Clinton Promises Continued US Support for Rights Groups

Posted March 14th, 2012 at 4:15 am (UTC-5)
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U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has reminded U.S. diplomats of the need for support of civil society and human-rights organizations that have come under fire by governments in the Middle East and North Africa.

Clinton told a group of American ambassadors gathered Tuesday in Washington that support for groups promoting “universal” human rights in restrictive countries is a fundamental part of U.S. foreign policy.

“I recognize that sustainable progress on human rights and democracy can only happen from within. But we do have an obligation to help amplify those voices advocating for change in their own societies, including non-governmental human-rights and democracy activists.”

Clinton acknowledged a number of governments have spoken out or taken legal action against U.S.-funded rights groups, saying they represent unacceptable foreign interference.

Most notably, Egyptian authorities in December charged 16 Americans involved with international pro-democracy organizations with stoking unrest and receiving illegal foreign funds.

Though she said many countries that are making transitions to democracy have “legitimate questions” about these organizations, Clinton said that such groups are not aimed at creating unrest, but are essential for sustaining democracy.