Day 53: Clinton Still Hasn't Issued Human Rights Reports--But Does Tell Nations to be 'Open' in Gov't.

By Pete Winn | April 18, 2012 | 12:14 PM EDT

FILE- Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Washington, Monday, Nov. 7, 2011. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)

( - On Tuesday, 53 days beyond the Feb. 25 date when it was required to by law, the State Department had still not sent to Congress or made public mandatory reports on how the nations of the world fare when it comes to human rights.

But Secretary of State Hillary Clinton did find time Tuesday to promote something called the Open Government Initiative – in which governments pledge to be open with information to their people.

“I know we don’t need to make the case for openness to you. You’re here. But what we have to do is make a convincing case that those of us who have joined up to the Open Government Partnership really mean what we say,” she said in remarks at the Open Government Initiative conference hosted by the Brazilian government in Brasilia.

“It’s not enough to assert that we are committed to openness. We have to deliver on the commitments that we have made,” Clinton said.

“Let me mention a few examples of how that is already occurring. Chile, Estonia, Israel, Italy, Jordan, Peru, Romania, Spain, and Tanzania are all creating websites to make public data available to citizens on everything from crime statistics to political party financing to local budgets and procurement,” she added.

The Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 imposes a deadline for Clinton to submit to Congress by Feb. 25 each year reports on the human rights conditions in countries around the world.

Section 116(d) of the law provides that “(T)he Secretary of State shall transmit to the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the Committee on Foreign Relations of the Senate, by February 25 of each year, a full and complete report regarding the status of internationally recognized human rights, within the meaning of subsection (A) in countries that receive assistance under this part, and (B) in all other foreign countries which are members of the United Nations and which are not otherwise the subject of a human rights report under this Act."

In the last 12 years, the latest the reports have ever been released was April 8--which is when the Obama administration released them last year. In the eleven years before that they had never been released later than March.

A State Department spokesman told last week that the department was waiting to release them at a time when Clinton could personally do so.

Clinton began travel to Colombia, Brazil and Belgium on April 13 and will return April 19. She accompanied President Obama for the Sixth Summit of the Americas in Cartagena, Colombia from April 13-15.

The Human Rights country reports may prove to be embarrassing for the Obama administration. Among the things that would be expected to be detailed in this year's report would be the status of Christians in Afghanistan and Iraq, and the human rights situations in Egypt and in Libya.

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