A chemical weapons attack in Syria last summer, which reportedly killed more than 1,400 people, was branded as the world’s worst violation against human rights in 2013, Washington said Thursday.
In its 2013 Human Rights report, the United States condemned atrocities in which the Syrian people are witnessing amid a civil war that has ripped through the country for over three years.
The report referred specifically to last August’s attack on the suburb of Ghouta, where President Bashar al-Assad's regime was accused of unleashing a sarin gas attack that allegedly killed some 1,429 civilians, including 426 children.
“It is one of many horrors in a civil war filled with countless crimes against humanity, from the torture and murder of prisoners to the targeting of civilians with barrel bombs and Scud missiles, which has claimed more than 100,000 live,” the report said.
“The tragedy that has befallen the Syrian people stands apart in its scope and human cost,” it concluded.
Washington also denounced what it said was the growing use of security forces by repressive regimes to crackdown on pro-democracy protests worldwide.
The report highlighted how new and fragile states, emerging out of the Arab Spring, are cracking down on civil society.
Egypt was heavily criticized for “the removal of an elected civilian government and excessive use of force by security forces, including unlawful killings and torture.”
The report also foreshadowed the unrest that has gripped the Ukraine in recent weeks.
It claimed that parliamentary elections in Ukraine did not meet international standards for fairness or transparency, thus leading to protests that recently toppled the government.
The report also said that Ukrainian security forces had beaten protesters with batons and other violent means at a peaceful Nov. 30 demonstration against the government at Kiev's main square.
But it said the most egregious abuse in Ukraine last year was the government's crackdown on media, including violence against journalists. It criticized the now defunct president Viktor Yanukovych's and his regime for increasing pressure on civil society activists and non-government organizations.
The State Department's annual country-by-country index was released on Thursday as the world marks the 65th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
But six decades later “more than one third of the world's population still lives under authoritarian rule,” the report found.
“A widening gap persists between the rights conferred by law and the daily realities for many around the globe.”
It threw a spotlight on a lack of labor rights in countries such as Bangladesh, where more than 1,000 garment workers were killed in a factory building collapse in April.
“Governments that protect human rights and are accountable to their citizens are more secure, bolster international peace and security, and enjoy shared prosperity with stable democratic countries around the world,” writes U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in the preface.
“Countries that fail to uphold human rights can face economic deprivation and international isolation.”
(with AFP and AP)