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2013 Human Rights Trends

Secretary of State John Kerry. (File)
Secretary of State John Kerry. (File)

The U.S. Department of State recently released its annual Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, which covers almost 200 distinct countries and territories worldwide.

In late February, the U.S. Department of State released its annual Country Reports on Human Rights Practices. The report, which covers almost 200 distinct countries and territories worldwide, is mandated by the U.S. Congress.

2013 Human Rights Trends
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[The human rights report is] “not just some high-minded exercise,” said Secretary of State John Kerry. “This is the most comprehensive, authoritative, dispassionate, and factual review of the state of human rights globally.”

A number of clear negative trends continued in 2013, specifically the tightening of restrictions on private citizens and civil society as a means of stifling dissent.

Governments in every region of the world continued to restrict citizens’ universal rights to exercise freedoms of assembly and association. They passed new legislation to silence political dissent and used excessive force to crack down on civil society and peaceful protest.

Many governments continued to restrict free expression, online and off, targeting journalists and media outlets to control or eliminate political criticism and opposition.

Members of security forces unlawfully arrested, raped, tortured and killed protesters and dissidents, frequently with impunity, as governments refused to make them accountable for their acts.

A number of governments failed to protect their citizens from exploitation, ignoring deplorable and unsafe working conditions, leading to injury and deaths. Workers’ attempts to organize and bargain collectively were frequently impeded by governments’ failure to enforce labor protections, as well as government interference in their activities and violence and threats against labor leaders.

And finally, governments subjected members of marginalized groups such as religious and ethnic minorities, women and children, LGBT persons and persons with disabilities, to repressive policies, societal intolerance, discriminatory laws and disenfranchisement, and failed to hold accountable those who committed crimes against them.

“The United States of America will continue to speak out, without a hint of arrogance or apology, on behalf of people who stand up for their universal rights,” said Secretary of State Kerry.