US human rights report calls China, Russia, Iran and North Korea ′forces of instability′ | News | DW | 21.04.2018

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US human rights report calls China, Russia, Iran and North Korea 'forces of instability'

The US global human rights report covers about 200 countries and territories. China, Russia, Iran and North Korea were top of the list in violating human rights.

The United States singled out China, Russia, Iran and North Korea for human rights abuses, labeling their governments "forces of instability" in an annual human rights report released on Friday.

Commenting on the State Department's 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 report, which covers about 200 countries and territories, is considered the most comprehensive account of the global human rights situation.

"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.

Read moreHow much does the EU care about human rights?

UN human rights chief paints bleak picture of violations around the globe

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.

"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," said Joanne Lin, the national director of advocacy and governmental relations at Amnesty International USA. "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 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.


The report described China as an authoritarian state where the government was responsible for arbitrary detention, torture and executions without due process, among other human rights abuses. It noted significant restrictions on freedom of speech, press, assembly, association, religion, and movement, as well as repressive practices against the Muslim Uighur minority and Tibetans.


The report cites deteriorating human rights in eastern Ukraine, where Russia backs rebels, as well as the annexed Ukrainian territory of Crimea. It also criticized state sponsored violence against LGBTI persons in Chechnya. The most significant human rights issues in Russia included extrajudicial killings, "systematic" torture, arbitrary arrest and detention, lack of judicial independence and political prisoners. It also noted restrictions on freedom of expression and the media.

Read more: Russia committing 'grave human rights violations' in Crimea – UN

North Korea

North Korea's government carried out "egregious human rights" violations in nearly every category, according to the report. Extrajudicial killings, torture, political prison camps, forced labor and a host of other restrictions on every aspect of life were highlighted.

Read more: Is the world ignoring North Korea's 'crimes against humanity'? 


The report refers to the human rights situation in Syria as "horrendous." It pointed to a litany of "atrocities" committed by the government during the war there, citing "the repeated use of chemical weapons, including sarin and chlorine, against civilians, widespread 'barrel bombing' of civilians and residential areas, systematic attacks on civilian infrastructure, attacks on medical facilities, extrajudicial executions, rape, including of children, as a weapon of war; massacres, starvation and displacement of local civilian populations; mass forced disappearances; thousands of cases of torture," among other violations. 

Conflict Zone - Human Rights Wronged


"Ethnic cleansing against the Rohingya minority in Rakhine state occurred during the year," the report found. In addition to the atrocities, the most significant human rights abuses included arbitrary arrest, unlawful killings, politically motivated arrests and restrictions on media, including the arrest of journalists.

Read moreMyanmar bulldozed scores of Rohingya villages, says human rights group


The report noted with concern the detention of tens of thousands of people, including members of parliament and journalists, under an ongoing state of emergency in place since a failed 2016 military coup. The most significant human rights abuses included alleged torture, forced disappearances and arbitrary arrest and detention, while the report noted "executive interference with independence of the judiciary." It also said elections were held in a restrictive environment.


The report found that Venezuela's "democratic governance and human rights deteriorated dramatically during the year as the result of a campaign of the Maduro administration to consolidate its power." The executive branch is increasingly authoritarian and "exercising significant control over the legislative, judicial, citizens' and electoral branches of government."

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