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Full Text of Human Rights Record of United States in 2008
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08:22, February 27, 2009

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The Information Office of the State Council published a report titled "The Human Rights Record of United States in 2008" here on Thursday. Following is the full text:

The State Department of the United States released its Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2008 on February 25, 2009. As in previous years, the reports are full of accusations of the human rights situation in more than 190 countries and regions including China, but mentioned nothing of the widespread human rights abuses on its own territory. The Human Rights Record of the United States in 2008 is prepared to help people around the world understand the real situation of human rights in the United States, and as a reminder for the United States to reflect upon it s own issues.

  I. On Life and Personal Security

Widespread violent crimes in the United States pose serious threats to its people's lives, property and personal security.

According to a report published in September 2008 by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the country reported 1.4 million violent crimes, including 17,000 murders (The Washington Post, June 10, 2008), and 9.8 million property crimes (The World Journal, September 16, 2008) in 2007. Throughout 2007, the estimated number of robberies counted 445,125, a 7.5 percent rise over the last five years (The Washington Post, September 16, 2008). In cities with 50,000 to 100,000 inhabitants, the number of murders increased by 3.7 percent than 2006 (The Washington Post, June 10, 2008). In those with populations of 10,000 to 30,000, the number of violent crimes rose 2.4 percent than 2006 (The Washington Post, September 16, 2008). U.S. residents age 12 and older experienced an estimated 23 million crimes of violence or theft. The violent crime rate in 2007 was 20.7 victimizations per 1,000 persons age 12 or older; for property crimes it was 146.5 per 1,000 households. (Criminal Victimization, 2007, U.S. Department of Justice, http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/abstract/cv07.htm). Among cities with relatively high violence and murders rates, New Orleans reported 95 murders per 100,000 population, Baltimore 45, Detroit 44, St. Louis 40, Philadelphia 27.8, Houston 16.2, and Dallas 16.1 (The Philadelphia Inquirer, June 10, 2008). In the United States, one murder is committed every 31 minutes, one rape in every 5.8 minutes, and one burglary every 14.5 seconds (The Washington Post, September 16, 2008).

Guns are widespread in the United States. The U.S. Supreme Court asserted that Americans had an individual right to possess and use firearms, even when the guns are not related to service in a government militia, the Christian Science Monitor reported on June 27, 2008. Statistics show that the U.S. citizens own about 200 million private guns, including 60 to 65 million pistols. A total of 48 states in the United States allow its residents to bear guns (The China Press, October 16, 2008), while it is believed that one can buy a gun at gun shows in 35 states without a background check (United Press International, October 3, 2008). A gun store outside Nashville, Tennessee, sold 70 guns on November5, 2008 alone (http://www.usqiaobao.com). More than 20 airports in Philadelphia, Los Angeles, San Francisco and other cities allow people with gun permits to carry firearms in the general public areas of the terminal (The China Press, October 15, 2008). A local high school in north Texas even let some teachers carry concealed weapons (The New York Times, August 29, 2008). The Washington Post reported on December 5, 2007 that 10 states, including Virginia, South Carolina, West Virginia, and Mississippi, supplied 57 percent of the guns that were recovered in crimes in other states in 2007. The 10 states with the highest crime-gun export rates had nearly 60 percent more gun homicides than the 10 states with the lowest rates.

The frequent occurrences of gun killings were a serious threat to the lives of U.S. citizens. According to the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 1.35 million high school students in 2007 were either threatened or injured with a weapon at least once on school property (United Press International, October 3, 2008). Young people represent an expanding proportion of all shooting victims, from 13 percent in 2002 to more than 21 percent in 2007. According to a Harvard University survey of high school students in 2006, a fifth of the 1,200 questioned in schools across Boston had witnessed a shooting. More than 40 percent believed it was easy to get a gun, and 28 percent said they did not feel safe on the bus or train (The Boston Globe, September 18, 2008). In the 2007-08 school year, a record 34 Chicago Public School students were killed (The Chicago Tribune, April 2, 2008). Within a week from February 7, 2008, the United States had seven shooting incidents, leading to 23 deaths and dozens of injuries. On March 27, 2008, five people in Georgia and Kentucky were shot dead (The Associated Press, March 27, 2008, March 28, 2008). On the night of April 18, nine shootings were reported in a period ofless than two hours in Chicago (The Chicago Tribune, April 21, 2008). In November, Baltimore had 31 shootings (The Baltimore Sun, December 2, 2008). On December 24, 2008, a man dressed in a Santa costume shot at a Christmas Eve party at his ex-parents-in-law's house, causing eight deaths, three injuries and three missing persons (The China Press, December 26, 2008).

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