notables (Majlis al-Ayan) appointed by the king and a 130-member elected lower house, the Chamber of Deputies (Majlis al-Nuwwab). Elections for the Chamber of Deputies took place in September 2016. International observers deemed the elections were organized, inclusive, credible, and technically well run.

Civilian authorities maintained effective control over the security forces.

The most significant human rights issues included allegations of torture by security and government officials; arbitrary arrest and detention, including of activists and journalists; infringements on citizens’ privacy rights; restrictions on freedom of expression, including criminalization of libel, slander, and defamation directed at the government or officials, intimidation of journalists, censorship, and blocking of the internet; restrictions on freedom of association and assembly; reports the government deported some Syrian and Palestinian refugees to Syria without adjudication of whether they had a well-founded fear of persecution there; allegations of official corruption, including in the judiciary; and “honor” killings of women, although the government took a number of legislative and practical steps to deter the practice.

Impunity remained widespread, and the government did not take sufficiently strong steps to investigate, prosecute, or punish officials who committed abuses. The government took limited, nontransparent steps against such officials, and information on the outcomes was not publicly available.

Section 6. Discrimination, Societal Abuses, and Trafficking in Persons

Women

Rape and Domestic Violence: The law stipulates a sentence of at least 10 years of imprisonment with hard labor for the rape of a girl or woman 15 years of age or older. Spousal rape is not illegal. Parliament passed a revised domestic violence law in April that clarified procedures for reporting and case management and specified that these complaints must receive expedited processing. The law made prosecution mandatory for felony offenses. Nonfelony offenses are first subject to mediation by the Family Protection Department of the PSD. The new law provides options for alternative sentencing in domestic violence cases with consent of the victim. NGOs noted that the new law now clarifies procedures for handling domestic violence, but the definition of domestic violence remains unclear.

In August parliament abolished an article of the penal code that exonerated rapists who married their victims.

The government did not effectively enforce the law against rape, and violence against women was widespread.

Women may file complaints of rape or physical abuse with certain NGOs or directly with judicial authorities. As of September 30, the Family Protection Department treated and investigated 1,050 cases of rape or sexual assault against women. The FPD actively investigated cases, but gave preference to mediation, and some activists reported pressure against taking physical abuse cases to court. Spousal abuse is technically grounds for divorce, but husbands claimed religious authority to strike their wives. Observers noted while judges generally supported a woman’s claim of abuse in court, due to societal and familial pressure, as well as fears of violence such as honor killings, few women sought legal remedies.

The Family Protection Department continued to operate a domestic violence hotline and received inquiries and complaints via the internet and email. According to the Ministry of Social Development, the government maintained a second shelter for female victims of domestic violence in Irbid.

The government-run center for trafficking victims in Amman, Dar al-Karamah, assisted victims of trafficking.

Other Harmful Traditional Practices: Of the 42 women killed in the country through August, local media identified eight as “honor crimes.” Activists stated, however, many such crimes went unreported.

In March the Court of Cassation toughened the sentences against two men convicted of killing their sister in an honor crime to 15 and 20 years imprisonment.

In August parliament amended the penal code to eliminate the “fit of fury” as a mitigating factor in sentencing for honor crimes, except in cases of adultery caught in the act. Parliament also amended the law to eliminate mitigated sentencing for honor crimes cases when the family would ordinarily drop charges.

There were no reported instances of forced marriage as an alternative to a potential honor killing during the year, although NGOs noted that many cases of forced marriage occurred shortly after an accusation of rape due to family and societal pressure before any formal trial began. Observers noted that if a woman marries her rapist, according to customary belief, her family members do not need to kill her to “preserve the family’s honor.”

Through their administrative detention authority, governors continued to place potential victims of honor crimes in involuntary protective custody in the Women’s Correctional and Rehabilitation Center in the Jweideh and the Umm al-Lulu detention facilities, where some women remained for more than one year.

Sexual Harassment: The law strictly prohibits sexual harassment and does not distinguish between sexual assault and sexual harassment. Both carry a minimum prison sentence of four years at hard labor. Parliament amended laws to set penalties for indecent touching and verbal harassment, but did not define or substantively strengthen protections against sexual harassment. The government did not enforce this law. NGOs reported refugees from Syria and foreign migrant workers, including garment workers and domestic workers, were especially vulnerable to gender-based violence, including sexual harassment and sexual assault, in the workplace.

Coercion in Population Control: There were no reports of coerced abortion, involuntary sterilization, or other coercive population control methods. Estimates on maternal mortality and contraceptive prevalence are available at: www.who.int/reproductivehealth/publications/monitoring/maternal-mortality-2015/en/ .

Discrimination: The law does not provide for the same legal status and rights for women as for men. Women experienced discrimination in a number of areas, including inheritance, divorce, child custody, citizenship, the workplace, and, in certain circumstances, the value of their testimony in a sharia court.

No specialized government office or designated official handles discrimination claims. The Jordanian National Commission for Women, a government-supported NGO, operated a hotline to receive discrimination complaints.

Under sharia as applied in the country, daughters inherit half the amount that sons receive. A sole female heir receives only half of her parents’ estate, with the balance going to uncles, whereas a sole male heir inherits all of his parents’ property. Women may seek divorce without the consent of their husbands in limited circumstances such as abandonment, spousal abuse, or in return for waiving financial rights. The law allows retention of financial rights under specific circumstances, such as spousal abuse. Special courts for each Christian denomination adjudicate marriage and divorce, but for inheritance sharia rules apply by default.

The law allows fathers to prevent their children under the age of 18 from leaving the country through a court order that is not available to mothers. Authorities did not stop fathers from exiting the country with their children when the mother objected.

The government provided men with more generous social security benefits than women. The government continued pension payments of deceased male civil servants to their heirs, but it discontinued payments to heirs of deceased female civil servants unless they were the sole income earner in the family. Laws and regulations governing health insurance for civil servants under the Civil Service Bureau do not permit married women to extend their health insurance coverage to dependents or spouses unless they are the sole income earner in the family, whereas men can automatically extend full insurance benefits to spouses and dependents. Divorced and widowed women may extend coverage to their children (see section 2.d., Stateless Persons, and section 7.d.).

In August parliament amended the penal code to grant mothers permission to give consent for surgeries on their minor children without consent of their father.

Children

Birth Registration: Only the father transmits citizenship. The government did not issue birth certificates to all children born in the country during the year. The government deemed some children–including children of unmarried women, orphans, or certain interfaith marriages involving a Muslim woman and converts from Islam to another religion–illegitimate and denied them standard registration. Instead, the government issued these children unique national identification numbers, making it difficult or impossible for them to attend school, access health services, or receive other documentation. Authorities removed children born out of wedlock from their mothers and placed them in orphanages, regardless of the mother’s desire for custody.

Education: Education is compulsory from ages six through 16 and free until age 18. No legislation exists to enforce the law or to punish guardians for violating it. Children without legal residency do not have the right to attend public school. Some children of female citizens and noncitizen fathers must apply for residency permits every year, and authorities did not assure permission (see section 2.d., Stateless Persons). The Ministry of Education allowed Syrians to enroll at local public schools, with the exception of students who were out of school for three or more years. In some cases authorities did not permit refugee children to register in school due to lack of documentation. A trust fund supported by international donors helped cover the cost and provided a supplement to teachers who worked in schools in the Za’atri and Azraq camps and in the host communities. The government doubled the number of double-shift schools to allow additional Syrian refugee students access to formal education.

Children with disabilities experienced extreme difficulty in accessing constitutionally protected early and primary education.

Child Abuse: No specific law provides protection for children, but other laws specify punishment for child abuse. For example, conviction for rape of a child younger than age 15 potentially carries the death penalty. Local organizations working with abused children pointed to gaps in the legal system that regularly resulted in lenient sentencing, particularly for family members. In child abuse cases, judges routinely showed leniency in accordance with the wishes of the family. In some cases authorities failed to intervene when confronted with reports of abuse, resulting in escalating violence and ultimately death.

In July the rape and killing of a seven-year-old Syrian child generated public anger. The authorities quickly arrested a suspect who confessed to the crimes, and protestors called for the death penalty. In October the Criminal Court convicted the perpetrator of sexual assault and murder and sentenced him to death.

The Juvenile Law places the age of criminal responsibility at 12 years. The law stipulates that juveniles charged with committing a crime along with an adult be tried in a juvenile court. Although the law gives the State Security Court jurisdiction over all drug and terrorism related charges, including juveniles, the State Security Court issued a judgment that it does not have jurisdiction over juveniles. Terrorism-related trials of juveniles took place during the year in front of the juvenile criminal court. The law stipulates alternative penalties for juvenile offenders, including vocational training and community service.

Early and Forced Marriage: The minimum age for marriage is 18. With the consent of both a judge and a guardian, a child as young as 15 years old may be married. During the year the Supreme Judge Department issued new marriage regulations, including a 15-year maximum age difference between the husband and the wife, provided that the would-be husband is not married and that marriage would not prevent the girl from pursuing her education. Judges have the authority to decide if marriage of girls between 15 and 18 years old would be “in their best interest” and to adjudicate the marriage contract.

Sexual Exploitation of Children: The law stipulates a penalty for the commercial exploitation of children of six months’ to three years’ imprisonment. The law prohibits the distribution of pornography involving persons under the age of 18. The law does not specifically prohibit the possession of child pornography without an intention to sell or distribute. The law penalizes those who use the internet to post or distribute child pornography. The minimum age of consensual sex is 18, although sexual relations between minors whose marriages the courts approved are legal.

Institutionalized Children: NGOs reported physical and sexual abuses occurred in government institutions. According to the NCHR, some juveniles in detention alleged mistreatment. Authorities automatically referred cases involving violence against persons with disabilities or institutionalized persons to the Family Protection Department. The community monitoring committee highlighted the pervasive use of physical discipline; physical and verbal abuse; unacceptable living conditions; and a lack of educational, rehabilitative, or psychosocial services for wards and inmates.

International Child Abductions: The country is not a party to the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. See the Department of State’s Annual Report on International Parent Child Abduction at travel.state.gov/content/childabduction/en/legal/compliance.html.

Anti-Semitism

Aside from foreigners, there was no resident Jewish community in the country. Anti-Semitism was present in media. Editorial cartoons, articles, and opinion pieces sometimes negatively depicted Jews without government response. The national school curriculum, including materials on tolerance education, did not mention the Holocaust, but it was taught in some private school curriculums.

Trafficking in Persons

See the Department of State’s Trafficking in Persons Report at www.state.gov/j/tip/rls/tiprpt/.

Persons with Disabilities

The law generally provides equal rights to persons with disabilities, but authorities did not uphold such legal protections. Disabilities covered under the law include physical, sensory, psychological, and mental disabilities. The Higher Council for Affairs of Persons with Disabilities, a government body, worked with ministries, the private sector, and NGOs to formulate and implement strategies to assist persons with disabilities. Citizens and NGOs universally reported that persons with disabilities faced problems in obtaining employment and accessing education, health care, transportation, and other services, particularly in rural areas.

In June parliament amended the law on the rights of persons with disabilities, strengthening protections for workers with disabilities, and criminalizing neglect of persons with disabilities. The law requires private companies to hire workers with disabilities, forbids employers from firing employees solely because of their disability, and directs employers to make their workplaces accessible to persons with disabilities.

Activists noted the law lacked implementing regulations, and authorities rarely enforced it. Authorities exempted from the quota employers who stated the nature of the work was not suitable for persons with disabilities.

The electoral law directs the government to verify that voting facilities are accessible to persons with disabilities and allows such persons to bring a personal assistant to the polling station; the Independent Electoral Commission has responsibility for implementing this law.

The law tasks the Special Buildings Code Department with enforcing accessibility provisions and oversees retrofitting of existing buildings to comply with building codes. The vast majority of private and public office buildings continued to have limited or no access for persons with disabilities. Municipal infrastructure such as public transport, streets, sidewalks, and intersections was not accessible.

An NCHR report noted that school classrooms were not fully accessible, and there were no qualified teachers for children with disabilities. Families of children with disabilities reported that teachers and principals often refused to include children with disabilities in mainstream classrooms.

Human rights activists and media reported on cases of physical and sexual abuse of children and adults with disabilities in institutions, rehabilitation centers, and other care settings. The government operated some of these institutions, and some of the abusers were government employees.

National/Racial/Ethnic Minorities

Four groups of Palestinians resided in the country, many of whom faced some discrimination. Those who migrated to the country and the Jordan-controlled West Bank after the 1948 Arab-Israeli war received full citizenship, as did those who migrated to the country after the 1967 war and held no residency entitlement in the West Bank. Those still holding residency in the West Bank after 1967 were no longer eligible to claim full citizenship, but they could obtain temporary travel documents without national identification numbers, provided they did not also carry a Palestinian Authority travel document. These individuals had access to some government services but paid noncitizen rates at hospitals, educational institutions, and training centers. Refugees who fled Gaza after 1967 were not entitled to citizenship, and authorities issued them temporary travel documents without national numbers. These persons had no access to government services and were almost completely dependent on UNRWA services. PRS who were able to enter the country, despite many being turned away at the border, had access to UNRWA services.

Palestinians were underrepresented in parliament and senior positions in the government and the military, as well as in admissions to public universities. They had limited access to university scholarships. They are well represented in the private sector.

Acts of Violence, Discrimination, and Other Abuses Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity

Authorities can arrest LGBTI individuals for allegedly violating public order or public decency, which are crimes under the penal code. Arrests, however, were rare during the year. While consensual same-sex sexual conduct is not illegal, societal discrimination against LGBTI persons was prevalent, and LGBTI persons were targets of violence and abuse. Activists reported discrimination against LGBTI persons in housing, employment, education, and access to public services. Some LGBTI individuals reported reluctance to engage the legal system due to fear their sexual orientation or gender identity would either provoke hostile reactions from police, disadvantage them in court, or be used to shame them or their families publicly. Activists reported that most LGBTI individuals were closeted and feared disclosure of their sexual identity.

During the year there were reports of individuals who left the country due to fear that their families would kill them because of their sexual orientation.

HIV and AIDS Social Stigma

HIV/AIDS was a largely taboo subject. Lack of public awareness remained a problem, because many citizens believed the disease exclusively affected foreigners and members of the LGBTI community. Society stigmatized HIV/AIDS-positive individuals, and they largely hid their medical status. The government continued its efforts to inform the public about the disease and eliminate negative attitudes about persons with HIV/AIDS, but it also continued to test all foreigners annually for HIV/AIDS, hepatitis B, syphilis, malaria, and tuberculosis. The government deported individuals who tested HIV-positive.