Lebanon is using its military courts to persecute dissidents, including 355 minors last year. Thousands of refugees are essentially imprisoned in Greece because of a failing and, possibly, illegal deal to turn back asylum seekers to Turkey. The Syrian government has executed at least 17,723 prisoners since March 2011—about 300 people per month. The military government of Thailand has used vague laws to prosecute at least 64 journalists, lawyers and anyone who speaks critically of the junta. Conflict in Yemen, Somalia, South Sudan and northeast Nigeria has created deadly famine conditions for 20 million people, and humanitarian workers don’t have the resources they need to help. The death toll in Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte’s drug war has exceeded 7,000. Poor government policies in Tanzania prevent 1.5 million children from attending secondary school.

Teams from the World Health Organization have screened more than 17,000 children for malnutrition in hard-to-reach corners of Nigeria. Proposed criminal justice reforms in Jordan would guarantee all suspects the right to a lawyer from the time of their arrest, even if they can’t afford one. If the Philippines doesn’t stop extrajudicial killings of drug suspects, the European Union said it would end tariff-free trade on 6,000 products. The Solomon Islands have begun a plan to create universal health coverage. The influential Extraction Industries Transparency Initiative suspended Azerbaijan’s membership because the government oppresses journalists and civil society. Madagascar passed a new law giving women the right to pass their nationality on to their children, and other countries are considering similar measures to end statelessness. More than 8,000 Gambians have returned home from Senegal after fleeing a tense political crisis in December.

Ben Wolford
Ben Wolford is editor of Latterly. His reporting has appeared in The New York Times, Newsweek, The Christian Science Monitor and elsewhere.