The U.S. on Friday departed from past practice in its annual global report on human rights, as it described 2014 as year of atrocities by terrorists in the report.
The report, which was released in Washington was the 39th annual review, was mandated by the U.S. Congress.
It said that 2014 “would be remembered for atrocities’ committed by terrorist groups like Islamic State, al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and the Islamic Maghreb, Boko Haram, al-Shabaab, Jabhat al-Nusra and others.
“We’ve seen groups like Islamic State burn human beings alive, barbarically behead prisoners, sell girls into slavery and execute innocents widely and indiscriminately”, the report said.
The report criticized Syria for allegedly committing massacres, bombarding civilian neighbourhoods and using rape as a weapon of war.
It said Syria used not only its government security forces but also affiliated militias to carry out rights violations.
The report cited North Korea, Russia, Saudi Arabia and Iran as authoritarian governments that “use violence or regressive laws” to silence dissidents under the guise of fighting terrorism or foreign threats.
It said Russia’s political system was “increasingly authoritarian” with its crackdown on civil society and media and involvement in the Ukraine conflict.
It said Saudi Arabia has repressed religious freedom and “continued to restrict women’s opportunities” through its driving ban and guardianship system.
The report said Iran has executed citizens “at the second highest rate in the world” after court proceedings that often did not measure up even to Iran’s own constitutional protections.
John Kerry, U.S. Secretary of State said while introducing the report, that the U.S. has its own human rights problems.
Kerry said there was nothing “sanctimonious” or arrogant in the U.S. documenting rights abuses elsewhere.
“We couldn’t help but have humility when we have seen what we have seen in the last year in terms of racial discord and unrest. We approach this with great self-awareness,’’ he said.
Kerry however, said there was some positive news on human rights in 2014.
He praised Afghanistan for its first peaceful transfer of power from one elected government to another and India for carrying out one of the largest elections in history.
Kerry also commended Indonesia for its peaceful transition to a “leader who had challenged its traditional centers of power.
He also appreciated Tunisia for its first free and fair presidential elections since the 2011 revolution.