The annual Country Reports on Human Rights Practices – the Human Rights Reports – cover internationally recognized individual, civil, political, and worker rights, as set forth in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international agreements. The U.S. Department of State submits reports on all countries receiving assistance and all United Nations member states to the U.S. Congress in accordance with the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 and the Trade Act of 1974.
Announcement: Upcoming Addendum
Later this year, the Department of State will release an addendum to each 2020 country report that expands the subsection on women in Section 6, entitled “Discrimination, Societal Abuses, and Trafficking in Persons,” to include a broader range of issues related to reproductive rights. The addendum will cover maternal health issues such as maternal mortality, government policy adversely affecting access to contraception, access to skilled healthcare during pregnancy and childbirth, access to emergency healthcare, and discrimination against women in accessing sexual and reproductive health care, including for sexually transmitted infections. These topics were included in previous Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, and they will be included again in future years.
I am honored to release the 45th annual Country Reports on Human Rights Practices and to reaffirm the United States’ commitment to placing human rights at the center of our foreign policy. The cause of human rights, freedom, and dignity is close to the American heart. As President Biden emphasized, “We must start with diplomacy rooted in America’s most cherished democratic values: defending freedom, championing opportunity, upholding universal rights, respecting the rule of law, and treating every person with dignity.” Transparency and accountability are integral to this process. By documenting the status of human rights around the world each year, the U.S. Department of State provides objective and comprehensive information to Congress, civil society, academics, activists, and people everywhere – all of whom have roles to play in promoting human rights and accountability for rights abuses and violations.
The 2020 report reflects the unique challenges that nations had to confront as the COVID-19 virus spread throughout the world. The pandemic impacted not only individuals’ health, but their abilities to safely enjoy their human rights and fundamental freedoms. Some governments used the crisis as a pretext to restrict rights and consolidate authoritarian rule. Other governments relied on democratic values and processes, including a free press, transparency, and accountability, to inform and protect their citizens. Women and children faced heightened risk as the prevalence of gender-based and domestic violence increased due to lockdowns and the loss of traditional social protections. Other marginalized populations, including older persons, persons with disabilities, and LGBTQI+ persons, experienced particular vulnerability.
Human rights are interdependent, and the deprivation of one right can cause the broader fabric of a society to fray. Despite potential risks to their health or threats of arrest or other repercussions, people around the world demanded that governments respect their human rights and inherent dignity. From Hong Kong to Belarus, from Nigeria to Venezuela, people assembled in the streets. They called for governmental protection of their human rights and fundamental freedoms, safeguards for free and fair elections, and an end to discrimination.
Too many people continued to suffer under brutal conditions in 2020. In China, government authorities committed genocide against Uyghurs, who are predominantly Muslim, and crimes against humanity including imprisonment, torture, enforced sterilization, and persecution against Uyghurs and members of other religious and ethnic minority groups. Assad’s atrocities against the people of Syria continued unabated, and this year marks ten years of their struggles to live in dignity and freedom. The war in Yemen has driven millions to extreme humanitarian need, preventing them from exercising many of their basic rights. The Russian government has targeted political dissidents and peaceful protestors, while official corruption remained rampant. The corruption of Nicolas Maduro increased the dire humanitarian crisis of the Venezuelan people.
In Nicaragua, the corrupt Ortega regime passed increasingly repressive laws that limit severely the ability of opposition political groups, civil society, and independent media to operate. Meanwhile in Cuba, government restrictions continued to suppress the freedoms of expression, association, religion or belief, and movement. State-sanctioned violence in Zimbabwe against civil society activists, labor leaders, and opposition members continued a culture of impunity, and LGBTQI+ persons continued to be vulnerable to violence, discrimination, and harassment due to criminalization and stigma associated with same-sex sexual conduct. In Turkmenistan, citizens criticizing the government faced possible arrest for treason, and the whereabouts of more than 100 political prisoners remain unknown.
These and other ongoing rights abuses cause untold damage well beyond the borders of any single country; unchecked human rights abuses anywhere can contribute to a sense of impunity everywhere. That is precisely why this Administration has placed human rights front and center in its foreign policy. Recognizing that there is work to be done at home, we are also striving to live up to our highest ideals and principles and are committed to working toward a fairer and more just society in the United States. We all have work to do, and we must use every tool available to foster a more peaceful and just world.
Antony J. Blinken
Secretary of State
Overview and Acknowledgements
COUNTRY REPORT PREPARATION
This report is submitted to the Congress by the Department of State pursuant to Sections 116(d) and 502B(b) of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961. 19 U.S.C. § 2464, 2467 also require 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.
This report includes documents on several countries that do not fall into the categories established by these statutes and thus are not covered by the congressional requirement.
The report addresses situations and events in calendar year 2020 only.
The Department of State prepared this report using information from U.S. embassies and consulates abroad, foreign government officials, nongovernmental and international organizations, jurists and legal experts, journalists, academics, labor activists, and published reports. U.S. diplomatic missions abroad prepared the initial drafts of the individual country reports.
Once the initial drafts of the individual country reports were completed by U.S. missions abroad, the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor (DRL), in cooperation with other Department of State offices with the relevant country and regional expertise, reviewed and edited the reports, drawing on its own sources of information as well as of the Department of Labor. Bureau officers also consulted experts in the Department of State and elsewhere on worker rights, refugee issues, police and security issues, women’s issues, and legal matters, among many others. The guiding principles were that all information be reported objectively, thoroughly, and fairly. DRL, working with other Department offices as necessary, also ensured that all reports followed the same methodology and conformed to standard format and structure.
THE DRL EDITORIAL TEAM
Coordinator of Human Rights Reports/Editor in Chief: Stephen Eisenbraun
Senior Advisor: Marc Susser
Senior Editors: Wendall Albright, Jonathan Bemis, Jillian Burns, Doug Kramer, Stephen Eisenbraun, Jerome L. Hoganson, Victor J. Huser, Lawrence Lesser, David Morris, Dan Vernon, Joseph Dean Yap.
Editors: Muzna Abbas, Paula Albertson, Wendell Albright, Asim Ali, , Mary Angelini, Paul Baldwin, John Barone, Jonathan Bemis, Brian Campbell, Alexandra Cantone, Kelsey Carido, Dana Castagna, Ken Chern, Jessica Chesbro, Michael Cocciolone, Ann Cody, Mauricio Cortes, Stephen Dreyer, Christina Droggitis, Sandra Dupuy, Mort Dworken, Sara Epstein, Janie Esteva, Gabriella Fernandes, Ryan Fioresi, Sheridan Gardner, Karen Gilbride, Sarah Givens, John Gorkowski, David Guinn, Charles Gurney, Ian Harrison, Matt Hickey, Anya Howko-Johnson, Victor Huser, Rachael-Therese Joubert-Lin, Richard Kaminski, Stephen Kaufman, Orly Keiner, Charles Kellett, Esther Kim, Douglas Kramer, Lawrence Lesser, Kevin Lewis, Maureen Limon, Vidya Mani, Sarah McGonagle, Veronica McIntire, Geneve Menscher, Hannah Meropol, Stephen Moody, Greta Morris, Thomas Opstal, Kurt Pearson, Steven Pierce, Samantha Powell, Gerald Quattro, Lauren Ravekes, Ereni Roess, Emily Rose, Hilary Rosenthal, Stephanie Sandbeck, James Sayre, Stephanie Schmid, Daniel Schneider, Austin Schott, Harrison Schreiber, Samantha Schwartz, Thomas Selinger, Corena Sharp, Adam Sheffler, Lisa Sherman, Wendy Silverman, , Kristen Smart, Rachel Spring, Greg Staff, Jennifer Stein, Brandon Strassberg, Zackary Suhr, Sarah Swatzburg, Leslie Taylor, Dennis Dean Tidwell, Dania Torres, Ambar Valles, Brooke Van Slyke, C. Eduardo Vargas, Dan Vernon, Pilar Velasquez, David G. Wagner, Rachel Waldstein, Micah Watson, Tracy Watson, Alexander Werman, Sonya Weston, Thomas Whitney, John Whittlesey, Megan Wong, Joseph Dean Yap.
Technical Editors: Jessica Adams, Dhuha Baig, Ryan Jolley.
Technical Coordinator: Geoffrey Palcher
Rollout Preparation: Jessica Adams, Dhuha Baig, Ryan Burris, Karlygash Faillace, Carol Finerty, Caitlin Hawes, Stacy MacTaggert, Eunice Mooney, Nicholas Murphy, Lauren Pagan.
- Appendix ANotes on Preparation of the Country Reports and Explanatory MaterialActs of Congress mandate the annual submission of the Country Reports on Human Rights Practices. The Country Reports on Human Rights Practices cover internationally recognized civil and political rights, including those set forth in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, as well as worker rights. These include the prohibition on torture or other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment and the rights not to be subjected to arbitrary detention; disappearance or clandestine detention; and other violations of the right to life, liberty, and the security of person.They also include certain rights, such as the right of peaceful assembly and the rights to freedom of expression, association, and religion or belief. Furthermore, the reports cover key internationally recognized worker rights issues, including the right to freedom of association; the right to bargain collectively; the prohibition of forced or compulsory labor; the status of child labor practices and the minimum age for employment of children; discrimination with respect to employment; and acceptable work conditions.The Country Reports on Human Rights Practices are prepared by reviewing information available from a wide variety of credible sources, including U.S. and foreign government officials; victims of alleged human rights abuses; academic and congressional studies; and reports from the press, international organizations, and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) concerned with human rights. Particularly helpful for citation are NGOs, whether within a single country or those with an international perspective.The Country Reports cover respect for human rights in foreign countries and territories worldwide. They do not describe or assess the human rights implications of actions taken by the U.S. Government or its representatives.To comply with the congressional requirement for reporting on human rights practices, the Department provides guidance to U.S. diplomatic missions annually in July for submission of updated reports in September and October. The Department updates these texts by year’s end. Multiple concerned bureaus and offices in the Department of State provide contributions, and the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor prepares a final draft of each Country Report. The U. S. Department of Labor contributes to material in section 7 on worker rights (see Appendix B for more detail).The Department strives to make the reports comprehensive, objective, and uniform in scope. We seek a high standard of consistency in the reports despite the multiplicity of sources and the diversity of countries. For purposes of focus and streamlining, the reports select a few illustrative examples of alleged abuses and follow up in most instances only on the previous year’s high-profile unresolved cases. In recent years, the Department’s annual instructions on the update of the Reports changed the requirement that information be provided even when no abuse was alleged. An example is a reduction in information on prison conditions when there have not been allegations of inadequate conditions. For example, if there has been no allegation concerning the unavailability of potable water, then the Reports need not include information on that condition. It is only an allegation about the absence of potable water that would raise prison condition concerns and thus should be mentioned. This change allowed the reports to increase the focus on reported abuses.Additionally, the Department’s annual instructions also made changes to sharpen the focus on reports of violations and abuses of internationally recognized human rights and each government’s actions regarding such violations and abuses.For example, the Executive Summary of each report is sharply focused on reports of the significant types of violations and abuses of internationally recognized human rights, if applicable to the country concerned. These include reports of extrajudicial killing, torture, harsh and life-threatening prison conditions, and the worst forms of restrictions on freedoms of expression, peaceful assembly, association, and religion or belief, as well as bias-motivated crimes of violence and similar abuses. The summary does not include many other common issues, such as overcrowding in prisons and societal discrimination, but these matters continue to be covered in the body of the reports.New for the 2020 reporting season is coverage of adverse country actions in response to the COVID-19 pandemic that have a negative impact on human rights. The existing format of the reports is used to report these actions.While we continue to report on societal conditions, including discrimination, that can affect the enjoyment of internationally recognized human rights, we have reduced the amount of statistical data in each of the subsections of the report illustrating those conditions. In the age of the Internet, the underlying data is generally available. We have provided links to relevant sources rather than repeat the data in the text of the reports. Such links are consolidated in Appendix C.Evaluating the credibility of reports of human rights violations and abuses remains difficult. Most governments and opposition groups deny they commit human rights violations or abuses and occasionally go to great lengths to conceal any wrongdoing. There may be few eyewitnesses to specific alleged violations or abuses. Frequently, eyewitnesses are intimidated or prevented from reporting what they know. On the other hand, individuals and groups opposed to a government may have incentive to exaggerate or fabricate abuses. In similar fashion, some governments may distort or exaggerate abuses attributed to opposition groups. The Department seeks to identify those groups (for example, government forces) or individuals for whom available, credible evidence indicates probable involvement in human rights violations or abuses or other problematic conduct.Many governments that profess to respect human rights in principle may in fact secretly order or tacitly condone violations or abuses. Consequently, the reports look beyond statements of policy or intent to examine what a government actually did to protect human rights and promote accountability, including the extent to which it investigated, brought to trial, or punished those responsible for any violations or abuses.The Reports describe facts relevant to human rights concerns as they have been reported by the sources identified above. Notwithstanding terms that may be used in them, they do not state or reach legal conclusions with respect to domestic or international law.Occasionally the Reports state that a country “generally respected” the rights of individuals. The Department uses the phrase “generally respected” because the protection and promotion of human rights is a dynamic endeavor. It cannot be stated with absolute accuracy that any government fully respects these rights at all times without qualification, even in the best of circumstances. Accordingly, the reports use “generally respected” as a standard phrase to describe countries that attempt to protect and promote human rights in the fullest sense, and it is thus the highest level of respect for human rights assigned by these reports.Because the Secretary of State designates foreign groups or organizations as foreign terrorist organizations (FTOs) on the FTO list, the reports describe as “terrorists” only those groups on the current Department of State FTO list.The following notes on specific sections in each country report provide an overview of the key problems covered, but they are not intended to be comprehensive descriptions:Arbitrary Deprivation of Life and Other Unlawful or Politically Motivated Killings: Includes killings ordered by governments or committed by governments without fair trial and final appeal guarantees, including when there is evidence of a political motivation. This section also includes illustrative, publicly well-known examples of killings by police or security forces and deaths that resulted from excessive use of force or other abuses contrary to human rights obligations and commitments, including equal protection of law.While the section generally excludes combat deaths and killings by non-state actors , it does cover killings by such actors as opposition groups, terrorists, or widespread killings by criminal groups. The reports cover deaths in detention due to adverse conditions in subsection 1.c., under Prison and Detention Center Conditions. Killings by terrorist or other nongovernmental groups are covered after government abuses. In optional subsection 1.g., used for countries where there was significant internal conflict, the reports cover killings of noncombatants and deaths resulting from undue use of force by government forces, those acting on the government’s behalf, or opposition forces.Disappearance: Covers cases in which the government may be involved in the detention, abduction, or disappearance of the victim(s), and refuses to account for the whereabouts or fate of the victim(s). This includes cases in which the victim(s) has not been found. Cases eventually classified as political killings after the bodies of missing persons are discovered would be covered in the previous section, while those eventually identified as having been arrested or held in detention may be covered in subsection 1.d., under Arbitrary Arrest or Detention.Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment: Covers torture, defined in the Convention Against Torture, Article 1, as “any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind,” and cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment, committed by or at the instigation of, or with the consent or acquiescence of, a public official or other person acting in an official capacity. The subsection discusses reported occurrences without analysis of whether they fit any precise definition, and it includes reported uses of physical and other force that may fall short of torture but which may be cruel, inhuman, or degrading. This section also may include reports of ill treatment that may not constitute torture or cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment. Furthermore, the section covers prison and detention center conditions and deaths in such facilities due to poor conditions or mistreatment.If there are reports of patterns of sexual exploitation and abuse by UN or other multinational peacekeeping forces, these incidents are reported in this subsection, and they are included in the country report where the alleged abuse occurred, and in the country report where the alleged offender originated. Also included would be corrective action taken by the peacekeeping troop-contributing country.Arbitrary Arrest or Detention: Includes cases in which criminal detainees are held arbitrarily in official custody without being charged or, if charged, without being brought promptly before a judicial authority with power to detain or without trial within a reasonable time.Denial of Fair Public Trial: Notes whether there is an independent and impartial judiciary free of corruption or political influence and whether trials are fair and public and afford criminal defendants the minimum guarantees recognized internationally as necessary for a criminal defense (failure to hold any trial under Arbitrary Arrest or Detention). The subsection Political Prisoners and Detainees covers persons convicted, imprisoned, or detained essentially for political beliefs or nonviolent acts of dissent or expression, particularly based on overly broad and sweeping charges intended to stifle the exercise of human rights and fundamental freedoms. The subsection Civil Procedures and Remedies notes whether there is access to an independent and impartial court or other competent authority to seek a remedy, whether damages for, or cessation of, an alleged human rights violation. The optional subsection Property Restitution is included if there is a systemic failure of a government to enforce court orders with respect to restitution or compensation for the taking of private property under domestic law. This subsection is not intended to discuss or evaluate individual claims.Politically Motivated Reprisal Against Individuals Located Outside the Country (If applicable): This section includes credible information regarding a country that, during the year, attempted to misuse international law enforcement tools, such as Interpol systems, for politically motivated reprisals against individuals and related efforts by a country to exert bilateral pressure on another country aimed at having that country take adverse action against an individual. Such action could include exerting political pressure for the return of perceived enemies located in other countries.Arbitrary or Unlawful Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or Correspondence: Covers whether government authorities entered homes without judicial or other appropriate authorization, and whether a government accessed, collected, or used private communications or personal data arbitrarily or unlawfully (such as by targeting individuals based on the exercise of their human rights) or without appropriate legal authority. This section also examines if governments have in place laws, regulations, or practices that enable them to use technology to monitor individuals arbitrarily or unlawfully and whether any “national security” laws are used by governments to conduct arbitrary or unlawful surveillance. If necessary, this section also reports if informer systems were employed and if authorities punished family members for offenses allegedly committed by their relatives.Abuses in Internal Conflicts: This subsection applies only to countries experiencing significant internal conflict and describes reported abuses in such situations. It includes reports of unlawful killings and abuses, including abductions, against civilians by members of the armed forces, other groups that may support the government but may also commit abuses, or groups in political opposition to the government. Any reports of the unlawful use of child soldiers by either government forces or by other organized armed groups are discussed in this subsection. Also covered are reports of attacks on health-care facilities, workers, ambulances, or patients. This subsection also includes reports concerning any restriction on medical facilities or services in a situation of significant internal conflict. For countries conducting military operations in another country or engaging in peacekeeping operations in another country, the reports note any human rights concerns with the subject country’s activity in section 1.g. and/or a separate subsection for countries where the operations are taking place and in the relevant section for the country conducting the operations.Freedom of Expression, including for the Press: Evaluates whether freedom of expression, including for members of the media, is respected and describes any direct or indirect restrictions, including intimidation of journalists and censorship. A subsection on internet freedom includes discussion of monitoring or restrictions on the exercise of freedom of expression online, including the freedom to seek, receive, or impart information, ideas, and opinions. Another subsection, entitled Academic Freedom and Cultural Events, includes information on restrictions, intimidation, and censorship in these fields.Freedoms of Peaceful Assembly and Association: Evaluates the ability of individuals, including with others (such as through political parties) to exercise these freedoms. It considers instances of government failure to provide permits or licenses for meetings and demonstrations, as well as information on the ability of trade associations, professional bodies, NGOs, and similar groups to register, maintain relations, or affiliate with recognized international bodies in their fields. Section 7, Worker Rights, discusses the right of workers to associate, organize, and bargain collectively.Freedom of Religion: Provides a hyperlink to the Department of State’s International Religious Freedom Report. Information on anti-Semitism also appears in section 6 under a heading by that name.Freedom of Movement: Discusses whether and under what circumstances governments exiled citizens; restricted internal and foreign travel, including for women or members of minority populations; and revoked passports. It includes subsections on Internally Displaced Persons (if applicable), Protection of Refugees (if applicable), and Stateless Persons (if applicable). As defined in the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and its 1967 Protocol, refugees generally are persons outside their country of nationality or, if stateless, outside their country of former habitual residence, who are unable or unwilling to return to that country based on a well-founded fear of persecution for reasons of race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group. Under certain regional instruments, such as the Cartagena Declaration on Refugees, the term refugee may also refer to persons who have fled their country because their lives, safety, or freedom have been threatened by, among other things, generalized violence or internal conflict. The subsection Protection of Refugees covers abuse and discrimination against refugees and asylum seekers. It also reviews the government’s extension of assistance and protection to refugees, including protection against refoulement, the provision of temporary protection, and support for voluntary repatriation, longer-term integration opportunities, and resettlement in another country.“Protection against refoulement” refers to whether the government refrained from (1) expelling or returning a refugee in any manner whatsoever to the frontiers of territories where their life or freedom would be threatened on account of their race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group, or (2) expelling, returning, or extraditing a person to another State where there are substantial grounds for believing that they would be in danger of being subjected to torture.The subsection on stateless persons examines whether a country has habitual residents who are legally stateless (not recognized as nationals under the laws of any state) or de facto stateless (not recognized as nationals by any state even if these individuals have a claim to nationality under the laws of a particular state). The report reviews whether the government has implemented effectively laws and policies to provide such persons the opportunity to gain nationality on a nondiscriminatory basis. The subsection examines, among other matters, whether there is violence or discrimination against members of resident stateless populations in employment, education, housing, health services, marriage or birth registration, access to courts, or the owning of property.Participation in the Political Process: Discusses whether the law provides citizens the ability to choose their government in free and fair periodic elections based on universal and equal suffrage and whether in practice citizens were able to participate in the conduct of public affairs free of discrimination or unreasonable restriction. The subsections Elections and Political Participation and Participation of Women and Minorities assess whether elections were free and fair, including whether women and minorities had the opportunity to participate on an equal basis.Corruption and Lack of Transparency in Government: Covers allegations of corruption in the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of government and actions taken to combat it. The section also covers whether elected and appointed officials must make financial disclosures.Governmental Attitude Regarding International and Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations of Human Rights: Discusses whether the government permits the free functioning of local human rights groups (including by allowing investigations and the publication of the groups’ findings on alleged human rights abuses), whether these groups are subject to reprisal by government or other forces (including for their participation in international forums), and whether government officials are cooperative and responsive to their views. The section also discusses whether the government grants access to and cooperates with outside entities (including foreign human rights organizations, international organizations, and foreign governments) interested in human rights developments in the country. It reports on national human rights commissions, parliamentary commissions, and relations with international human rights organizations.Discrimination, Societal Abuses, and Trafficking in Persons: Contains subsections on Women; Children; Anti-Semitism; Trafficking in Persons; Persons with Disabilities; Acts of Violence, Discrimination, and Other Abuses Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity. If applicable, it also includes optional subsections on National/Racial/Ethnic Minority Groups, Indigenous People, HIV and AIDS Social Stigma, Other Societal Violence or Discrimination, and Promotion of Acts of Discrimination. The section addresses abuses and discrimination not discussed elsewhere in the report, focusing on violence or threats of violence against such individuals and laws, regulations, and state practices denying or impeding equal access to employment, education, health care, or other governmental benefits for members of specific groups. Reluctance to report abuse–by women, children, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or intersex persons (LGBTI), and members of other groups–is, of course, often a factor in the underreporting of abuses. To avoid being too repetitive, we do not make this point every time we cover a particular issue, but readers should be aware that it is a significant factor in these kinds of abuses in all countries and cultures. (The Country Reports address allegations of abuses by government or opposition forces, such as killing, torture and other violence, or restriction of voting rights or freedom of expression that discriminate against specific groups, under the appropriate preceding sections.)The subsection on Women discusses violence against women, such as domestic violence, rape, female genital mutilation/cutting, dowry deaths, and “honor killings.” Information is included on any government tolerance of, and efforts to prevent, such practices, as well as the extent to which women have access to equality of economic opportunity and protection from discrimination and sexual harassment. A subsection Coercion in Population Control changes the former focus from general “reproductive rights” and maternal health issues to comply with the requirement of U.S. law that the Department report on coercive family planning practices, such as coerced abortion and involuntary sterilization. The subsection’s focus is on coercive government action, and therefore does not cover instances in which family members or partners may pressure someone to have an abortion.The subsection on Children discusses early and forced marriage and sexual exploitation of children; as applicable, it also addresses access to education and health care, and violence or other abuse against children, as well as other issues.The subsection on Anti-Semitism discusses anti-Semitic activity. Section 2.c. on Religious Freedom provides a hyperlink to the most recent International Religious Freedom Report, which also contains material on anti-Semitism.The Trafficking in Persons subsection contains a hyperlink to the Department of State’s most recent Trafficking in Persons Report.The subsection Persons with Disabilities covers discrimination against persons with physical, mental, or intellectual disabilities in, among other things, employment, education, and the provision of other government services. The subsection on Acts of Violence, Discrimination, and Other Abuses Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity notes laws criminalizing offenses related to same sex sexual activity and reports of violence or discrimination in essential goods and services against such persons, and official action to investigate and punish such acts.
- Appendix BReporting on Worker RightsU.S. law requires annual reporting to Congress on the status of internationally recognized worker rights in countries that are eligible to receive benefits under the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP). The law defines internationally recognized worker rights to include: “(A) the right of association; (B) the right to organize and bargain collectively; (C) a prohibition on the use of any form of forced or compulsory labor; (D) a minimum age for the employment of children, and a prohibition on worst forms of child labor; and (E) acceptable conditions of work with respect to minimum wages, hours of work, and occupational safety and health.” 19 U.S.C. § 2464, 2467. In addition to these rights, several U.S. free trade agreements have also included the “elimination of discrimination in respect of employment or occupation” in their definition of internationally recognized worker rights.The International Labor Organization (ILO), in its 1998 Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work, sets forth these principles and rights at work as follows: freedom of association and the effective recognition of the right to collective bargaining; the elimination of all forms of forced or compulsory labor; the effective abolition of child labor; and the elimination of discrimination in respect of employment and occupation.Worker rights are discussed in each country report under the section heading “Worker Rights” in five subsections: freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining; prohibition of forced or compulsory labor; prohibition of worst forms of child labor and minimum age for employment; prohibition of discrimination with respect to employment and occupation; and acceptable conditions of work with respects to minimum wages, hours of work, and occupational safety and health. Enforcement of the law is key to effective implementation.The discussion of worker rights considers not only laws, statutes, and regulations but also their practical application. The discussion is informed by internationally recognized labor rights and standards, including the Conventions and Recommendations of the ILO, and anti-trafficking provisions in the UN Organized Crime Convention Protocol to Prevent, Suppress, and Punish Trafficking in Persons. Some specific guidelines derived from these are discussed below.Freedom of Association and the Right to Collective Bargaining“Freedom of association” includes the right of workers and employers to establish and join organizations of their own choosing without previous authorization; to draw up their own constitutions and rules, to elect their representatives, and to formulate their programs; to join in confederations and affiliate with international organizations; and to be protected against dissolution or suspension by administrative authority.“The right to organize and bargain collectively” includes the right of workers to be represented in negotiating terms and conditions of employment and the prevention and settlement of disputes with employers, the right to protection against interference by the government or employers, and the right to protection against acts of antiunion discrimination. Governments should promote mechanisms for voluntary negotiations between employers and workers and their organizations. Coverage of the right to organize and bargain collectively includes a review of the extent to which collective bargaining takes place and the extent to which workers, both in law and practice, are protected against anti-union discrimination.The section of each report on freedom of association also covers the right to strike. While it is generally accepted for strikes to be restricted in the public sector and in essential services, the interruption of which would endanger the life, personal safety, or health of a significant portion of the population, these restrictions need to be offset by adequate safeguards for the interests of the workers concerned (for example, mechanisms for mediation and arbitration, due process, and the right to judicial review of legal actions). Reporting on restrictions on the ability of workers to strike generally includes information on any procedures that may exist for safeguarding workers’ interests.Forced Labor“Forced or compulsory labor” is defined as work or service exacted under the menace of penalty and for which a person has not volunteered. This definition does not include “work or service” where obligations to work or serve are imposed in order to receive education or training. “Menace of penalty” includes loss of rights or privileges as well as penal sanctions. The ILO exempts compulsory military service, normal civic obligations, emergencies, and minor communal services from its definition of forced labor. The ILO has also exempted certain forms of prison labor, but only to the extent that such labor is exacted as a consequence of a conviction in a court of law and carried out under the supervision and control of a public authority, and provided that the prisoner is not hired out to or placed at the disposal of private entities. The ILO further notes that constitutional provisions concerning the obligation of citizens to work do not violate this right so long as they do not take the form of legal obligations enforced by sanctions and are consistent with the principle of “freely chosen employment.”U.S. law defines forced labor as knowingly providing or obtaining the labor or services of a person by force or threats of force, serious harm or threats of serious harm to that person or another person, abuse or threatened abuse of law or legal process, or any scheme, plan, or pattern intended to cause the person to believe that, if that person did not perform such labor or services, that person or another person would suffer serious harm or physical restraint. The UN Trafficking Protocol also addresses forced labor, by requiring state parties to criminalize the recruitment, transport, transfer, receipt, or harboring of a person for the purpose of forced labor or services extracted through coercive or fraudulent means.Child Labor“A minimum age for employment” is related to the effective abolition of child labor because it requires a minimum age for employment that is consistent with the fullest physical and mental development of young people. The “prohibition on the worst forms of child labor” looks to ILO Convention 182, which defines anyone under the age of 18 as a child, and specifies certain types of employment as “the worst forms of child labor.” These worst forms of labor include slavery, debt bondage, forced labor, forced recruitment into armed conflict, child prostitution and pornography, involvement in illicit activity such as drug production or trafficking, and work that, “by its nature or the circumstances in which it is carried out, is likely to harm the health, safety or morals of children.”Discrimination with Respect to Employment and Occupation“Discrimination with respect to employment and occupation” may be direct or indirect. Direct discrimination exists when laws, rules, or practices explicitly cite a particular ground (such as sex, race, religion, political opinion, national or social origin, etc.) to deny equal opportunities for employment or vocational training, as well as any other ground for distinction determined to impair equal opportunity. The ILO has noted that indirect discrimination occurs where rules or practices appear on the surface to be neutral but in practice lead to unwarranted exclusions. For example, requiring applicants to be a certain height could disproportionately exclude women and members of some ethnic groups. Unless the specified height is necessary to perform the particular job, this could illustrate indirect discrimination.U.S. law prohibits discrimination in respect to employment on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability, genetic information, or age. Many states and municipalities also have enacted protections against discrimination and harassment based on sexual orientation, status as a parent, marital status, and political affiliation.Acceptable Conditions of Work“Acceptable conditions of work” refers to the establishment and maintenance of appropriate mechanisms, adapted to national conditions, that provide for minimum working standards, namely: wages that provide a decent living for workers and their families; working hours that do not exceed 48 hours per week, with a full 24-hour day of rest and provisions for overtime pay; a specified number of annual paid leave days; and minimum conditions for the protection of the safety and health of workers. National laws should specify whether workers in the informal sector are covered, and whether or not any other group of workers or sectors of the economy are excluded.
- Appendix CAdditional ResourcesSee below for resources on issues noted in the Country Reports on Human Rights Practices. Reference does not indicate endorsement by the U.S. Department of State.Women
- UN Interagency on Women and Gender Equality:
- UN Population Fund:
https://www.unfpa.org/data/world-population-dashboard; http://www.unfpa.org/gender/index.htm and www.unfpa.org/sites/default/files/resource-pdf/Preventing_gender-biased_sex_selection.pdf
- Secretary’s Office of Global Women’s Issues, U. S. Department of State:
http://www.childinfo.org/fgmc_progress.html and https://data.unicef.org/topic/child-protection/female-genital-mutilation-and-cutting/
- Population Reference Bureau:
- World Health Organization
http://www.who.int/reproductivehealth/topics/fgm/overview/en/index.html and http://www.who.int/reproductivehealth/publications/monitoring/maternal-mortality-2015/en/
- UN Population Division 2018 World Contraceptive Use: http://www.un.org/en/development/desa/population/publications/dataset/contraception/wcu2018.shtml
- Demographic and Health Survey:
- Population Council:
http://www.unicef.org/, http://www.unicef.org/sowc04/ and http://mics.unicef.org/
- World Health Organization:
- UN Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict:
- Watchlist on Children and Armed Conflict:
- 2015-16 Demographic and Health Survey:
- Office of The Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism:
- Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, State Department:
- Disabled Peoples’ International:
- Disability Rights Promotion International:
- Administration and Cost of Elections Project:
- IFES – Democracy at Large:
- Ideanet International Disability Rights Monitor:
- Disability Rights International:
- Mobility International USA:
- National Human Rights Institutions Forum:
- United Nations Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities:
- United Nations Enable:
- European Roma Human Rights Center:
- UN Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights’ section on Indigenous Rights: https://www.ohchr.org/en/issues/ipeoples/Pages/IndigenousPeoplesIndex.aspx
- Amnesty International:
- Council for Global Equality:
- Global Rights:
- Human Rights First:
- Human Rights Watch:
- International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission:
- OutRight Action International:
- International Lesbian and Gay Association – Europe (ILGA-EUROPE):
- Mulabi (covering Latin America):
- Stigma Index:
- Scholars at Risk 2018 Report:
- UN Interagency on Women and Gender Equality:
- Appendix DFY 2020 Foreign Assistance ActualsDownload Appendix D [629 KB]
- Appendix EUN General Assembly Third Committee Votes 2020Download Appendix E [175 KB]
- Appendix FUniversal Declaration of Human RightsPreambleWhereas recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world,Whereas disregard and contempt for human rights have resulted in barbarous acts which have outraged the conscience of mankind, and the advent of a world in which human beings shall enjoy freedom of speech and belief and freedom from fear and want has been proclaimed as the highest aspiration of the common people,Whereas it is essential, if man is not to be compelled to have recourse, as a last resort, to rebellion against tyranny and oppression, that human rights should be protected by the rule of law,Whereas it is essential to promote the development of friendly relations between nations,Whereas the peoples of the United Nations have in the Charter reaffirmed their faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person and in the equal rights of men and women and have determined to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom,Whereas Member States have pledged themselves to achieve, in cooperation with the United Nations, the promotion of universal respect for and observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms,Whereas a common understanding of these rights and freedoms is of the greatest importance for the full realization of this pledge,Now, therefore,The General Assembly proclaims this Universal Declaration of Human Rights as a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations, to the end that every individual and every organ of society, keeping this Declaration constantly in mind, shall strive by teaching and education to promote respect for these rights and freedoms and by progressive measures, national and international, to secure their universal and effective recognition and observance, both among the peoples of Member States themselves and among the peoples of territories under their jurisdiction.Article 1All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.Article 2Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, color, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. Furthermore, no distinction shall be made on the basis of the political, jurisdictional or international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs, whether it be independent, trust, non-self-governing or under any other limitation of sovereignty.Article 3Everyone has the right to life, liberty and the security of person.Article 4No one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms.Article 5No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.Article 6Everyone has the right to recognition everywhere as a person before the law.Article 7All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law. All are entitled to equal protection against any discrimination in violation of this Declaration and against any incitement to such discrimination.Article 8Everyone has the right to an effective remedy by the competent national tribunals for acts violating the fundamental rights granted him by the constitution or by law.Article 9No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile.Article 10Everyone is entitled in full equality to a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal, in the determination of his rights and obligations and of any criminal charge against him.Article 11Everyone charged with a penal offence has the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law in a public trial at which he has had all the guarantees necessary for his defence.No one shall be held guilty of any penal offence on account of any act or omission which did not constitute a penal offence, under national or international law, at the time when it was committed. Nor shall a heavier penalty be imposed than the one that was applicable at the time the penal offence was committed.Article 12No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honor and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.Article 13Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each state.Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country.Article 14Everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution.This right may not be invoked in the case of prosecutions genuinely arising from non-political crimes or from acts contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations.Article 15Everyone has the right to a nationality.No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his nationality nor be denied the right to change his nationality.Article 16Men and women of full age, without any limitation due to race, nationality or religion, have the right to marry and to found a family. They are entitled to equal rights as to marriage, during marriage and at its dissolution.Marriage shall be entered into only with the free and full consent of the intending spouses.The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State.Article 17Everyone has the right to own property alone as well as in association with others.No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his property.Article 18Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.Article 19Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.Article 20Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association.No one may be compelled to belong to an association.Article 21Everyone has the right to take part in the government of his country, directly or through freely chosen representatives.Everyone has the right of equal access to public service in his country.The will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government; this shall be expressed in periodic and genuine elections which shall be by universal and equal suffrage and shall be held by secret vote or by equivalent free voting procedures.Article 22Everyone, as a member of society, has the right to social security and is entitled to realization, through national effort and international cooperation and in accordance with the organization and resources of each State, of the economic, social and cultural rights indispensable for his dignity and the free development of his personality.Article 23Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favourable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment.Everyone, without any discrimination, has the right to equal pay for equal work.Everyone who works has the right to just and favorable remuneration ensuring for himself and his family an existence worthy of human dignity, and supplemented, if necessary, by other means of social protection.Everyone has the right to form and to join trade unions for the protection of his interests.Article 24Everyone has the right to rest and leisure, including reasonable limitation of working hours and periodic holidays with pay.Article 25Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.Motherhood and childhood are entitled to special care and assistance. All children, whether born in or out of wedlock, shall enjoy the same social protection.Article 26Everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages. Elementary education shall be compulsory. Technical and professional education shall be made generally available and higher education shall be equally accessible to all on the basis of merit.Education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and to the strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. It shall promote understanding, tolerance and friendship among all nations, racial or religious groups, and shall further the activities of the United Nations for the maintenance of peace.Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children.Article 27Everyone has the right freely to participate in the cultural life of the community, to enjoy the arts and to share in scientific advancement and its benefits.Everyone has the right to the protection of the moral and material interests resulting from any scientific, literary or artistic production of which he is the author.Article 28Everyone is entitled to a social and international order in which the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration can be fully realized.Article 29Everyone has duties to the community in which alone the free and full development of his personality is possible.In the exercise of his rights and freedoms, everyone shall be subject only to such limitations as are determined by law solely for the purpose of securing due recognition and respect for the rights and freedoms of others and of meeting the just requirements of morality, public order and the general welfare in a democratic society.These rights and freedoms may in no case be exercised contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations.Article 30Nothing in this Declaration may be interpreted as implying for any State, group or person any right to engage in any activity or to perform any act aimed at the destruction of any of the rights and freedoms set forth herein.________________________________________Hundred and eighty-third plenary meeting
Resolution 217(A)(III) of the United Nations General Assembly,
December 10, 1948
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