News Briefs: The State of Human Rights

Published April 2009 Vol. 13 Issue 3

In February 2009, the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, part of the U.S. Department of State, submitted its annual Human Rights Report to Congress.

Some of the strongest statements in the report were directed at leaders in Zimbabwe and the Democratic Republic of the Congo:

The Robert Mugabe regime in Zimbabwe “unleashed a campaign of terror that resulted in the killing, disappearance and torture of hundreds of opposition party members and supporters following the March [2008] elections that were not free and fair.”

 

Human rights abuses often emerged in the form of media censorship and persecution of journalists.

 

Conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, according to the report, resulted in as many as 45,000 Congolese deaths each month last year and a total of over one million “internally displaced persons.”
In the Western hemisphere, the Colombian government “continued its efforts to improve human rights.” While killings decreased by 6 percent and kidnappings by 14 percent in 2008, collaboration between armed groups and insubordinate military persists—as does armed conflict with terrorist organizations.

Human rights abuses often emerged in the form of media censorship and persecution of journalists. In Egypt, police detained and allegedly tortured bloggers. The Afghan government convicted a student journalist of blasphemy for distributing an article he downloaded on women’s rights in Islam. His death sentence was reduced to 20 years in prison by an appeals court.

The 2008 report will be used as a resource for shaping U.S. policy, conducting diplomacy and allocating U.S. aid resources. The report offers a country-by-country breakdown of the state of human rights across the globe, drawing attention to positive as well as negative developments.

The full report is available for viewing online at
http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2008/index.htm´╗┐