The 2011 Human Rights Reports: Recording a Year of Transition

Since 1977, the State Department has produced the annual Country Reports on Human Rights Practices. Congress mandated these reports to establish the facts to inform their decisions on foreign military and economic aid. Today, governments, intergovernmental organizations, scholars, journalists, activists, and others rely on these reports as an essential update on human rights conditions around the world.

The 2011 reports describe the citizen uprisings in the Middle East and North Africa, in which people stood up and demanded their universal rights, dignity, greater economic opportunity, and participation in their countries' political future. In this turmoil, thousands were killed across Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Bahrain, Yemen, and Syria and many others were abused by security forces. The images of demonstrators who had seemingly lost all fear, risking their lives to oppose governments they deemed illegitimate, inspired us all.

Several countries took important steps toward improving their human rights records. In Burma, long isolated because of the government's poor treatment of its own people, the government took a number of bold steps to begin the long and difficult process of political reform and reconciliation. In Zambia, presidential, parliamentary, and local elections held in September were free, credible, and orderly. In Tunisia, citizens held transparent and credible elections for a Constituent Assembly, which in turn elected a former political prisoner as the country's interim president. Their country is now rewriting its constitution.

The reports also document negative developments in 2011. A number of countries became less free as a result of flawed elections; less democratic constitutional provisions; restrictions on the universal rights to freedom of expression, assembly, or association, including on the Internet; moves to censor or intimidate the media; or attempts to control or curtail the activities of nongovernmental groups. Other disturbing trends in 2011 include continued anti-Semitism and an uptick in discrimination against members of racial and ethnic minorities; people with disabilities; and lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT) people.

This year, we made the human rights reports -- available at and -- easier to read online. Readers can jump directly to topics of interest with a new table of contents, share reports on social media, and research topics across countries with the Build a Report tool.

For the first time, we have also added an executive summary at the top of each report. Our goal is to allow readers to gather information quickly across regions on the issues that most interest them and we hope readers will find these changes useful.

For more information on U.S. international human rights policy and activities, please visit and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

Join Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor Michael Posner for a live Facebook chat on Friday, May 25, at 10:00 a.m. EDT.Related Content: Remarks by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton | Fact Sheet



United States
May 24, 2012

Henry in the U.S.A. writes:

I followed the links and examined the US government's assessment of it's own human rights situation, which may be found here: ''

What a travesty! The report reiterates the US Constitutions commitments to concepts such as Due Process, without acknowledging that these concepts have now been abandoned in practice. I refer, for example, to the "indefinite detention" features of the National Defense Authorization Act, and President Obama's assertion of the authority to assassinate US citizens without any criminal proceedings, as in the al-Awlaki case.

May 27, 2012

Ziobo in Bulgaria writes:


I read some exempt from the report concerning my country. I was really pissed off and really need to leave my opinion, although I know that you will not like it, you will probably delete it, you are monitoring my IP, and you can even send your "men in black" or push my government to send our "men in black", to violate my imaginary human rights.

Anyway, here is my opinion, split on points:

1. Regarding the Gypsies, I assure you that 90% of them are good for nothing - killers, robbers, etc. This is not a problem of integration - we do not have any issue with the Turks, Arabs, Chinese. Gypsies were integrated for about 40 years (1945-1990), no result. I really won't allow a 200 year nation responsible for the "integration" of Indians (a note here, I do believe that Indians were far more worth and able to integrate), for the slavery, and for the nuclear attack over Japan, and recently exchanged again human blood for oil to enforce its opinion. You can have your opinion, this is fine, but this is not the absolute truth. If you like the Gypsies so much, please take them and integrate them in the USA. I will have lots of fun watching.

2. Media and corruption - Yes, I agree things are still bad, however again far better than on your side. We are not attacking innocent countries and presenting this in the media as an anti-terrorist war. I mean, we at least keep try to keep our sh*t inside our boundaries. And yes, we do not owe the rest of the world trillions of dollars.

Do not get me wrong, I have many American friends who share these thoughts and are hm, a bit ashamed.

May 24, 2012


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