On March 6, the House International Relations Subcommittee on International Operations and Human Rights held a hearing to review the State Department’s annual human rights reports.
Subcommittee Chair, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) remarked that the hearing was called to “review and assess the findings pertaining to countries named by the President in his State of the Union speech as ‘axes of evil.’” She noted that the United States must continue its “role as the vanguard of democratic principles and freedoms.”
Lorne Craner of the State Department outlined the progress of women in various countries. Mr. Craner noted that an important advancement came with the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia’s “landmark verdict” that made the enslavement of women and girls for the purpose of rape a crime against humanity.
Last year, the State Department released its Report on Female Genital Mutilation and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights issued its first report on violence against women. Since then, the Commission has been working with Brazil to end that country’s tolerance of domestic violence against women. Mr. Craner acknowledged that although there have been many advancements in human rights for women, the incidence of violence, discriminatory marriage and family laws, as well as unequal access to education, employment, and health care are still significant problems for women in many parts of the world.
Testifying on behalf of Amnesty International USA, Alexandra Arriaga stressed that Amnesty International’s annual Country Reports on Human Rights Practices are necessary to “represent an important analysis and measure of human rights developments around the world.” Ms. Arriaga also noted that Amnesty International spoke out “forcefully” on the need for women’s rights to be addressed in Afghanistan and on the need for women “to have a voice in any transitional government.”