Every year, the U.S. State Department prepares detailed reports assessing respect for human rights around the world. The reports, required by law, evaluate how the governments of every country and a number of territories demonstrate respect for human dignity and individual freedoms. Lawmakers as well as authorities in the executive branch use the reports to help shape our nation’s foreign policies. They also signal to the human rights defenders and activists under siege that our government recognizes their struggle and stands with civil society in its effort to preserve human rights.
For far too many people, 2014 was defined by suffering and abuse perpetrated by terrorist groups exploiting religious discourse and divisions to advance their totalitarian ideology. And by governments like Syria acting repressively in the name of combatting terrorism. Meanwhile, governments in China, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Iran, Russia and Saudi Arabia, among others, continued to stifle free and open media and the development of civil society through the imprisonment of journalists, bloggers and non-violent critics.
As in previous years, human rights conditions in Zimbabwe are a particular concern. The most important human rights problems remained the government’s targeting for torture, abuse, arrest and harassment of members of non-ZANU-PF parties and civil society activists. There also continues to be a partisan application of the rule of law by security forces and the judiciary, as well as restrictions on civil liberties.
The government took limited steps to punish security sector officials and ZANU-PF supporters who committed violations, but impunity continued to be a problem.
The United States has seen its own share of racial discord and unrest in the last year. We approach this report with great self-awareness. But we also understand that when human rights is the issue, every country, including our own, has room to improve.
We are committed to the work of advancing universal rights, building the partnerships that will move us forward, helping every man, woman, and child live up to their potential. In cases of nations such as Zimbabwe, we are also committed to speaking out for those unable to do so for themselves.