Rex Tillerson skips State Department’s annual announcement on human rights, alarming advocates

The Washington Post reports: Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who during his confirmation hearings repeatedly vowed to promote human rights as a core American value, alarmed human rights advocates when he did not appear in person to present the State Department’s annual human rights report, released Friday.

In a break with long-standing tradition only rarely breached, Tillerson’s remarks were limited to a short written introduction to the lengthy report. Nor did any senior State Department official make on-camera comments that are typically watched around the world, including by officials in authoritarian countries where abuses are singled out in the report.

Instead, a senior administration official talked to reporters by phone and only on the condition of anonymity.

“The report speaks for itself,” the administration official said. “We’re very, very proud of it. The facts should really be the story here.”

But Tillerson’s absence underscored how the former ExxonMobil executive remains more comfortable with an aloof, corporate style of governance than the public diplomacy practiced by his predecessors.

Tillerson drew fire from some members of Congress and advocates who said his decision not to personally unveil the report suggested the Trump administration places a low priority on advancing human rights. [Continue reading…]

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