In its yearly
report on human rights violations abroad, prepared by the US State Department and
delivered to Congress annually, failed to mention that the majority of the
violations in the report were as a direct result of US actions or US training.
carefully omits US support for and involvement in the very
practices it criticizes.
The reports cover
internationally recognized individual, civil, political, and worker rights, as
set forth in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
clear and troubling gaps in this report,” the US-based group Human Rights
First said in a press statement. “As in years past, the US government has rightly identified and
criticized countries for their repression of human-rights activists, but this
in many instances only serves to highlight how US government policies fail to
follow through on this commitment in practice.”
For instance, the
State Department’s assessment of human rights in Pakistan cites an Amnesty International (AI)
report that, in the words of the State Department, “documented the Pakistani
government's abuses against hundreds of its citizens and foreign
The State Department report continued: “AI reported that as the practice
of enforced disappearance spread, people were arrested and held incommunicado
in secret locations with their detention officially denied. They were at risk
of torture and unlawful transfer to third countries. The Amnesty report noted
that the ‘practice of offering rewards running to thousands of dollars for
unidentified terror suspects facilitated illegal detention and enforced
But the State
Department left out that the United States was behind those rewards and at least
some of the detentions. The very next sentence in the cited Amnesty
International report reads: “Many individuals were arrested by Pakistani authorities
or captured by local people and handed over to US law enforcement or intelligence personnel
in exchange for a reward.”
Department says that in 2006, human-rights violations in Indonesia included unlawful killings by security
forces, as well as torture, harsh prison conditions and arbitrary detentions.
But the Department does not note that, to the chagrin of human-rights groups,
the US State Department has lifted restrictions on selling arms to Indonesia. Neither does it note that the United States is training Indonesian military and
In its report on Afghanistan, the State Department cites Human Rights
Watch’s implications of “security forces” in the arbitrary detention
and abuse of detainees. But it does not mention that the bulk of Human Rights
Watch’s documentation of detainee abuse in Afghanistan focuses on US military conduct, of the hundreds of detainees still held in Afghanistan by U.S. military and
Reports on Poland, Romania, Germany and Italy contain no
references to investigations into secret U.S. detention
facilities or the illegal U.S. abduction and
transfer of terror suspects to third countries that use torture.
The report on Iraq, for instance,
contains harsh words for the government, decrying “overcrowding and lack
of judicial oversight” in Iraqi prisons and detention centers, incidents
of “arbitrary arrest and detention” and “instances of torture
and other abuses by government agents and by illegal armed groups.”
Not mentioned at all: The U.S. itself holds about 14,000 detainees in Iraq. Although some U.S. officials
acknowledge that many of these detainees are probably innocent, most have never
had any meaningful opportunity to challenge their detention. Meanwhile,
credible allegations of detainee abuse persist.
There is however one intriguing inclusion in the introduction:
“We recognize that we are writing this report at a time when our own
record, and actions we have taken to respond to the terrorist attacks against
us, have been questioned,”
it goes on to insist that “U.S.
laws, policies and practices governing the detention, treatment and trial of
terrorist suspects have evolved considerably over the last five years.”
unprecedented sentences survived because Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice
fought for them — and won, beating back opposition that came mainly from Vice
President Dick Cheney's office.
China, a perennial
target, declared that “the United States has lorded it
over other countries by condemning other countries' human rights practices
while ignoring its own problems.”
Other foreign commentators also complained about U.S. hypocrisy.
After Guantanamo Bay, Abu Ghraib,
Haditha and other highly publicized human rights controversies, they wondered,
where does the U.S. get off casting
stones at others?