A Human rights abuse is the abuse of one of any fundamental human rights.

According to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (generally accepted as the international standard for human rights), fundamental human rights are violated when:

  • Cruel or unusual punishment is used on a person (such as torture or forms of extremely violent execution).
  • A person is sold as or used as a slave.
  • A certain race, creed, or group is denied recognition as a "person".
  • Punishments are dealt arbitrarily or unilaterally, without a proper and fair trial.
  • Citizens are forbidden to leave their country.
  • Arbitrary interference into personal, or private lives by agents of the state.
  • Men and women are not treated as equal.
  • Different racial or religious groups are not treated as equal.
  • Freedom of speech or religion are denied.
  • Education is denied.
  • The right to join a union is denied.

In practice, human rights abuses are rare in fully-democratic countries, and common in dictatorships or theocracies.

Many international non-governmental organizations such as Freedom House and Amnesty International monitor and condemn human rights abuses.