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U.S. Department of State

Preface to Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 1993

Released by the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, January 30, 1997.

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Preface

1993 HUMAN RIGHTS REPORTS

TITLE:  OVERVIEW, HUMAN RIGHTS COUNTRY REPORTS, 1993
DATE:  JANUARY 31, 1994
AUTHOR:  U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE

                       PREFACE
                       1993 HUMAN RIGHTS REPORTS


The 1993 Reports

The 1993 Report describes a world far short of the vision we 
and other countries hold for it.  Around the globe, people who 
by right are born free and with dignity too often suffer the 
cruelties of authorities who deprive them of their rights in 
order to perpetuate their own power.  Yet again in 1993, 
children too often were denied their birthright in countries 
ruled by dictators or rent by armed conflict, where bullets, 
torture, arbitrary detention, rape, disappearances, and other 
abuses were used to silence those who struggle for political 
freedom; to crush those whose ethnicity, gender, race or 
religion mark them for discrimination; or to frighten and 
mistreat those who have no defenses.  The United Nations' 
Charter affirms the "dignity and worth of the human person."  
In too many places in 1993, however, human dignity was 
assaulted; violence was perpetuated with impunity; those 
responsible for massive violations of human rights went 
unpunished; and political repression went unchecked.

This year, we draw particular attention to several trends 
evident from the 1993 reports.  Armed conflict posed the most 
significant risk to human rights.  In contrast, the historic 
handshake between Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin of Israel and 
Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Chairman Yassir Arafat, 
the Nobel Prize-winning efforts of African Nationalist Congress 
(ANC) leader Nelson Mandela and President F.W. de Klerk in 
South Africa to enfranchise all citizens, and the peace process 
in El Salvador exemplify movement toward reconciliation in 
places where it once seemed impossible.  

This polarity between violence and reconciliation was typical 
of a year in which democracy and human rights were marked both 
by progress and backsliding.  The process of democracy moved 
forward in Cambodia, where successful elections were held, but 
backwards in Haiti, where the military continued to obstruct 
the return of President Aristide.  At the same time, human 
rights abuses continued around the world.  Of particular 
concern to us in 1993 were torture, arbitrary detention, 
impunity for perpetrators of abuse, and the trampling on the 
rights of women, children, indigenous people, and workers in 
many parts of the world.

Yet, in 1993, we also witnessed positive trends.  Countries 
working together in the United Nations, the Conference on 
Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE), the Organization of 
American States (OAS), and the Organization of African Unity 
(OAU) supported new democracies, mediated conflicts, and took 
steps to hold each other accountable for human rights abuses.  
Around the world, grassroots movements to promote human rights 
and democracy spread, as people claimed their inalienable 
rights and demanded accountability from their governments.

I.  ARMED CONFLICT

In Bosnia, Sudan, Burundi, Somalia, Angola, Iraq, Azerbaijan, 
Georgia, and elsewhere, armed conflict led to massive numbers 
of civilian deaths, refugee flows, and human rights abuses.  
Many of the conflicts were stimulated by irresponsible 
political leaders who played on people's fears. 

In many parts of the former Yugoslavia, the carnage continues.  
In 1993 as in 1992, all nationalities were victimized, and 
there were numerous violations of the Geneva Conventions.  
Bosnian Serb armed forces, supported by Belgrade and by Serbian 
paramilitary counterparts, persisted in their program of 
"ethnic cleansing," including laying siege to cities, 
indiscriminately shelling civilian inhabitants, raping and 
executing noncombatants, and interfering with humanitarian aid 
deliveries.  The warfare continued relentlessly through 1993, 
with Bosnian government and Croat forces also committing 
egregious abuses.

In Sudan, both the Government and the Sudanese People's 
Liberation Army (SPLA) engaged in widespread human rights 
abuses, including torture, forced displacement, and massacres 
of civilians.

In Somalia, although massive starvation was averted by 
international humanitarian efforts, most Somalis remained 
beyond the rule and protection of recognized law and social 
order.  

In Iraq, Saddam Hussein's regime continued its flagrant abuses 
of human rights by conducting military operations against 
civilians, including burning and razing villages, and forcing 
people to abandon their homes, particularly Shi'a Arabs living 
in the wetlands of southern Iraq.  

In Azerbaijan, the continuing conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh 
gave rise to human rights abuses by all sides.

In the Georgian province of Abkhazia, Abkhaz separatists 
launched a reign of terror after a successful offensive gave 
them control of the province.  Many Georgian civilians and 
troops were subjected to torture and summary execution.  

II.  RECONCILIATION

In the face of such bloodshed, 1993 was also a year in which 
some countries, against all odds, moved toward reconciliation.  
In 1964, Nelson Mandela of South Africa wrote:

     "I have fought against white domination, and I have fought 
     against black domination.  I have cherished the ideal of a 
     democratic and free society in which all persons will live 
     together in harmony and with equal opportunities.  It is 
     an ideal which I hope to live for and achieve."


Thirty years later, Nelson Mandela and F.W. de Klerk have led 
their country toward that ideal.

In the Middle East, there was also progress toward peace.  On a 
warm September day in Washington, the world witnessed an 
historic handshake between Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and PLO 
leader Yassir Arafat that stretched across years of conflict.  
In that moment, two men joined together their peoples' hopes 
for peace.  

In El Salvador, once racked by civil war, the U.N. Truth 
Commission completed its investigations of human rights 
violations of the past decade and recommended specific actions 
to further the reconciliation process.

In Mozambique, while there have been many setbacks in the 
process of political reconciliation, implementation of the 1992 
peace accords continued, giving Mozambicans increasingly 
greater protection from human rights abuses and opportunities 
for greater enjoyment of civil and political rights.

Although human rights violations continued in these countries, 
progress is being made.

III.  DEMOCRACY

In 1993, democracy continued to capture the imagination of 
people around the globe.  There were both advances and setbacks.

In Cambodia, following the largest United Nations peacekeeping 
effort ever undertaken, 90 percent of voters participated in 
free and fair elections in May--the first in decades--thus 
providing the opportunity for long-term democratic evolution.  
The remainder of the 370,000 Cambodian refugees who had been 
living mostly along the Thai-Cambodian border were voluntarily 
repatriated under the direction of the U.N. High Commissioner 
for Refugees (UNHCR).

By contrast, in Haiti the military continued to obstruct the 
return of democratically elected President Aristide.  
Right-wing thugs closely allied with the military assassinated 
the legitimately appointed Justice Minister and conducted many 
other killings targeted against specific individuals.

In Guatemala, President Jorge Serrano was peacefully and 
constitutionally dismissed after he had suspended several 
sections of the Constitution and dissolved Congress and the 
Supreme and Constitutional Courts.  When Congress reconvened, 
it elected as President Ramiro de Leon Carpio, the former Human 
Rights Ombudsman.


In Russia, democratic parliamentary elections were held for the 
second time in the country's history.  Despite this, and 
continuing progress in the areas of civil and political rights, 
there were setbacks, most notably during the violent 
constitutional crisis in October.

In Burma, military authorities continued to refuse to implement 
the results of the May 1990 elections that rejected their rule.

In Nigeria, the military overturned the results of an election, 
dissolved all democratic institutions, and now rules the 
country by decree.

In Burundi, the nation's first democratically elected president 
was assassinated, and a bloody conflict followed.

The starting point of democratic government is the right of 
citizens, through free and fair elections, to choose their 
government.  Elections are not the sum total of democracy, of 
course, but they are a foundation.  Democracy also requires 
establishing civil societies, where people can participate 
fully in the democratic process.  The rule of law, civilian 
control of the military, an independent judiciary, free media, 
and the rights of people to free speech, association, and 
assembly are essential elements of democratic societies.

IV.  TORTURE, ARBITRARY DETENTION, AND THE IMPUNITY OF ABUSERS

Major violations of human rights occurred not only in war-torn 
countries.  Human rights abuses also remained widespread in 
countries in which violators were not held accountable.  When 
violators can commit human rights abuses with impunity, abuses 
multiply.

In Iran, the Government continued to torture and execute people 
summarily and to restrict the freedoms of speech, press, 
assembly, and association.  Minority religious groups, 
including the Baha'is, faced systematic repression.

North Korea remains one of the most repressive countries of the 
world.  The Government treats individual rights as potentially 
subversive of the goals of the State and the party.

In Burma, the autocratic military regime reinforces its power 
with a pervasive security apparatus.  People are arrested 
arbitrarily and prisoners are abused.  Citizens are denied 
basic political rights and the rights of free speech and 
assembly.

Zaire is undergoing its worst human rights crisis since the end 
of the civil war in the 1960's.  The Mobutu regime was 
responsible for massive human rights violations, including 
extrajudicial killings, unlawful detentions, ethnic violence, 
torture, and disappearances.

In China, fundamental human rights provided for in the Chinese 
Constitution frequently are ignored in practice, and challenges 
to the Communist Party's political authority are often dealt 
with harshly and arbitrarily.  China took some positive but 
limited steps in human rights areas, including releasing 
prominent political prisoners.  Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of 
political prisoners, however, remained under detention or in 
prison.  Reports of physical abuse persisted, including torture 
by police and prison officials.  This was especially the case 
in politically restive and minority-populated regions such as 
Tibet.  In November, China announced that it would give 
positive consideration to a request from the International 
Committee of the Red Cross to visit China. 

In Peru, the terrorist activities of the Shining Path declined 
following the capture of its leader in 1992.  The number of 
extrajudicial killings and disappearances instigated or 
condoned by the Government also fell.  Nonetheless, human 
rights violations continued and serious due process questions 
arose concerning the military trials of civilians. 

In Cuba, the Government does not permit domestic or 
international human rights groups to function legally.  Human 
rights activists and political dissidents are systematically 
harassed, beaten, and otherwise abused by police and security 
officials.  

In Turkey, both the Government and the Kurdistan Workers Party 
(PKK) terrorist forces committed human rights violations, 
including torture.

In Egypt, torture and other human rights violations continued.  
In a positive development, the country's Supreme Court 
acquitted 25 defendants in cases in which confessions were 
extracted under torture. 

In Indonesia, extrajudicial arrests and detentions, as well as 
torture of those in custody, continued.  In East Timor, no 
significant progress was noted in the accounting for those 
missing from the November 1991 shooting incident in Dili.

V.  THE RIGHTS OF WOMEN

We have paid special attention in 1993 to the problem of 
rampant discrimination against women.  Physical abuse is the 
most obvious example.  In many African countries, the practice 
of female genital mutilation continued.  In Pakistan, many 
women in police custody are subjected to sexual or physical 
violence.  On several continents, women and girls are sold into 
prostitution.  In many Gulf countries, domestic servants from 
Southeast Asia are forced to work excessively long hours and 
are sometimes physically and sexually abused.  In Bangladesh 
and India, dowry deaths continue.  Marital rape in many 
countries is not recognized as a crime, and women raped or 
beaten at home often have no recourse.  That female life is not 
valued as much as male life is apparent in countries such as 
China where it is reported that more female fetuses than male 
are aborted.

In addition to physical abuse, the political, civil and legal 
rights of women are often denied.  In 1993 women throughout the 
world were subjected to onerous and discriminatory restrictions 
of such fundamental freedoms as voting, marriage, travel, 
testifying in court, inheriting and owning property, and 
obtaining custody of children.  All too often, women and girls 
find that their access to education, employment, health care, 
and even food is limited because of their gender.

VI.  WORKER RIGHTS

In far too many countries, the freedom of workers to associate, 
which is the paramount right on which trade unions base their 
ability to bargain collectively, defend their members' 
grievances, and protect them from unfair and unsafe working 
conditions, falls well short of the standards elaborated by the 
International Labor Organization (ILO).  Restrictions on 
freedom of association abound.  They range from outright and 
total government control of all forms of worker organizations 
to webs of legislation so complicated that full compliance is 
virtually impossible, giving authorities excuses to intervene 
at will.

In 1993, the practice of forced labor continued, as did the 
abuse of expatriate workers, particularly domestics.  Slavery 
still exists in some countries, particularly in Mauritania and 
Sudan.  Given the rising concern about the impact of 
international trade on worker rights standards, this year's 
reports focus more sharply on the presence of child labor in 
export industries and on minimum wage and occupational safety 
standards.  Our reports document a number of serious bonded and 
child labor problems, particularly in South Asia and North 
Africa.

VII.  ACCOUNTABILITY

In the face of widespread human rights violations, the impunity 
of violators and absence of the rule of law, some progress was 
made at the international level in 1993 to develop new global 
institutions to promote human rights accountability.  


In February the United Nations created a War Crimes Tribunal to 
prosecute those responsible for gross violations of human 
rights in much of the former Yugoslavia.  By year's end, all 
judges had been sworn in.

In December, following the recommendation of the World 
Conference on Human Rights in Vienna in June, the U.N. General 
Assembly established the office of High Commissioner for Human 
Rights with a mandate to remove obstacles to citizens' full 
enjoyment of basic human rights.

The World Conference also recommended establishing a Special 
Rapporteur on Violence Against Women.  The Human Rights 
Commission will take up this project in 1994.

Meanwhile, the U.N. Human Rights Center had rapporteurs assess 
conditions in countries such as Burma, Iraq and Cuba, where 
human rights are largely disregarded.  Other bodies, such as 
the Committee Against Torture, monitored compliance with U.N. 
treaties and conventions.

The Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE) has 
been a significant force in holding countries accountable for 
adherence to human rights standards.  In September the CSCE 
held a review conference to assess each participating state's 
progress in implementing its "human dimension" commitments, 
including to human rights, fundamental freedoms, and the rule 
of law.  The CSCE has also been active in mediating disputes, 
particularly through the work of its High Commissioner for 
National Minorities.  In Latvia and Estonia, CSCE and other 
international factfinding missions looked into allegations of 
human rights abuses.  While finding no systematic violations, 
they urged these governments to adopt an inclusive approach to 
citizenship and alien rights and assure the equitable and 
nondiscriminatory treatment of ethnic Russians living in their 
countries.  Both Latvia and Estonia have accepted the 
establishment of CSCE missions to help improve intercommunal 
relations. 

The Organization of African Unity (OAU) assisted in  mediation 
efforts in Burundi that have helped move that country toward a 
resolution of its constitutional and humanitarian crisis.

The Organization of American States (OAS) played an important 
role in defending human rights and due process, notably in 
Nicaragua.

VIII.  GRASSROOTS MOVEMENT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS AND DEMOCRACY

The willingness of nations to begin to hold each other 
accountable for human rights abuses is a reflection of the work 
of individuals to hold their own governments accountable.  
Around the world in 1993, grassroots movements supported the 
spread of human rights, freedom, and democracy.  This 
commitment of people, acting through nongovernmental 
organizations, is reflected in the final Declaration of the 
World Conference on Human Rights held in June in Vienna, that 
the individual--and not the state--is at the center of 
development.  Moreover, underdevelopment can never justify 
human rights abuses.  There is indeed an important linkage 
among human rights, democracy, and development:  the protection 
of human rights and the full participation of individuals in 
their own political system create the necessary context for 
development to take place.

Human rights will not be protected without the constant 
vigilance of courageous individuals who promote human rights, 
document abuses, and hold their governments to account.  These 
sentinels for human rights engender hope.  Amidst the abuse of 
1993, there is another story, that of countless men and women 
who stood up and said "No!"  No to injustice, no to tyranny, no 
to torture, and no to censorship.  We salute those who are 
working against great odds to advance human rights and 
democracy:

     Monique Mujawamariya who works in Rwanda and Burundi, and 
     those like her whose bodies bear the scars of thugs as the 
     price of documenting human rights violations;

     Mansour Kikhiya of Libya, and all the "disappeared" who 
     have been abducted because of their human rights work;

     Liu Gang who sits in jail in China, and all who are 
     imprisoned for peaceful expression of their views;

     Sebastian Arcos of Cuba, and all who refuse to be silent 
     when others are being abused;

     Aung San Suu Kyi, in her fifth year of house arrest in 
     Burma, and all who work for freedom at the price of their 
     own liberty.

     The staff of the Sarajevo daily newspaper, Oslobodjenje, 
     and all who work for a free press and who demonstrate that 
     Serb and Croat, Muslim and Jew, can work and live side by 
     side in peace.

We salute these people, and the tens of thousands of courageous 
human rights workers around the world.


                        ***************

The year 1993 was a difficult one for human rights, a year in 
which setbacks outweighed advances in some parts of the world.  
Paradoxically, it was also a year in which the daily struggle 
for human rights at global, national, and local levels received 
more attention than ever before, a year in which the worldwide 
grassroots movement for human rights and democratic change 
gathered momentum.  The year saw the community of nations 
reaffirm its commitment to the protection and promotion of 
human rights at the World Conference on Human Rights in Vienna 
on the 45th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human 
Rights.  The force of this movement was captured by Eleanor 
Roosevelt in an address to the United Nations in 1958:

     "Where, after all, do universal human rights begin?  In 
     small places, close to home--so close and so small that 
     they cannot be seen on any maps of the world.  Yet, they 
     are the world of the individual person; the neighborhood 
     he lives in; the school or college he attends; the 
     factory, farm or office where he works.  Such are the 
     places where every man, woman and child seeks equal 
     justice, equal opportunity, equal dignity without 
     discrimination.  Unless these rights have meaning there, 
     they have little meaning anywhere.  Without concerned 
     citizen action to uphold them close to home, we shall look 
     in vain for progress in the larger world."




                             John Shattuck
                    Assistant Secretary of State for
                 Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs










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