Promoting freedom and democracy and protecting human rights around the world are central to U.S. foreign policy.
The values captured in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and in other global and regional commitments are consistent with the values upon which the United States was founded centuries ago.
The United States supports those persons who long to live in freedom and under democratic governments that protect universally accepted human rights.
The United States uses a wide range of tools to advance a freedom agenda, including bilateral diplomacy, multilateral engagement, foreign assistance, reporting and public outreach, and economic sanctions.
The United States is committed to working with democratic partners, international and regional organizations, non-governmental organizations, and engaged citizens to support those seeking freedom.
The Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor leads the U.S. efforts to promote democracy, protect human rights and international religious freedom, and advance labor rights globally.
2013 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices
Secretary Kerry (Feb. 27): "This year's report, we think, is especially timely. It comes on the heels of one of the most momentous years in the struggle for greater rights and freedoms in modern history." Full Text» Briefing» Fact Sheet» Reports»
ISRAEL ...Each year an estimated 20,000 civil marriages, marriages of some non-Orthodox Jews, marriages in non-Orthodox ceremonies, marriages of a Jew to a non-Jew, or marriages of a Muslim woman to a non-Muslim must take place outside the country to be considered legal, as religious courts refuse to accept these marriages, and the country lacks a civil marriage law.
Many Jewish citizens objected to exclusive Orthodox control over aspects of their personal lives.
For example, the Orthodox Rabbinate does not consider Jewish approximately 322,000 citizens who consider themselves Jewish and who immigrated either as Jews or as family members of Jews; therefore, they cannot be married, divorced, or buried in Jewish cemeteries in the country.
The estimated 20,000 Messianic Jews, who believe Jesus is the Messiah and consider themselves to be Jews, also often experienced these infringements on their personal lives, since the Orthodox Rabbinate did not consider them Jewish.
Authorities did not fully implement a law requiring the government to establish civil cemeteries, although 34 civil burial locations civil burial plots within Jewish cemeteries – existed and 12 municipalities were authorized to conduct civil burials.
The Law of Citizenship and Entry in Israel, renewed in April, prohibits Palestinians from the West Bank or Gaza, including those who are spouses of Israeli residents or citizens, from obtaining resident status in East Jerusalem or Israel on security grounds. The law provides for exceptions in special cases.
NGOs argued that the government rarely granted exceptions and that the law prevented some families from living together unless the citizen or resident family member chose to relocate to the West Bank or Gaza Strip.
Authorities required East Jerusalem residents who relocated to forfeit their Jerusalem identification cards.
NGOs accused the government of seizing private property owned by Palestinians in and around the city of Jerusalem without due process. The government asserted that the process leading to home demolitions provided due process and was necessary to enforce building regulations. In these cases the government did not provide restitution but rather charged the structures’ owners for costs incurred in the destruction of the structures. Many owners demolished the structures themselves rather than incur the expense of demolition.