Tirana Hassan, Pakistani origin human rights lawyer appointed as new Executive Director of Human Rights Watch

Tirana Hassan, Pakistani origin human rights lawyer appointed as new Executive Director of Human Rights Watch

Tirana Hassan, a lawyer and veteran human rights investigator of Pakistan origin, has been appointed the new executive director of the Human Rights Watch, as per the organisation's announcement.

Hassan is known for documenting rights abuses in global crises and conflicts as chief programmes officer at the Human Rights Watch. She was made the acting executive director in September 2022 after the exit of Kenneth Roth.

“As new executive director of Human Rights Watch, Tirana Hassan brings impeccable credentials as a human rights practitioner and an ambitious vision for human rights solutions to the challenges the world is facing,” said Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, CEO and president of the International Peace Institute and the former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Born in Singapore to a Pakistani father and a Malaysian-born Sri Lankan and Chinese mother, Hassan's family resettled in Australia in the 1970s after her father’s academic research on Singapore’s housing policies offended the government.

Traveling from one country to another, Hassan said that family stories of racism, prejudice, and repression shaped her views and drove her to work for the rights of dispossessed people.

The multi-talented lawyer holds degrees from the University of South Australia, University of Adelaide, and Oxford University. She first joined Human Rights Watch in 2010, covering Africa, Asia and the Middle East. Hassan then became Amnesty International’s director of crisis.

“Tirana has the rare combination of wide-ranging investigative experience, strategic creativity, and a deep commitment to human rights principle that Human Rights Watch needs to tackle the complex human rights challenges the world is facing,” said Kenneth Roth, former executive director at Human Rights Watch, who stepped down in August 2022.

When she overlooked Amnesty International’s crisis team, Hassan headed the development of innovative uses of technology to advance human rights investigations in Myanmar, Syria and other crisis areas.

“Tirana brings a powerful vision of innovation to this role – one that merges tried and true reporting methods with new and emerging technologies,” said Brad Samuels, director at SITU Research, a visual investigations practice that has worked with Human Rights Watch on several projects.