In his second inaugural address, President Bush renewed America's commitment to stand for freedom and human dignity throughout the world:
America's vital interests and our deepest beliefs are now one. From the day of our founding, we have proclaimed that every man and woman on this earth has rights, and dignity, and matchless value, because they bear the image of the maker of heaven and earth. Across the generations we have proclaimed the imperative of self-government, because no one is fit to be a master, and no one deserves to be a slave. Advancing these ideals is the mission that created our nation. It is the honorable achievement of our fathers. Now it is the urgent requirement of our nation's security, and the calling of our time.
So it is the policy of the United States to seek and support the growth of democratic movements and institutions in every nation and culture, with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world.
The Country Reports on Human Rights Practices provide a key framework that the United States and others around the world use in assessing the state of human freedom and in marshalling efforts to advance it. The conscientious compiling of these reports equips us to more effectively stand against oppression and for human dignity and liberty. Our embassies and Washington staff work closely with local citizens, human rights and other organizations, and community leaders to identify, investigate, and verify information. These volumes, available in the languages of most of the world's peoples, foster discussion, promote advocacy, permit the measurement of progress, and show where improvements are needed.
Over the last 12 months, we have worked closely with the international community to enable citizens in countries such as Guatemala, Indonesia, Ghana, Ukraine, and Afghanistan to make their votes truly count in selecting their governments. This fundamental right to effective suffrage opens the door for advancing a wide range of other rights, as the records in these countries have already begun to show.
This 28th edition of our Country Reports turns our spotlight on 196 countries, ranging from the stoutest defenders to the worst violators of human dignity. We take seriously our responsibility to report as accurately, as sensitively, and as carefully as possible the information in these reports.
The information contained in this report allows us to construct strategies for promoting freedom and individual liberty. In the coming month we will report on the specific steps we have taken over the past year to support human rights and democracy.
Mindful of the diligent effort and widespread cooperation both within and outside the Department that has gone into preparing these reports, I am pleased to transmit the Department of State's Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2004 to the U.S. Congress.
Condoleezza Rice, Secretary of State