US
US State Department report highlights human rights abuses across Latin America
The annual ‘Country Reports on Human Rights Practices' has been published 45 times, and outlines internationally recognized individual, civil, political, and worker rights as set forth by the United Nation's Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

A new report from the US State Department has outlined "significant" human rights violations across the globe, including many in Latin America.

The annual ‘Country Reports on Human Rights Practices' has been published 45 times, and outlines internationally recognized individual, civil, political, and worker rights as set forth by the United Nation's Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

In the report's preface, Secretary of State Anthony Blinken highlighted a number of particularly concerning human rights issues around the world, including several in Latin America.

In Nicaragua, for example, Blinken wrote that "the corrupt Ortega regime passed increasingly repressive laws that limit severely the ability of opposition political groups, civil society, and independent media to operate."

"Meanwhile in Cuba, government restrictions continued to suppress the freedoms of expression, association, religion or belief, and movement," the report said, adding that "the corruption of Nicolas Maduro increased the dire humanitarian crisis of the Venezuelan people."

Speaking to journalists at the launch of the report on Tuesday, Blinken said that "President Biden is committed to putting human rights at the center of US foreign policy."

"We will bring to bear all the tools of our diplomacy to defend human rights and hold accountable perpetrators of abuse," he said. "This report is just one way to do that."

Additionally, Blinken said that "the trend lines of human rights continue to move in the wrong direction."

"All these alarming trend lines are worsening as a result of Covid-19," he added. "Covid-19 has disproportionally impacted the individuals and groups in our societies that were already subject to abuse."

In Mexico, the State Department highlighted a number of issues including the reported involvement of members of the security forces in illegal armed groups and unlawful or arbitrary killings and forced disappearances, torture, harsh prison conditions, arbitrary arrests and violence against journalists, among others.

In the report's preface, Secretary of State Anthony Blinken highlighted a number of particularly concerning human rights issues around the world, including several in Latin America.

As examples, the report noted the death of Giovanni Lopez at the hands of municipal police officers in Ixlahuacan de los Membrillos, Jalisco in May, as well as the execution of a suspected cartel member by soldiers following a clash in Nuevo Laredo in July.

The report also noted that "impunity and extremely low rates of prosecution remained a problem for all crimes, including human rights abuses", and that even in cases in which violence crimes were committed, "the vast majority remained in impunity."

In Argentina, the report said that while "civilian authorities maintained effective control over the security forces", a number of issues remain, including unlawful and arbitrary killings and torture by police, corruption, poor prison conditions and anti-Semitic violence.

In August, for example, the State Department noted that provincial police shot and killed a 17-year-old man in the city of Cordoba. A police officer was later arrested for the incident.

In another incident, prosecutors charged a Buenos Aires police officer with "unintentional homicide" following the death of Jorge Martin Gomez in March.

The report, however, noted that the Argentine government has taken steps to address many of the issues.

"Corruption and a slow, politicized judicial system impeded efforts to investigate abuses," the report said. "The government generally denounces reported abuses and took efforts to train military and security at all levels on human rights, including through online training during the Covid-19 pandemic."

The report added that "multiple reports alleged that executive, legislative and judicial officials engaged in corrupt practices with impunity, suggesting a failure to implement the law effectively."

"Weak institutions and an often ineffective and politicized judicial system undermined systematic attempts to curb corruption." 

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