On April 13, 2016, Secretary Kerry submitted the 2015 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices (commonly known as the Human Rights Reports) to the U.S. Congress. The reports, now in their 40th year, document the status of human rights conditions in 199 countries and territories around the world.
Mandated by Congress, the Human Rights Reports help inform U.S. foreign policy and congressional allocation of foreign aid and security sector assistance. They also serve as a reference for other governments, international institutions, non-governmental organizations, legal professionals, human rights advocates, scholars, interested citizens, and journalists.
The 2015 Reports highlight the intensified global crackdown by an increasing number of states on members of civil society. Government efforts to stifle civil society were achieved through overt or direct means including through harassment, intimidation, detention, and restrictions on their ability to operate; through the implementation of overly broad counterterrorism or national security laws to control the freedom to assemble and to suppress dissent; and through more nuanced yet burdensome bureaucratic procedures such as the passage of NGO legislation that restricts the operating space for human rights organizations. The collective result of these measures has led to the silencing of independent voices, a growing impoverishment of political discourse, and diminishing avenues for peaceful expression and change.