WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, issued the following statement regarding the State Department’s release of the annual Country Reports on Human Rights Practices:
“The annual Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, released today by the State Department, is an essential benchmark for assessing progress on human rights globally, and for holding governments accountable for human rights abuses. Often encountering severe repression, this year ordinary citizens, human rights defenders, and civil society in countless countries continued to call for more accountable and honest governments.
“The 2014 report highlights that around the world, the suppression and violation of human rights is often employed by authoritarian regimes. As Russia slid deeper into international and economic isolation, the Putin regime intensified its crackdown on human rights defenders, including intolerance of any form of opposition and the silencing of independent media and civil society. In China, the government continued to employ pervasive ethnic discrimination, severe religious repression of Tibetan Buddhists and Uyghur Muslims, and increasing suppression of civil society, in the name of the fight against separatism, religious extremism, and terrorism. The government in Azerbaijan continued to repress its critics – harassing and imprisoning dissenters for attempting to express their beliefs.
“In Syria and South Sudan, shocking human rights abuses continue unabated by governments, military forces and rebel groups. When governments not only fail to provide for the security of their citizens – the most basic of all human rights – but actively attack them, it is the most egregious violation of human rights and an affront to humanity that we must seek to end by holding leaders accountable.
“Large numbers of children, often traveling alone, are fleeing abuses in their home countries to seek safety abroad. This is fueling a global migration crisis as many seek to escape recruitment as child soldiers, child marriage, and attacks on schools, and other effects of war.
“Tragically, 2014 also demonstrated the severity and pervasiveness of anti-Semitism and prejudice in the world today. Intolerance, expressed by anti-Semitic violence, racism, or xenophobia, takes many forms and wears many faces. Governments, globally, must work to eliminate this intolerance, and the United States must be ready to support this process in every way possible,” added Senator Cardin, who also serves as the Special Representative on Anti-Semitism, Racism, and Intolerance for the 57-nation Organization Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Parliamentary Assembly.
“I applaud the work of our U.S. embassies and Foreign Service officers abroad for the difficult work of chronicling human rights conditions around the world, often in countries where governments are reticent to acknowledge that such abuses take place. Now, we must do our part challenge these governments to uphold fundamental human freedoms, and signal to human rights defenders that their brave efforts are not in vain. Human rights violators in all corners of the world should understand that the United States is committed to support and defend human dignity and justice for those who stand up against oppression.”