On June 25, 2015, Secretary Kerry submitted the 2014 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices (commonly known as the Human Rights Reports) to the U.S. Congress. The reports, now in their 39th year, are available atState.gov/humanrightsreports and HumanRights.gov/reports. Mandated by Congress, the Human Rights Reports help inform U.S. government policy and foreign assistance. They are also a reference for other governments, international institutions, non-governmental organizations, legal professionals, scholars, interested citizens, and journalists.
Key Human Rights Developments
Noteworthy human rights developments highlighted in the 2014 Reports include:
Unique Role of Technology, Both in Combatting and Carrying Out Human Rights Violations
Even as authoritarian governments become more aggressive in cracking down on free speech and the use of new media, civil society is emerging as an increasingly powerful actor on the international stage, as people in every country become more connected and better informed. A number of civil society organizations (CSOs) are successfully advocating the protection of rights online, developing technologies to protect freedom of expression, and calling out human rights abuses. CSOs and NGOs have used satellite imagery, video, and crowdsourcing technologies to gather information and document human rights abuses in areas where security and accessibility have made such reporting challenging in recent years. Technology is also being used to verify data and help provide governments and the United Nations with accurate information regarding protests, destruction, and violence in countries around the world. It is also being used to help increase transparency. And yet, authoritarian governments often used a number of overt means to control use of the Internet within their borders. Governments in many parts of the world are increasingly blocking access to standard and social media sites, and in many countries, human rights activists who used the Internet were tried as criminals and punished as terrorists.