John F. Kerry – Secretary of State: “As we mark the 65th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights this year, the Country Reports on Human Rights Practices highlight the continued pursuit of “free and equal dignity in human rights” in every corner of the world. Based on factual reporting from our embassies and posts abroad, these Congressionally mandated reports chronicle human rights conditions in almost 200 countries and territories. The reports draw attention to the growing challenges facing individuals and organizations as governments around the world fall short of their obligation to uphold universal human rights. I have seen firsthand how these reports are used by a wide range of actors – by Congress in its decision-making processes surrounding foreign security sector assistance and economic aid; by the Department of State and other U.S. government agencies in shaping American foreign policy; and by U.S. citizens, international nongovernmental organizations, foreign governments, human rights defenders, lawyers, journalists, scholars, and others who are committed to advancing human dignity. Governments that protect human rights and are accountable to their citizens are more secure, bolster international peace and security, and enjoy shared prosperity with stable democratic countries around the world. Countries that fail to uphold human rights can face economic deprivation and international isolation. Despite that simple truth, these reports show that too many governments continue to tighten their grasp on free expression, association, and assembly, using increasingly repressive laws, politically motivated prosecutions and even new technologies to deny citizens their universal human rights, in the public square, and in virtual space. This is evident in our report on Syria, where the government has committed egregious human rights violations in an ongoing conflict that has claimed more than 100,000 lives, displaced millions, and created an opening for violent extremists that continues to endanger regional stability and our own national security.”
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