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U.S. Department of State

Preface to Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 1995

Released by the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, Febuary 1995.




Title: Preface, Human Rights Practices, 1995
Author:  U.S. Department of State
Date:  March 1996


Why The Reports Are Prepared

This report is submitted to the Congress by the Department of State in 
compliance with sections 116(d) and 502(b) of the Foreign Assistance Act 
of 1961 (FAA), as amended, and section 505(c) of the Trade Act of 1974, 
as amended.  As stated in section 116(d)(1) of the FAA:  "The Secretary 
of State shall transmit to the Speaker of the House of Representatives 
and the Committee on Foreign Relations of the Senate, by January 31 of 
each year, a full and complete report regarding the status of 
internationally recognized human rights, within the meaning of 
subsection (A) in countries that receive assistance under this part, and 
(B) in all other foreign countries which are members of the United 
Nations and which are not otherwise the subject of a human rights report 
under this Act."  We have also included reports on several countries 
which do not fall into the categories established by these statutes and 
which are thus not covered by the Congressional requirement.

The responsibility of the United States to speak out on behalf of 
international human rights standards was formalized in the early 1970's.  
In 1976 Congress enacted legislation creating a Coordinator of Human 
Rights in the U.S. Department of State, a position later upgraded to 
Assistant Secretary.  In 1994 the Congress created a position of Senior 
Advisor for Women's Rights.  Congress has also written into law formal 
requirements that U.S. foreign and trade policy take into account 
countries' human rights and worker rights performance and that country 
reports be submitted to the Congress on an annual basis.  The first 
reports, in 1977, covered only countries receiving U.S. aid, numbering 
82; this year 194 reports are submitted.

How The Reports Are Prepared

In August 1993, the Secretary of State moved to strengthen further the 
human rights efforts of our embassies.  All sections in each embassy 
were asked to contribute information and to corroborate reports of human 
rights violations, and new efforts were made to link mission programming 
to the advancement of human rights and democracy.  In 1994 the Bureau of 
Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs was reorganized and renamed as the 
Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, reflecting both a broader 
sweep and a more focused approach to the interlocking issues of human 
rights, worker rights, and democracy.  The 1995 human rights reports 
reflect a year of dedicated effort by hundreds of State Department, 
Foreign Service, and other U.S. Government employees.

Our embassies, which prepared the initial drafts of the reports, 
gathered information throughout the year from a variety of sources 
across the political spectrum, including government officials, jurists, 
military sources, journalists, human rights monitors, academics, and 
labor activists.  This information-gathering can be hazardous, and U.S. 
Foreign Service Officers regularly go to great lengths, under trying and 
sometimes dangerous conditions, to investigate reports of human rights 
abuse, monitor elections, and come to the aid of individuals at risk, 
such as political dissidents and human rights defenders whose rights are 
threatened by their governments.

After the embassies completed their drafts, the texts were sent to 
Washington for careful review by the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, 
and Labor, in cooperation with other State Department offices.  As they 
worked to corroborate, analyze, and edit the reports, the Department 
officers drew on their own sources of information.  These included 
reports provided by U.S. and other human rights groups, foreign 
government officials, representatives from the United Nations and other 
international and regional organizations and institutions, and experts 
from academia and the media.  Officers also consulted with experts on 
worker rights issues, refugee issues, military and police matters, 
women's issues, and legal matters.  The guiding principle was to ensure 
that all relevant information was assessed as objectively, thoroughly, 
and fairly as possible.

The reports in this volume will be used as a resource for shaping 
policy, conducting diplomacy, and making assistance, training, and other 
resource allocations.  They will also serve as a basis for the U.S. 
Government's cooperation with private groups to promote the observance 
of internationally recognized human rights.

The Country Reports on Human Rights Practices cover internationally 
recognized individual, civil, political, and worker rights, as set forth 
in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  These rights include 
freedom from torture or other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or 
punishment; from prolonged detention without charges; from disappearance 
due to abduction or clandestine detention; and from other flagrant 
violations of the right to life, liberty, and the security of the 

Universal human rights aim to incorporate respect for human dignity into 
the processes of government and law.  All people have the inalienable 
right to change their government by peaceful means and to enjoy basic 
freedoms, such as freedom of expression, association, assembly, 
movement, and religion, without discrimination on the basis of race, 
religion, national origin, or sex.  The right to join a free trade union 
is a necessary condition of a free society and economy.  Thus the 
reports assess key internationally recognized worker rights, including 
the right of association; the right to organize and bargain 
collectively; prohibition of forced or compulsory labor; minimum age for 
employment of children; and acceptable work conditions.


[end of document]


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