The U.S. State Department's 2006 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, released today in a briefing with Secretary Rice, includes a new section that underscores the U.S. commitment to defending human rights defenders. This begs the question: What has the U.S. commitment to defending human rights looked like in Iraq?
Unfortunately, it has so far fallen short of what it ought to be. For example, funding for human rights documentation has been traditionally restricted to looking at past abuses under Saddam's regime.
The truth is that there are a lot of civil society organizations in Iraq, including human rights groups, that are doing important work despite the violence. While there are tremendous risks involved in working in particular areas of Iraq, there are still Iraqis on-the-ground taking those risks everyday. Our government needs to not only pay lip service to defending these incredible people, but strengthen its commitments with due funding and appropriate action.
More to come on this.