On Friday, the State Department issued the 2010 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, a mandatory report to the United States Congress on human rights conditions around the globe. This link to the full report is here, the remarks of Secretary Clinton is here, and a very useful q and a with Mike Posner, Assistant Secretary for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor is here. If you are wondering why the report cannot be downloaded as one neat pdf file, it weighs in at over 7,000 printed pages! The Department also announced the launching of a new, separate web portal for human rights reporting, www.humanrights.gov:
As part of our mission to update statecraft for the 21st century, today I’m also pleased to announce the launch of our new website, humanrights.gov.* This site will offer one-stop shopping for information about global human rights from across the United States Government. It will pull together reports, statements, and current updates from around the world. It will be searchable and it will be safe. You won’t need to register to use it. We hope this will make it easier for citizens, scholars, NGOs, and international organizations to find the information they need to hold governments accountable.
I will be posting more on the human rights reporting process in the weeks to come, but I would point out for now that it is a very interesting development in the global human rights project that the U.S. State Department has become–as the new website amply demonstrates–a central repository for reporting on human rights protection globally. But with the advent of the Universal Periodic Review process at the UN Human Rights Council, it is not the only one. Of course, not everyone is so enthusiastic about the State Department’s self-appointment as global arbiter. The Chinese government, while engaging in one of its worst crackdowns against human rights lawyers and political activists in recent memory, managed to find time to issue its own report on human rights conditions in the U.S.:
In the United States, the violation of citizens’ civil and political rights by the government is severe, said the report.
Citizen’s privacy has been undermined. More than 6,600 travelers had been subject to electronic device searches between October 1, 2008 and June 2, 2010, nearly half of them American citizens, said the report, citing figures released by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) in September 2010.
The report said abuse of violence and torturing suspects to get confession is serious in the US law enforcement, and “wrongful conviction occurred quite often.”
While advocating Internet freedom, the US in fact imposes fairly strict restriction on cyberspace, said the report.
The United States applies double standards on Internet freedom by requesting unrestricted “Internet freedom” in other countries, which becomes an important diplomatic tool for the US to impose pressure and seek hegemony, and imposing strict restriction within its own territory, the report said.
The US regards itself as “the beacon of democracy.” However, its democracy is largely based on money, the report said.
According to media report in 2010, US House and Senate candidates shattered fundraising records for a midterm election, taking in more than $1.5 billion as of October 24. The midterm election, held in November 2010, finally cost $3.98 billion, the most expensive in the US history.
* Great domain name, but searchability is not yet optimal.