The NGO Monitor released an analysis of the Human Rights Watch (HRW) work in 2011, revealing some rather alarming statistics and producing some serious accusations. Monitor focussed on HRW's reporting on Middle East and North Africa (MENA), with a special emphasis on the Arab-Israeli conflict and the role of the HRW in Libya.
HRW Allegedly erased references in its reports to its previous cooperation with the Gaddafi regime, including organisation's MENA Director Sarah Leah Whitson's role in marketing Saif al-Islam Gaddafi as a reformer. Monitor further accused the HRW for media exhibitionism and tendency to ignore even the most brutal regimes.
NGO Monitor pointed out the disproportionate attention that HRW devotes to 'Israel and the Occupied Territories'; statistically, this region attracted more attention in 2011 than Tunisia, Saudi Arabia, or Iraq. It was for the first time since 1995 that HRW did not publish a major report on Israel and that it published an almost equal number of documents criticising Israel and the Palestinians, but with a continuing bias on Israel.
All op-eds published on the Arab-Israeli conflict in major media focused on allegations against Israel. Monitor published that in 2011 HRW appointed an alleged member of the PFLP terror organisation, Shawan Jabarin to its Middle East Advisory Board.
The NGO Monitor further slammed HRW for a continual neglect of the most egregious and systematic abuses in Middle East societies, while using its resources for campaigns alleging Israeli violations, but noted the change witnessed in 2011, when HRW issued more reports, press releases, op-eds, and other publications on Libya, Egypt, Syria, Bahrain, and Yemen than on the Arab-Israeli conflict, however, marking it a mere response to greater media attention on upheaval in Arab countries.
The NGO Monitor also reminded its readers that prior to the rebellion and overthrow of the Gaddafi regime in Libya, HRW's MENA Director Sarah Leah Whitson authored an op-ed published in Foreign Policy attributing improvements in human rights in Libya to Gaddafi's son Saif al-Islam. The HRW 2011 World Report, published in January 2011 reads "The only organisation able to criticise human rights violations publicly is the Human Rights Society of the Gaddafi Foundation, which is chaired by Saif al-Islam al-Gaddafi."
It was not before 22 February 2011, after the Gaddafi regime started killing citizens protesting against the abusive regime, that HRW's referred to Saif al-Islam as "the so-called reformer son." Just two days later Whitson denounced Saif al-Islam saying that "Seif Islam in fact abandoned his nascent reform agenda long before the past week's demonstrations". It was merely a month after the HRW published his appraisal in its yearly report.
In addition, HRW criticised other organisations as well as governments that had previously dealt with Saif al-Islam. HRW Business and Human Rights Director Arvind Ganesan condemned the London School of Economics (LSE) for allowing "abusive and corrupt officials or their families to launder their images in exchange for money". Neglecting the acts of own organisation, Ganesen said that "the London School of Economics did not act until Saif al-Islam's father literally began to kill his own people".
An inquiry into the LSE's links with Libya investigated the process by which the LSE accepted funding from Libya and presented guidelines for preventing such an incident in the future. Monitor pointed out that to the best of thier knowledge, HRW has not opened a similar investigation into their own role in the promotion of Saif al-Islam as a reformer, as well as any other contacts with the regime.