How the US sees human rights in the UK
11 April 2011
The US State department has released its 35th annual Country Reports on Human Rights Practices relating to over 190 countries. This includes a report on the United Kingdom, which can be access here and here (pdf).
The reports are mandated by US statute and require that the Secretary of State shall transmit to the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the Committee on Foreign Relations of the Senate, “a full and complete report regarding the status of internationally recognized human rights”, as set forth in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The UK Foreign Office has also recently published its own report into human rights around the world, which only deals with “countries of concern”, and as such doesn’t mention the US once in 355 pages .
Secretary of State Clinton introduced the US reports, saying:
The struggle for human rights begins by telling the truth over and over again. And this report represents a year of sustained truth-telling by one of the largest organizations documenting human rights conditions in the world, the United States State Department.
She also announced the launch of a new website, humanrights.gov, which will “offer one-stop shopping for information about global human rights from across the United States Government“. The site looks interesting and provides a regularly updated news feed which can also be accessed by RSS. A Q&A on the human rights reports can be found here.
As to the UK report, it is interested to see how we are perceived from a human rights perspective across the Atlantic. The opening paragraphs provide a summary of the findings:
There were some reports of police misconduct and that police, military personnel, and employees of government contractors occasionally abused detainees and other persons. There were also reports of overcrowded prisons and inadequate prison infrastructure. Societal problems included discrimination against religious minorities and mistreatment of women, children, ethnic minorities, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender persons, and persons with disabilities. Trafficking of persons was also reported.
On a quick reading, it is interesting that the prisoner voting issue is not mentioned, although many of the other 2010 human rights issues are. We will cover the report in more detail in the coming days.
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