The State Department, while decrying Iraq's "abysmal" human rights record on Friday, also criticized Israel's policies in its occupied territories.
In its annual human rights report, the State Department said abuses persist in countries belonging to the anti-Iraq coalition, including Syria and Saudi Arabia.It also found that progress toward democracy in Eastern Europe was slowed in 1990 by a "totalitarian legacy."
The department said recent events in the Soviet Union have raised concern over the future of President Mikhail Gorbachev's reform movement and that, in China, "serious human rights abuses" continue.
- South Africa: The document, which contains 168 separate reports, praised South Africa for its commitment to "genuine constitutional negotiations" aimed at dismantling the apartheid system.
Hours before the report was released, South African President F. W. de Klerk proposed repeal of all major laws enforcing racial discrimination. The State Department praised de Klerk for his "courageous statesmanship."
- Cuba and North Korea: At a news conference, the State Department's top human rights official, Richard Schifter, listed North Korea and Cuba as "the most systematically repressive countries" in the world.
He cited the democratic evolution in Mongolia as perhaps the most pleasant surprise of 1990. The biggest disappointment was Burma, where, he said, the military government consented to an election but refused to accept the results.
- Iraq: The report echoed the comments of President Bush and others in the administration since Iraqi invasion of Kuwait six months ago.
"Almost every category of human rights dealt with in this report is severely restricted or non-existent in Iraq," the report said.
Violations include "extreme means of torture and summary execution of children as well as adults" to squelch dissent aimed at Saddam Hussein's regime, said the report. It called Iraq's record "abysmal."
- Israel: The report said that country's intensified security measures in the occupied territories, combined with escalating violence among Palestinians, "continue to be a serious concern to the United States."
It said the United States remains concerned about the violence, death and injuries on both sides, including the killing of Palestinians by fellow Palestinians, the excessive use of force by security forces and restraints on non-violent political activity.
- Saudi Arabia: Where hundreds of thousands of U.S. troops are deployed in defense of the pro-Western kingdom, the report said significant restrictions on the freedoms of speech and press remained in place.
It said similar conditions existed in Kuwait before the government there was ousted by the Iraqi invasion last Aug. 2.
- Syria: The report said "major human rights abuses - including torture, arbitrary arrest and detention, and denial of freedom of speech, press, association and the right of citizens to change their government - continued to characterize the regime's record in 1990."
Bush has welcomed Syrian participation in the anti-Iraq coalition while cautioning that acceptance of it does not mean the United States is condoning Syria's other behavior, including its purported sponsorship of terrorism.
- Soviet Union: Recent moves by the central government to reassert authority over independence-minded republics, "particularly the use of force in Latvia and Lithuania, raised concern over the future of the recent reforms, with dangerous implications for the entire country."
The report said the process of democratization "was in some areas hampered by the totalitarian legacy and by inter-ethnic antagonisms that had been suppressed for decades."
- Romania: The report said protection of human rights improved significantly after the collapse of the Ceausescu government in December 1989. It added, however, there were occasions when excessive force was used and detainees mistreated.
- China: The report said that despite some advances in 1990, "serious human rights abuses continued." It said that at least several hundred persons remained detained without formal charge since the 1989 crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators.
It said there were credible reports of torture and mistreatment of those accused of crimes and that progress toward protection of individual rights was halted and even reversed.