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Officers at our overseas posts go to great lengths to gather factual information for these reports.

Here at the State Department, I owe a special thanks to Stephen Eisenbraun, who coordinated the production of the reports and to the many dedicated officers in my bureau as well as in bureaus throughout the Department who devoted long hours and intense effort to ensure that the reports meet high standards of accuracy and objectivity.

Our democratic system of governance is accountable, but it is not infallible.

We are nonetheless guided by enduring ideals: the inalienable rights of humankind and the principles of democracy toward which all people and all governments must continue striving. We hope that these reports will be a source of information for governments and societies everywhere and a source of inspiration for all who are still working for peaceful democratic change around the globe. As we release the Annual Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, I would first like to recognize the hard work and tireless efforts of Assistant Secretary Barry Lowenkron and his team in the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, Labor as well as our posts abroad. In February of 2006, Secretary Rice established the Global Internet Freedom Task Force of which I'm a co-chair to address the challenges to freedom of expression and the free flow of information on the internet by repressive regimes which threaten the internet's ability to empower individuals and societies.

We will continue to respond to the concerns of others, including by means of the reports we submit to meet our obligations under various human rights treaties.

As the Secretary has said, our democratic system of government is not infallible, but it is accountable.

And I'm pleased to announce that this year the reports include new reporting on the means by which internet restrictions occur, the domestic legal authority in each country for such restrictions, the government entities that conduct those activities and the penalties for the exercise of free speech via the internet, the extent to which such penalties are enforced and the government authorities that enforced the penalties. These congressionally mandated annual reports speak to America's continued support for those fundamental freedoms embodied in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. I'm pleased today to join Under Secretary of State for Democracy and Global Affairs Paula Dobriansky and Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor Barry Lowenkron as we announce the publication of the Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2006.Our robust civil society, our vibrant free media, our independent branches of government and a well-established rule of law work as correctives.As for the report itself, each country report speaks for itself, yet broad patterns are discernible.Our country was born in the belief that all people, regardless of race, creed, or culture are free by nature and equal in dignity; that when given a truly unfettered choice, human beings will choose liberty over oppression, the natural right to life over the constant fear of death, the right to own property over random search and seizure, and that they will choose to be ruled by the consent of the governed, not by the coercion of the state.

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