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Human Rights Report on US Released

On Thursday, the Information Office of the State Council issued its report on US human rights, in response to the Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2004 issued by the US State Department on February 28.

The Human Rights Record of the United States in 2004 listed a multitude of serious human rights violations that took place in the American homeland.

This is the sixth consecutive year that the Information Office has issued such a report after the release of the US Country Reports.

The Chinese report reviewed the human rights record of the US last year from six perspectives: Life, Liberty and Security of Person; Political Rights and Freedoms; Economic, Social and Cultural Rights; Racial Discrimination; Rights of Women and Children; and Infringement of Human Rights of Foreign Nationals.

US citizens are threatened by rampant violent crime and infringement of civil rights by law enforcement departments, said the report, quoting the US Department of Justice as saying on November 29 that, in 2003, people aged 12 and above encountered 24 million crimes, including 1.38 million violent crimes like murder and robbery, averaging 475 cases per 100,000 people.

"Police violence and infringement of human rights by law enforcement agencies also constitute a serious problem," the report said.

Chinese citizen Zhao Yan was handcuffed and severely beaten on July 21 while she was in the US on a business trip. She suffered injuries all over her body and serious mental distress, according to the report.

It said that, though presented as "a paragon of democracy," the US electoral system is actually manipulated by the rich.

The presidential and congressional elections last year cost nearly US$4 billion, around a third more than that spent in the 2000 elections.

According to the US website www.opensecrets.org, the 2004 presidential election was the most expensive in the country's history, with costs jumping to US$1.7 billion from US$1 billion in 2000.

Poverty, hunger and homelessness have also haunted the US, the world richest country, according to the report.

It said the US refused to ratify the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and took a negative attitude toward the economic, social and cultural rights of workers.

According to the US Census Bureau in 2004, the number of Americans in poverty has been climbing for three years. It rose by 1.3 million year-on-year in 2003 to 35.9 million, the report said. 

Racial discrimination is deeply rooted in the US, said the report, permeating every aspect of society.

It said that people of color are generally poor, with living conditions much worse than that of white people. According to The Guardian newspaper on October 9, the average net assets of a white family was US$88,000 in 2002, 11 times that of a family of Latin American ancestry, and nearly 15 times that of a family of African ancestry.

Racial prejudice is ubiquitous in judicial fields, the report said. The US Department of Justice said in November that non-white people accounted for over 70 percent of inmates.

The situation of women and children was also disturbing, with rates of those physically or sexually victimized high, said the report.

According to FBI figures, in 2003 there were 93,233 cases of rape, affecting 63 in every 100,000 women. The US Labor Department said in January 2004 that women working full time had a median income 81.1 percent of that of a man.

Child poverty was also identified as a serious problem. A story released by AP Washington on October 12 said that about 20 million children lived in "low-income working families" with barely enough money to cover basic needs.

Children were also victims of sex crimes; every year about 400,000 children in the US were forced to engage in prostitution or other forms of sexual exploitation on the streets.

The atrocity of US troops abusing Iraqi POWs exposed the infringement of human rights of foreign nationals by the US, said the report.

The International Committee of the Red Cross believed that abuse of detained Iraqis in the notorious Abu Ghraib Prison was not a single case but a result of systematic behavior, the report said.

It pointed out that a survey of Iraqi civilian deaths, basing comparisons on natural death rates before the war, estimated that the US-led invasion might have led to 100,000 more deaths in the country, with most victims being women and children.

Jointly designed and conducted by researchers at Johns Hopkins University, Columbia University and the Al-Mustansiriya University in Baghdad, the survey also found that the majority of the additional deaths since the invasion were violent, and of these the main cause was coalition force air strikes.

Despite problems in its own human rights record, the US continues to stick to a belligerent stance, trampling on the sovereignty of other countries, said the report.

The report concluded that the US should reflect on its own behavior and take its own human rights problems seriously instead of indulging itself in publishing reports on other countries.

(Xinhua News Agency March 3, 2005)

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