Tuesday, April 06, 2010

HRW followup

The Times (UK) article on HRW that I quoted from last week had a number of inaccuracies and other parts that HRW took exception to:
A Magazine article, “Explosive Territory” (March 28) by Jonathan Foreman, mostly about Human Rights Watch’s (HRW) work on Israel, requires clarification and correction. The magazine said that HRW had not published any report on the post-election abuses in Iran when in fact the organisation published one in February this year. Marc Garlasco, the former senior military analyst for HRW, was not the only person in the organisation who had military experience; a number of the HRW staff have military expertise. In the 20-year Kashmir conflict HRW has published nine reports, not four as the article stated. One HRW researcher has had articles published by the Palestinian pressure group Electronic Intifada without her permission but was not directly employed by that group, as the article suggests. Although HRW never produced a full report about the shelling at the Nahr al-Bared refugee camp in 2007 it did write three press releases, not one as the article stated. We regret the errors. Mr Foreman quoted a critic of HRW saying the group “cares about Palestinians when mistreated by Israelis but is less concerned if perpetrators are fellow Arabs”. In fact Human Rights Watch has reported on abuses of Palestinians by the Palestinian Authority, Hamas, Iraq, Kuwait and Jordan. Mr Foreman cited unnamed sources that said Mr Garlasco resented what he felt was pressure to sex up claims of Israeli violations. HRW and Mr Garlasco both say HRW never pressured Mr Garlasco to change his findings. We are happy to clarify HRW’s position.
NGO Monitor comments on the corrections in the same link:
HRW’s “corrections” to Foreman’s expose raise more questions and create more confusion, while avoiding core issues like credibility, bias against Israel, and the Garlasco gag order.

1) They claim that “a number of the HRW staff have military expertise” – what does this mean regarding credibility of combat analysis? Basic training, some time in front of a computer, etc. does not provide the “military experience” necessary to assess actions and weapons (drones, WP, etc.) in Afghanistan, Gaza, Lebanon or Iraq. There is still no information to assess Garlasco's qualifications as HRW's "senior military analyst."

2) Regarding the employment of Lucy Mair in the anti-Israel MENA division: “One HRW researcher has had articles published by the Palestinian pressure group Electronic Intifada without her permission….” Mair published more than one article in EI. These have been on line for seven years, with no record of any objection by her. HRW’s response does not alter Foreman’s point that Mair was a highly visible anti-Israel propagandist before being hired by HRW.

3) Detailed HRW reports and accompanying media campaigns are not comparable to short press releases, whether on Kashmir or Palestinian terror. Reports indicate a major investment, while stand-alone press releases are quickly forgotten, as detailed in NGO Monitor research.

4) HRW officials assert that they “never pressured Mr. Garlasco to change his findings,” but they refuse to explain inconsistencies and changing “forensic” analysis in Gaza Beach and other examples.