How is the annual Country Reports on Human Right Practices prepared?
The Trade Act of 1974 requires the State Department to submit an annual report to Congress:
"... 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."
Source: State Dept. FAQ
Details on the actual preparation of the reports submitted to congress are both verbose and vague. According to the latest report available (2009), the State Dept. collects reports that are summarized from information received from many different sources. Of the sources listed in the 2009 Human Rights Report, some were logical ones like the news media and those who claim to have suffered abuses of their own human rights. The document also lists government officials—both foreign and domestic—as well as studies published by congress or academic organisations. The report also listed as sources, but did not name, governmental or nongovernmental international organizations that concern themselves with human rights.
The appendix on how the reports are prepared does not detail how the State dept. verifies this information, but states that it "does not use sources or information it believes lack credibility." The report goes on to state that every effort is made to verify the veracity of each instance of a human-rights abuse, but that doing so is very difficult.