"For the past quarter of a century, the Country Reports on Human Rights Practices have chronicled the ebb and flow of human rights, bearing witness to the conditions that affect people's lives in every nation of the world. Yet despite all the suffering--or perhaps because of it--the cause of human rights is stronger now than ever. The expansion of democracy and human freedom that the world has experienced over the past 25 years has many causes. This expansion rests on the fundamental belief that there are rights and freedoms to which every human is entitled no matter where he or she resides. This idea is so powerful and so universal that it gains strength with every passing year. The primary focus of the Country Reports always has been events in the countries that the reports cover. If newspapers are the first drafts of history, the reports are surely the second drafts, carefully researched cross-sections of the good and bad that transpire around the world every year. But the reports are not just history. They are documents backed by the full weight of the U.S. people and Government. They speak for those who have no voice, bearing witness for those who have not had access to free trials, nor have enjoyed other fundamental human rights and protections. As the reports have done since their first appearance in March 1977, they represent the nation's commitment to respect for universal human rights and its interest in promoting these rights in every country of the world. The reports are a tangible manifestation of the Department of State's intense focus on human rights issues."
U.S. Department of State: http://www.state.gov/