The United States will use its “influence and power to move every nation towards better, more consistent human rights practices,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said March 13 when he released the 2018 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices.

Every year since 1977, the State Department has, through this report, “put the world on notice that we will expose violations of human rights, whenever they occur,” Pompeo said.

The annual report presents the facts on human rights practices in approximately 200 countries, in accordance with the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Over the years, the report has pushed governments to change course and cease engaging in brutality and other abuses, Pompeo said.

Pompeo said he hoped this year’s report would “cause oppressive regimes to honor human rights in places where voices are often silenced, and where deep yearnings for tolerance and respect have for too long gone unfulfilled.”

He described the report’s truths about abuses occurring around the globe as “one of the most powerful weapons in America’s diplomatic arsenal.”

The secretary called out several countries for their human rights practices:

China: ‘A league of its own’

More than 1 million Uyghurs, ethnic Kazakhs and other Muslims are interned in “re-education camps designed to erase their religious and ethnic identities,” the secretary said. He said China was “in a league of its own when it comes to human rights violations.”

Graphic showing 10 actions that will make you a target in China (State Dept./Images © Shutterstock)

South Sudan: ‘Waged sexual violence’

“Military forces waged sexual violence against civilians based on their political allegiances and their ethnicity,” the secretary said. In November 2018, more than 150 women and girls were raped or suffered other forms of sexual violence from armed men near the northern city of Bentiu, according to the report. Abductions, particularly of women and children, also took place.

 Photo showing women and girls walking with supplies on heads with text showing number abducted (© Sam Mednick/AP Images)

Iran: ‘Pattern of cruelty’

The regime in 2018 killed more than 20 people and arrested thousands without due process, just for protesting for their rights, the secretary said. The government also banned media outlets for covering the demonstrations. “This continues the pattern of cruelty that the regime has inflicted upon the Iranian people for the last four decades,” the secretary said.

Graphic showing eight actions that could land a citizen of Iran in prison (State Dept./Images © Shutterstock)

Nicaragua: Citizens ‘met with sniper fire’

When citizens peacefully protested the government’s decision to reduce social security benefits, “they were met with sniper fire,” the secretary said. “Critics of the government have faced a policy of exile, jail, or death.” In October the government reported holding 20,918 prisoners in facilities with a capacity of 11,781, the report said.

Demonstrator standing on an elevated structure hoisting a Nicaraguan flag with text showing number of protesters killed (State Dept./© Alfredo Zuniga/AP Images)