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American Forces Press Service

State Department Cites Human Rights Progress in Iraq

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 2, 2005 – A new State Department report hails human rights advances in Iraq since the coalition toppled the repressive Saddam Hussein regime in 2003.

The 2004 annual Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, released this week, praised Iraq for conducting democratic elections and constructing a constitutional order under the framework of the Iraqi Governing Council’s Transitional Administrative Law.

“We believe events like these elections will increase the prospects for peace, provide a solid grounding for self-government in these countries and help create momentum for the improvement of human rights practices for all people participating in them,” stated the report on Iraq in the 28th edition.

The report’s findings stand in stark contrast to the 2002 report issued in March 2003 just before coalition forces entered Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom.

That report noted that “Iraq's Republican Guard and other members of the security apparatus committed widespread and systematic human rights abuses including killings, torture, disappearances, rapes and imprisonment of Iraqi political opposition and ethnic and religious minorities.”

Positive momentum in Iraq stands as a positive example to countries in the Middle East with less-commendable human-rights records, including Iran, Syria, Saudi Arabia and Egypt. All received low marks in this year’s State Department reports on 196 countries.

In releasing the reports Feb. 28, Paula J. Dobriansky, undersecretary of state for global affairs, said “promoting human rights is not just an element of our foreign policy; it is the bedrock of our policy and our foremost concern.”

She noted promises made by President Bush in his inaugural address in January that the United States will continue to promote democracy and freedom around the world and will stand by oppressed people who resist oppressive governments.

“These reports put dictators and corrupt officials on notice that they are being watched by the civilized world, and that there are consequences for their actions,” Dobriansky said. “With these in hand, we look forward to the day when all nations are part of the growing community of democracies, and tyranny and slavery exist only as a sad chapter in human history.”

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