For Immediate Release: April 8, 2011
Washington, DC – Human Rights First today noted that the State Department’s Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2010, expected to be released later today, come at a time when human rights activists around the world are looking to the Obama Administration for leadership in promoting access to information, freedom of expression, and other universal human rights. In anticipation of the reports’ release, Human Rights First President and CEO Elisa Massimino issued the following statement:
“The historic uprisings in the Middle East that have marked the beginning of 2011 can trace their origins to the oppression and human rights violations that the 2010 Country Reports will undoubtedly document. The need to counter systematic violations of human rights should contribute to shaping U.S. foreign policy moving forward; the State Department’s findings will mean little if the United States fails to implement programs and policies to promote lasting change and protect human rights.
“It’s striking that many of the people that these reports are intended to help – citizens of countries such as China, Burma, Iran, and North Korea – will be prevented by their governments from freely accessing today’s findings due to government censorship. We have seen throughout the Middle East in recent weeks that access to information and freedom of expression are key tools for civil society and local activists seeking to change repressive regimes. Ensuring their ability to communicate freely, without risking state retribution, and gain access to information must be a key part of any plan to address ongoing human rights violations, including those outlined in today’s reports.”