U.S. State Department Report on Human Rights

You don’t have to have any love the the States or the State Department or even its methods in compiling this report.

But…

The annual human rights report is a good way to start looking at larger human rights issues. There are many more countries and organizations that also put out these kinds of reports. It would be good to visit those sites as well. (Of course, my favorite is the Chinese government’s “human rights” report on the USA. Seems because the US has poor people we are just as bad as Iran.)

A good NGO to start with is Freedom House and their Freedom of the Press Report.

Here is the home page for the full report.

Here are some excerpts from a couple of my “favorite” countries:


Venezuela

Government officials regularly characterized the independent media as fomenting instability in the country, and according to the media and NGO community, the government employed a variety of mechanisms to harass and intimidate the private media.

Members of the independent print media privately said they regularly engaged in self-censorship due to fear of government reprisal.

The country’s major newspapers were independently owned but heavily dependent on government advertising. In regions where local newspapers competed for the same audience and a smaller pool of advertisers, print media tended to exercise even more caution in order to secure financing from government sources. The government published one national newspaper, Diario Vea, with a relatively low circulation. In August President Chavez announced government publication and funding of a new newspaper, El Correo del Orinoco; it began publication in September. Also in August a new local Caracas newspaper, Ciudad CCS, debuted; the newspaper was run by the presidentially appointed Capital District vice president and received funding from the mayor of the Libertador municipality of Caracas.

The government sought to control and/or limit the scope of independent news coverage by controlling licensing requirements and censoring advertising content.

The law requires that practicing journalists have journalism degrees and be members of the National College of Journalists, and it prescribes three- to six-month jail terms for those practicing illegally. These requirements are waived for foreigners and opinion columnists.

China

The law provides for freedom of speech and of the press, although the government generally did not respect these rights in practice. The government interpreted the CCP’s “leading role,” as mandated in the constitution, as superseding and circumscribing these rights. The government continued to control print, broadcast, and electronic media tightly and used them to propagate government views and CCP ideology. During the year the government increased censorship and manipulation of the press and the Internet during sensitive anniversaries.

Media outlets received regular guidance from the Central Propaganda Department (CPC), which listed topics that should not be covered, including politically sensitive topics

International media were not allowed to operate freely and faced heavy restrictions. In February two New York Times reporters were detained for 20 hours after police stopped their car in a Tibetan area of Gansu Province. Authorities made the two spend the night in Lanzhou, the provincial capital, and eventually forced them to return to Beijing. In April reporters with the Voice of America (VOA) were detained for two hours in Sichuan Province before being told that they could not proceed farther. Local authorities first told them that it was illegal for tourists to visit the area and later told them they could not proceed because of “hazardous road conditions.”

In July the Foreign Correspondent’s Club of China (FCCC) polled its members about reporting conditions following the 2008 Olympics. FCCC members reported 23 incidents of violence against reporters, sources, or assistants, along with multiple incidents of destruction of photographs or reporting materials, intimidation, and summoning for questioning by authorities. They also reported 100 incidents of being denied access to public spaces by authorities.

In February the government issued a code of conduct for news assistants of foreign correspondents. The code threatens dismissal and loss of accreditation if news assistants engage in “independent reporting” and instructs them to provide their employers with information that projects a good image of the country. The FCCC denounced the code of conduct as part of a government effort to intimidate news assistants.

The authorities continued to jam, with varying degrees of success, Chinese-, Uighur-, and Tibetan-language broadcasts of the VOA, BBC, and RFA. English-language broadcasts on VOA generally were not jammed. Government jamming of RFA and BBC appeared to be more frequent and effective. Internet distribution of streaming radio news and podcasts from these sources often was blocked. Despite jamming overseas broadcasts, VOA, BBC, RFA, Deutsche Welle, and Radio France International had large audiences, including human rights advocates, ordinary citizens, and government officials.


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