President Donald Trump’s policies mark “a new era of human rights regression,” the head of Amnesty International announced in Washington, D.C. this morning, where the non-profit group that tracks the state of human rights in the world released its annual report.
Salil Sheety, who has been the group’s Secretary General since 2010, accused Trump of “hateful” politics and being a threat to human rights across the globe.
“President Trump takes actions that violate human rights at home and abroad,” the group reports.
He put Trump in the same group as the barbaric leaders of Egypt, the Philippines, Venezuela, Russia and China who Sheety said, “are callously undermining the rights of millions.”
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“Donald Trump’s politics may have marked a new era of human rights regression but they are not unique,” said Shetty.
“The specters of hatred and fear now loom large in world affairs,” he continued, “and we have few governments standing up for human rights in these disturbing times.”
Along with Trump’s treatment of women’s rights, LGBTQ rights and his “politics that were discriminatory or otherwise contradicted international human rights principles,” Shetty singled out Trump’s travel bans aimed at Muslim-majority countries as a “transparently hateful move.”
Shetty added that the bans, some which have survived court challenges, “set the scene for a year in which leaders took the politics of hate to its most dangerous conclusion.”
The report also cites Trump’s views on immigration and immigrants as examples of these hateful new policies. Those include his plan to build a wall along the US-Mexico border, increased detention of asylum seekers and their families, increased immigration and customs enforcement, penalties against “sanctuary cities” and “prioritized deportation of migrants.”
The report also sheds light on human rights abuses such as the termination of the Central American Minors program last August, which had allowed those under 21 to flee violence in Central America if their parents already had achieved legal status in the U.S.
It notes that more than 17,000 unaccompanied children and 26,000 people who were caught illegally enting the U.S. at the Mexican border between January and August “were detained for months, many without proper access to medical care and legal counsel.”
The report notes that since September the Trump administration has worked to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, placing 800,000 individuals brought to the U.S. as children at risk of being deported.
Trump then worked to stop the passage of the Dream Act to allow those who had DACA status to meet requirements to maintain their eligibility and get full legal status.
The report also cites Trump’s efforts against women’s rights which it reports were ‘broad and multi-faceted.”
“President Trump’s administration,” continues the report, “overturned politics that required universities to investigate sexual violence as gender discrimination and suspended equal pay initiatives that had helped women identify whether they were being paid less than male colleagues.”
Attacks on women’s reproductive rights were “particularly virulent,” states the report.
That includes attacks on funding for Planned Parenthood, a government issued rules exempting employers from promotion health insurance coverage for contraception, and the introduction of the “global gag rule” which prohibits financial assistance to “any hospital or organization that provides information about safe, legal abortions.”
The rights of gay people were also reduced, marginalized or eliminated in many cases under Trump. The report, in particular, cites the marginalization of transgender people, including the elimination of guidelines that protected them in school, gave them access to public facilities and Trump’s effort to ban them from the military.
The group also raises a red flag about Trump’s treatment of both domestic and foreign nationals accused of terrorism crimes, charging that the president “flouted the presumption of innocence in a series of posts on Twitter in which he called for the death penalty.”
Trump also ended “impunity for the systematic human rights violations” of detainees at the prison in Guantanamo and elsewhere, and opened the door to a renewal of torture methods that had been banned under President Obama and the renewal of secret detention programs by the CIA.
The report also points out that programs to stop mistreatment of minorities in the U.S. were rolled back, as the number of killings by law enforcement rose.
“African Americans – who comprised 13 percent of the population – represented nearly 23 percent of victims in 2017,” states the report.
The mistreatment of the mentally ill, the use of non-lethal weapons by police that turns out to actually be very lethal and the rise in gun violence and mass murders are all detailed in the new report, while funding for government studies of how to deal with gun violence was lowed or killed off.
The use of the death penalty also rose in the U.S. under Trump, with more states executing prisoners than had happened in years.
“During the year,” notes the report, “four inmates were exonerated of the crimes for which they were originally sentenced to death in the states of Delaware, Florida, Arkansas, and Louisiana, bringing to 160 the number of such cases since 1973,”
The report criticizes what it termed the “feeble response” by world leaders like Trump to human rights issues, and what it called “the willingness to tout ‘fake news’ in order to manipulate public opinion.”
This was also the year that Trump changed America’s foreign policy to eliminate human rights as a factor in relationships with other countries.
In fact, we saw Trump embrace, meet with and praise many dictators and authoritarians who abused the democratic system to stay in power while damaging relationships with longtime allies who are true democracies and do work to provide human rights to all.
Through changes in trade politics, refusal to keep commitments to address the global climate crisis and in other ways, Trump embraced big business at the expense of individual citizens.
This 400-page report from Amnesty International details much of this horror story, which unfortunately continues to grow worse by the day, week, month and year under Trump.