The U.S. State Department has issued its latest report on human rights around the world. Assistant Secretary of State Barry Lowenkron says the annual reports serve as a reference document for U.S. "action with other governments, organizations, and individuals":
"The one-hundred-ninety-six reports include every member country of the U-N except of course the United States. We do however consider the human rights performance of any government, including our own, to be a legitimate subject for international comment and debate."
Mr. Lowenkron says that there are similarities among those nations violating human rights:
"Countries in which power was concentrated in the hands of unaccountable rulers tend to be the world's most systematic human rights violators”. Such countries range from closed, authoritarian regimes like Burma and North Korea, to Belarus and Zimbabwe, “in which the exercise of basic human rights is severely restricted.”
Assistant Secretary of State Lowenkron says that in places where "independent media are under siege, fundamental freedoms are undermined":
"In 2005, a disturbing number of countries from Cambodia to Venezuela and Russia, Belarus to Zimbabwe and China, passed or selectively applied laws against N-G-O's [nongovernmental organizations] and the media, including, in China's case, the Internet, restricting or having a chilling effect on the exercise of fundamental freedoms of expression, association, and assembly."
While "democratic elections by themselves do not ensure that human rights will be respected," Mr. Lowenkron says "they can put a country on the path to reform":
"In 2005, the people of Iraq went to the polls three times and held to democracy's course, despite high levels of violence. The men and women of Afghanistan cast their ballots countrywide in the first free legislative elections since 1969, even as the government struggled to expand its authority over provincial centers due to continued insecurity and violent resistance from some quarters."
"Despite hard realities and obstacles," in Afghanistan, Iraq, and elsewhere, Assistant Secretary of State Lowenkron says, there is "an increasing worldwide demand for greater personal and political freedom and for adoption of democratic principles of government."
The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States Government.