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Remarks on The State Department's 2007 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices

Secretary Condoleezza Rice
Washington, DC
March 11, 2008

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SECRETARY RICE: Good afternoon. I am pleased today to join Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor – Jonathan Farrar – in announcing the publication of the Country Report on Human Rights Practices for 2007.

In every region of the world, men and women are working peacefully, and often at great risk to themselves and their families, to secure human rights and fundamental freedoms, to follow their consciences and speak their minds without fear, to choose those who would govern them and to hold their leaders accountable and to achieve equal justice under the law.

These aspirations, though common to all of us, are unfortunately still denied to millions worldwide, often by their own governments. In too many countries, champions of human rights are denounced and persecuted, vilified as traitors or targeted for repression – just for insisting upon the freedoms enshrined in the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

In other countries, even in those that have recently begun transitions to democracy, human rights are not fully secured, perhaps because of weak institutions or corruption, which undermine the rule of law, perhaps because of conflict or insecurity, which intrude upon the liberty of individuals, or perhaps because of crushing poverty and disease, which can cause even the most stalwart citizens to lose hope that their lives will improve.

A nation’s path to a future of human rights protected by law is neither smooth nor straight. Along the way, there are bound to be stumbles and setbacks. Even under the best of circumstances, it is not easy to transform democratic ideals into effective democratic institutions. Yet despite every challenge, the courageous champions of human rights persevere. They are an inspiration to their fellow citizens and to all of us. The high standard that they set continues to give hope to people everywhere who work peacefully for their liberty, their dignity, and their rights.

We gather today to support them and it is our hope that this Human Rights Report will highlight the obstacles that still stand in their way, so that they may bear the mantle of justice at least -- at less risk to themselves and to their families. This document is collected and written with the optimism that no corner of the earth is permanently condemned to tyranny. As President Bush has said, “Freedom can be resisted, and freedom can be delayed, but freedom cannot be denied.” In the long run, we are confident that citizens who sacrifice for their dignity and their rights will prevail, just as the Havels and the Mandelas did before them.

Change may, indeed change will, take time, but change will come. As long as citizens around the world champion the universal values of human rights, there is hope. And we, in the United States, continue to believe that it is our duty to support these courageous men and women. And it is in that spirit that I am pleased to present these Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2007.

And now I'll turn the podium to Jonathan Farrar.


Released on March 11, 2008

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