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China off US list of worst human rights abusers

Latest update : 2008-03-12

The US dropped China from its list of the world's worst human rights violators, but added Syria, Uzbekistan and Sudan to their human rights annual report released Tuesday.

The United States dropped China from its list of the world's worst human rights violators, but added Syria, Uzbekistan and Sudan to the alleged offenders in an annual report released Tuesday.
   
The State Department's 2007 Human Rights Report showed China, which has raised hopes it will improve human rights by hosting the 2008 Olympics, had parted company with countries like North Korea, Myanmar and Iran.
   
No reason was given for removing China -- which has been a key partner in talks with Washington to denuclearize North Korea -- from the list, but the new report said China's "overall human rights record remained poor" in 2007.
   
In its report, the State Department said 10 "countries in which power was concentrated in the hands of unaccountable rulers remained the world's most systematic human rights violators."
   
The 2007 top 10 offenders included North Korea, Myanmar, Iran, Syria Zimbabwe, Cuba, Belarus, Uzbekistan, Eritrea and Sudan.
   
Beijing had figured in the top 10 in the 2006 and 2005 reports.
   
This year China was classfied among authoritarian countries that are undergoing economic reform and rapid social change, but which "have not undertaken democratic political reform," the report said.
   
In China, controls were "tightened on religious freedom in Tibetan areas and in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region and the treatment of petitioners in Beijing worsened," the report said.
   
"The government also continued to monitor, harass, detain, arrest, and imprison activists, writers, journalists, and defense lawyers and their families, many of whom were seeking to exercise their rights under the law," it said.
   
"Although the government pursued some important reforms, such as the Supreme People's Court's resumption of death penalty review power in cases handed down for immediate execution, efforts to reform or abolish the reeducation-through-labor system remained stalled," it said.
   
Human rights had improved however in four countries since 2006: Mauritania, Ghana, Morocco and Haiti.
   
Little or no progress had been made in Nepal, Georgia, Kyrghyzstan, Iraq, Afghanistan or Russia, while the situation had deteriorated in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, the report added.
   
Sudan's Arab-led government came in for some harsh criticism in particular for its offensive against the ethnic African population in the western Darfur region which the US government has said has triggered a "genocide."
   
The report referred to "reports of extrajudicial killings, torture, beatings, and rape by government security forces and their proxy militia in Darfur.
   
"Despite the signing of the Darfur Peace Agreement in 2006, violence increased in 2007, and the region sank further into chaos as the government continued aerial bombardment of villages, rebel groups splintered and stepped up attacks, and intertribal warfare intensified.
   
"Since 2003, at least 200,000 people are believed to have died from violence, hunger, and disease."
   
Syria, with which Washington is increasingly at odds over its alleged support for terrorism and opposition to the Middle East peace process, was also slammed.
   
"Syria's human rights record worsened this year, and the regime continued to commit serious abuses such as detaining an increasing number of activists,  civil society organizers, and other regime critics," it said.

Date created : 2008-03-11

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