Human Rights Watch says Trump era encourages world dictators

Lester Mason
January 18, 2018

In its annual report analyzing the state of human rights across the globe, Human Rights Watch (HRW) warned that the surge of authoritarian populists seems increasingly inevitable with the US led "by a president who displays a disturbing fondness for rights-tramping strongmen".

Mr Roth added in a post accompanying HRW's 2018 world report that in the past year, "Secretary of State Rex Tillerson largely rejected the promotion of human rights as an element of U.S. foreign policy while more broadly reducing the role of the USA overseas by presiding over an unprecedented dismantling of the State Department".

Roth singled out Russian Federation and China for conducting an "intense crackdown" on opponents and, after Trump was reported to have described African countries as "shitholes", said the US president had "found political advantage in acting as a racist".

While Trump's supporters welcome his frank discourse, Roth warns that it has risky implications beyond American borders.

Trump "has this insatiable admiration for strongmen", Kenneth Roth said.

While Trump's supporters welcome his frank discourse, Roth said it has worldwide fallout because "this makes it much more hard to stigmatize authoritarian leaders".

The report urges democratic governments to focus on problems that have fueled xenophobia and Islamophobia and allowed populism to prosper - such as income inequality, growing migration, and fears of terrorism.


It's an unusual report by a group known for uncovering rights violations in war zones or repressive dictatorships.

Kenneth Roth was speaking ahead of HRW's annual report launch in Paris, where he said French President Emmanuel Macron needed to fill a void with countries like Britain, which was distracted by Brexit, and the United States which was largely absent from the rights' landscape.

While the group welcomed Macron's election, it expresses concerns about Macron's decision to expand police powers and enshrine state of emergency measures imposed after extremist attacks into permanent law.

The HRW report also warned that accusations of "fake news" leveled against the media can be used by governments to promote censorship.

An annual report by Washington think tank Freedom House on Tuesday sounded a similar warning, alleging that basic rights and political freedoms in the US are quickly deteriorating under the Trump administration.

The report said Trump's frequent attacks on key institutions like the media and the courts could send a message to dictators overseas that it's okay to delegitimize those institutions in their own countries. And it said Trump's frequent disparagement of the media and judiciary could send a signal to autocrats overseas that it's OK to delegitimize those institutions in their own countries.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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