• Press Release

State Department Reports Perpetuate Double Standards

March 20, 2023

In reaction to the release of the State Department’s annual human rights reports today, Amnesty International USA Executive Director Paul O’Brien said,  “when Secretary of State Blinken announced the US foreign policy strategy, he said it would be one centered in human rights, yet the annual human rights report demonstrates that the Biden Administration continues a policy of double standards when it comes to failing to call out the human rights abuses of key security partners.”


For example, the State Department’s reporting on Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories fails to fully encompass the deteriorating human rights situation and gives de facto recognition of Israeli control over occupied East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights. It’s time the Biden administration stops giving its allies a pass on human rights.


From key U.S. allies in Europe, we saw heartbreaking pushback, detention, and cruel treatment of migrants and asylum seekers from countries including Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria and much of sub-Saharan Africa, yet the human rights report on Poland and Lithuania failed to emphasize these human rights abuses, treating them as “allegations” rather than what they are: extensively documented patterns of abuses directed at migrants and asylum seekers from Asian and African countries.


In Asia, the Indonesian government recently announced amendments to its criminal code that, among other issues, criminalizes sex outside of marriage. While the country report acknowledges the problematic legislation, it fails to highlight the threats this amendment poses to the LGBTI community. It further claims that “no national law criminalizes consensual same-sex sexual conduct between adults,” despite the fact that, in a country that does not recognize same-sex marriage, outlawing sex outside of marriage would serve exactly that purpose.


In the Western Hemisphere, the Mexican government has failed to provide protections for migrants and asylum seekers. There is particular harm against Haitian asylum seekers, including unlawful forced returns and pushbacks to Haiti and Guatemala without assessments of protection and restricting all Haitian asylum applicants to Tapachula. The State Department report’s minimization of these human rights failures is particularly troubling as the U.S. relies on Mexico to externalize its obligations to provide protections to asylum seekers.


Said O’Brien: “The US must end its double standard of failing to criticize the human rights records of security partners if it is to fully center its foreign policy in human rights.  And of course, as the US reports every year on other countries, these criticisms ring hollow unless it also upholds human rights at home.”


CONTACT: [email protected]