The Human Rights Reports that could: Analysis of the 2014 Department of State Country Reports

Secretary of State John Kerry spoke to how the 2013 Human Rights Reports were the foundation of U.S. foreign policy and a statement to the world that the U.S. is watching to make sure that foreign governments protect the human rights of their citizens (Photo Credit: Mladen  Antonov/AFP/Getty Images).

(Photo Credit: Mladen Antonov/AFP/Getty Images).

By Adotei Akwei and Larissa Peltola*

After months of anticipation by the global community, the Department of State’s Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2014 finally arrived on June 25, a mere six months into 2015. This beguiling page-turner, which provides us with a summary of the state of human rights around the world, highlights virtually every country yet somehow manages to gloss over, or omit altogether, the human rights violations occurring in the United States (#closeGuantanamo).

Amnesty International USA, along with several other human rights groups, continues to welcome the reports as a potentially valuable roadmap to guide U.S. foreign policy. They offer a detailed look at the human rights situation in particular countries and often indicate developing political and human rights crises, but sadly, they have historically been ignored by the very government that produces them.

The Obama administration has repeatedly stated that human rights are a priority of its foreign policy. If that is the case, then we urge the administration to look at the reports of the countries flagged below and assess whether those countries should be receiving security or financial assistance, or whether supporting governments that treat people so poorly is a sensible investment of U.S. taxpayers’ dollars.

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One Vote Made the Difference for Guadalupe!

The hands of Beatriz who almost died waiting for permission to terminate a pregnancy that could have killed her.

Thanks to everyone who took part in the very urgent social media action to free Guadalupe!

Guadalupe is one of 17 Salvadoran women who were sentenced to 12 to 40 years in prison after suffering miscarriages. The only legal option left for these women is a pardon. Last week, the Salvadoran National Assembly failed to approve a pardon for Guadalupe by just one vote. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

Celebrate a Victory for Dominican Women & Urge El Salvador to Follow!

Women shout slogans during a march to commemorate UN's International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, on November 25, 2014 in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. (Photo: ERIKA SANTELICES/AFP/Getty Images)

Women during a march to commemorate UN’s International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. (Photo: ERIKA SANTELICES/AFP/Getty Images)

Until now, the Dominican Republic was one of the few nations with a complete ban on abortion.  The law did not allow exceptions for the health and safety of the woman; rape or incest; or severe fetal abnormality.  That changed on December 19, when President Danilo Medina put into effect a new Criminal Code that allows abortions under the above-mentioned circumstances.

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A Discriminatory and Dangerous Law that is Killing Women and Girls in El Salvador

Accused and charged with having an abortion after a miscarriage at 18 years old.

Accused and charged with having an abortion after a miscarriage at 18 years old.

By Chloe Horsma, Amnesty International USA youth activist 

Probably the greatest obstacle I’ve ever faced around my sexual and reproductive rights was a borderline-uncomfortable conversation with my mom when I wanted to look into birth control for the first time.  Many of my friends had similar experiences.  It seemed to me that this was how it was supposed to be–people making decisions about their own health and reproductive rights without hindrance or fear–and for a while, it escaped my notice that not everyone was so lucky. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

It is past time for El Salvador to rescind its total abortion ban

El Salvador: Marlene was accused and charged with having an abortion after she had a miscarriage when she was 18 years old.

El Salvador: Marlene was accused and charged with having an abortion after she had a miscarriage when she was 18 years old.

I was on a plane coming back from Mexico when I first encountered the stories of children and young women in El Salvador suffering from the country’s universal criminalization of abortion, a law that is now more than a decade old. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

Where is the Evidence Against These 17 Women in El Salvador?

Being able to make your own decisions about sexuality, pregnancy and motherhood is a basic human right (Photo Credit: Amnesty International).

Being able to make your own decisions about sexuality, pregnancy and motherhood is a basic human right (Photo Credit: Amnesty International).

Imagine waking up in a hospital and learning that you are under arrest, accused of killing your own infant.

Despite your efforts to explain that you had a miscarriage and passed out from medical complications, the authorities sentence you to up to four decades in an overcrowded prison where you “suffer harassment, exclusion, and violence both from other inmates as well as prison personnel” because of the accusations against you.

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What You Need to Know About the U.S.-Mexico Border Crisis

Salvadorian immigrant Stefany Marjorie, 8, holds her doll Rodrigo while going home on July 24, 2014 in Mission, Texas. Tens of thousands of immigrant families and unaccompanied minors from Central America have crossed illegally into the United States this year, causing a humanitarian crisis. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

Salvadorian immigrant Stefany Marjorie, 8, holds her doll Rodrigo in Mission, Texas. Tens of thousands of immigrant families and unaccompanied minors from Central America have crossed illegally into the United States this year, causing a humanitarian crisis (Photo Credit: John Moore/Getty Images)

Amnesty International welcomes the positive step of President Obama’s recent meeting with his counterparts from Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala regarding the increasing number of children fleeing violence in those countries – with or without their parents.

It is extremely troubling, however, that President Obama continues to assert that his government will return the overwhelming majority of these children to the extreme violence that has driven them to make the dangerous journey to the United States. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

Why are Children Dying While Migrating to the United States?

A boys shows a U.S. flag as President Barack Obama speaks about immigration at the Chamizal National Memorial in El Paso, Texas, in 2011. (Photo credit: Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images)

A boys shows a U.S. flag as President Barack Obama speaks about immigration in 2011 at the Chamizal National Memorial in El Paso, Texas (Photo credit: Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images).

President Obama has responded to the recent surge in unaccompanied minors crossing the Mexican border with a $1 million ad campaign aimed at Central Americans.

The U.S. government wants to send two main messages – the journey to the U.S. is extremely dangerous, and those caught, including children, will be deported.

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Why Are Human Rights Defenders Still Under Attack in El Salvador?

A Salvadorian mother lifts a portrait of her son near the Presidential House as part of a rally of relatives who lost their children during military operations in the last civil war (1980-1992) in San Salvador, El Salvador. NGO Pro-Busqueda has been working in the search of about 473 missing children (Photo Credit: Yuri Cortez/AFP/Getty Images).

A Salvadorian mother lifts a portrait of her son near the Presidential House as part of a rally of relatives who lost their children during military operations in the last civil war (1980-1992) in San Salvador, El Salvador (Photo Credit: Yuri Cortez/AFP/Getty Images).

The recent attack on the human rights defenders (HRDs) of Pro-Búsqueda brings back painful memories of wartime abuses in El Salvador.

November 16 marked the 24th anniversary of the murder of six Jesuit priests, their housekeeper, and her teenage daughter at the Central American University (UCA) in 1989. This brutal attack shocked the world, creating pressure for the Salvadoran government to finally negotiate an end to the war.

Just two days before this anniversary, however, Salvadorans were given a horrible reminder of the type of wartime atrocities that they had hoped were behind them.

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