The rights organization complained when the government in Myanmar, known formerly as Burma, filed charges against nine activists for protesting in September without a government permit.
Phil Robertson, director of Asia programs at Human Rights Watch, said the government needs a "mental reset" in order to re-assess its stance on democracy given recent political reforms.
Myanmar began its evolution from a military-controlled government to a democratic state with general elections in 2010. The government, however, has been criticized for its response to rebellions in the country and for its human rights legacy.
Robertson, in a statement from Bangkok, said the government should amend laws on the books from 2011 so that charges stemming from demonstrations no longer carry a prison term for permit violations.
"The Burmese government evidently needs a mental reset to recognize that peaceful protests make for a vibrant democracy," he said. "Burma should have laws that encourage peaceful assembly and authorities who understand and respect it."