The State Department has just released its annual human rights reports detailing human rights abuses in countries around the world.
From the NY Times:
“Our democratic system of governance is accountable, but it is not infallible,” Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said in releasing the Congressionally mandated report. It weighs the human rights situation in 193 countries — but not the
, and Ms. Rice did not specifically cite any American violations. United States
But Barry Lowenkron, an assistant secretary of state, said the State Department was “issuing this report at a time when our own record, and actions we have taken to respond to terrorist attacks against us, have been questioned.” He referred to American laws “governing the detention, treatment and trial of terrorist suspects.”
Officials from countries that are often cited in the report have complained that the
United Statesis quick to criticize others for violations that sometimes occur in , and the remarks on Tuesday, one White House official said, were an attempt to answer those charges. In particular, the administration has come under fire from human rights groups for its treatment of prisoners at America . Guantánamo Bay, Cuba
That’s pretty weak beer. If the administration’s way of addressing criticisms of
The State Department Human Rights Reports have historically been a valuable resource for human rights groups and other NGOs around the world. While Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch and other NGOs do good work, they simply don’t have the resources to undertake a project of this magnitude. I worked for a short time some years ago at an organization in
Now I don’t know as an empirical matter which reports from which countries have historically had rough edges smoothed, or which claims have been inflated from year to year. And the
Now it seems to me that every report is up for question since the
And in the long run, this function would be better performed by the UN Human Rights Council, other supranational bodies, and NGOs. One nation alone cannot effectively police itself, much less the rest of the world.