News / USA

US Human Rights Report Hits Conditions in Iran, China, North Korea

The U.S. State Department's annual report on human rights world-wide issued Thursday cited an upsurge in efforts to restrict access to the Internet and other new communications means, and escalating persecution of vulnerable minorities. The report was sharply critical of the rights performance of several countries including China, North Korea and Iran.

The massive two million-word report, covering 194 countries, is mandated under a 1976 act of Congress and was originally intended to guide U.S. lawmakers on foreign aid decisions.

But introducing the latest report, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the document has become the most comprehensive record available on the condition of human rights around the world.

"These reports are an essential tool for activists who courageously struggle to protect rights in communities around the world, for journalists and scholars who document rights violations and who report on the work of those who champion the vulnerable, and for governments including our own, as they work to craft strategies to encourage protection of human rights of more individuals in more places," Clinton said.

Clinton said principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights are a "North Star" (eds: guiding light) for the Obama administration's foreign and human rights policies.

The report itself, covering events in 2009, levels harsh criticism at some familiar sources of U.S. concern.

Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor Richard Posner said the human rights situation in Iran worsened after disputed presidential elections.  

"In Iran, an already poor human rights situation rapidly deteriorated after the June elections," Posner said. "At least 45 people were killed in clashes, thousands were arrested, another thousand were arrested in demonstration in December. It is a place where are continuing to see severe repression of dissent and are continuing to pay great attention."

Iran was also cited for discrimination against women and ethnic and religious minorities, with President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad accused of fueling anti-semitism.

China was similarly faulted for increased repression of Tibetans and Muslim Uighurs.

Citing the prosecution and jailing of prominent Chinese democracy advocates, Assistant Secretary Posner said pressure on civil society groups challenging Beijing government policies is on the rise.

"In the last several years, more public interest, human rights, environmental lawyers have been taking cases, law clinics are springing up," Posner said. "There seems to be a real crackdown, and there are also greater restrictions on NGO's."

China was among some 25 countries said to have imposed restrictions on the ability of non-governmental groups to register and operate, and among those restricting the Internet and other new media.

Posner said the situation in neighboring North Korea was far more bleak.

"It's probably one of the most closed societies in the world. So across the board, I would say conditions are poor, they're not getting better, and we continue to be very mindful of the plight of the North Korean people living in that circumstance," Posner said.

The report also took aim at media curbs in Russia and Venezuela.

Yet Posner noted positive human rights trends in a number of countries including Georgia, Ukraine, Bhutan, the Maldives and Liberia, where the government has set up a truth and reconciliation commission in the aftermath of years of civil conflict.

While the U.S. human rights record is not assessed, the report noted that the United States will submit to its first periodic review before the U.N. Human Rights Council later this year.

You May Like

Karzai's Legacy: Missed Opportunities?

Afghanistan's president leaves behind a much different nation than the one he inherited, yet his legacy from 13 years in power is getting mixed reviews More

US Urges Restraint in Hong Kong Protests

Protesters angered by Beijing's decision to only approve candidates that it sanctions for Hong Kong's leadership elections in 2017 More

Archive of Forgotten UCLA Speeches Offers Snapshot of History

Recordings of prominent voices in social change, politics, science and literature from 1960s, early 1970s now available on YouTube More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenyai
X
Gabe Joselow
September 29, 2014 6:20 PM
Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Iran's Rouhani Skeptical on Syria Strikes

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani expressed skepticism Friday that U.S.-led airstrikes in Iraq and Syria could crush Islamic State militants. From New York, VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports the president was also hopeful that questions about Iran’s nuclear program could be resolved soon.
Video

Video US House Speaker: Congress Should Debate Authorization Against IS

As wave after wave of U.S. airstrikes target Islamic State militants, the speaker of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives says he would be willing to call Congress back into session to debate a formal, broad authorization for the use of military force. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington, where legislators left town 10 days ago for a seven-week recess.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Video

Video Ebola Robs Liberians of Chance to Say Good-Bye to Loved Ones

In Liberia, where Ebola has killed more than 1,500 people, authorities have worked hard to convince people to allow specialized burial teams to take away dead bodies. But these safety measures, while necessary, make it hard for people to say good bye to their loved ones. VOA's Anne Look reports on the tragedy from Liberia.
Video

Video Reconstruction? What Reconstruction? Life After War in Gaza

It’s been a month since Israel and the Palestinians agreed to a ceasefire to end 52 days of an air and tank war that left 60,000 homes in Gaza damaged or destroyed and 110,000 homeless. Sharon Behn reports that lack of reconstruction is leading to despair.
Video

Video US, Saudi Arabia and UAE Hit Islamic State's Oil Revenue

The United States, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have bombed oil facilities operated by Islamic State militants in Syria. It was a truly collaborative effort, with the two Arab countries dropping the majority of the bombs. The 12 refineries targeted were estimated to generate as much as $2 million per day for the terrorist group. VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb has the story.
Video

Video Russia's Food Sanctions Raise Price Worries, Hopes for Domestic Production

Russia retaliated against Western sanctions imposed for its actions in Ukraine by halting food imports from the West. The temporary import ban on food from Australia, the European Union, Norway and North America has Russian consumers concerned that they could face a sharp increase in food prices. But in an ironic twist, the restrictions aimed at the Kremlin have made Russia's domestic food producers hopeful this can boost their business. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video Washington to Pyongyang: 'Shut This Evil System Down'

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is calling on North Korea to shut down prison camps and other human rights abuses following a United Nations Commission of Inquiry into "widespread and systematic human rights violations." VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid