The U.S. is alleging that too many governments around the world are tightening controls on free expression and using repressive laws to "deny citizens their universal human rights."
In the annual U.S. look at global human rights, Secretary of State John Kerry said Thursday that many governments are engaging in politically motivated prosecutions and using new technologies to control dissent, whether in public squares or through various types of technology.
Kerry singled out several governments he said have abused the human rights of their countrymen, including Syria, Russia, China, Cuba, Egypt, Bangladesh and the recently ousted government in Ukraine. He said 80 governments around the world have enacted laws discriminating against homosexuals.
He said the U.S. record on human rights, where slavery was legal in the 1800s, is not perfect, but that it stands for the advance of human dignity.
"We join with many other nations in reaffirming our commitment to a world where speaking one's mind does not lead to prosecution. And where professing one's love does not lead to persecution, a world where practicing or changing one's faith does not lead to imprisonment and where marching peacefully in the streets does not get you beaten up in a blind alley or even killed in plain sight."
The chief U.S. diplomat said that countries that commit human rights violations and fail to hold officials accountable for abuses are acting against their own best interest, as well as those of the United States.
Kerry said that violent extremism and crime take root in countries where human rights are denied, which in turn contributes to instability, insecurity and economic deprivation.
The report said the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad has engaged in "systematic and widespread use of torture," carried our massacres and displaced and starved people during nearly three years of fighting in the Mideast country.
The State Department said Russia has "continued its crackdown on dissent that began after Vladimir Putin's return to the presidency." It said Moscow also adopted anti-gay laws and used laws against extremism to prosecute religious minorities.
The human rights report alleged that in China repression against civil and political rights organizations are routine and that increasingly officials have harassed relatives and associates of rights advocates.
It said that Cuba has largely dropped travel restrictions that prevented people from leaving the island nation. But the report said Cuba has denied the passport requests for some opposition figures or harassed them as they returned to Cuba.
The State Department said that in Egypt both the government of ousted Islamist President Mohamed Morsi and the interim military government have engaged in human rights violations.