April 9, 2003
HUMAN RIGHTS REPORT: FINDINGS 'ACCURATE,' U.S. 'HYPOCRITICAL'
Although the State Department Human Rights Report revealed "nothing
new," observers found this year's release more "contentious"
given allegations of U.S. "aggression" in Iraq.
judged the report "balanced and accurate," more found it
"arrogant" and "hypocritical."
common charge was that with the U.S.' "ignoring" world opinion and
"causing" civilian casualties in Iraq, Washington had "no moral
right" to pass judgment on other nations.
Evaluation may be 'embarrassing,' but should not
be 'rejected' by countries affected-- While
many considered the report's release "ironic" at this time, few
disagreed with its findings. Serbian,
Thai, Paraguayan and Panamanian dailies were among the most receptive, deeming
the document useful in identifying areas for improvement in their own
governments and providing a "manual of operations" for their
officials' "future conduct."
Calling it "good and quite conservative in its assessment,” Bangkok
dailies welcomed the report because, according to top-circulation Thai Rath,
"it mirrors how the international community views Thailand and what areas
we should try to improve.” Paraguayan
papers argued that the document was "essentially correct," and shared
Panamanian tabloid Critica Libre's contention that "instead of
expressing alarm over the criticism...we have to adopt, once and for all, real
U.S. has 'no business' in judging other
countries' human rights practices-- Writers worldwide found
it "unacceptable" that the U.S. was accusing other countries of human
rights violations while "directing the most horrible human tragedies on
earth" in "broad daylight."
Accusations of U.S. "hypocrisy" and "double
standards" were prevalent. Some
likened the report to the "pot calling the kettle black," others emphasized
the "disgusting" paradox. Many
echoed Morocco's pro-government Al Ittihad Al Ishtiraki's indignation in
pointing out how "awful" it was that "a country which orders
killing then presents reports on human rights in the world." Insisting that America can't "have it
both ways," India's nationalist Hindustan Times reasoned that if
the U.S. "wants to launch wars" against the "wishes" of the
world, it has "no business sitting in judgment on the global
U.S. should 'practice what it preaches'-- Some were skeptical of Washington's commitment
to human rights, arguing that if the U.S. was "so keen" on democracy,
"why is it so often on the side of the tyrants, the dictators and
fingernail-pullers." Pointing to
Iraq, Russia's reformist Vremya Novostey held it "regrettable"
that the "beacon" of human rights and democracy had its reputation
"sullied." One editorial in
the paper termed the U.S.' attitude toward the press as "typical of the
Bolsheviks," another suggested the U.S. was "acting as mad
criminals...exactly as we [Russians] have been doing in Chechnya." Tunisia's independent Ash-Shourouq
sarcastically asserted that the U.S. would have better served human rights if
"it got rid of Scuds and B-52s and changed them to loaves of bread to feed
This survey is based on 36 reports from 16 countries, April 1-9. Editorial excerpts from each country are
listed from the most recent date.
Yevgeniy Verlin said in centrist Nezavisimaya
Gazeta (4/2): "Global
messiahship has again been proclaimed the chief guideline of the United States'
foreign policy ideology. As he
presented the annual report on the human rights situation in the world last
Monday, U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell emphasized that combating
international terrorism and spreading the blessings of freedom make up the core
content of the U.S. agenda for the world.
This, he believes, is what the Allies' military machine is doing in Iraq
Lyudmila Alekseyeva, chairwoman of the Moscow
Helsinki Group, declared (4/2):
"The report is quite balanced, made by people who are aware of the
human rights situation in every country.
It has nothing to do with the events in Iraq--some people are fighting
in Iraq, others are busy writing reports.
They did not begin drafting this report when the war started in
Iraq. Human rights reports are a
"What the Report Says Is True"
Yuliy Rybakov, a Duma deputy, said in reformist Vremya
Novostey (4/2): "I agree with
the facts and assessments as contained in the report concerning our actions in
Chechnya. Sadly, what they say is true. But then... with the Americans acting as mad
criminals these days, exactly as we have been doing in Chechnya, we make a
"World Order Falls Apart"
Olga Koleva of reformist Vremya Novostey
noted (4/2): "The world order is
falling apart, and, regrettably, the Americans, the beacons for all in the area
of democracy and human rights, have had their reputation sallied. Coming up with such a report is something
they have no moral right to do now. The
Americans' attacks on the Russian media are most surprising, as their own
attitude toward the press has been typical of true Bolsheviks recently."
"What About Negro-Lynching in the U.S.?"
Second-largest, nationalist 24 Hours
fumed (4/2): "Every year the U.S.
releases a report on human rights practices in the world. The goal is two-fold: Firstly, to form a sort of a 'government-
opposition' political division line in the countries included in the
report. The government rejects the
claims in the report, and the opposition goes up in arms and attempts a
democratic revolution. Secondly, once legitimized, these reports
could become a base for sanctions. The small and poor countries of the planet
could only stutter: 'And why are you lynching the Negroes?' There isn't a more disgusting political and
media paradox: a country, which
yesterday murdered eight women and
children in Iraq, is trying to teach me and you and tens of others around the
world what respect for human rights means."
"Don't Curse Your Brother In Arms"
Largest-circulation Trud held (4/2): "Once again the U.S. State Department
told us things are not so great in
Bulgaria. Bulgarians can see that
for themselves, but why are our new brothers-in-arms rubbing it in? The U.S. is not perfect either and everyone
knows that.... But it is not right to
air each other's dirty underwear in a tense time like today."
"What To Do With The Judiciary"
Nationalistic, stridently anti-U.S. Monitor
said (4/2): "The report is no news
for the ordinary Bulgarians. They have
long known that the judiciary's work has all but screeched to a halt.... The conclusion is that the judicial system is
falling apart due to internal strife and it needs urgent reform. Everyone agrees that this is the case but
nothing is being done about it. This
sort of inaction will be a crucial obstacle on the road to EU accession."
"The Human Rights Report"
Center-left Sega commented (4/2): "As a whole, the State Department Human
Rights report doesn't reveal anything new, which hasn't been said in other
places and on other occasions and which has not been noted in the report's
SERBIA AND MONTENEGRO: "Tanjug's Commentary On Annual Human
State-owned news agency Tanjug reported (4/4): "SAM’s
Human and Minority Rights Ministry on April 4 expressed satisfaction over the
report of the State Department's Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor
which praised the progress achieved in the protection of minority rights and
freedoms in SAM in the past year. The Ministry underscored the Bureau's
assessment that very important are laws which significantly promote minority
rights and freedoms, compared to the time before Oct 5, 2000. The State
Department’s Human Rights Bureau points out the importance of the direct
involvement of Minister Rasim Ljajic in the campaign which aimed to promote
ethnic tolerance, describing Ljajic 'as one of the most active government
members' in the last year."
"Conspiracy Or Truth"
Independent populist Vecernje Novosti wrote (4/6): ""The part which says that 'the
police used wiretapping and surveillance against opposition parties and other
groups on a selective basis' initiated a denial by the Chief of Montenegro
State Security Dusko Marovic who stated that this is a 'malicious' assumption.
However, the opposition in Podgorica assessed that the American report is
Pro-governmment Arabic-language Al Ittihad Al
Ishtiraki stated (4/2): "The
provocation in Secretary of State Powell's press conference on the State
Department annual report on human rights at the precise present time is how a
country which has attacked militarily another country has given itself the
permission to talk about human rights while it has struck residential areas and
markets killing civilians and children? Where are human rights among all the
victims of Iraqi civilians? Are they not concerned by human rights? What rights Washington is talking about?
While it has put itself up against the world.... It's really awful what the world lives up
today. A country which orders killing then presents reports on human rights in
"Fatwa On Human Rights!
Noureddine Boutaar wrote in independent
Arabic-language Ash-Shourouq (4/2):
"The American Department of State starts its annual distribution of
Human Rights reports throughout the world....
Congressmen ask about everything...from cats to dolphins to women's
rights to 'take a walk' in Afghanistan with foreigners...but they don't ask
about the Iraqi children's right to sleep peacefully like the rest of the
children in the world.... They don't
care about the American soldiers' violation of an independent people's right to
decide its fate. Which rights are the
American administration talking about when its people are subject to a cultural
aggression and where various forms of media black-out are being practiced? Its people who are drowning in the propaganda
machine and in local marginal issues--a people who do not understand the
reality of the American foreign policy that has resulted in repeated
aggressions against their country....
God bless Mr. Colin Powell and all 'his information sources'...but the
American administration would have presented a bigger help to the issue of
human rights in the world if it got rid of Scuds and B52's and changed them to
loaves of breads to feed the starving mouths.
At such a time, there would be more credibility to Mr. Powell's 'Fatwas'
that reflects the reality of the principles of the American constitution. Let's wait for next April 1st."
“U.S. Talk On Human Rights Hypocrisy”
Yan Xiao commented in the official English-language China Daily
(4/7): “While it accuses other countries
of human rights violations, Washington is directing the most horrible human
tragedies on earth today in broad daylight....
That logic is reminiscent and representative of U.S. arrogance on the
"U.S. Human Rights Records In 2002"
The Information Office of the State Council released
a report entitled ‘The Human Rights Record of the United States in 2002’ in the
official English-language China Daily (4/4): "The U.S. State Department released the
Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2002 on March 31, at a time when
the United States is facing condemnation from people and nations in the world
for unilaterally launching a war against Iraq.
The reports carry distorted pictures and accusations of human rights
conditions in China and other countries, but they make no of human rights
problems in the United States itself.
a. In American society, excessive
violence has resulted in ineffective protection of life and security of the
person. b. Violations of the law have been found in
about 26 percent of them, 2 percent of which have caused physical
injuries. c. Calling itself the 'model of democracy', the
United States has been trying hard to sell to the world its mode of democracy. d. The
United States is the only superpower in the world. But the poor, hungry and homeless have formed
a 'Third World' in the most developed nation, owing to the widening gap in
wealth between the rich and the poor and social injustice. e.
Discrimination against women is common in the United States. USA Today
reported on January 6, 2003 that women hold merely 14 percent of seats in
Congress. f. Racial discrimination is deep-rooted in the
United States. Senate Republican leader Trent Lott had repeatedly made remarks
supporting racial segregation during his political life. g. The
United States is following unilateralism in international affairs and has
frequently committed flagrant violations of human rights in other
countries. Regardless of the strong
calls for no war from the international community, the United States, together
with a few other countries, launched a war against Iraq on March 20, 2003. The
war, which has openly violated the purpose and principles of the UN Charter,
has killed and injured innocent Iraqi civilians and caused serious humanitarian
disasters. h. The United States, taking a negative attitude
towards the international human rights conventions, is one of the only two
countries in the world that have not ratified the United Nations Convention on
the Rights of the Child."
"To Disclose Certain Western Country’s Interfering
in Human Rights of Other Countries”
The official intellectual Guangming Daily
(Guangming Ribao) reported (4/2):
“Sha Zukang (Chief of Chinese delegation at The 59th United Nations
Human Right Congress) said that.... If
somebody doesn’t know what ‘calling white black’, ‘power politics’ and ‘double
standards’ mean, the discussion on the country draft of Human Rights Congress
is the best class for him. The ongoing Human Rights Congress neglects the
humanitarian disaster that is happening in a certain country right now...but
hypocritically concerns itself about the human rights of some other countries,
making difficulties of all kinds to developing countries, which already have
difficulties under globalization. This is really ironic.”
“Ministry Rejects U.S. Accusations”
Jiang Zhuqing commented in the official
English-language China Daily (4/2):
"We express our strong displeasure and resolute opposition to the
baseless criticism of China's human rights situation with no regard to the
facts,’ Liu Jianchao, foreign ministry spokesman said. The United States should think about its own
problems, stop using the excuse of human rights to interfere in the internal
affairs of other countries and stop using double standards on the topic of
human rights,’ said the spokesman.”
Government-influenced English-language Malay
Mail editorialized (4/1): "The
U.S. yesterday brazenly claimed that from former Soviet states in Eurasia, to
communist ruled China and North Korea, Asia is blanketed by severe human rights
abuses, with freedom in many states muzzled under repressive rule. The State Department's annual survey of
global human rights is always controversial.
But it is even more contentious this year, with the U.S. accused of
aggression and causing civilian casualties in the war on Iraq, and still
holding hundreds of prisoners and terror suspects from the Afghan war in
Guantanamo Bay, Cuba."
THAILAND: “Human Rights Report Is No Threat”
The lead editorial in the independent, English
language Nation read (4/5): “Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra was angry
again. This time it was about the annual
country-by-country human rights report released by the U.S. State
Department. His rhetoric reflected a
lack of understanding of the real purpose of the report. Unlike its neighbors, Thailand has never
complained of such reports since their first publication in 1979. Previous governments dealt with the reports
in a mature way. They treated the
reports as a benchmark viewed from a Western perspective. In fact, the reports, which cover more than
130 countries, have been carefully drafted by U.S. diplomats based in various
capitals with which the U.S. has diplomatic ties. In general, they are accurate and
comprehensive. In the case of Thailand,
the annual report was good and quite conservative in its assessment.”
“Just Obey The Law”
The lead editorial in top-circulation, Thai
language Thai Rath read (4/7): “Several people may have gloated over
Prime Minister Thaksin’s response to the U.S. Department of State’s release of
its annual Human Rights Report which mentioned about Thailand’s human rights
practice in a negative light. The prime minister said Thailand is not a U.S.
lackey, but an equal ally, and thus does not deserve such impolite
criticism... True, Thailand is not a
U.S. lackey, but the U.S. government reserved the right to criticize Thailand
and vice versa.… Although the Human Rights Report has no binding on the Thai
government, it mirrors how the international community views Thailand and what
areas we should try to improve.”
"Intrusion Not Acceptable"
The nationalist Hindustan Times opined
(4/3): "Human rights are a
difficult concept to express--let alone measure.... There is, however, a huge
problem when the U.S. State Department decides that it has the right to sit
around and judge the human rights record of other countries. Firstly, does
America, with its recent record of ignoring world opinion, really have any
business passing judgments on other countries?
Secondly, given the kind of things that George W. Bush has said during
his so-called war against terrorism...doesn't Washington recognize that the
battle against terrorism often requires us to suspend the normal rules? And thirdly, if the U.S. is so keen on
democracy and human rights, then why is it so often on the side of the tyrants,
the dictators and the fingernail-pullers?...
America can't have it both ways. If it wants to launch wars against the
wishes of the rest of the world then it has no business sitting in judgment on
the global community."
Karachi-based right-wing pro-Islamic unity
Urdu-language Jasarat observed (4/3):
"A cursory look at he U.S. State Department's Human Rights report
for 2002 reveals that there were human rights violations in the entire world
except the U.S. itself. The allegations
leveled in this report [on different countries] make one laugh. There is not a
single allegation of wrong doing that is not itself being committed in the
U.S. The U.S. has broken all records of
human rights violations in the entire world during 2002 by its human rights
violations in Afghanistan and now in Iraq.
On the other hand, the report treats the human rights violation in India
and Israel very mildly."
"U.S. and Human Rights"
Urdu-language Khabrain stated (4/2):
"America has accused China, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Israel of
serious human rights violations and termed the human rights situation in
Central Asia unsatisfactory.... By its
statements, measures, reports and actions, the U.S. has proven that although it
can see excesses in other countries, it is unable to see those within its own
country.... The question is: do
extra-judicial killings, torture of prisoners, misuse of power, illegal
detentions and other such incidents not happen in the U.S.? If the answer to any of these is 'yes', then
the least the accused countries can do is to hold up a mirror to the U.S."
"Human Rights And India And Israel"
An editorial in center-right Urdu-language Pakistan
read (4/3): "The U.S. State
Department has, besides other countries, criticized India and Israel for the
violation of human rights in the report on the state of human rights.... Without indulging in a debate on U.S. stand
on human rights situation in China and Saudi Arabia, may we ask as to what stops
America from taking a note of grave human rights violations by India and
Israel. Israel has indulged in massacre
of unarmed Palestinians and occupation of Palestinians land and has been given
$ 10 billion aid by America."
“The U.S. Human Rights Report”
Pro-opposition Bengali-language Janakantha
commented (4/4): "Relevant
responsible persons may see the U.S. assessment obliquely in the present global
situation, but how could they reject the reality? The report shows that the human rights
situation in Bangladesh is worse than any previous year. Although it cannot be said the report
reflects the overall picture of Bangladesh, the worsening situation cannot be
ignored. Extra-judicial murder under the
democratic framework, the use of security forces for narrow political end,
protection of corrupt elements under the official Secrecy Act, and the impact
of religion in politics behind the façade of secularism cannot be
undermined. Bangladesh must resolve
these issues if it wants to hold its head high as a democratic and civilized
“Human Rights Report Indeed!”
Pro-Iraq Bengali-language Inqilab
editorialized (4/4): "It is a
question before human rights activists and peace-loving people of the world:
does the U.S. have any moral right to prepare and publicize human rights
reports when its tanks, missiles and bombs are smashing human rights of the
Iraqi people? How could they, who
themselves are plunderers of human rights and war criminals, do that?"
"The Pot Calling The Kettle Black"
Conservative, leading-circulation Baja-based El
Mexicano commented (4/1): "The
State Department's human rights report has an enormous omission: the United
States' own reality. They see the straw
in someone else's eye, but not the wooden beam in their own. So the diplomats from our neighboring country
accuse Mexico of negligence and corruption [in the human rights report], but
they look away from their large-scale transgression, on an international scale,
and the depravity of killing people for economic interests [in
“Human Rights And Pressures (Coming) From The
Left-of-center La Jornada remarked
(4/1): “The Security Council will be
presided over by Mexico (this week), at a time the UN needs to be rebuilt;
therefore political, diplomatic, economic pressures coming from the US will
multiply.... It is significant that
given the actual circumstances--politics and diplomacy are not fortuitous--the
State Department presents its annual report about Human Rights, which shows the
outrageous conditions of HRs in our country, like jail corruption, illegal traffic of people, arbitrary arrests,
isolation of those arrested, torture, illegal use of children for labor and
other atrocities perpetrated in Mexican territory with the indolence –or even
worst: complicity--of federal, state and municipal authorities.... These suggestions coming from the SD are
painful, first because they are true, and second because violations of HRs in
Mexico are framed by the pressures made by the US to change the human, worthy
and prudent Mexican stance against the
criminal war launched i n Iraq.”
PANAMA: "Unilateral Evaluations"
Panama's OAS Ambassador, Juan Manuel
Castulovich, wrote this op-ed for conservative El Panama America
(4/8): "I cannot share what other
Panamanians consider correct that a country claims the right to grade and judge
others especially when the consequences could block, for example, access to the
resources of international financial institutions or scare away investors...in
the area of human rights there are institutions for the promotion, protection
and defense of them in our continent...[such as] the Commission and the Inter
American Court of Human Rights.… That's why it's even harder to explain that by
having institutions like those mentioned above, there are still individual
initiatives to evaluate and grade the behavior of other countries.… The key
point is whether any country has the right of setting itself up as a judge of
the others.… We should all express opposition to this practice that contradicts
basic norms of justice and international equity."
"The State Department Report"
Conservative El Panama America ran an
inside editorial stating (4/5):
"Though the report may embarrass and may not be diplomatic,...it
does not represent an interference of any kind but merely collects the opinions
of one of the many bureaus that form the bureaucracy of the U.S. government.…
These reports, although uncomfortable in some respects and gratifying in
others, will not stop because we protest their content.… Those documents are of
great use to ambassadors, or those aspiring to be, about the conditions in places
they will serve in."
Tabloid Critica Libre stated (4/2): "The government has screamed to the
heavens over criticism of the Panamanian judicial system in a Department of
State [Human Rights] report.... Facing
up to the U.S. document, instead of expressing alarm for the criticism
received, we have to adopt, once and for all, real corrective actions, and not
only cosmetics, or else next year we will hear the same criticism."
"The Administration Of Justice"
Sensationalist tabloid El Siglo declared
(4/2): "Last year, the State
Department had issued the same warnings about the Panamanian judicial system,
charges that were characterized by the President of the Supreme Court as vague
speculations.... Now, the President
[Supreme Court] has restated his rejection to the same, responding once again
how much the judicial system has advanced and that the U.S. evaluation has not
adjusted to reality.... In any case, the
evaluation given by the U.S. government seems, in a certain way, atuned with
the image that Panamanians have of the Panamanian justice system."
Conservative second-largest Noticias
stated (4/6): "The hypocrisy of
North American imperialism is such that, on one hand, they declare themselves
the protector of human rights in the world with the power to use force freely
and arbitrarily, killing innocents with fragmentation bombs and, on the other
hand, judging the conduct of third-world nations...characterizing them as
violators of human rights, when they (the U.S.) do the same but multiplied by
"U.S. Criticism Of Human Rights Should
Serve To Right The Wrongs"
conservative Noticias editorialized (4/4): "The document constitutes a useful tool
in analyzing our comportment as a society and fundamentally, the type of
treatment in general citizens receive from authorities."
"Reports And Reactions"
Business-oriented Asuncion-based La Nacion
opined (4/4): "This report of the
Department of State to the Congress of the United States can't be rejected by
the affected governments because it is a manual of operations for the future
conduct of its offcials as established under U.S. federal law. And what's more it can't be rejected, in the
particular case of Paraguay, because it is essentially correct and is based on
everything that the press has denounced in Paraguay day after day."
Left-leaning Asuncion-based Ultima Hora
noted (4/3): "All of the scoldings
we receive as a country are deserved.
But it matters to us that in these days Uncle Sam doesn't have
sufficient authority to call on us for greater respect for human rights. Practice what you preach!"
CAMEROON: "U.S. Abandons Its 'Ally' Paul
Thierry Ngogang reflected in Yaounde-based pro-opposition French
language Mutations (4/9): "President Biya has just received a
strange reward from his new 'ally'....
In its just published report on the State of Human Rights in the world...the Bush administration accuses
Biya's regime of violating human rights. It does not spare the chief of state