Aerial view of people carrying coffin among open and new graves (© Emilio Morenatti/AP)
Funeral workers carry a coffin with the remains of a civilian who died in Bucha, Ukraine, while it was temporarily occupied by Russia's forces between February and March 2022. (© Emilio Morenatti/AP)

The U.S. Department of State released its annual Country Reports on Human Rights Practices covering 198 countries and territories around the globe.

State Department employees in Washington and around the globe compile the detailed individual reports with input from human rights defenders, nongovernmental and international organizations, lawmakers, scholars, journalists, legal experts and labor activists.

“The goal of this report is not to lecture or to shame,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said March 20 when announcing the release of the report. “Rather, it is to provide a resource for those individuals working around the world to safeguard and uphold human dignity when it’s under threat in so many ways.”

The reports make clear that “in 2022, in countries across every region, we continued to see a backsliding in human rights conditions,” Blinken said.

The individual reports provide factual, objective information based on credible reports of events that occurred in the previous year. They bolster U.S. and international efforts to combat human rights violations and abuses.

The Russian government’s unprovoked, full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 has resulted in massive death and destruction, with Russian forces committing war crimes and other heinous acts, including sexual violence against women, men and children, according to the reports.

Crowds of people protest in street with fire and smoke in background (© AP)
Iranian demonstrators take to the streets of Tehran during a protest September 21, 2022. (© AP)

In Iran, the regime brutalized protesters across the country who were demonstrating in response to the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, who died while in the custody of the “morality police.” This year’s reports describe the regime’s ongoing denial of the Iranian people’s universal human rights and fundamental freedoms, such as the freedoms of expression, assembly and religion or belief.

In the Xinjiang region of China, predominantly Muslim Uyghurs and members of other ethnic and religious minority groups continue to be the victims of genocide and crimes against humanity.

Woman sitting in window reading (© Zohra Bensemra/Reuters)
Hawa, 20, a third-year Russian literature student, reads a book at home in Kabul, Afghanistan. Like hundreds of thousands of other Afghan girls and young women, Hawa has not been allowed to return to her studies since the Taliban seized power in mid-August 2021. (© Zohra Bensemra/Reuters)

In Afghanistan, the Taliban’s oppressive and discriminatory measures against women and girls have been unyielding. Afghanistan is the only country where women and girls are barred from receiving an education — an internationally recognized human right.

Human rights have further eroded in Burma following a February 2021 military coup as the regime continues to violently suppress any opposition to its rule. Authorities have killed thousands of activists there, including four pro-democracy leaders who were executed last summer, Blinken said.

In Cuba, courts have issued draconian jail sentences to hundreds of people for protesting for their rights.

“Human rights are universal,” Blinken said. “They aren’t defined by any one country, philosophy, or region. They apply to everyone, everywhere.”