The US Department of State (DOS) [official website] on Friday released the 2011 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices [materials]. The reports outline the prevailing trends that shaped human rights last year. These include uprisings across the Middle East and North Africa, positive reforms in Myanmar, the persecution of religious minorities and the use of new connective technologies. In her preface to the reports, Secretary of State Hillary of Clinton [official website] said:
Our reports are founded on the simple truth at the heart of the Universal Declaration of Human Rightsthat all people are born free and equal in dignity and rights. Respect for human rights is not a western construct or a uniquely American ideal; it is the foundation for peace and stability everywhere. Universal human rights include the right of citizens to assemble peacefully and to seek to reform or change their governments, a central theme around the world in 2011. As President Obama has said, "History offers a clear verdict: Governments that respect the will of their own people, that govern by consent and not coercion, are more prosperous, they are more stable, and more successful than governments that do not."China [DOS report], one of the countries criticized in the reports, issued its own report [text] Friday, criticizing the US human rights record [Xinhua report].
The DOS issues its yearly reports on human rights practices to Congress under a legal mandate [22 USC § 2151n] and has filed similar reports for 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002 [JURIST reports] and previous years.