Preface

The United States was founded on the premise that all persons “are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.” Our Constitution secures these unalienable rights by proclaiming in the First Amendment that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” The Fifth Amendment also sets out that no person shall “be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.” These same concepts were adopted internationally in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, particularly in Articles 3, 10, 12, 18, 19, and 20.

The founders of the United States and the delegates to the UN Commission on Human Rights recognized that these fundamental freedoms of religion or belief, expression, peaceful assembly and association belong to every human being. These freedoms are not granted by governments but are derived from the inherent dignity of the human person. Nor may they be unduly restricted by governments even to further some economic, social, or cultural purpose. They are unalienable. Governments are charged with ensuring that the government itself does not wrongfully interfere with human rights and fundamental freedoms.

Those sovereign states with which we have the closest, most long-standing, and productive collaboration are those where the government generally respects human rights, including the freedoms of religion or belief, expression, peaceful assembly, and association and do not engage in gross violations of human rights such as extrajudicial killing, torture, and extended arbitrary detention. Conversely, the states that threaten regional stability, are state sponsors of terrorism, or become inviting targets for terrorist recruitment almost invariably are states with governments that fail to respect the unalienable rights of those within their borders.

The policy of this Administration is to engage with other governments, regardless of their record, if doing so will further U.S. interests. At the same time, we recognize that U.S. interests in the enduring stability, prosperity, and security of a world filled with strong, sovereign states will only be served if governments respect human rights and fundamental freedoms. To that end, individuals seeking reforms to end the wrongful interference in the exercise of unalienable rights – whether those individuals are in or out of government – will find a sympathetic friend and strong supporter in the United States of America.

These 43rd annual Country Reports on Human Rights are one contribution to that process.

Michael R. Pompeo

Secretary of State

Overview

WHY THE REPORTS ARE PREPARED

This report is submitted to the Congress by the Department of State pursuant to Sections 116(d) and 502B(b) of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961. 19 U.S.C. § 2464, 2467 also require that U.S. foreign and trade policy take into account countries’ human rights and worker rights performance and that country reports be submitted to the Congress on an annual basis.

This report includes documents on several countries that do not fall into the categories established by these statutes and thus are not covered by the congressional requirement.

The report addresses situations and events in calendar year 2018 only.

HOW THE REPORTS ARE PREPARED

The Department of State prepared this report using information from U.S. embassies and consulates abroad, foreign government officials, nongovernmental and international organizations, jurists and legal experts, journalists, academics, labor activists, and published reports. U.S. diplomatic missions abroad prepared the initial drafts of the individual country reports.

Once the initial drafts of the individual country reports were completed by U.S. missions abroad, the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor (DRL), in cooperation with other Department of State offices with the relevant country and regional expertise, reviewed and edited the reports, drawing on its own sources of information and the Department of Labor. Bureau officers also consulted experts in the Department of State and elsewhere on worker rights, refugee issues, police and security issues, women’s issues, and legal matters, among many others. The guiding principles were that all information be reported objectively, thoroughly, and fairly. DRL, working with other Department offices as necessary, also ensured that all reports followed the same methodology and conformed to standard format and structure.

DRL uses hyperlinks to other key human rights documents produced by the Department of State and the Department of Labor. Specifically, readers are asked to follow hyperlinks for complete information on religious freedom issues by consulting the International Religious Freedom Report; on human trafficking by consulting the Trafficking in Persons Report; on child abductions by consulting the Annual Report on International Parental Child Abduction; and on child labor by consulting the Department of Labor’s Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor.

2018 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices
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