Banned books and other forms of censorship

On the banning of books, censorship and other freedom of access issues

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

U.S. State Department report released

The United States State Department issued today its annual country-by-country report on worldwide human rights conditions for 2006. I have found this report to be very useful over the years.


Blogger fahrenheit451moderator said...

Where is the U.S. State Department's report on the conditions in the U.S.?

8:01 PM  
Blogger fahrenheit451moderator said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

9:18 PM  
Blogger fahrenheit451moderator said...

This is Amnesty International's report 2006 which I believe is the latest one. It might be of interest to compare. As well, the US is included.

9:19 PM  
Blogger Stephen Denney said...

Thanks, Elaine. The Amnesty International Report 2006 is the latest one, but it covers human rights around the world during 2005, while the State Dept. report covers 2006. So it may be better to wait until the AI report 2007 comes out for comparitive purposes.

I am the Vietnam country specialist for Amnesty International USA, a volunteer position, and I have to evaluate the State Dept. report each year for its section on Vietnam. AIUSA will probably have officials testifying before congress, and has already issued a press release on the report. I know in the case of Vietnam, the report is denounced every year by the Vietnamese government because it does not like to be criticized in this area. A colleague of mine with another human rights organization feels this year's report underestimated the degree of repression against returned Montagnards from Cambodia and against certain religious groups. I am inclined to agree on these particular points. I cannot comment on its coverage of other countries covered in the report.

But in general, I believe the annual report is useful because it tends to be balanced, written by professionals who do not seem to have an ax to grind. It is also more comprehensive than the AI annual report, as it covers a broader range of human rights.

The reason it does not address issues in the U.S. is because the State Dept. was mandated under law to report on conditions in other countries with which the U.S. has or might have foreign relations. Originally it was for countries receiving military aid.

9:55 PM  
Blogger fahrenheit451moderator said...

My fear is that the US does not consider a self evaluation important. I am horrified that people are still being held at Guantánamo in limbo. They have not been charged with a crime, nor are they treated as prisoners of war. I understand the need for protecting the country but it can't be a good thing that the US breaks the spirit of its own laws by holding people.

As well, there have been some incidents with Canadian citizens that the US has had a role in, the most publicized being the case of Maher Arar, who was deported to Syria by the US who believed he was a terrorist. There he was tortured and held for 10 months.

I have a lot of respect for the principles on which the United States was founded. This observer finds that fear has been a factor in causing both human rights and the principles behind those rights to be compromised.

The US is quick to hold other countries accountable. Who but the most powerful country in the world can hold themselves up to the same standards?

9:09 PM  
Blogger Stephen Denney said...

I don't know if I would disagree with much of what you say, but to come back to my original point, do you consider the annual report of the U.S. State Dept. on worldwide human rights conditions to be useful, despite whatever flaws it might have? If someone were to come into your library, researching human rights conditions in a country other than the United States, would you recommend this report along with other reports, such as those of Amnesty International and Human Right Watch?

Now that we have a Democratic-controlled Congress, I imagine there will be more information coming out of that branch of our government about questionable human rights practices of our executive branch.

10:31 AM  
Blogger fahrenheit451moderator said...

I think the State Department's report is of value but is, in a sense, incomplete if it does not include information about the US. I understand from you that that is not their mandate, so that is fine. So, I guess if a patron came in looking for information, I would recommend it but include that US information would be found in other places.

I am not trying to be critical of you for making us aware of it. My criticism is aimed at the bureaucracy that sees only the wrongs done by other countries without taking account of its own conditions.

I am also glad to see that you are involved in AI.

9:25 AM  

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