OVERVIEW, HUMAN RIGHTS COUNTRY REPORTS, 1993
AUTHOR: U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DATE: JANUARY 31, 1994
1993 HUMAN RIGHTS REPORTS
Why the reports are prepared:
This report is submitted to the Congress by the Department of
State in compliance with Sections 116(d)(1) and 502B(b) of
the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 (FAA), as amended, and
Section 505(c) of the Trade Act of 1974, as amended.
As stated in 116(d)(1) of the FAA: "The Secretary
of State shall transmit to the Speaker of the House of
Representatives and the Committee on Foreign Relations of the
Senate, by January 31 of each year, a full and complete report
regarding the status of internationally recognized human rights,
within the meaning of subsection (A) in countries that received
assistance under this part, and (B) in all other foreign countries
which are members of the United Nations and which are not
otherwise the subject of a human rights report under this Act."
We have also included reports on the few countries which do not
fall into the categories established by these statutes and which
thus are not covered by the Congressional requirement.
The idea that the United States has a responsibility to speak
out on behalf of internationally recognized human rights
standards was formalized in the 1970's. In 1976 Congress
enacted legislation creating a Coordinator of Human Rights in
the U.S. Department of State, a position later upgraded to
Assistant Secretary. Congress also wrote into law formal
requirements that U.S. foreign and trade policy take into
account countries' human rights and worker rights performance
and that country reports be submitted to Congress annually.
When the reports were first produced in 1977, which at the time
covered only countries receiving U.S. aid, 82 were compiled and
published; this year, there are 193 reports.
How the Reports are Prepared
The human rights reports reflect a year of dedicated effort by
hundreds of State Department and other U.S. Government
employees. In August 1993, the Secretary of State issued a
directive which further strengthened the human rights structure
in our embassies. All sections in each embassy were asked to
contribute information and to corroborate reports of
violations. New efforts were made to link mission programming
to the advancement of human rights and democracy.
Our embassies, which prepared the initial drafts of the
reports, gathered information throughout the year from a
variety of sources, including contacts across the political
spectrum, government officials, jurists, military sources,
journalists, human rights monitors, academics, and labor union
members. Gathering information can be hazardous. Foreign
Service Officers often go to great lengths, under trying and
sometimes dangerous conditions, to investigate reported human
rights violations, stand up for individuals, and monitor
The draft reports were then sent from each embassy to
Washington, where they were carefully reviewed by the Bureau of
Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs, in cooperation with
other relevant offices in the State Department. As they
corroborated, analyzed, and edited the reports, Department
officers drew on their own additional sources of information.
These included reports by and consultations with U.S. and other
human rights groups, foreign government officials,
representatives from the United Nations and other international
and regional organizations and institutions, and experts from
academia and the media. Officers also consulted with experts
on worker rights issues, refugee issues, military and police
issues, exile issues, women's rights issues, and legal
matters. The goal was to ensure that all relevant information
was included and that assessments were as objective, thorough,
and fair as possible. The report will be used as a resource in
making decisions on U.S. foreign policy, training, and aid
allocations. It also will serve as a basis for valuable dialog
and program planning on ways in which the United States can
work with foreign governments and private groups to improve
human rights observance worldwide.
The Country Reports on Human Rights cover internationally
recognized individual, political, civil, and worker rights, as
set forth in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. These
rights include freedom from torture or other cruel, inhuman, or
degrading treatment or punishment; from prolonged detention
without charges; from disappearance due to abduction or
clandestine detention; and from other flagrant violations
concerning life, liberty, and the security of the person.
Individuals have the inalienable right to change their
government by peaceful means and to enjoy such civil liberties
as freedom of expression, assembly, religion, and movement,
without discrimination based on race, national origin, or sex.
Free societies also require free trade unions. The reports
assess key internationally recognized worker rights, including
the right of association; the right to organize and bargain
collectively; prohibition of forced or compulsory labor;
mimimum age for employment of children; and acceptable
conditions of work.
The 1993 Reports
The 1993 Report describes a world far short of the vision we
and other countries hold for it. Around the globe, people who
by right are born free and with dignity too often suffer the
cruelties of authorities who deprive them of their rights in
order to perpetuate their own power. Yet again in 1993,
children too often were denied their birthright in countries
ruled by dictators or rent by armed conflict, where bullets,
torture, arbitrary detention, rape, disappearances, and other
abuses were used to silence those who struggle for political
freedom; to crush those whose ethnicity, gender, race or
religion mark them for discrimination; or to frighten and
mistreat those who have no defenses. The United Nations'
Charter affirms the "dignity and worth of the human person."
In too many places in 1993, however, human dignity was
assaulted; violence was perpetuated with impunity; those
responsible for massive violations of human rights went
unpunished; and political repression went unchecked.
This year, we draw particular attention to several trends
evident from the 1993 reports. Armed conflict posed the most
significant risk to human rights. In contrast, the historic
handshake between Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin of Israel and
Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Chairman Yassir Arafat,
the Nobel Prize-winning efforts of African Nationalist Congress
(ANC) leader Nelson Mandela and President F.W. de Klerk in
South Africa to enfranchise all citizens, and the peace process
in El Salvador exemplify movement toward reconciliation in
places where it once seemed impossible.
This polarity between violence and reconciliation was typical
of a year in which democracy and human rights were marked both
by progress and backsliding. The process of democracy moved
forward in Cambodia, where successful elections were held, but
backwards in Haiti, where the military continued to obstruct
the return of President Aristide. At the same time, human
rights abuses continued around the world. Of particular
concern to us in 1993 were torture, arbitrary detention,
impunity for perpetrators of abuse, and the trampling on the
rights of women, children, indigenous people, and workers in
many parts of the world.
Yet, in 1993, we also witnessed positive trends. Countries
working together in the United Nations, the Conference on
Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE), the Organization of
American States (OAS), and the Organization of African Unity
(OAU) supported new democracies, mediated conflicts, and took
steps to hold each other accountable for human rights abuses.
Around the world, grassroots movements to promote human rights
and democracy spread, as people claimed their inalienable
rights and demanded accountability from their governments.
I. ARMED CONFLICT
In Bosnia, Sudan, Burundi, Somalia, Angola, Iraq, Azerbaijan,
Georgia, and elsewhere, armed conflict led to massive numbers
of civilian deaths, refugee flows, and human rights abuses.
Many of the conflicts were stimulated by irresponsible
political leaders who played on people's fears.
In many parts of the former Yugoslavia, the carnage continues.
In 1993 as in 1992, all nationalities were victimized, and
there were numerous violations of the Geneva Conventions.
Bosnian Serb armed forces, supported by Belgrade and by Serbian
paramilitary counterparts, persisted in their program of
"ethnic cleansing," including laying siege to cities,
indiscriminately shelling civilian inhabitants, raping and
executing noncombatants, and interfering with humanitarian aid
deliveries. The warfare continued relentlessly through 1993,
with Bosnian government and Croat forces also committing
In Sudan, both the Government and the Sudanese People's
Liberation Army (SPLA) engaged in widespread human rights
abuses, including torture, forced displacement, and massacres
In Somalia, although massive starvation was averted by
international humanitarian efforts, most Somalis remained
beyond the rule and protection of recognized law and social
In Iraq, Saddam Hussein's regime continued its flagrant abuses
of human rights by conducting military operations against
civilians, including burning and razing villages, and forcing
people to abandon their homes, particularly Shi'a Arabs living
in the wetlands of southern Iraq.
In Azerbaijan, the continuing conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh
gave rise to human rights abuses by all sides.
In the Georgian province of Abkhazia, Abkhaz separatists
launched a reign of terror after a successful offensive gave
them control of the province. Many Georgian civilians and
troops were subjected to torture and summary execution.
In the face of such bloodshed, 1993 was also a year in which
some countries, against all odds, moved toward reconciliation.
In 1964, Nelson Mandela of South Africa wrote:
"I have fought against white domination, and I have fought
against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a
democratic and free society in which all persons will live
together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is
an ideal which I hope to live for and achieve."
Thirty years later, Nelson Mandela and F.W. de Klerk have led
their country toward that ideal.
In the Middle East, there was also progress toward peace. On a
warm September day in Washington, the world witnessed an
historic handshake between Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and PLO
leader Yassir Arafat that stretched across years of conflict.
In that moment, two men joined together their peoples' hopes
In El Salvador, once racked by civil war, the U.N. Truth
Commission completed its investigations of human rights
violations of the past decade and recommended specific actions
to further the reconciliation process.
In Mozambique, while there have been many setbacks in the
process of political reconciliation, implementation of the 1992
peace accords continued, giving Mozambicans increasingly
greater protection from human rights abuses and opportunities
for greater enjoyment of civil and political rights.
Although human rights violations continued in these countries,
progress is being made.
In 1993, democracy continued to capture the imagination of
people around the globe. There were both advances and setbacks.
In Cambodia, following the largest United Nations peacekeeping
effort ever undertaken, 90 percent of voters participated in
free and fair elections in May--the first in decades--thus
providing the opportunity for long-term democratic evolution.
The remainder of the 370,000 Cambodian refugees who had been
living mostly along the Thai-Cambodian border were voluntarily
repatriated under the direction of the U.N. High Commissioner
for Refugees (UNHCR).
By contrast, in Haiti the military continued to obstruct the
return of democratically elected President Aristide.
Right-wing thugs closely allied with the military assassinated
the legitimately appointed Justice Minister and conducted many
other killings targeted against specific individuals.
In Guatemala, President Jorge Serrano was peacefully and
constitutionally dismissed after he had suspended several
sections of the Constitution and dissolved Congress and the
Supreme and Constitutional Courts. When Congress reconvened,
it elected as President Ramiro de Leon Carpio, the former Human
In Russia, democratic parliamentary elections were held for the
second time in the country's history. Despite this, and
continuing progress in the areas of civil and political rights,
there were setbacks, most notably during the violent
constitutional crisis in October.
In Burma, military authorities continued to refuse to implement
the results of the May 1990 elections that rejected their rule.
In Nigeria, the military overturned the results of an election,
dissolved all democratic institutions, and now rules the
country by decree.
In Burundi, the nation's first democratically elected president
was assassinated, and a bloody conflict followed.
The starting point of democratic government is the right of
citizens, through free and fair elections, to choose their
government. Elections are not the sum total of democracy, of
course, but they are a foundation. Democracy also requires
establishing civil societies, where people can participate
fully in the democratic process. The rule of law, civilian
control of the military, an independent judiciary, free media,
and the rights of people to free speech, association, and
assembly are essential elements of democratic societies.
IV. TORTURE, ARBITRARY DETENTION, AND THE IMPUNITY OF ABUSERS
Major violations of human rights occurred not only in war-torn
countries. Human rights abuses also remained widespread in
countries in which violators were not held accountable. When
violators can commit human rights abuses with impunity, abuses
In Iran, the Government continued to torture and execute people
summarily and to restrict the freedoms of speech, press,
assembly, and association. Minority religious groups,
including the Baha'is, faced systematic repression.
North Korea remains one of the most repressive countries of the
world. The Government treats individual rights as potentially
subversive of the goals of the State and the party.
In Burma, the autocratic military regime reinforces its power
with a pervasive security apparatus. People are arrested
arbitrarily and prisoners are abused. Citizens are denied
basic political rights and the rights of free speech and
Zaire is undergoing its worst human rights crisis since the end
of the civil war in the 1960's. The Mobutu regime was
responsible for massive human rights violations, including
extrajudicial killings, unlawful detentions, ethnic violence,
torture, and disappearances.
In China, fundamental human rights provided for in the Chinese
Constitution frequently are ignored in practice, and challenges
to the Communist Party's political authority are often dealt
with harshly and arbitrarily. China took some positive but
limited steps in human rights areas, including releasing
prominent political prisoners. Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of
political prisoners, however, remained under detention or in
prison. Reports of physical abuse persisted, including torture
by police and prison officials. This was especially the case
in politically restive and minority-populated regions such as
Tibet. In November, China announced that it would give
positive consideration to a request from the International
Committee of the Red Cross to visit China.
In Peru, the terrorist activities of the Shining Path declined
following the capture of its leader in 1992. The number of
extrajudicial killings and disappearances instigated or
condoned by the Government also fell. Nonetheless, human
rights violations continued and serious due process questions
arose concerning the military trials of civilians.
In Cuba, the Government does not permit domestic or
international human rights groups to function legally. Human
rights activists and political dissidents are systematically
harassed, beaten, and otherwise abused by police and security
In Turkey, both the Government and the Kurdistan Workers Party
(PKK) terrorist forces committed human rights violations,
In Egypt, torture and other human rights violations continued.
In a positive development, the country's Supreme Court
acquitted 25 defendants in cases in which confessions were
extracted under torture.
In Indonesia, extrajudicial arrests and detentions, as well as
torture of those in custody, continued. In East Timor, no
significant progress was noted in the accounting for those
missing from the November 1991 shooting incident in Dili.
V. THE RIGHTS OF WOMEN
We have paid special attention in 1993 to the problem of
rampant discrimination against women. Physical abuse is the
most obvious example. In many African countries, the practice
of female genital mutilation continued. In Pakistan, many
women in police custody are subjected to sexual or physical
violence. On several continents, women and girls are sold into
prostitution. In many Gulf countries, domestic servants from
Southeast Asia are forced to work excessively long hours and
are sometimes physically and sexually abused. In Bangladesh
and India, dowry deaths continue. Marital rape in many
countries is not recognized as a crime, and women raped or
beaten at home often have no recourse. That female life is not
valued as much as male life is apparent in countries such as
China where it is reported that more female fetuses than male
In addition to physical abuse, the political, civil and legal
rights of women are often denied. In 1993 women throughout the
world were subjected to onerous and discriminatory restrictions
of such fundamental freedoms as voting, marriage, travel,
testifying in court, inheriting and owning property, and
obtaining custody of children. All too often, women and girls
find that their access to education, employment, health care,
and even food is limited because of their gender.
VI. WORKER RIGHTS
In far too many countries, the freedom of workers to associate,
which is the paramount right on which trade unions base their
ability to bargain collectively, defend their members'
grievances, and protect them from unfair and unsafe working
conditions, falls well short of the standards elaborated by the
International Labor Organization (ILO). Restrictions on
freedom of association abound. They range from outright and
total government control of all forms of worker organizations
to webs of legislation so complicated that full compliance is
virtually impossible, giving authorities excuses to intervene
In 1993, the practice of forced labor continued, as did the
abuse of expatriate workers, particularly domestics. Slavery
still exists in some countries, particularly in Mauritania and
Sudan. Given the rising concern about the impact of
international trade on worker rights standards, this year's
reports focus more sharply on the presence of child labor in
export industries and on minimum wage and occupational safety
standards. Our reports document a number of serious bonded and
child labor problems, particularly in South Asia and North
In the face of widespread human rights violations, the impunity
of violators and absence of the rule of law, some progress was
made at the international level in 1993 to develop new global
institutions to promote human rights accountability.
In February the United Nations created a War Crimes Tribunal to
prosecute those responsible for gross violations of human
rights in much of the former Yugoslavia. By year's end, all
judges had been sworn in.
In December, following the recommendation of the World
Conference on Human Rights in Vienna in June, the U.N. General
Assembly established the office of High Commissioner for Human
Rights with a mandate to remove obstacles to citizens' full
enjoyment of basic human rights.
The World Conference also recommended establishing a Special
Rapporteur on Violence Against Women. The Human Rights
Commission will take up this project in 1994.
Meanwhile, the U.N. Human Rights Center had rapporteurs assess
conditions in countries such as Burma, Iraq and Cuba, where
human rights are largely disregarded. Other bodies, such as
the Committee Against Torture, monitored compliance with U.N.
treaties and conventions.
The Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE) has
been a significant force in holding countries accountable for
adherence to human rights standards. In September the CSCE
held a review conference to assess each participating state's
progress in implementing its "human dimension" commitments,
including to human rights, fundamental freedoms, and the rule
of law. The CSCE has also been active in mediating disputes,
particularly through the work of its High Commissioner for
National Minorities. In Latvia and Estonia, CSCE and other
international factfinding missions looked into allegations of
human rights abuses. While finding no systematic violations,
they urged these governments to adopt an inclusive approach to
citizenship and alien rights and assure the equitable and
nondiscriminatory treatment of ethnic Russians living in their
countries. Both Latvia and Estonia have accepted the
establishment of CSCE missions to help improve intercommunal
The Organization of African Unity (OAU) assisted in mediation
efforts in Burundi that have helped move that country toward a
resolution of its constitutional and humanitarian crisis.
The Organization of American States (OAS) played an important
role in defending human rights and due process, notably in
VIII. GRASSROOTS MOVEMENT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS AND DEMOCRACY
The willingness of nations to begin to hold each other
accountable for human rights abuses is a reflection of the work
of individuals to hold their own governments accountable.
Around the world in 1993, grassroots movements supported the
spread of human rights, freedom, and democracy. This
commitment of people, acting through nongovernmental
organizations, is reflected in the final Declaration of the
World Conference on Human Rights held in June in Vienna, that
the individual--and not the state--is at the center of
development. Moreover, underdevelopment can never justify
human rights abuses. There is indeed an important linkage
among human rights, democracy, and development: the protection
of human rights and the full participation of individuals in
their own political system create the necessary context for
development to take place.
Human rights will not be protected without the constant
vigilance of courageous individuals who promote human rights,
document abuses, and hold their governments to account. These
sentinels for human rights engender hope. Amidst the abuse of
1993, there is another story, that of countless men and women
who stood up and said "No!" No to injustice, no to tyranny, no
to torture, and no to censorship. We salute those who are
working against great odds to advance human rights and
We salute these people, and the tens of thousands of courageous
human rights workers around the world.
- Monique Mujawamariya who works in Rwanda and Burundi, and
those like her whose bodies bear the scars of thugs as the
price of documenting human rights violations;
- Mansour Kikhiya of Libya, and all the "disappeared" who
have been abducted because of their human rights work;
- Liu Gang who sits in jail in China, and all who are
imprisoned for peaceful expression of their views;
- Sebastian Arcos of Cuba, and all who refuse to be silent
when others are being abused;
- Aung San Suu Kyi, in her fifth year of house arrest in
Burma, and all who work for freedom at the price of their
- The staff of the Sarajevo daily newspaper, Oslobodjenje,
and all who work for a free press and who demonstrate that
Serb and Croat, Muslim and Jew, can work and live side by
side in peace.
The year 1993 was a difficult one for human rights, a year in
which setbacks outweighed advances in some parts of the world.
Paradoxically, it was also a year in which the daily struggle
for human rights at global, national, and local levels received
more attention than ever before, a year in which the worldwide
grassroots movement for human rights and democratic change
gathered momentum. The year saw the community of nations
reaffirm its commitment to the protection and promotion of
human rights at the World Conference on Human Rights in Vienna
on the 45th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human
Rights. The force of this movement was captured by Eleanor
Roosevelt in an address to the United Nations in 1958:
"Where, after all, do universal human rights begin? In
small places, close to home--so close and so small that
they cannot be seen on any maps of the world. Yet, they
are the world of the individual person; the neighborhood
he lives in; the school or college he attends; the
factory, farm or office where he works. Such are the
places where every man, woman and child seeks equal
justice, equal opportunity, equal dignity without
discrimination. Unless these rights have meaning there,
they have little meaning anywhere. Without concerned
citizen action to uphold them close to home, we shall look
in vain for progress in the larger world."
Assistant Secretary of State for
Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs