The United States singled out China, Russia, Iran and North Korea for human rights abuses, labeling their governments as “forces of instability” in an annual human rights report released on Friday.
Commenting on the State Department global human rights report for 2017, acting Secretary of State John Sullivan also criticized the governments of Syria, Turkey, Myanmar and Venezuela for human rights abuses.
The State Department report is considered the most comprehensive account of the global human rights situation, covering some 200 countries and territories.
“States that restrict freedoms of expression and peaceful assembly; that allow and commit violence against members of religious, ethnic, and other minority groups; or that undermine the fundamental dignity of persons are morally reprehensible and undermine our interests,” Sullivan said in the preface of the report.
Amnesty International cites omissions
Critics of the United States have accused the Trump administration of downplaying human rights promotion as a foreign policy goal, and pointed to the president’s own comments on refugees, migrants and the media as areas of concern. This year’s report also changes language on reproductive rights and discrimination.
National director of advocacy and governmental relations at Amnesty International USA, Joanne Lin commented: “From the beginning, this administration has sent the message that the United States will no longer prioritize efforts to hold the global community to account for human rights. Reports of the omission of key passages pertaining to sexual and reproductive rights, women’s rights and the rights of marginalized populations, combined with the Administration’s deference to known human rights violators like the governments of Saudi Arabia and Turkey, make us skeptical that these reports present a full picture of human rights around the world.”
Michael Kozak, a senior State Department official who helped oversee the report, told reporters that there was no US hypocrisy.
“I think we make quite a distinction between political leaders being able to speak out and say, ‘That story was not accurate,’ or using even stronger words sometimes, and using state power to prevent the journalists from continuing to do their work,” Kozak said.