– Tracy Wilkinson, “Launch of major State Department human rights report is low-key,” The Los Angeles Times, March 3, 2017
CABINET/FOREIGN POLICY/REX TILLERSON/STATE: “In a possible sign of things to come, the State Department gave a decidedly low-key launch Friday [3-3-17] to its annual report on human rights worldwide.
Normally the comprehensive report that looks at the human rights situation in nearly 200 countries and territories is released with a bit of fanfare. Some years, the secretary of State has personally announced it to reporters, or, at the least, the official in charge of the agency’s democracy and rights department does so. This year, new Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was not on hand. And only a State Department official who declined to be identified announced the release of the study and agreed to answer reporters’ questions by telephone conference call.
President Trump has indicated that promoting democracy and human rights will not be his administration’s top foreign policy priorities. Tillerson, in his Senate confirmation hearing, alarmed some activists when he declined to label some countries with notorious human rights records as abusers.
The State Department official who spoke took issue with reporters who suggested Tillerson was less interested in human rights. The official cited a preface that Tillerson wrote for the report, which he noted showed the United States’ ‘unwavering commitment to advancing liberty, human dignity and global prosperity.’ “