Following is the full text of the Human Rights Record of the United States in 2004, released by the Information office of China's State Council Thursday, March 3, 2005.
The Human Rights Record of the United States in 2004
By the Information Office of the State Council of the People's Republic of China
March 3, 2005
In 2004 the atrocity of US troops abusing Iraqi POWs exposed the dark side of human rights performance of the United States. The scandal shocked the humanity and was condemned by the international community. It is quite ironic that on Feb. 28 of this year, the State Department of the United States once again posed as the "the world human rights police" and released its Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2004. As in previous
years, the reports pointed fingers at human rights situation in more than 190 countries and regions (including China) but kept silent on the US misdeeds in this field. Therefore, the world people have to probe the human rights record behind the Statue of Liberty in the United States.
I. On Life, Liberty and Security of Person
American society is characterized with rampant violent crimes, severe infringement of people's rights by law enforcement departments and lack of guarantee for people's rights to life, liberty and security of person.
Violent crimes pose a serious threat to people's lives. According to a report released by the Department of Justice of the United States on Nov. 29, 2004, in 2003 residents aged 12 and above in the United States experienced about 24 million victimizations, and there occurred 1,381,259 murders, robberies and other violent crimes, averaging 475 cases per 100,000 people. Among them there were 16,503 homicides, up 1.7 percent over 2002, or nearly six cases in every 100,000 residents, and one of every 44 Americans aged above 12 was victimized.
The Associated Press reported on June 24, 2004 that the number of violent crimes in many US cities were on the rise. In 2003 Chicago alone recorded 598 homicides, 80 percent of which involved the use of guns. The Washington D.C. reported 41,738 murders, robberies and other violent crimes in 2003, averaging 6,406.4 cases per 100,000 residents. In 2004 the District recorded 198 killings, or a homicide rate of 35 per 100,000 residents. Detroit,which has less than 1 million residents, recorded 18,724 criminal cases in 2003, including 366 murders and 814 rapes, which amounted to a homicide rate of 41 per 100,000 residents.
In 2003 the homicide rate in Baltimore was 43 per 100,000 residents. The Baltimore Sun reported on Dec. 17, 2004 that the city reported 271 killings from January to early December in 2004.
It was reported that on Sept. 8, 2004 that by Sept. 4, 2004 there had been 368 homicides in the city, up 4.2 percent year-on-year. The USA Today reported on July 16, 2004 that in an average week in the US workplace one employee is killed and at least 25 are seriously injured in violent assaults by current or former co-workers. The Cincinnati Post reported on Nov. 12, 2004 that homicides average 17 a week and there are nearly 5,500 violent
assaults a day at US job sites.
The United States has the biggest number of gun owners and gun violence has affected lots of innocent lives. According to a survey released by the University of Chicago in 2001, 41.7 percent
of men and 28.5 percent of women in the United States report having a gun in their homes, and 29.2 percent of men and 10.2 percent of women personally own a gun. The Los Angeles Times reported on Jul. 19, 2004 that since 2000 the number of firearm holders rose 28 percent in California.
About 31,000 Americans are killed and 75,000 wounded by firearms each year, which means more than 80 people are shot dead each day. In 2002 there were 30,242 firearm killings in the United States; 54 percent of all suicides and 67 percent of all homicides were related to the use of firearms. The Associated Press reported that 808 people were shot dead in the first half of 2004 in Detroit.
Police violence and infringement of human rights by law enforcement agencies also constitute a serious problem. At present, 5,000 law enforcement agencies in the United States use TASER - a kind of electric shock gun, which sends out 50,000 volts of impulse voltage after hitting the target. Since 1999, more than 80 people died from TASER shootings, 60 percent of which occurred between November 2003 and November 2004.
A survey found that in the 17 years from 1985 to 2002, Los Angeles recorded more than 100 times increase in police shooting at automobile drivers, killing at least 25 and injuring more than 30 of them. Of these cases, 90 percent were due to misjudgment. (The Los Angeles Times, Feb. 29, 2004.)
On Jul. 21, 2004 Chinese citizen Zhao Yan was handcuffed and severely beaten while she was in the United States on a normal business trip. She suffered injuries in many parts of her body and serious mental harm.
The New York Times reported on Apr. 19, 2004 a comprehensive study of 328 criminal cases over the last 15 years in which the convicted person was exonerated suggests that there are thousands of innocent people in prison today. The study identified 199 murder exoneration, 73 of them in capital cases. In more than half of the cases, the defendants had been in prison for more than 10 years.
The United States characterizes itself as "a paradise for free people," but the ratio of its citizens deprived of freedom has remained among the highest in the world. Statistics released by the Federal Bureau of Investigation last November showed that the nation made an estimated 13.6 million arrests in 2003. The national arrest rate was 4,695.1 arrests per 100,000 people, 0.2 percent up than that of the previous year (USA Today, Nov. 8, 2004).
According to statistics from the Department of Justice, the number of inmates in the United States jumped from 320,000 in 1980 to 2 million in 2000, a hike by six times. From 1995 to 2003, the number of inmates grew at an annual rate of 3.5 percent in the country, where one out of every 142 people is behind bars. The number of convicted offenders may total more than 6 million if parolees and probationers are also counted. The Chicago Tribune reported on Nov. 8 last year that the federal and state prison population amounted to 1.47 million last year, 2.1 percent more than in 2003. The number of criminals rose by over 5 percent in 11 states, with the growth in North Dakota up by 11.4 percent and in Minnesota by 10.3 percent.
Most prisons in the United States are overcrowded, but still cannot meet the demand. The country has spent an average of 7 billion US dollars a year building new jails and prisons in the past 10 years. California has seen only one college but 21 new prisons built since 1984.
Jails have become one of the huge and most lucrative industries, with a combined staff of more than 530,000 and being the second largest employer in the United States only after the General Motors. Private prisons are more and more common. The country now has over 100 private prisons in 27 states and 18 private prison companies. The value of goods and services created by inmates surged from 400 million US dollars in 1980 to 1.1 billion US dollars in 1994. Abuse of prisoners and violence occur frequently in US jails and prisons, which are under disorderly management. The Los Angeles Times reported on Aug. 15 last year that over 40 state prison systems were once under some form of court order, for brutality, crowding, poor food and lack of medical care.
The NewsWeek of the United States also reported last May that in Pennsylvania, Arizona and some other states, inmates are routinely stripped in front of others before being moved to a new prison or a new unit within their prison. Male inmates are often made to wear women's pink underwear as a form of humiliation. New inmates are frequently beaten and cursed at and sometimes made to crawl.
At a jail in New York City, some guards bump prisoners against the walls, pinch their arms and wrists, and force them to receive insulting checks nakedly. Some male inmates are sometimes compelled to stand in the nude before a group of women guards. Some female inmates go in shackles to hospital for treatment and nursing after they get ill or pregnant, some give births without a midwife, and some are locked to sickbeds with fetters after Caesarean operation.
Over 80,000 women prisoners in the United States are mothers, and the overall number of the minor children of the American women prisoners is estimated at some 200,000. The country had more than 3,000 pregnant women in jails from 2000 to 2003 and 3,000 babies were born to the prisoners during this period (see Mexico's Milenio on Feb. 21, 2004). It is estimated that at least more than 40,000 prisoners are locked up in the so-called "super jails", where the prisoner is confined to a very tiny cell, cannot see other people throughout the year, and has only one hour out for exercise every day.
Sexual harassment and encroachment are common in jails in the Unite States. The New York Times reported last October that at least 13 percent of inmates in the country are sexually assaulted in prison (Ex-Inmate's Suit Offers View Into Sexual Slavery in Prisons, The New York Times, Oct. 12, 2004). In jails of seven central and western US states, 21 percent of the inmates suffer sexual abuse at least once after being put in prison. The ratio is higher among women inmates, with nearly one fourth of them sexually assaulted by jail guards.
II. On Political Rights and Freedom
The United States claims to be "a paragon of democracy," but American democracy is manipulated by the rich and malpractices are common.
Elections in the United States are in fact a contest of money. The presidential and Congressional elections last year cost nearly 4 billion US dollars, some 1 billion US dollars or one third more than that spent in the 2000 elections. The 2004 presidential election has been listed as the most expensive campaign in the country's history (see http://www.opensecrets.org/overview), with the cost jumping to 1.7 billion US dollars from 1 billion US dollars in 2000. To win the election, the Democratic Party and Republican Party had to try their utmost to raise funds.
The Washington Post reported on Dec. 3 last year that the Democratic Party collected 389.8 million US dollars in electoral funds and the Republican Party raised 385.3 million US dollars, both hitting a record high (see Fundraising Records Broken by Both Major Political Parties, Washington Post on Dec. 3, 2004).
Data released by the Federal Election Commission (FEC) on Dec. 14, 2004 show the average spending for Senate races was 2,518,750 US dollars in 2004, with the highest reaching 31,488,821 US dollars; and the average spending for House races was 511,043 US dollars (see http://www.opensecrets.org/overview), with the highest reaching 9,043,293 US dollars (see http://www.opensecrets.org/overview/topraces.asp?cycle=2004).
The Republican Party, the Democratic Party and their periphery organizations spent a total of 1.2 billion US dollars on TV commercials, making this presidential election the most expensive in history. The TV commercials were broadcast 750,000 times, twice of the airings in the general election in 2000. In the Oct. 1 - 13 period in 2004, the Republican Party spent 14.5 million US dollars on advertising, and the Democratic Party's advertising spending amounted to 24 million US dollars in the first 20 days of October 2004.
In the elections, political parties and interest groups not only donated money for their favorite candidates, but also directly spent funds on maximizing their influence upon the elections. In Maryland, some corporate bosses donated as much as 130,000 US dollars. In return, the candidates after being elected would serve the interests of big political donators. The Baltimore Sun called this "Buying Power" (see "Buying Power", The Baltimore Sun, April 5, 2004). Due to the fact that local judges in 38 states need to be elected, quite a number of candidates began campaign advertising and looking for big donators. Some interest groups also got themselves involved in the judge election campaign.The US election system has quite a few flaws. The newly adopted Help America Vote Act of 2004 requires voters to offer a series of documents such as a stable residence or identification in registering, which in reality disenfranchises thousands of homeless people.
The United States is the only country in the world that rules out ex-inmates' right to vote, which disenfranchises 5 million ex-inmates and 13 percent male black people (see Milenio, Mexico, Oct. 22 2004).
The 2004 US presidential election reported many problems, including counting errors, machine malfunctions, registration confusion, legal uncertainty, and lack of respect for voters. According to a report carried by the USA Today on Dec. 28, 2004, due to counting errors, a review of election results in 10 counties nationwide by the Scripps Howard News Service found more than 12,000 ballots that weren't counted in the presidential race, almost one in every 10 ballots cast in those counties. Due to machine malfunctions, 92,000 ballots failed to record a vote for president in Ohio alone. Registration confusion made four fifths of the states go into the election without computerized statewide voter databases (see "Election Day Leftovers", USA Today, Dec. 28, 2004). The Democratic Party brought 35 lawsuits against the Republican Party in at least 17 states, charging the latter with threatening and blocking voters from registering or voting, especially minority ethnic groups. In Florida, the cases of black people being removed from voter registration list or their votes being denied were 10 times higher than people of other races. The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) reported on Sept. 22, 2004 that during the period of election, someone often distributed handbills to black voters to bilk and intimidate them by saying that anyone who defaulted electricity bills, apartment bills or parking fines would be arrested outside the polling booths. Some others pretended to be plainclothes outside polling booths and demanded voters show their identifications. However, black people who were able to present photo identification were less than one fifth of white people, therefore, many of them were rejected.
In the meantime, fabrications of disputable pictures and statements were put in the agenda of political maneuvers. Campaign advertisement and political debates were full of distorted facts, false information and lies. According to statistics of the Annenberg Public Policy Center of University of Pennsylvania, campaign advertisement for the 2004 US presidential election had a large proportion of false information that was enough to mislead voters, far beyond 50 percent in 1996. In the Republican camp, at least 75 percent contained untrue information and personal attacks. The website of the center (http://www.FactCheck.org) listed at least 100 items of such information.
The US freedom of the press is filled with hypocrisy. Power and intimidation hang over the halo of press freedom. The New York Times published a commentary on March 30, 2004, saying that the US government's reliance on slandering had reached an unprecedented level in contemporary American political history, and the government prepared to abuse power at any moment to threat potential critics.
A collected works, Zensor USA, revealed that whenever the faults of government dignitaries or big companies were touched, the strong American press censorship system would snap at the journalists who insisted on investigation and made them the last sacrificial lamb. (see Das Schweigen der Journalisten, Handelsblatt, Germany, March 17, 2004).
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) kept watch on a leader of freedom of speech movement in University of California at Berkeley for a decade long. Although no record showed he violated federal laws, the FBI hired someone to keep monitoring his daily activities and collect his personal information without permission from the court. (see SingTao Daily, Oct. 11, 2004).
On July 16, 2004 the US State Department made a regulation, in violation of the norms of most other countries, that foreign reporters should leave the country while waiting for the valid period of their visas to be extended. The annual report of Native American Journalists Association criticized the US administration for the move, which severely infringes upon press freedom. (see AP story, Antigua, Guatemala Oct. 24, 2004).
Someone with the American Society of Newspaper Editors said that the US administration's measures reflected its repulsion of foreign news media. (see Milenio, Mexico, June 20, 2004). In Iraq, the United States on the one hand alleged that it had brought democracy to the Iraqi people, on the other hand it suppressed public opinion. On March 28, 2004 US troops closed down a Shiite newspaper in Baghdad, which triggered a protest demonstration by thousands of Iraqi people.
On Sept. 27, the Association of American University Presses, Association of American Publishers and other organizations jointly lodged a complaint to the district court of Manhattan, New York, charging the Office of Foreign Assets Control under the Department of the Treasury with deliberately preventing literary works of Iranian, Cuban and Sudanese writers from entering the United States and turning the economic sanctions against the three countries into a "censorship system" to stop free dissemination of information and ideology. (see Xinhua story, Sept. 30, 2004).
In another case, eight reporters, including Jim Taricani of the TV station in Providence, Rhode Island with the National Broadcasting Company (NBC), Judith Miller of The New York Times, and Matthew Cooper of Time magazine, were declared guilty for they declined to disclose the confidential sources of news. The New York Times pointed out on Nov. 10, 2004 that through these cases, it was found out that press freedom suffered rampant infringement.
In addition, in recent years, over a dozen foreign journalists have been detained in airports in the United States, including the one in Los Angeles. In March 2003, a Danish press-photographer was expelled out of the country after a DNA test. A Swiss journalist was rejected from entry of an airport in Washington D.C. The airport staffs by force took pictures and finger prints of the journalist. Meanwhile, he was not permitted to contact the Swiss embassy in the Unite States. In May, two groups of French journalists, altogether six members, were rejected of entry the US territory. They simply came to the Unite States to cover an exposition. Two Dutch journalists fell into trouble when they were covering a film award ceremony. In October and December, one British reporter and one Austrian journalist were held up at US airports respectively. In early May, 2004, a British female journalist, who was sent by The Guardian to Los Angeles to cover some events, was detained at the Los Angeles airport and faced interrogation and body search, and then was handcuffed and taken to the detention house in the downtown. There, she was detained for 26 hours before sent back to Britain.
III. On Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
The United States refuses to ratify the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural rights and took negative attitude to the economic, social and cultural rights of the laborers. Poverty, hunger and homelessness have haunted the world richest country.
The population of people living in poverty has been on a steady rise. According to a report by The Sun on July, 6, 2004, from 1970 to 2000 (adjusted for inflation), the bottom 90 percent's average income stagnated while the top 10 percent experienced an average yearly income increase of nearly 90 percent. Upper-middle-and-upper-class families that constitute the top 10 percent of the income distribution are prospering while many among the remaining 90 percent struggle to maintain their standard of living. Worsening income disparities have formed two Americas. (Two Americas, The Baltimore Sun, July 6, 2004). According to a report of the Wall Street Journal on June 15, 2004, a study on the fall of 2003 by Arthur Kennickell of the Board of Governor of the Federal Reserve System showed that the nation's wealthiest 1 percent owned 53 percent of all the stocks held by families or individuals, and 64 percent of the bonds. They control more than a third of the nation's wealth. ( US Led a Resurgence Last Year Among Millionaires World-Wide, The Wall Street Journal, June 15, 2004). In Washington D.C., the top 20 percent of the city's households have 31 times the average income of the 20 percent at the bottom. (D.C. Gap in Wealth Growing, The Washington Post, July 22, 2004).
Since November 2003, the average income of most American families have been on the decline. The earning of many medium and low-income families could not keep up with the price rises. They could barely handle the situation. According to the statistics released by the US Census Bureau in 2004, the number of Americans in poverty has been climbing for three years. It rose by 1.3 million year-on-year in 2003 to 35.9 million. The poverty rate in 2003 hit 12.5 percent, or one in eight people, the highest since 1998. (Census: Poverty Rose By Million, USA Today, August 27, 2004, More Americans Were Uninsured and Poor in 2003, Census Finds, The New York Times, August 27, 2004).
The homeless population continues to rise nationwide. On Dec. 15, 2004, an annual survey report released at the US Conference of Mayors showed that the number of people seeking emergency food aid increased by 14 percent year-on-year while the number of people seeking emergency shelter aid increased by 6 percent. (http://www.usmayors.org). It is estimated that the homeless population reached 3.5 million in the United States. But the US Federal budget has stopped providing fund to build new affordable housing, which forced many local governments to cut the public housing projects. The city of San Diego has a homeless population of 8,000, but the government could only provide 3,000 temporary beds. Those without lodging tickets are regarded illegal to live on the streets. They would be summoned or detained. In January 2004, an investigator with the US Commission on Human Right denounced the US for large-scale infringement on human rights on housing issue.
The health insurance crisis has become prominent. A report of the Washington Post on Sept. 28, 2004 said health insurance costs posted their fourth straight year of double-digit increases in 2004. Over the past four years, health insurance costs have leaped 59 percent - about five times faster than both wage growth and inflation. Around 14.3 million Americans put one fourth of their income on the health expenses. (Higher Costs, Less Care, The Washington Post, September 28, 2004). Currently, family health insurance plan costs more than 10,000 US dollars each year. Many families could not afford it. Fewer workers have coverage - 61 percent in 2004, compared with 65 percent in 2001. (Health Plan Costs Jump 11%, The Washington Post, September 10, 2004) Compared with 2003, the number of people without health insurance increased 1.4 million to 45 million, or 15.6 percent of the country's population. (Census: Poverty Rose by Million, USA Today, August 27, 2004). In Texas, about one fourth of the workers don't have health insurance. (Spain Uprising newspaper, May 11, 2004). In California, around 6 million Californians don't have health insurance and the welfare system with the annual cost of 60 billion US dollars are about to collapse. (The Los Angeles Times, May 6, 2004). Meanwhile, medical accidents occurred one after another, becoming the third killer following heart disease and cancer. According to a report of Boston Globe on July 27, 2004, one out of every 25 in-patients become the victim of medical accident. From 2000 to 2002, 195,000 people died of medical accidents each year. The actual figure might be twice of that.
IV. On Racial Discrimination
Racial discrimination has been deeply rooted in the United States, permeating into every aspects of society.
The colored people are generally poor, with living condition much worse than the white. According to a report of The Guardian of Britain on Oct. 9, 2004, the average net assets of a white family is 88,000 US dollars in 2002, 11 times of a family of Latin American ancestry, or nearly 15 times of a family of African ancestry. Nearly one third of the African ancestry families and 26 percent of the Latin American ancestry families have negative net assets. 74 percent of the white families have their own houses, while only 47 percent of families of the African and Latin American ancestry have their own houses. The market value of houses bought by black families is only 65 percent of those of white people. Black people's encounter of mortgage loans refusal for house purchase or furniture is twice that of white people. Some black families don't even think of buying their own houses. The death rate of illness, accident and murder among the black people is twice that of the white.
The rate of being victim of murders for the black people is five times that of the white. The rate of being affected by AIDS for the black people is ten times that of the whites while the rate of being diagnosed by diabetes for the black people is twice that of the whites. (The State Of Black America 2004, Issued by National Urban League on March 24, 2004, http://www.nuL.org/pdf/sobaexec.pdf).
Statistics show that the number of black people living in poverty is three times that of the white. The average life expectancy of the black is six years shorter than the white.
People of minority ethnic groups are biased against in employment and occupation. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission of the United States received 29,000 complaints in 2003 of racial bias in the workplace (Racism in the 21st Century, published in USA Today May 5, 2004 issue).
Statistics provided by the United States Department of Labor also suggest that by November 2004, the unemployment rate for black and white people is 10.8 percent and 4.7 percent respectively (http://bls.gov/news.release/pdf/empsit.pdf). In New York City, one of every two black men between 16 and 64 was not working by 2003 (see Nearly Half of Black Men Found Jobless, published by The New York Times on Feb. 28 2004). Black people not only have fewer job opportunities, but also earn less than white people. Even with the same job, a black man only earns 70 percent of that for a white man. Regions such as California, where immigrants make up a larger proportion of the local population, are almost like traps of death. Mexican Laborers who have come to work in the United States have a mortality as high as 80 percent.
Teenagers from at least 38 countries work like slaves (EFE San Francisco, Sept. 26, 2004). Out of 45 million people who are unable to afford Medicare in the United States, 7 million are African-Americans, accounting for about one fifth of the total African-Americans in the States. The proportion is 77 percent higher than that for the white people (available at http://www.johnkerry.com/communities/african-americans/gw_record.html).
The Declaration of Independence said all men are created equal, so the gap between black and white people is simply an insult to the founding essence of the United States (see US News and World Report on March 29, 2004).
Apartheid runs rampant at schools of the United States. On May 17, 1954, Chief justice Earl Warren of the Supreme Court announced the court's decision over a case known as Brown v. Board of Education that the doctrine of "separate but equal" had no place in US public schools. Fifty years later, white children and black children in the United States still lead largely separate lives. One in eight southern black students attends a school that is 99 percent black. About a third attend schools that are at least 90 percent minority. In the Northeast, by contrast, more than half of blacks attend such schools (Schools and Lives Are Still Separate, The Washington Post, May 17, 2004).
Racism recurs on campus of American universities. Fascist slogans and posters promoting superiority of white people, along with threats by weapon or words were found on college campuses including University of California at Berkeley. Protests were sparked off when Santa Rosa Junior College in California published anti-Semitism opinions in a column article in its campus newspaper and the chat room of its website were dominated by white-superior surfers. At Dartmouth College, white girl students auctioned off black slaves in fund-raising activities. At the University of Southern Mississippi, hordes of white students assaulted four black students, chanting racist slogans after a footbal