The Human Rights of Scientists

It’s not often noticed, but world over, scientists suffer many human rights abuses. In

Six medical workers are on trial in Libya, facing the death penalty for deliberately infecting hundreds of children with HIV, despite the fact that international experts say there is no evidence of their guilt (see ‘A shocking lack of evidence’).

And around the world, dozens of other scientists and physicians await verdicts of their own, after being imprisoned for dissenting with their government, fired for publishing unwelcome studies, or harassed for carrying out unwanted research.

The three profiles below give a taste of what some researchers face. They do not include the many who have been arrested in countries such as China, Ethiopia, Turkey, and Burma — to name a few — for speaking against their government.

Nor do they include tragic cases such as that of anthropologist Nikolai Girenko, who was studying racism in Russia when he was shot and killed in St Petersburg in 2004; Myrna Mack, a Guatemalan anthropologist who was stabbed to death in Guatemala City in 1990 after publishing a report documenting the murder of civilians by the military during the country’s 36-year guerrilla war; or the many Iraqi academics who have been assassinated over the past three years (see ‘Scientists become targets in Iraq’).