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Human Rights Around The World

With the release of the U.S. State Department's annual Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, says U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Americans are "recommitting ourselves to stand with those courageous men and women who struggle for their freedom and their rights":

"We hope that these report will be a source of information for governments and societies everywhere and a source of inspiration for all who are still working for peaceful, democratic change around the globe."

The reports examine the status of human rights in 2006 in one-hundred-ninety-six countries and entities. It notes that countries in which power is concentrated in the hands of unaccountable rulers continued to be the world's most systematic human rights violators. These countries include North Korea, Iran, Burma, Zimbabwe, Cuba, China, Belarus and Eritrea. The report also cites the genocide in the Darfur region of Sudan, for which it said the Sudanese government and government-backed Janjaweed militia bear responsibility. At least twenty-thousand civilians have died and two million have been displaced by the fighting. Secretary of State Rice:

"Too often in the past year, we received painful reminders that human rights, though self-evident, are not self-enforcing and that mankind's desire to live in freedom, though universally deserved, is still not universally respected. Liberty and human rights require state institutions that function transparently and accountably, a vibrant civil society, an independent judiciary and legislature, a free media and security forces that can uphold the rule of law."

The report notes, for example, that Egypt held its first-ever multiparty presidential election in 2005, but continues to imprison former presidential candidate Ayman Nour. The reports found that both internal and cross-border conflicts threaten advancements in human rights. And it cites cases in Iraq, Afghanistan, Lebanon and Indonesia where violence or terrorism has undermined the democratic process or resulted in large displacements of people.

"We are recommitting ourselves," said Secretary of State Rice, "to call every government to account that still treats the basic rights of its citizens as options rather than, in President Bush's words, the non-negotiable demands of human dignity."